Best All Around Jacket for a Six Month Trip

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by AdventurePoser, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Hi all, and thanks in advance....

    I'm leaving (God Willing:D) on a six month tour of the northern and southern hemispheres, and need some advice on a good "overland" jacket.

    I'm not a newbie. Been riding since 1997 and have amassed around 300K miles. I mention this only because I think I've purchased, during that time, about every piece of moto gear available in the Free World.:huh

    I currently ride in RiderWearHouse AD 1 pant. Comfortable, waterproof, and broken in, they'll cover my butt for the trip...:rofl

    But what about jackets? I currently have an Olympia AST2, which seemed like a good choice-lots of vents for the summer heat, and with armor that seems to provide good protection....but here's the rub: the jacket purports to be waterproof, but it not, by any stretch of my imagination.

    The owners of the company are wonderful people-I've spoken to them on several occasions, and believe they genuinely make a quality product. My AST 2 is my "go to" jacket here in sunny So Cal. When I talked to them about my jacket soaking through, they advised I wash it carefully, and then spray it with ScotchGard. This worked...for awhile. In a nutshell, as much as I enjoy my AST 2 I don't think it's got the stamina for 6 months on the road, in every possible weather condition!

    So, what do you wear, and why? What garments have worked for you on long expeditions? Any and all opinions will be gratefully and thoughtfully accepted.

    Happy traveling,

    Steve
    #1
  2. totomoto

    totomoto Been here awhile

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    I have had the BMW Comfortshell jacket and pants for a year and I am very happy with the set. It's absolutely waterproof and is good in a large range of temperatures. I have ridden in it up to 100 degrees in Death Valley and in a few days of non-stop rain. If it gets below 40, I wear a heated vest. I think that the Dynatec fabric is one of the best abrasion-resistant textiles (although leather always seems best). I addition, the BMW includes one of the best armor. The back protector is Level 2 and covers a large area. I also own leathers and Rev'it gear but for longer trips I always wear the BMW gear because it is the most versatile. I think the Comfortshell is discontinued but the new Tourshell is probably very similar.
    #2
  3. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Toto,

    Thanks...I'll do some research on this.

    Steve
    #3
  4. BeachMoto

    BeachMoto Been here awhile

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    I am a gear whore, I own a number of jackets including a Rukka Armas, a Stadler Airgate Pro, Roadcrafters and Darien Light and a regular Darien (and a few Olympia, RevIt, Firstgear that I have bought and sold).

    I will give you my 2 cents worth on each (you will notice a trend, I don't like liners, all of my jackets have a waterproof outer shell):

    For cold weather the Rukka Armas is hands down the best jacket I have ever had but in temps above 80, it is a sauna.

    The Stadler Airgate has great venting and it is completely waterproof. Great all weather jacket

    The RC is a great jacket but even with the underarm and back venting it gets a little too warm for my liking in the summer.

    The regular Darien is a great cold weather jacket, it is roomy and allows for layering. I haven't worn my regular Darien since I bought my Darien Light

    The Darien light has all the benefits of the Darien but it is much cooler and still allows for layering. I haven't worn the Darien Light since I bought the Stadler.

    Having said all that, if your budget allows, get a Stadler Airgate Pro, if you need a custom jacket that does it all for about half the price of the Stadler, get a Darien light.

    Darien Light is a simple jacket without too many zippers or vents that could fail and you could wear it off the bike by simply taking out the armour.
    #4
  5. funinthesun

    funinthesun Been here awhile

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    I have owned many suits over the last few years, rally 3, firstgear tpg, klim adv rally were the three tops on the list. sadly all very pricey too. They all were waterproof and good through 30-90 degrees. I now am working with wayne at motoport to build a suit that combines all the features of those three to make the ultamate suit for me, as none of them seemed to meet all needs, but they all met most of them. i'll be doing a complete write up when I'm finished with it. Im a average size but very just enough to where all the mentioned suits did not fit just right which led to leaks here and there and overly hot or cold spots in any given condition. I recommend any of the three if you fit the sizing.
    If not I would recommend finding what you like and getting it altered. I chose motoport because its the most protective you can get! Plus you can custom design the gear for whatever you want.
    just my 2 cents hope it helps
    #5
  6. outridingagain

    outridingagain Adventurer

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    I have used an AST for about three years and many many miles. I think it is a really great jacket except it it is not waterproof. Sent the first one back after a week thinking it was defective, Kevin was great and got me another one right out, it leaked also, kept it and lived with it. If it stayed dry without the liner I would look no further. I just ordered a Klim badlands pro, uber expensive in my opinion but if it stays dry it will be worth it to me. Have a friend that has had one for awhile now without a leak so we will see.
    #6
  7. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    I am also a gear whore. I CURRENTLY own (not listing all the other gear I've previously owned) a Roadcrafter 1pc, Darien jacket and pants, 3 sets of Syed Custom 1pc leathers, and a Motoport Air Mesh Kevlar jacket and air mesh Kevlar jeans. The newest of those is the Motoport gear at 3 (or 4?) years old.

