If you spend a fair amount of time at the racetrack, you'll have noticed quite a few people wear stand-alone back protectors under their leather suits. Leather works brilliantly at protecting you from abrasion, but unless you have a top-level suit, you're going to want to add some impact protection. You have two general options here - one is the tradition back protector that fits with waist and shoulder straps and there are a number of choices in this category. However, you can also go for a purpose-built vest which has an incorporated back protector, but offers the option of adding chest protection as well.
The Track Vest 2 is the latest version of Alpinestars' armoured vest. The entire garment is constructed out of a light, stretchable but durable-feeling mesh material that incorporates a non-removable back protector. The back protector is a vented, Nucleon KR-2i-style CE Level-II soft back protector but with a hard plastic top layer providing extra protection. Over at the front are two pockets holding thick foam pads that can be swapped out for KR-Ci CE Level-I (Rs 2,499) chest protectors. The vest is secured via a thick, height-adjustable kidney belt. Additional comfort and (minor) protection come from thin foam pads baked into the shoulders, kidney area and hip areas of the vest.
Fit is true to the Alpinestars size-chart and the stretchable mesh material means that it should work over a fairly wide range of body shapes and sizes. I'm happy with the snug fit and the way it disappears from the mind under a race suit. There's no discomfort, allowing you to focus on consistently churning out those fast laps. You can wear the Track Vest under a street jacket as well, but I found it gets quite hot and it's better to have a separate back protector that fits into your jacket.
I picked up the Track Vest for a little over Rs 12,000 in Spain, but you can also order it at Planet DSG.
Price of each individual riding gear
Vest Rs 16,999
Chest Protectors Rs 2,499
Image credit: Donald D'Souza