I don't race anymore, but I still prefer skiing with light body armor. I protect the sides of my hips with baseball slider shorts (great if you lose an edge on hard snow), and wear a short (rib-length) Dainese mesh jacket (over my base layer, but under my ski jacket) with protective inserts for the forearms, elbows, and upper arms (it's very light and comfortable). But the mesh is starting to sag, so it's probably time to replace it. Given that I've twice injured my ribs/spine from impact with trees (not seriously -- just enough to sideline me for a few days and leave me sore for a few weeks), I thought maybe this time I should get something with a spine/back protector.
Here are some obvious choices, along with info. I've been able to glean thus far. Note that all of these are listed for skiing, except the Rhyolite, which is designed for mountain biking. Any suggestions? I'd of course particularly like to hear from those that have worn both brands.
Rhyolite Soft Jacket
Among the Dainese gear listed here, this one is the lightest and provides best freedom of movement. Spine protector is certified to absorb as much energy as one in Manis (CE2), and has shoulder/elbow protection equivalent to Action/Evo/Manis, but adds rib protection (Action/Evo/Manis just cover spine). However soft padding doesn't do well if object is not broad (e.g., a protruding rock). Also, soft spine protector doesn't breath as well as hard ones in Action/Evo/Manis. And material for jacket itself is not open breathable mesh like in Action (likely b/c. it's designed to be worn on the outside when mountain biking, so it has to be tough and snag-resistant). Finally, not sure if the "posture" of this is good for skiing, since it's designed to conform to someone hunched over handlebars.
Action Full Pro
Mesh material breaths better than material used in other Dainese's, spine protector is longer. But spine protector only certified to CE1, and is less flexible (b/c less articulated) and breathable than Evo/Manis. Lacks upper arm protection, but shoulder/elbow/forearm protection identical to Evo/Manis. More freedom of motion than Evo and Manis, but less than Rhyolite.
Ultimate Jacket Evo http://www.dainese.com/us_en/ultimate-jacket-evo-73262.html
Spine protector is CE1, but offers better protection than Action (but less than Manis, which is CE2), and is non-removable. Adds hard chest protection (identical to that on Manis), which I don't think I need, and it's not removable.
Manis Jacket Pro
Offers best protection of all Dainese's. Spine protector is CE2 and is more flexible, more breathable, slightly shorter, comparable in width, and a bit thicker than that on the Evo. Same shoulder, elbows, chest, humerus. Also, back protector can be removed from Manis, but not with Evo. Has mesh
These are identical, except the first is entirely soft, while the DH adds hard protection over the elbows. Spine protectors are certified EN-2. Can't tell if spine protector is wider (and thus provides more rib coverage) than those on Dainese's. Material for jacket looks more like that on Rhyolite than on Action, but haven't handled any of these in person.
Spine VPD 2.0 Jacket http://www.pocsports.com/en/product/1392/spine-vpd-2-0-jacket
Spine VPD 2.0 DH Jacket http://www.pocsports.com/en/product/1520/spine-vpd-2-0-dh-jacket
Edited by chemist - 9/29/15 at 11:36am