In advance of this year’s Overland Event, and thinking ahead to when it’ll come into its own on the way to the Winter Warmer, EmmaLucy Cole shares her first impressions of the Exotogg Inflatable Bodywarmer.
As a new biker, I’ve found the process of choosing the best gear for my needs somewhat challenging, especially when it comes to staying warm. Mostly I have opted to invest in protection rather than comfort, which often means that I am wearing 5-6 layers under my jacket on cold days, which can be bulky and sticky.
The Exotogg Lightweight Inflatable Bodywarmer professes to solve this dilemma, being light and unobtrusive when put on and then quickly inflated to provide superior heat insulation without the problems associated with down or synthetic base layers.
The product arrives in its own stow bag and with a booklet of information. On first inspection it is high quality and lightweight (260g) whilst feeling to the touch that it is heavy-duty enough to withstand any interaction with hard objects like zips. As a female rider I am always frustrated by the lack of options offered by the apparel industry, but Exotogg products are not gendered and so are, in theory, suitable for anyone.
I have the Regular/Short version which (deflated) sits about 6” below my hips – although when inflated this rises to just below waist-level. The large Velcro side-adjusters have an extra piece of Velcro in the centre to prevent damage to clothes. I wear a UK size 8 top and when tested wearing a thick base layer and micro-fleece, I didn’t even need to undo the fastenings to put it on, as there is still space for at least another half-person inside (uninflated). It is recommended to put your jacket on before inflating, so at this point it does seem as though there is a lot of extra material, but once inflated this moulds to the space available. For women bikers, when fully inflated the vest design does result in more pressure and bulk over the chest area in general.
On a chilly morning recently I put on the Exotogg under my mesh jacket before heading out. It was a little awkward having so much material under the jacket, however, uninflated whilst travelling at 50mph down the A38 the material provided significant wind-protection alone. I stopped before getting on the M5 and semi-inflated the vest with 3 breaths. This was still comfortable and didn’t restrict my movements at all. At full speed on the motorway (when it was chilly enough to require the heated grips) my core was definitely toasty: the vest did exactly what it promised and kept me warm.
I have absolutely no doubt that the Exotogg Lightweight Inflatable Bodywarmer is going to be a welcome addition to my winter kit – small enough to tuck into a pannier or backpack for emergencies and durable enough to be worn as a regular winter-riding layer. As a top layer over bulky fleeces or outdoor gear it would be perfect. For biking alone, it would benefit from a smaller size option to be really comfortable under the jackets, and to allow for different body shapes.
The vest has a whole array of alternative uses such as pillow or sleeping mat and I will be testing some of these at the Overland Event in August and updating my review again once temperatures drop, but overall, I am very impressed and would recommend it unreservedly: I look forward to seeing future developments in this innovative and high-quality product.
Exotogg (available in two unisex sizes) UK RRP: £99.00
Review by: EmmaLucy Cole