I must admit, when I was younger and invincible I hardly blinked an eye at these types of torso protectors. Helmet and knee pads were enough for me because I wasn’t going to crash. But now that I’m older, and I do have to go to work on Monday, having torso and spine protection is a must when I go ride the gnar.
Dainese’s Impact armor is their most versatile and least costly torso protection. For $369 one gets a light weight, very breathable, shoulder, back, chest protector that is well made and can take repeated impacts.
For the new year Dainese replaced the honey comb padding material in the Wave spine protection, that one hit and done padding is gone, with a new material that can take repeated impacts. As well the hard shells on the shoulders and chest have some dense foam on the back sides to help soften any impacts.
The Wave spine protector is removable, so you can wear just the jacket or just the spine protector. The Wave spine protector is not connected to the vest, which means it is easier to get it in the correct position than on other Dainese jackets were the Wave zips into the rest of the jacket. But conversely, on impact the only thing holding the Wave guard in place is the waist belt and shoulder straps and a jersey if you have one over it. So it could shift around on impact. Speaking of the waist belt, the new design seems to stay in place better than previous models. There is now a double Velcro tightening down system to keep the waist belt from loosening up during riding.
The mesh material of the jacket is supposed to be rip resistant. I’m sure it is tough but anything can happen in a crash.
The Impact armor held together fine during testing, but one user from the MTBR review page noted that the shoulder pads are only held on with the mesh material, which for him shifted around on impact. And as stated before, anything can happen in a crash, except maybe getting out of paying taxes.
What the Impact armor excels at is versatility. If you want something very light for an easy trail ride just wear it. But add the Wave guard back protector and elbow pads and you are ready for any rockgarden or huck.
The vest itself is very easy to fold up and stick in a normal sized backpack while riding. The spine guard on the other hand is another story. But it tends to be no trouble to wear while peddling.
The only major concern I have over the design of the Impact Jacket, or all of Dainese torso protection, is that the zipper goes over the sternum and thus leaves it moderately exposed. One could take a real nice whack right there. Otherwise everything else about this jacket is awesome. Mobility is hardly an issue. I was able to turn, bend, and maneuver my bike and body without excessive restriction. Everything stayed in place while riding, and the armor is extremely helpful in a crash. The jacket breaths very well, I used it without concern down here in this hellish southern California summer. I definitely recommend this jacket if you have the financial ability to procure one.