The Vangard Windflex base layer isn't just your average base layer in that it includes a wind stopping panel across the chest. It's an unusual feature although it's not unique; we've just reviewed the competition in the form of Craft's impressive Extreme WS. So how does the Vangard perform?
Material choice and stitching is very similar to the Craft base layer. It is constructed from 100% polyester, knitted in a sort of corrugated/ribbed way that provides a good level of stretch. That means you could probably go a size below normal for a hugging fit, almost like a compression layer. Neat, flat seams did not cause any noticeable chaffing and a good, long cut means you can tuck the hem right into you tights and avoid any unpleasant draughts. The collar is high also, with a zip for getting it over you head – although with the stretch, I didn't see this as entirely necessary. You can get a version without the zip-neck for £69.99. Overall, the base layer wasn't noticeable when I was wearing it - a good thing.
A windproof section is what marks this base layer out from the crowd. The panel spans the full length of the chest along with the shoulders, and is stitched on top of the existing wicking material. However, I found that this front section could get very sweaty because not enough moisture was escaping through it. Craft managed to pull the windstopping layer off, so it is a shame Vangard's doesn't seem to work quite as well. It's not a failure by any means, it's just not quite as successful at Craft's. The difference is in the material: while Craft used Gore's WindStopper fabric, Vangard's Windflex perhaps doesn't have the same level of performance.
The front panel does keep the wind out, though. It provides an excellent added element of protection from the elements, doing a similar job to a gilet. You can't take it off mid-ride like you can a gilet, or open it right up when the going gets tough, but for those rides where you know you are going to be battling a constant gale, it is a great option. The panels reaching across the shoulders give complete wind cover when you're in the riding position and make descending on a cold day a bit more pleasant. I found this base layer best suited to milder winter/autumn days, when you're not going to have too many layers on top which could create the waterlogging I mentioned.
The Windflex is a good base layer. The cut is a strong point, as is the wind protection created by the Windflex panel. At around the same price point as Craft's similar offering, however (£50), I'd have to choose Craft's WindStopper Extreme. Vangard's offering is a still a strong base layer, it just has some tough competition.
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Make and model: Vangard Men's Windflex L/S Zipneck technical base layer
Size tested: Black, Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A long-sleeve base layer with a Windflex (windproof) front panel. Made for colder, windy days when you need an added layer of protection.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stretchy wicking material, windproof panel across chest and shoulders, flat stitching, zip up collar.
Well made, it doesn't feel like it will fall apart any time soon.
Wind protection is excellent. Wicking is good other than at the windproof panel which did tend to get a bit wet and soggy.
Good long cut. Not noticeable once on. Flat stitching is good to prevent chaffing. Polyester could have a nicer feeling.
I'd go for the Craft WindStopper Extreme given the similar price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a windproof base layer it lived up to its name.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stretchy, almost compression-like material
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that not enough sweat could get through the Windflex front panel.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, mostly, but I got a bit sweaty
Would you consider buying the product? I'd get the Craft WindStopper Extreme, unless I found this on offer
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,