    My Motoport gear is my answer for all riding conditions except EXTREME cold. If it's above freezing, rain or shine, my Motoport gear is my answer. And the only reason it's not my answer for below freezing is that I purposely had it made to fit like leathers. So, there's room underneath the jacket for a long john shirt, t-shirt, heated, waterproof liner, and that's it. If I had had it made a little roomier, so I could fit a fleece under there, too, then it would be my ALL weather suit.

    My MP gear, with waterproof liners, is cooler when it's hot out, waterPROOF, breathes better, and fits better than my Roadcrafter (which, itself, was highly customized for fit, at RiderWearhouse). And the MP gear (with waterproof liner) is just as warm as the Roadcrafter, when wearing the same clothing underneath.

    And as has already been pointed out, the MP gear is better protection and more durable than any other gear I know of.

    For touring, I DEFINTELY prefer a 2pc suit, with riding pants cut like jeans. The waist length MP jacket has been my favorite riding jacket I've ever owned.
    #7
  8. la's

    la's Adventurer

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    I have not gone on such a trip. But, I would take my Comfortshell if such a broad range of weather was expected.
    #8
  9. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Thanks everyone for your well thought out answers, everybody. I guess I'm a gear whore as well, though I haven't owned the Darien or Darien Light.

    I looked at the Klim as well, but it is as expensive as shipping my GSA from Panama to Colombia.:rofl

    Interestingly, a couple of you mentioned Moto Port. Many years ago I went down to their shop near San Diego and took a look, but eventually ended up buying a Road Crafter...I think I'll check them out as well.

    Right now, I'm leaning toward a Darien LIght, since much of the trip will be in hot weather, and when it's not, I can layer...

    Thanks again for all your responses-not an easy decision.:D
    #9
  10. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

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    For hot weather you really can't go wrong with the Motoport mesh. Screw their liners, get a gortex rain jacket from them large enough to wear over the mesh then layer what ever you like underneath the mesh for colder weather.
    #10
  11. keiji

    keiji Long timer

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    The choice of gear will depend on the riding you intend to do, the climate you will be in, and roughly how important storage space will be to you.

    I have laminated waterproof outers (a-la AD1's) and don't get me wrong, they're great pieces of gear, but they honestly suck in hot weather compared to stuff with removable wp liners.

    Consider that if you crash and compromise the WP layer, it may be very difficult to source materials as well as extremely time consuming to perform a waterproof repair depending on where you are. Then you are stuck with something that is hot and leaks (like your AST2!). Removable liners on the other hand are fairly trivial to repair with something like seam grip as you would usually not have to source fabric.

    My advice is this - if you intend to do any off roading, I would recommend not using a suit with a WP outer. While many people get away with this, it is not really an ideal situation to be subjecting your only raingear to this abuse on an extended trip. Unless you bring extra rain gear anyway, in which case the point is moot.
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  12. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    Actually, since he wants to be able to handle cold, too, I would suggest the Warm n Safe Gen WP (waterproof) liner and letting that do double duty. That's what I do now, and my Motoport Aerotex jacket liner hasn't been used since I got it.
    #12
  13. Mucka

    Mucka Been here awhile

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    What are you going to wear off the bike? You might just want to get a waterproof sheel to wear over your AST and then it could double as a off the bike jacket.

    Russ
    #13
  14. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

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    Lots of folks go that route. Wear an insulated layer under the jacket when its cold, then wear the goretex WP outside to block the wind. The advantages to the outer WP instead of the liner are several.

    1.Your gear stays dry, including the stuff in your pockets.
    2. You don't have to strip down to install liners on the road.
    3. The larger dead air space between you and the outer WP layer will insulate you better.
    #14
  15. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    Usually, when I'm touring, space is at a premium. So, I would generally not take an outer WP shell AND a liner. At least, not when I can just take a WP, heated liner. In fact, the WP heated liner lets me leave at home a WP shell or other WP liner, and my fleece.

    I'm not worried about the extra insulation from having an outer WP shell. As I said before, the air mesh jacket with the Gen WP liner is just as warm - to me, anyway - as my Roadcrafter 1pc suit, with the Gen WP liner underneath. It's definitely plenty warm enough for any temps at least down to freezing. So, why pack anything extra?

    As for my outer mesh jacket getting wet in the rain... first, the mesh kevlar doesn't really retain water. So, I have not noticed it causing me to be colder than I am in my Roadcrafter in similar situations. Second, I don't very often run into completely unexpected rain. So, it's usually not a problem to prepare in advance as far as whether I am already wearing the WP liner and whether I have stuff in my pockets in ziplocs or stowed as necessary. But, on the odd occasion when I do have to pull over and rain prep, taking off my jacket to put on a liner, then put my jacket back on is roughly a 30 second operation. Definitely not a big enough deal for me to trade that off in favor of a jacket that would leave me being hot and sweat-damp on the inside much of the year.

