Vest tops, or wife beaters as they are affectionately known, don't really conjure up images of someone cranking hard on some blocs in Font. Instead I get a mental image of some flat bloke sat in an old chair drinking special brew with take away spilt down their front. The sort of thing you might see on one of those soap episodes which have a help line number at the end of it.
Since receiving the top I have been conducting my own experiments into this. I feel a bit stupid wearing a vest, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Knowing that you already look a bit silly may mean that you don't mind trying that move you don't think will work and falling off. Falling off things is, of course, a good way to improve.
|Trad climber in vest (The Big Sender Collection)|
Firstly, to decide on what a better climber is, you need a base value. For me I take my standard climber ability as wearing a t-shirt. A trip to Rothley, in Northumberland, has been my yard stick for measuring ability between clothing types. This test is centered around a surprisingly good font 7a called Gloom. On my first visit I worked the problem in a t-shirt and couldn't do one little section in the middle (rubbish). My next trip saw me start climbing in the vest top. This time I managed to link the middle section, but I still hadn't done it from a sitter (better). Later on that day I tried the problem without a top on and got it sent (best!).
So why buy a vest if going tops off is best? It is not always possible to go tops off. Maybe you have chest hair like Ryan Giggs or you climb at a wall that has a no tops off rule. Remember, in this situation, vests are better than a shirt.
There are dangers associated with wearing vest tops too. They do have a thuggish look about them. Is that how you want to be seen? Maybe don't wear them to a job interview or to a nice restaurant.
|Shifty looking students wearing vests, probably about to be turfed out by security (Fergus Cuthill Collection)|
|Do you want to look like this man? (Fergus Cuthill Collection)|