For roadies it is always a balancing act – we don't want to get caught out in the cold or wet without gear, but we don't really want to lug said gear around. The Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Vest is an absolutely minimalist piece, and is the best in its class that we have tried.
Weighing a scant 39g, the Sportful Hot Pack vest is windproof and solidly water resistant thanks to its Superleggera DWR fabric. Should the rain come down in sheets, there is only so much a vest can do, but for rides that start off with a chill, or those where the weather might threaten, this tiny vest is perfect.
There are a few standout features on this hyperlight piece. For starters, the zipper actually works well, and has a decently sized pull – often, the first compromise on ultralight pieces is a flimsy zipper with a tiny pull.
For example, the zipper on our previous go-to lightweight vest, an older Castelli model, would get hung up at the fabric's seamed transition from torso to neck, requiring two hands to operate. (Sportful and Castelli are owned by the same company, Manifattura Valcismon S.p.A.)
Second, the size, weight and shape are remarkable. If you want that 'just in case' layer but don't want to pay a space premium for it, tucking this tiny bit of insurance into half a jersey pocket is a small spatial price to pay. The monetary price, however, is pretty steep.
Should you want to, the vest packs down into its own pocket, which is bonded with reflective tape. In months of testing we have never used the pocket, but we do appreciate its reflective elements.
Finally, the mesh side panels offer a bit of fresh air and stretch. The vest fits nice and snug, so there is no noisy flapping. For reference, the sample is size medium on a 6ft / 183cm, 185lb / 84kg rider.
Since it's so small and light, we tuck the Hot Pack into the jersey on any ride where there is a chance of rain or a chilly descent.