The Alpinestars Denali is a surprisingly versatile gilet, insulated to great effect with Primaloft, and cut really well for riding. It's good on its own with a good amount of pocket space, and it's slim enough to be a really good midlayer too. The insulated rear panel can get sweaty with a pack, however, and it's expensive.
The Primaloft insulation is low in bulk but works really well, which is great on the front but less welcome on the back – for riding you need good ventilation there, and the Denali can feel sweaty, especially with a pack.
The sides are at least breathable, thanks to being a four-way stretch fabric that snugs the whole thing round you for a close, comfy and unrestrictive fit. The main panels are windproof where it counts, sheltering your precious core warmth very effectively.
There are three external pockets – two on the front, one across the lower back – and each zips shut with a solid YKK zipper. The rear pocket gets a single zip, but is actually divided internally for reasonably secure storage (as the gilet isn't tight and stretchy like a road jersey, small items are free slide around a little). You also get two internal pockets of a useful size (they take paper maps), and even when loaded the vest sits well and remains easy to ride in.
The arm and waist openings get elasticated piping, but no draw cord should you need to pull it in. At the other end is a low neck which works well to avoid interfering with jacket collars (though you may want a Buff or similar if you're jacketless), and an effective zip garage for comfort against the skin. You also get a couple of prominent logos and a decent size hanging loop if, for some reason, you want to hang a gilet up.
The tail is dropped for good coverage, which both holds warmth and delays the time where mud from the rear wheel gets you too wet. No, the Denali isn’t at all waterproof, but it shrugs off light misty rain and fog fairly well, as well as stopping mud flinging into the gap above your shorts.
Either in the dry as an outer or in the wet beneath a waterproof layer, the Denali is lovely and warm, yet easy to manage. The full-length zip and breathable sidepanels make temperature adjustments pretty easy. Alpinestars are big in motorcycling, though, and we can't help feel the insulated back would make more sense on a motocross bike with its higher windchill factor and lack of prolonged climbing efforts at low speeds – arguably, the Denali needs fine-tuning for cycle use.
I like riding in the Denali. It provides useful extra body warmth and wind protection, and packs down pretty small if you get too hot (or just want to carry it for stops). It’s not cheap at £110, but the Denali Vest earns its money with good versatility, strong performance and a quality build.
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