Model: POC Spine Vest
Manufacturer Link: www.pocsports.com
I saw the POC booth at Interbike this year and was pulled in by the lab white shine of the booth. It radiated future technology. White, bright orange, black, really made me feel fashionable. I looked over the helmets, both full face and skid lid, gloves, standard hard shell torso armor, knee and elbow as well, and then came upon what I think is by far one of the best pieces of armor on the market today. Maybe not the safest, obviously, lacking chest and shoulder protection, but the best because it is the most functional and provides the most mobility while protecting your spine. The POC Spin Vest protector is a light weight stretchy mesh vest with kidney belt (that can be taken off) that holds close to your spin a flexible plastic pad that hardens on impact. Basically like the d3o material in the SixSixOne knee and elbow guards, or some Session gear. The POC stuff is a bit different. POC calls it PVD, Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough. Much thicker, softer, and dual density. Harder right along the spine and softer along the sides.
Why is the POC Spine Vest awesome? Well if you are like me and find hard plastic back and spine protectors mobility restricting, but want some good type of spine protection, this is the answer. And I’ve seen nor tested any other product that works as well as it.
The reason I don’t like standard hard plastic spine protectors is for me they restrict my backs 3 dimensional movement. In other words, I can bend forward a lot, and side or side a tiny amount, and almost can’t twist my shoulders in relation to my hips. They really make turning and moving on the bike difficult. The POC Spine Vest protector has none of these issues. Zip, zero, nada. I put it on, body heat warms up the PVD material reducing initial cold flex resistance, and in about 5 min I can’t remember I have it on. Freaking Perfect!
Ride and Abuse
Well, almost perfect. The PVD material on the back works like it should, and the stretchable mesh vest is lightweight, breathable, sheds sweat well and the kidney belts stays in place, but there are some other issues.
POC has got some sizing issues and stitching quality to improve. I was sent an extra-small/small size, which I didn’t even notice the size at first, because the vest fit, but I’m 6’4″ with a large chest. It fit a little tight, but like I said, after 5min I can’t remember it is there. So it must fit right. Which makes me wonder what how a large would fit? I talked to POC about this, they said the sizing is Euro size, which makes me a bit more concerned because that means an XS/S is smaller than US size. I don’t really know what this says. Either with a size large the vest might not fit well and the PVD pad might not be as ‘one’ with the your back as it is with the one I have. This shouldn’t be a purchasing deterrent, just keep in mind, if your ‘size’ feels a bit loose, go a size smaller, or two.
The only thing that bugs me about the XS/S sized vest, which probably isn’t a problem with a correct sized vest, is that there is a bit of cord, or extra martial around the base of collar, right where the orange collar and white material meet. This can be a little tight at times with the zipper zipped all the way up. But it is good that it is there, it keeps the whole vest fitting tight, and therefore keeping the PVD pad in place and close to your back.
Similar to this vest sizing issue, the pad it self is sized to the rider. So, a PVD pad for an XL vest should be larger than a PVD pad for an XS vest. Well, the pad in this test vest goes from level with shoulders to just below the waist line, so, seems right to me. It is a size medium. Protects what I’d want it to protect without missing some area. Basically a M sized PVD pad fits a 6’4″ guy, wonder if you have to be Andre the Giant for the XL to fit right?
So, you’ve been informed.
Some of the stitching has started to come undone on the vest. For downhill and aggressive sports armor, pads, jerseys and shorts should have double to triple stitching, parts of the POC Spine Vest only have single. So some of the stitching has come out. Maybe I am being picky, but I personally hate those loose ends on anything.
Over all though, the vest can take as much of a beating as you would expect from a Jersey. There are a few small holes that have formed from crashes but no large rips. So I would say the mesh material used can take a beating, trashing, and crashing, with-in context.
As for what it is like to have on while riding, well, it is like having a base layer that keeps you back a bit warm. The PVD has venting holes in it, but it still keeps some heat in. Personally, I think that is great. Nothing like having a cold back that doesn’t want to move while riding. This helps keep my back muscles warm and flexible, both on cold days when I need it and warm days.
I really can’t say enough good things about this spine protector. It does everything I want, though it can use some improvements to sizing and stitching quality. I’ve been showing it off to everyone I meet who doesn’t ride with armor because they find it restricting. I’ve heard some comments that what is the point if you have a hydration pack on, cause that will do the same thing. Well, the point, is that you don’t always have a hydration pack on. Do you wear one when racing? Or when shuttling short runs? How about when dirt jumping. I spend a day recently trying to learn 360s on dirt and was on my back jump after jump. I had the POC Spine Vest on and was very glad I did. My back worked on Monday morning.
4 out of 5 Stars
I have to knock one chili off because of the stitching could have been a bit better and sizing seems to be an issue
5 out of 5 Stars
|A word from POC:
In our work together with specialists on spinal injuries, riders of all kinds and experts in material and construction, we have come to the conclusion that many of the protectors on the market have serious weaknesses. The challenge is to come up with a flexible, comfortable protection that really does the job! Many back protectors out there are lightweight, but less good when it comes to shock absorption and really protecting your spinal area. The experience and knowledge we have gained from working with body armor for skiing can now be implemented into our bike products and we are very glad to present two different concepts of back protection, both as a result of different needs of riders and state of the art materials and constructions.
Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough POC uses a new compound and technology for our most shock absorbing back protector called VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough). Our back protector using the VPD material is one of few in the market which reaches the highest standard (Level 2 “High performance”) of the CE 1621-2 motorcycle standard.
The material is highly dampening, using modified Polyurethane foam that is soft, conformable and adaptive to create an individual fit for every user – it works just like dough! However, when exposed to impact the material stiffens and has an extremely high absorption of energy.
Most of the protector systems available on the market have a relatively static impact absorption curve and are constructed to just pass the specific CE-Norm test. However, this means that low energy impacts are transferred almost directly to the body. Our VPD back protector works progressively, adapts itself to the force of the impact and exceeds the required CE-values by more than 50%! To further improve properties the back protector uses a dual density combination, with extra protection covering the spinal area. This way we maximize both the freedom of movement and the shock absorbing characteristics of the protection.
Buy it here: http://wheels.pocsports.com