I was introduced to the Exotogg along with a host of other bikers at the Overland Event last year. An air-insulated bodywarmer, it is made for outdoor enthusiasts who want to pack light and be prepared for any season. An adventure biking festival seemed like an excellent place to demo it, then. Following the event I was contacted by the team and asked if I wanted to give one a try – I was intrigued enough to say yes and have been meaning to feature it here ever since.
Since I received mine, the Exotogg has won the clothing category in the UK Outdoor Industry Awards; it’s great to see new and interesting products be recognised in this way. Definitely time to tell you about it, then!
Back to the beginning. Exotogg is a thermal vest designed for bikers, backpackers, skiers, horse riders, fishermen, and anyone else who spends time outside in winter doing activities that don’t necessarily heat you up from the inside. It is a tabard shaped thermal top designed to pack down super small so you can have it with you for those moments when you need an extra bit of warmth. Getting chilly? Unfold the top, sling it over your head and do up the sides, and blow into the tube a few times to inflate the vest.
It really is a very simple idea. My short length Exotogg weighs just a few grams and very easily folds up and fits into my smallest dry bag along with my spare buff, beanie hat, gloves and spare socks. It is small enough to carry with me when motorcycling, but might just take a little too much space for backpacking. But of course there is no point carrying a bit of kit unless it works…
Our first test was in around 12 degrees, wearing the Exotogg over a long sleeved tshirt and under touring motorcycle jacket with the waterproof lining in and all vents closed. It was a cool day for sure, and when you’re riding a motorbike at 60mph, early spring is very cold indeed! The biggest problem we noticed immediately was just how bulky this thing it is when inflated, even with just four decent sized breaths – I had to let air out before my motorcycle jacket would do up over the top. But knowing that even a thin layer of warm air can be incredibly thermal, we persevered. And it did indeed work, I can’t deny that, and wouldn’t begin to argue with the science of our own warm breath doing its thing to warm up the body’s core through this life-jacket looking product.
Where the Exotogg worked best was when I stopped moving. Whether you’re out on a motorbike, hiking, swimming, horse riding, or whatever else, it’s when we take our well deserved rest afterwards that we get cold. And that cold can be incredibly problematic. Having the Exotogg meant that I could very easily add air to warm up my core when I needed it the most, and take it out again when I didn’t. You know those silver blankets given out at the end of endurance events? This would make a much more effective alternative in many situations – although clearly it is more bulky than one of those!
If I was redesigning the Exotogg I would put a low profile zip down the side so I could put it on and take it off without removing my helmet or other head wear. I can see why they haven’t; a zip would add a bit of weight and potentially make it less packable, but it would make the vest much more convenient. I’d have it at the side so there was still the complete layer of air over the chest, as that is the bit that warms me up/keeps me warm. Secondly, while I do think the sleeveless design works because it keeps you able to move around fully, it would be good to see a version with some microfleece sleeves added so I don’t have to wear an additional layer under the Exotogg to keep my arms warm – or even something that looks a bit like a down jacket but that uses air in the body rather than fluff.
The main negative of this product, with the two things above being niggles rather than huge flaws, is the price. It’s expensive. At £99, it is right up there with the cost of decent thermal and windproof layers, which you might argue would be more versatile. I honestly don’t know if I’d spend that much money on this. I can see why having one is good, but like other outdoor products such as the Dryrobe, it might end up in the just too expensive to warrant category of my wish list.
Overall I do like the Exotogg, it’s a great idea turned into a useful product that does exactly what they claim – it keeps you warm and packs down small. Being primarily a fair-weather motorcyclist I suspect I’ve not put it through its paces as much as others may have done, and so I encourage you to read reviews other than this one. With the caveats mentioned above, I do recommend it. It might not have become an everyday product for me just yet, but I can certainly see why it might be for some people.
I think I’ll take my Exotogg along to the Outdoor Bloggers Spring Camp in a couple of weeks’ time to see what some of my non motorcycling outdoorsy friends think of it – watch out on my social media for reports!
Find out more about this unique outdoors product over at https://exotogg.com/.
Please know that I was sent an Exotogg thermal bodywarmer to try out at home but was not required to write about it and have not been paid to write a review.