Over the years I have tried a lot of different riding gear, chest protectors are no different. The most important thing to consider when looking for a chest protector, is the level of protection it offers. The second most important thing, is how comfortable it is to wear.
If you get a chest protector that restricts your movement or digs into your neck, you’re not very likely to keep wearing it when you go riding. What’s the point of buying gear to protect yourself if you hate wearing it, and it makes riding less enjoyable? You want to look for a good quality built chest protector that passes some safety standards, but is also comfortable to wear.
I have tried many different chest protectors and roost guards during my time riding. I look at the price versus what value you get as far as safety protection and comfort. I have researched safety standards, and I don’t just automatically go with the most expensive items. I like to make sure I get my moneys worth.
The Chest Protector I Recommend
I’ve wasted money on cheap chest protectors before, they usually brake before I finish the first riding season with them. It’s worth it to spend a little extra money to get something that will last you many years of riding. I recommend the Leatt 4.5 Chest Protector (link to Amazon). This is the one I use now, and is the best chest protector for the money I have found yet. This may not be right for everyone, some people like a lighter option which I will go over later. But for me, I like the superior safety protection this chest protector offers, and I find it one of the more comfortable options.
I like the shoulder protection on this chest protector, and it has a neck brace fitting system to prevent the chest protector from interfering with a neck brace, if you decide to wear one. It is a very breathable piece with vents to allow excellent air flow. It’s also comforting to know that it’s been CE EN1621 saftey level 2 certified. Not surprising since it’s made from high density poly ethylene for the outer shell. And still remains comfortable because of the AirFit soft impact foam on the inside.
This chest protector can be a bit heavy for some people though. If you want a more lightweight option, I would go with the Leatt Adventure Lite found here on Amazon. It’s very similar to the Leatt 4.5 Chest Protector minus the shoulder and upper arm guards. It won’t protect your body as much, but it’s better than nothing, and is a very popular option.
Both of these chest protectors can be worn under or over a jersey. I’ve worn it both ways and either way works fine. Leatt makes a great chest protector for the money, if you spend a little extra now on a quality piece of gear, it will save you money in the long run. I could’ve bought three of these with the amount I’ve wasted on cheap chest protectors. The cheap ones just don’t last, and don’t look nearly as nice as these.
I think this chest protector will last me a good 5-10 years, and that’s why I’m sticking with my recommendation for the Leatt 4.5 Chest Protector I got from Amazon.
Roost Guards / Roost Deflectors
Roost is the dirt and rocks kicked up by your ATV or by other riders. That is really all a roost guard will protect you from, along with branches and sticks hitting you when riding through wooded areas. It will not really protect you in the event of a crash though, and they weren’t designed to. Roost guards don’t pass any CE safety certifications either, it’s just not what they’re built for.
You can find good roost deflectors at a good price online. Like this Fox Racing Roost Deflector (link to Amazon), which comes in different sizes and colors. I’ve used this one before, it’s actually really light and easy to wear. If you’re looking for a good quality roost guard, I recommend this one. But keep in mind, a roost deflector or roost guard isn’t going to protect your kidneys, ribs, shoulders, or clavicle the way a chest protector does.
I would use a roost guard for light riding where I won’t be zooming past trees. But if you plan on doing tricks, or riding quickly through tough terrain. I would go with a stronger safer option, like a chest protector.
Jacket Body Armor
I will start by saying I don’t really like the jacket style body armor for ATV riding. It might make sense for enduro riders and motorcycle riders, they may even help keep you warmer in the winter months on a quad. But for most four wheeling, I would just get a chest protector and some elbow pads. Some of the jacket style body armor does have a chest protector, shoulder pads, and elbow pads all in one jacket, but because of the downsides, I wouldn’t go for it.
There are jacket style body armor options that have superior protection versus an ATV chest protector. But those will typically cost you a lot more money, and it’s not worth the added hassle. The fitment of the jackets are just one problem. The pads are sewn into the jacket, so if you don’t find an exact perfect fit, the pads won’t be covering and protecting the areas they’re supposed to. There are some that you can adjust, but it’s hard finding a good fit.
