Our Dainese Flexagon PL Waistcoat review details a high quality product featuring Polartec fabrics and innovative back protection technology. We hope you find it useful.
Dainese has a long history as a premium manufacturer of safety products for a variety of sports. Amongst a range featuring protective pads, gloves and helmets, they also produce a selection of back protectors. The new men’s Flexagon PL Waistcoat offer a multi-sport back protector incorporated into a Polartec Power Wool fabric waistcoat. This is described as a multi-sport products and I have used this for both skiing and mountain biking. Here is my review.
For the back protection element of the Flexagon PL Waistcoat Dainese have used inspiration from nature. By that, I mean they have looked to nature’s extensive use of hexagons and identified how it can be used to offer back protection benefits. It makes sense as hexagons are an efficient shape that tessellates (can be tiled together). Even better, as tessellating shapes go, hexagons circumscribe the largest area for a given perimeter. Simply put, it forms a tightly packed and stable structure.
Natural Design Influences
The hexagon shape is seen everywhere in nature. From the honeycomb’s of bees to the eyes of dragonflies. From the skin of plants like the Swiss Cheese plant to the shape of a freshly fallen snow flake. Even humans are built from the linking of hexagonal carbon atoms. Dainese have seized on this shape to offer the tessellating pattern featured in the PL waistcoat. A flexible hexagon pattern becomes the ‘flexagon’.
The waistcoat features two layers of Crash Absorb memory foam encased in a Polartec Power Wool waistcoat. The waistcoat then closes with a full length YKK zipper. There is also a small zipped chest pocket. To further secure the back panel to the body there is a broad velcro closure waist belt inside the waistcoat.
Level 2 Certification
The Flexagon PL meets CE EN 1621.2 Level 2 certification. CE, the European Conformity mark, is a rating used on all European official documents and requires a product to meet certain requirements. Body armour comes in two CE levels. Level 1 must render a force of less than 18 kilonewtons during an impact and Level 2 must render less than 9kN. In achieving level 2 this product meets the highest available standard.
Firstly, for this Dainese Flexagon PL Waistcoat review let’s consider ease of use and comfort of the fabrics. As the garment is a waistcoat design, it is simple to just pull it on, secure the waist belt and zip it up. It is ready for action in seconds. This also makes it very comfortable. The stretchy waistcoat fabric keeps the panel central and secure and it simply becomes a part of your clothing system. It moves with you and doesn’t shift up or down as you ride or ski.
But, the downside of this design might show in hotter weather. Does having a fabric waistcoat make it uncomfortable? I have to say that I have primarily tested this so far in colder weather. In these conditions I have simply considered the waistcoat as an insulating layer. For this, it has performed brilliantly.
I look forward to trying it in the warmer months, but I have been able to mimic how it might feel on some steeper rides in this winter’s unseasonably warmer temperatures. I have certainly had no problems with overheating, excessive sweating or discomfort.
The reason for this, as much as design, falls to fabrics. On the Flexagon PL Dainese have used Polartec Power Wool. I love this fabric and choose it for baselayers whenever I can. Infact, I’ve used it for years.
Polartec Power Wool
Power Wool is a revolutionary, bi-component knit fabric that combines the best of both natural and synthetic fibres without blending. Polartec believe the industry standard of blending wool and synthetic yarns together hinders the greater performance qualities of each material.
Instead, Power Wool works by placing each fabric where it’s most needed. Advanced synthetics on the outer surface transfer moisture while enhancing durability and resilience. Merino wool next to the skin delivers comfort, warmth, and effective moisture wicking. This structure ensures Power Wool performs efficiently in a wide range of conditions. I certainly won’t be put off from wearing the waistcoat into the warmer months.
Crash Absorb Foam
Next, let me consider the comfort of the protector panel. Of course, fastening a piece of solid foam material to your back might be uncomfortable or restrictive. Maybe, but Dainese have found some clever ways to make the Flexagon PL as unobtrusive as possible. Firstly, the back panel is comprised of 2 layers of Crash Absorb memory foam. This is an impressively soft and yet impact absorbing material that’s widely used in various body armour products. Having two layers allows one layer to move across the other and I imagine this makes it much more forgiving than a single thicker layer.
But, it is the hexagonal shape of the Crash Absorb panels that add the main comfort factor. The tessellated foam sections can bend and flex to offer almost unrestricted movement. The panel can mould to the shape of the back and adjust to back movements. Dainese says the pads offer maximum freedom of movement on six sides with mobility on the 30° 90° and 150° axes. This is hard to verify, but I have no reason to doubt the claims. I can simply say it works superbly and becomes almost completely forgotten on your back.
Incorporating the protector panels into a stretchy fabric sleeve helps with flexibility. It also keeps the hexagon pieces from moving too much. However, incorporating the Crash Memory panels into the sleeve also creates the only thing about the Flexagon PL that I don’t like so much. As there is no way to remove the foam panels it isn’t possible to easily wash the waistcoat in a washing machine. Handwashing is really the best option and this isn’t ideal if the garment is getting used regularly.
Other details are well considered. It is handy to have a zippered chest pocket although. The pocket is quite small but will hold something like an energy bar or gel sachet. It would also fit in a lift pass if you were heading on to uplift. Finally, I really like the low profile neck design as it sits flat and doesn’t get in the way of other layers. The Dainese Flexagon PL Waistcoat costs £189.95.
Choosing whether to wear a back protector is a personal choice. A choice I would liken a bit to learning first aid skills or rescue skills. You hope you will never need to put it to the test, but if you did you’d be glad you were wearing it. It is also the case that improvements in technology and materials have made the choice far easier. Modern protection is so light and comfortable that the reasons for not wearing it are a thing of the past.
If you decide too wear one, I wholeheartedly recommend the Dainese Flexagon PL Waistcoat. It offers the highest level of protection and will in no way interfere with your ride or ski. It also has the benefit of the Polartec Power Wool fabric to keep you warm and yet comfortable. This is a great product.
Of course, a product of this type does come with a fairly hefty price tag, but in that incident this will surely seem a price worth paying. You can find full details on the Flexagon PL on the Dainese website here. Please also have a look at the video below to get more of an insight into the Flexagon design.
We hope you found this Dainese Flexagon PL Waistcoat review useful. We have a range of advice articles on the blog which might also be of interest. For example, there is one about keeping your hands warm here and another about Pre Season Ski Preparation here.