Santini Scudo Vest and Falco Shoe Covers: Ticking the boxes

First things first, the Santini Scudo is a vest and not a gillet. There’s a differen…

First things first, the Santini Scudo is a vest and not a gillet. There’s a difference. While we’re at it, the Falco are called TT Shoe Covers and are not booties. With lecture time over, Cyclist hits the streets to sample the latest Santini wears.

Words and photography: Colin Levitch

There’s not a lot to a vest, and there are three things it needs to do well: fit appropriately over a jersey, provide the right level of warmth and finally, pack down small enough to shove into a jersey pocket – at least that’s what I look for. Plenty of brands have tried to make the humble vest into a hyper-technical garment made from a mix of unicorn dandruff and the Asgardian metal Uru but often this comes at the expense of one of the three key factors. A simple and well-made vest is often the best vest.

Santin’s Scudo vest is a featherweight windbreaker meant to keep the brisk air at bay on a long descent and serve as an effective emergency layer should you get caught out and need a bit of protection. But, how many of the three essential boxes does it tick? Let’s find out.

Scudo fit

Santini calls the Scudo vest race fit and I would mostly agree. Through the hips and torso, it’s well tailored and the horizontal stretch in the fabric allows it to conform to your body. This stretch is especially useful in the back and shoulders as it prevents the front of the armholes from digging into your armpits.

Across the chest, however, Santini hasn’t quite nailed the cut. When standing upright, the vest fits fine; but, leaning over and reaching for your bars created a decent bubble of fabric that flaps in the wind at speed. This would have been an area where Santini could have used the horizontal stretch to its advantage, especially given that there are men’s and women’s cuts.

My other sticking point is the cut around the neck. The opening itself is quite small, and I wasn’t able to zip the size medium sample all the way up. To the brand’s credit, they’ve put a fold of fabric over the top and bottom of the zip to prevent irritation from rubbing and I could just have a thicker neck than the average Giulio Ciccione wannabe.

Lightly toasted

The warmth of a vest is dependant on its weight, a wind vest isn’t going to do much as the temp approaches freezing, and you’re going to cook in a thermal vest if you just need it for a descent.

The Scudo falls into the latter category, and the lightweight material does well to block the wind while also allowing sweat and moisture to permeate the fabric, preventing the lukewarm sauna effect. Made from a laminated fabric, it does have a bit of that ‘crunchy’ feel and sound to it and offered some water resistance. But beyond a bit of DWR coating on the exterior of the fabric, there’s not much waterproofing to speak of, which leads into the next feature.

Stash and dash

Tipping our scales at 102g, the packability is where the Scudo shines. There is a small zippered pocket on the rear of the jacket, plenty big enough for some riding food or even your phone, but the jacket itself can be stuffed into this little area for neat and tidy stowaway.

Overall, the Scudo is an ideal emergency layer which would be a great addition to a trip to the Victorian Alps – to be thrown on after you top out on a climb, or a morning chain gang to cut through the chill in the air. Of my three essential boxes, I would say the Scudo checks two and half. At $149, it’s a competitively priced piece, and Santini is gets very close to but for me, the neck proved the only let down.

Falco shoe covers

Santini’s Falco shoe covers are the brand’s lightweight, and aerodynamic option claimed to help you squeeze every watt you can out of an effort. The smooth silver fabric has a texture akin to a water balloon, and I would speculate they would be more aero than a traditional fabric cover however without a trip to a wind tunnel, this is nothing more than a hunch. We’ve worn the Redux Aero socks previously and while we didn’t crack the Tissot timing with our speed, they felt fast!

They don’t offer a whole lot in the way of warmth, but that’s not what they are designed for. That said, the silver finish of the exterior of the bootie is surprisingly wind and water resistant however, in a deluge, you’re going to be left with wet, cold feet – amongst many other things I imagine.

When it comes to getting the Falco covers over your shoes, they are some of the quickest and easiest to get in position. The super stretchy fabric and well-placed finger loops eliminate the usual bunch and pull for your life method.

Spray on

Zipping the covers up is a whole different story. We actually had two sets of these booties for review and the first were basically impossible to zip, requiring zipper wax from the get go and and zipper teeth that would jump out of alignment as the slider passed over them. I mentioned this issue to Santini, and they said this was the first they’d heard of such problems, and sent a second set.

It was clear as soon as I pulled on the new covers that the first set had a bad zipper, but even with working hardwear they’re still not all that easy to get on – for what it’s worth, I’m yet to come across a set of shoe covers I’d classify as ‘easy’ to put on and given the Falco are labelled TT (time trial), it’s probably fair to assume one isn’t going to pull these on for the Friday coffee shop ride.

Once the zipper gets started the upper section relies on the stretch of the material for a vacuum sealed fit, it’s a bit like trying to close an overstuffed suitcase. I’m no calf-Zilla, but I’d recommend having a swanny (soigneur) alongside to add a pair of hands to the fitting. Once zipped up,the Santini covers have that indescribable cool factor, from the knees down it looks like you’re about to line up for the TTT at the Giro.

Final thoughts

But, does the cool factor justify the $90 price tag? Some may argue that ‘free’ speed can be found by using an old sock or that VeloToze cost about one quarter of the price but even so, the Falco is built for performance, not durability and the RRP is about on the mark when compared to other high-end TT covers.

I’m quietly confident they wouldn’t stand up against a lay down either but they might save your shoes from a few scuffs. But as we well know, marginal gains don’t come for free and the TT specialist looking to cheat the wind won’t be able to look at themselves in the mirror unless every bit of advantage has been squeezed out of their equipment.

Head across to Santini Australia’s all-new site for further details, local distributors or to purchase online.