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Given its name, it’s not too hard to envision the kinds of conditions Hincapie Sportswear was trying to conquer with the Arenberg Zero vest. The iconic Arenberg forest plays host to one of the most difficult sectors of Paris-Roubaix every year, and that region is notorious for brutal weather. The Arenberg Zero is a tough tool for cool, wet weather, though for the $150 price tag, we wished some of the finer details had been worked out.
The fit is snug but comfortable. The 4-way stretch fabric moves with you and allows enough space for some light layering beneath — think a base layer and long sleeve jersey — and more importantly, it provides a light amount of insulation. The fabric is wind-resistant, and we found it to be exceptionally efficient on that front. This is a great vest for early morning rides before work.
The hem, cuffs, and collar are all snug enough to keep out a light rain. The front zipper also fits with the wind-resistant theme, and it’s offset at the neck to keep the zipper pull off your neck.
Indeed, the fit is almost perfect, except for the neck collar. It’s very tall, so much so that I couldn’t zip the vest up all the way without feeling suffocated. My guess is the tall collar is intended to keep out the elements, but if I can’t zip it up all the way comfortably, that height kind of defeats the purpose. This won’t be a problem for all riders, but keep it in mind if you’ve had fit issues in the past in this area. The Arenberg collar will almost certainly be too tall for you if you’ve experienced this choking feeling on other vests.
While it’s otherwise a very good vest, the question becomes a matter of use: If the conditions are nasty enough to require a vest with these weatherproof features, would you be wearing a jacket instead? I’m inclined to say yes, which means I probably wouldn’t spend $150 on a vest like this. But that doesn’t mean you’ll do the same. This vest places a high priority on core temperature modulation and protection, so if that’s what you’re after and you want something you can stow in a jersey pocket as temperatures climb, this vest is worth a look.