Contrary to what all our friends and relatives think, it does get cold in California. This past winter riding season saw a long stretch of cool mornings with temperatures well into the 30s in Los Angeles, and desert nights are often below freezing. On mornings that an extended cold-weather ride was called for, this Tour Master electric vest certainly came in handy.
The vest, like all of Tour Master's Synergy products, is heated by a series of carbon-fiber elements rather than wires. This arrangement is lighter than traditional heating elements, more flexible and provides more even warmth over the vest's surface area. Other features of the vest include a heated, fleece-lined collar, stretch panels in the sides, two outside pockets and a three-position switch for temperature control. The light weight and flexibility of the heating elements make the vest comfortable to wear over a thin shirt and under a jacket, and even when turned off the vest alone adds a significant amount of insulation.
The lowest of the three settings is enough to feel plenty of warmth from the vest, and on the coolest evenings we experienced-with temperatures in the low 30s-the middle setting proved comfortable enough for a freeway ride. The elements are evenly spaced over the front and back of the vest, with accordingly even heat, and just having a warm torso keeps warm blood flowing to your extremities. We'd venture a guess that the highest setting would rarely be used, as it puts out an almost uncomfortable amount of heat even with ambient temperatures close to freezing-at that point an extra layer of clothing, heated pants or a heated jacket liner would be a better option than cranking up the vest alone. At $124.99 the Synergy vest is a worthwhile investment and certainly makes winter rides more comfortable and enjoyable. Tour Master offers collarless and sleeved versions, as well as heated pants and gloves, in the Synergy lineup.