The main function of the Fastback is as a back protector. And in that role I think the Knox Fastback Gilet does quite well.
The vest has a zipper down the front and two large Velcro straps at the belly to keep it snug. Mine is quite snug. The first few times I wore it I found myself thinking of the old legend that William Shatner wears a girdle.
“This is what it feels like to be Captain Kirk,” I thought.
But it is not really uncomfortable or restricting, and you soon get used to it. Soon, it starts to feel right. I now find I really like the feeling of being “hugged” throughout my ride. Most importantly, though, the back pad results in my having better posture when riding. This has delivered an ability to ride much farther without ache. I wear out less quickly — especially at body-jostling motorway speeds — and can cover far greater distances.
The Fastback is equally handy at rest stops if I want to close my eyes for a few minutes, the pad helping to turn a picnic bench or just about any other surface into one comfortable enough to stretch out on.
Overall, I can’t now really picture myself riding without this sort of gear, but I’ll admit there are a few potential drawbacks.
The first is that the vest is, as I say, quite snug. This means I have to wear it as close to my body as possible or it will feel restrictive. I wear an Under Armour base layer, the vest, then whatever else I’m wearing according to the weather. And that means I don’t really take it off or loosen the Fastback at stops. It would be too much fuss to take off, say, a sweater and T-shirt to get at the thing.
This means that if I stop for lunch, etc., I still have that snug feeling of being hugged as I eat. To me, there is a knock-on positive in that I don’t eat too much, which means I am less likely to get sleepy once I’m back on the road.
I bought the Fastback early this year. In summer temperatures, I wore just a base layer and vest underneath my jacket, and that leads to the second potential drawback: the Fastback adds a layer.
Temperatures here in Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland never reached a point this summer where that was a problem, especially considering that the vest is comprised mostly of (sturdy) mesh. But in other parts of the world, where they have actual summers, wearing another layer — especially one that is so snug — might be off-putting.
Neither of these are real problems for me and overall I’ve been pleased. The Fastback is well-made and durable, so I expect to be wearing one for quite some time. Though, as I say: I hope I’ll never actually use it.