Another problem I had with the jacket style armor, is how hot they get. I couldn’t even keep wearing mine during the summer months because of how hot it made me. It’s all the extra plastic, it adds protection, but also heats you up pretty good. Plus they tend to cost more than just buying a good chest protector and elbow pads.
The best jacket armor for the money I could find is this Fox Racing Titan Jacket found here on Amazon. It is made with mesh to be more breathable and does protect more of the spine than a normal chest protector. It gets decent reviews and is pretty comfortable if you get the right size. I would still recommend just getting a quality chest protector, but it’s personal preference. If you like the jackets, and they’ll work for what you need, get a nice quality jacket body armor.
Air Style Chest Protectors
These chest protectors are super light and comfortable. They’re basically a combo of foam and plastic, most have very little plastic, which fits tight and snug on the rider. These are made to be worn under a jersey, and usually have buckles of some kind on the side.
I don’t wear these kinds of chest protectors myself. I don’t think the little bit of extra comfort is worth the loss of safety. These are just about as safe as a roost guard, maybe a little more, but not much. I would wear one of these in the same scenarios I would wear a roost guard, if I planned a day of light riding only.
If I were to get one of these, I would have to go with the Fox Titan Race (link to Amazon). This one has a CE 1621 saftey certification, but it’s only level 1, and is only for back coverage. Again, these are another form of a roost guard, and not suitable for doing tricks or faster speed trail riding.
ATV Chest Protector Safety
If you’re going to buy and wear a chest protector, you want to make sure it does it’s job and keeps you safe. Try to look for a CE certification, that means it has been independently tested to ensure the body armor meets certain safety standards. The CE EN1621 standard is designed to protect your body and organs from blunt impacts, such as a fall or crash.
The CE marking is a certification for safety and health purposes. It started in 1985 and stands for European conformity. It’s basically a European safety standard for anything being manufactured in or designed to be sold in the European Economic Area. The symbol is recognized worldwide and is also used for products not being sold in Europe because it is such a well known safety standard.
If you’re riding through trails where there are trees, it’s important to wear something that will protect you from being skewered by a branch. I’ve seen it before, someone loses control and goes off trail through a bunch of trees. Having a strong, well built, and buckled up chest protector is a game changer in those situations.
The safest chest protector out there is the Leatt 5.5 Chest Protector (link to Amazon), but it will cost you. If you really want the best protection while you’re riding, this is the one you want. It will be heavier than the other options, but that’s because it has more protection.
Getting a well built, good quality chest protector is a must if you value your safety. It’s cheaper than going to the hospital that’s for sure, and less painful. It could even save your life, you want full protection of your organs, spine, and clavicle. Accidents do happen, and you’re better safe than sorry.
Be careful about using chemical cleaners to clean your chest protector. The chemicals can weaken the materials, and some companies even void the warranty if you do. Instead, use a rag and some water. Cleaning your gear will help it last a long time.
What To Look For
There are a few things to look for when it comes to chest protection, other than safety and comfort. You want something somewhat snug so you can wear it under a jersey so it’s out of the way. Get something that looks easy to clean, it’s always a good idea to keep your gear clean so it will last you a long time.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Removable arm guards – makes things easier
- Cooling vents – these allow for greater airflow
- Adjustable shoulder straps – these allow for greater flexibility in the shoulder area
- Light weight – you want to still be able to move around
- Good padding – look for good padding around the shoulders and neck
- Good material – high impact poly carbonate or high density poly ethylene
- Neck brace – look for something that will allow you to wear a neck brace if you want to
- Size and color – get something you won’t get sick of looking at
Keep good care of your chest protector by storing it in a cool dry place. Keep your straps buckled while in storage to avoid breaking them. If you want to see some of the other gear I’ve thoroughly tested and recommend, check out the Recommended Gear section of this site.