The Road Noise Vest: Music + Safety = Endurance Athlete’s Best Friend

A running vest with a green light and other features.

[Note: Road Noise provided John and I with road noise vests for our review. We agreed to review the vests and provide our honest assessment.]

After months of riding indoors, the weather broke two weekends ago for a slight instant – just long enough for a 4-hour outside jaunt.

Outside, people! It’s been an especially brutal winter in the northeast – probably the coldest we’ve had in quite a few years.

While John and I have fixed up our pain cave quite nicely to permit winter training to continue, it is a poor substitute for the glorious, glorious open roads.

I was excited about this slight reprieve from wintry Mother Nature for two reasons:


1) I have only ridden outdoors twice since November. I have Raynaud’s, which means I’m not just being a wimp (although I am); cold weather riding HURTS my fingers and toes in a stingingly oppressive way.

2) I wanted to try my new Road Noise vest on the road.

What’s a Road Noise vest, you might ask?

Quite simply: It is the best friend an endurance athlete–runner or triathlete–could have on long training excursions.

As you can see from the picture, the Road Noise vest has speakers embedded near the shoulders. The key benefit is that you can hear the music, but you can also hear your breathing, footsteps, and most importantly the sounds in your environment–which is key for safety.

The idea for this product comes from Shelley Stout, who got creative when the Hood to Coast Relay Race banned the use of headphones, but not speakers that are below the head. She rigged up an early prototype, by hooking a speaker into her sports bra so she could still have music throughout the long, dark hours of running. That innovation eventually became the vest you see above. (You can read their story here.)

According to Shelley’s husband Rob Stout, fellow co-founder of the company, “Observing her contraption during the relay, combined with the reflective vest that’s required during the evening, is what lead to the idea to combine the two ideas into one.”

Voila! Road Noise was born.

The initial function of this vest was to serve a unique issue for runners. But when John first told me about it, my first thought went to my bike and those long 4-6 hour sessions, trudging alone through the pine barrens of New Jersey.

  • How many times have I sung songs to myself?
  • How many times have I wished desperately to have just a little bit of musical inspiration to help me through the rough patches?
  • How many times have I wanted to throw my bike in a ditch in utter frustration due to how lonely and monotonous those long rides can be at times?

While I know that some people will wear earphones when they cycle, that is a chance I am not willing to take. Having been side-swiped by a car before, I would much rather slog through boredom than have a car run me into a ditch.

Call me crazy. I’m just super cautious that way.

Enter Road Noise. My new best friend.

Since we got the vests about 6 weeks ago, John and I have used the vests for both running and cycling. We’d like to offer our thoughts for those of you who are looking for just the type of solution that this vest provides.


How does it fit? 

The vest fits over your shoulders and has adjustable velcro flaps that fit over the mid-section of your torso, right at the base of your rib cage.

The vest is light-weight–6.8 ounces for a large–featuring polyester mesh material, with 3M Scotchlite® reflective stripes that keep you visible while on the road. This is especially useful for those of you who like to run or bike in the darkness of the early morning or late evening.

road_noise_iphone_pict-3997861There are two pockets in the front, a larger one that will hold your music player (such as iPhone, iPod, or other MP3 device)  and a smaller one for money, gels, a key, or whatever.

John and I have been using our iPhones, which fit perfectly in the larger pocket. In fact, you don’t even know they are there: no bouncing, no jiggling, and no chafing.  I thought maybe they would bounce around – but no. Snug as a bug in a rug – or, as I like to say,


snug as an iPhone in a Road Noise vest.

You simply plug the device into the vest (shown in the picture at left) – and the music plays! There is a short cord in the pocket, which is easily tucked away. I really like this feature because the dangling cord of my mp3 player while I run drives me insane sometimes. I find that I’m always fumbling around to tuck it into something. With this vest, there’s no need because there aren’t any long cords to deal with.

This video provides an overview of how it works:

How does it sound? 

This is the important question, right? Can you actually hear the music?

For both running and cycling, the answer to the question is yes.

Whether running on the trails or the road, the music is easily heard, without drowning out the sounds around you. You can hear cars, your breathing, footsteps and other runners.

It’s important to note that when cars go by, they can drown out the sound of the music. But, I think that’s the point of wearing this vest–to be able to hear all of the sounds in your environment. So, if you are going to run on super busy roads, this vest isn’t an ideal option. But, do you really want to run on super busy roads anyway?

This vest can be useful if you run with a partner. John has been using the vest in his training leading up to the 100 mile ultramarathon at the NJ Ultra Festival (oh, yeah, that’s this coming Saturday, March 23, people! Can we get a Woop! Woop! for the boy? ). He’s done a fair amount of that training with his running partner Rob, and the Road Noise vest has allowed them to listen to the music together. Before the vest, John was running along with his iPhone just playing in his pocket, which wasn’t easy for either of them to hear.

That the vest is great for running was no big surprise to either of us. It’s lightweight, comfortable and sounds good. But, what about cycling?

I set up my Pandora radio station, hit play, and off I went. The music sounded great, and the sound quality was especially good when I was in aero position. It’s as if my torso and shoulders created a bit of a surround sound effect. But even when I was sitting up on the horns, I could hear the music just fine.

Most importantly for me, I could also hear the cars as they approached behind me.

When I came home from the ride, John said, “Well?”

“Road Noise is my new best friend.”

Looks like I have a training partner for this season.

Water and Sweat 

The speakers on the vest are water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rain or sweat harming them. However, the company doesn’t recommend submerging the speakers in water. To wash the vest, you need to take the speakers out of their pockets before putting the vest in the washing machine.

The pockets that hold the music device are mesh. So, your sweat (or rain) will permeate the pockets. I’m a sweaty-betty, so as the weather warms, and I’m no longer wearing several layers of clothing, I will wrap my iPhone in a ziploc bag to keep my sweat (or rain) from getting all over it. For those of you with waterproof cases for your phones or mp3 players, this won’t be an issue.

The Verdict

Both John and I recommend the Road Noise vest for running and cycling–especially for solo excursions. If you like to listen to music while running and cycling, but you are concerned about safety, and the ability to hear the sounds around you (including the ones your own body makes), this is a great solution to address that problem.

These vests have functionality beyond cycling and running. They are useful for strength and core training, since you don’t have to fuss around with cords. I also think the vests could be great for skiing or snowboarding, housework, and the website even mentions gardening.

The vests can be purchased online, through these retailers.


Do you listen to music when you train? Would a vest like this be useful for you? 

The Road Noise Vest: Music + Safety = Endurance Athlete’s Best Friend
Scroll to top

Accessibility Toolbar