    Oh, and I made the mistake once of assuming that my Roadcrafter pockets would keep stuff dry, so I didn't need to pull over and put stuff in ziplocs. I got a Palm Pilot (yes, this was quite a while back) literally filled with water as a reward. So, for me anyway, having a "waterproof" outer shell would still not save me from having to rain-prep stuff in my pockets.
    #15
  16. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Ok, lots to process here...just a question...

    Why would you wear a WP LINER underneath your riding jacket? Granted the water would pass thru the jacket and be repelled by the WP liner, but doesn't that just leave you with riding apparel that is cold next to your skin? It would seem to me the wet WP liner would be quite cold as wind passes over the outer jacket and it cools by convection? This is BMW's approach to waterproof gear, isn't it? Permeable cordura on the outside, but underneath a Gore Tex liner...

    Wouldn't you stay warmer if the layer next to your skin was not covered in moisture?

    Just wondering...
    #16
  17. keiji

    keiji Long timer

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    It is mostly a cost/benefit thing.

    If it's like 60f+ and raining, it's not a big deal. If it's lower, you put in your insulating layer that you have hopefully brought for your trip. But below a certain temperature, it stops raining and starts snowing, and then it doesn't really matter anymore.

    For a large majority of riders who cannot afford $400+jackets using laminates, waterproof jackets typically use z-liners. That is, the outer shell is not waterproof, and the membrane is sandwiched between the shell and mesh lining. Performance is more or less the same as above

    Some of the advantages of removable liners are:
    • Lower cost compared to laminates for similar features
    • Liner can be removed in hot weather
    • Liner is protected in minor crashes
    • Liners are hard for manufacturers to get wrong and are fairly reliable(I have had a lot of vented suits leak, including gore-tex ones)
    • Leaks in the liner can be easily identified and repaired
    • Repairs can be made to the outer shell without special fabrics or equipment (seam tape)

    You are basically looking at a firstgear kilimanjaro as the cheapest laminate, with the next step up being an Aerostich darien, and from there on up, costs keep climbing and fast! Those are some big bucks for something than can be damaged so easily.
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  18. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    I am appreciating this wealth of information. Thanks for your well thought out response.

    Steve
    #18
  19. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

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    You're correct.
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  20. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

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    Unfortunately, I'm not planning a 6 mon. trip right now, but I do think about this question often. The first two questions to ask yourself are whether you want to be waterproof 100% of the time, or if you want the versatility of perhaps a lighter, cooler suit when it isn't raining.

    Real Estate being what it is on a bike, I would try to maximize the use of everything I took with me. For me, that would rule out multiple liner suits, favoring a GoreTex laminated one, unless I chose to ditch all the liners from those suits and use other garments for protection from the cold/rain. ie: a nice waterproof shell type jacket to wear for the rain on the bike, or around town. A nice fleece, vs the zip in liner that you can't use in that capacity.

    Now, if you're like me, you despise fabric flapping in the wind, which is the only reason I would then take that waterproof jacket and wear it under the gear. I find that goofy, and it sucks in the cold, but the flapping is brutal...

    Instead, I would opt for a GoreTex laminated shell with lots of venting. Unfortunately, that rules out what may be the best piece of motorcycling gear I've ever owned, the Rukka Armas. From where we stand today, looking at gear, I'd have to go with the Klim Badlands Pro, as trendy as that may seem. Reviews are great, and its hard to beat the long list of features on the suit, including GoreTex Proshell, armacor, latest D3O armor, chest armor and lots of venting. With the waterproofing out of the way, I'd then look for the most packable waterproof shell and fleece I could find that roll up the smallest and take up the least space. You'll need that waterproof jacket when you're wandering a new town and its raining.

    If I chose not to go the 100% waterproof direction, without question, it would be a Motoport Stretch Kevlar suit. For protection, not much out there can touch it.

    Protection is a no brainer, and any of the higher end suits will protect you well enough. I mean, some are better than others, but we're riding motorcycles aren't we? Hardly the smartest thing to do if safety is your number one priority. Notice that I'm making that statement in the same post that I'm mentioning manufacturers like Klim, Rukka & Motoport. The best of the best for sure. I'm not telling you to blow off protection in favor of jeans and a T-shirt.

    So, the conclusion I've come to if I was taking off on a trip like yours would be my trusty Motoport stretch kevlar Ultra II pants (in your case, AD1's) and I'd force myself to replace my Armas (come on Rukka, build us a jacket with adequate venting!) jacket with a Badlands Pro. That seems like a very good combination of protection, versatility and comfort.
    #20