Wednesday, June 15, 2016

FCE Review: Harry Hall Zeus Body Protector

'Tis the season of reviews here at 'Fraidy Cat Eventing. Things are going well with the princess mare... but that doesn't necessarily make it super exciting to write about (for anyone but me, that is). Especially bc I have very limited media at present. 

So instead let's talk about cross country vests. Specifically, the Harry Hall Zeus Body Protector that my incredibly kind mother gave as a birthday present while I was laid up with a broken leg. 

Dino & Alli photobomb!!
I had previously ridden in an old, slightly beat up Tipperary. It was a steal from eBay when I first started thinking about eventing, but wasn't prepared to really invest. 

But after our first full season it seemed like time, esp since Amanda had helpfully provided recommendations for budget-friendly Beta 3 certified vests from the UK in the comments section of this post. The Beta 3 refers to a more rigorous safety approval process that is standard abroad but not yet a requirement here in the States.

let's all just embrace that vests are kinda ridiculous
Anyway, the vest description according to the website: 

The adult's Zeus Body Protector is designed with safety and practicality at the top of the list. It conforms to the EN13158 2009 BETA Level 3 safety standards to maximize your safety in the saddle. This paneled body protector features separate lightweight shock absorbing foam panels that mold around the body to give a close yet flexible fit. The air mesh outer with contrast binding and reflective piping on the front and back also ensures safety and flexibility in the saddle. The red fitting indicators included on the Body Protector help ensure the correct fit is achieved for the greatest protection.

It retails in the UK for ~$120

heavy-duty velcro attachments across the chest, with flexible side panels
The biggest differences between this vest and the Tipperary are the wrap-around side panels. Where the Tipp just laces up, this vest has significant additional padding over the rib cage.

the back panels have conformed over time to my shape
The vest also feels considerably more substantial - heavier and thicker. The kind of vest where you just *know* the typical guy might jokingly strap it on saying, "Ok punch me as hard as you can!!"

individual panels on the inside allow for a closer, more comfortable fit - while still protecting from punctures
For all that, tho, it's surprisingly comfortable. It doesn't come down as far on my back as the Tipperary did, meaning it doesn't interfere with my saddle while I ride, nor does it bunch up around my shoulder blades. 

It's still got plenty of room around the shoulders for me to have full range of motion with my arms without ever feeling impeded or even noticing that I'm literally covered in heavy-duty padding. Oh and while YES, it is warmer in the heat than not wearing any vest at all, it's not noticeably hotter than the Tipp was.

vest has an understated and classy silhouette 
The fit is surprisingly adjustable too, especially given some reviews I found while researching the vest. Some reviewers said it felt too stiff and didn't accommodate a larger bust line. This has not been my experience - and I've happily experiment with different degrees of tightness through the chest and shoulder panels to find exactly what feels most comfortable.

the gray piping adds a fun accent
My only complaint is that I feel like the vest comes up kinda high around the neckline. It doesn't really look like it in the pictures tho, so maybe it's just my imagination. Or just how any safety vest might feel? Idk haha. I mean, I like a protected collar bone and all that so I guess I'm cool with it!

plenty flexible for lots of pats while riding
The vest has also held up perfectly to use so far this season - some shows, a couple more schoolings, and generally just getting tossed around in the truck. Hasn't discolored anywhere, no loose seams or non-sticky velcro. Everything still snaps up like new.

So all in all I'm quite pleased with it. It's safe, comfortable, and looks nice - plus it's actually more affordable than a brand new unapproved Tipperary. What's not to like?

Are you in the market for a new vest? Have you considered the Harry Hall or other similar Beta 3 vests from the UK?

23 comments:

  1. I am here to attest that this vest is good looking in person, too. It does not require outside assistance to put on, and is otherwise very lovely. Definitely gives off a solid, yet comfortable, vibe. May also cure cancer and solve the world peace issues.*


    *Final claim unverified.

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    1. **tho there is no evidence as yet disputing or disproving this claim

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  2. I will upgrade to one of these eventually but I'm hoping to wait until I am jumping regularly again. But I do love the sound of yours.

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  3. "The kind of vest where you just *know* the typical guy might jokingly strap it on saying, "Ok punch me as hard as you can!!"" Uhh... yeah I did that when I got my Airowear...

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    1. haha why does that not surprise me?!?

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    2. The question is, How much did you feel it?

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    3. I actually had SO punch me in the chest in the Tipp vest, then punch me in the chest in the Airowear. Huge difference. Like major.

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    4. that's super interesting - but again, unsurprising. the difference between the two vests is nuts. so much so that i initially questioned whether i'd even want to wear the harry hall when i first got my hands on it. but once it's on? totally comfortable and doesn't interfere at all with my riding - i actually forget about it completely.

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  4. Oooh! Thanks for the review! Now that hubs is starting to event and XC school we've been looking for a good vest for him. I've been looking at the Sir Lancelot vest that's Level 3 tested and a few others, but I'll add this one to the list! :)

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  5. I like my Airowear a lot and would never jump with a Tipperary. I am going to order an air vest for trail riding though.

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    1. i've heard great things about the airowear

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  6. I was interested in this one as well when Amanda did her awesome blog post on vests. I ultimately went with the Airoware just because I could try one on first. And I'm very very happy with it. Yours looks super comfortable though actually, and less bulky than my Airowear. Although that could be the size difference I suppose ;)

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    1. probably had circumstances been different while i was shopping around (ie, if i were more mobile and not laying around depressed on the sofa with a broken limb...) maybe i would have been more gung ho about trying things on? as it was tho, i was just grateful that my mom wanted to get me this thing haha

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  7. I bought the USG flexi vest from the UK. It's OK, but my complaints are similar to yours. And...I totally made someone hit me a few times when I first wore it, which evolved into some 'stunts' and no, no regrets, silly but fun times ;).

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    1. haha silly fun times are best times! and those stunts sound like a blast lol

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  8. It amazes me that the Tipperary vests are still so popular.. I can't imagine those things actually having any sort of benefit in a fall. My Intec vest Beta3 certified and pretty hardcore, but MAN is that thing clunky and stiff! I will definitely check out the Harry Hall when I'm ready for an upgrade!

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    1. i'm not sure the HH would be considered an upgrade from the Intec - they're probably more or less equivalent in many regards. but it *is* pretty comfortable for what it is, and while i wouldn't voluntarily wear it around all day it's easy enough to forget about when i'm actually riding.

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  9. Oh cool! I like the price and look of that vest, haven't heard of them (I live under a rock tho)

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