It’s no secret that I have been wearing Aerostich Roadcrafter one piece suits for years.  So I really wanted to be up front with our “bias” towards this piece of gear.  That said, I’ve had the opportunity to compare and contrast the differences between the Roadcrafter Classic and R-3 Light one piece suits.  I’ve literally ridden these suits tens of thousands of miles in extreme heat and cold.  I’ve also ridden them for many hours in dry, damp, rain and bucketing down rain.  So here’s what I’ve found.

My Roadcrafter Classic has handled the years very well and I still use them on a daily basis.  That being said, I’ve been riding in hotter and hotter climates recently and heat has become a more significant issue.  A trip along the Trans American Trail in the hottest, muggiest weather I’ve ever experienced made checking out a lighter weight option almost mandatory.

The standard Roadcrafter is made with 500 denier cordura Gore-Tex with 1050 denier cordura in the ballistic areas (i.e. high impact areas).  Both these deniers are much thicker and heavier than the 200 denier outer layer cordura Gore-Tex of the Roadcrafter Light.  Aerostich claims that the Roadcrafter Light is has roughly two thirds the abrasion resistance of the 500 denier cordura.  They don’t publish the denier of the ballistic areas for the Roadcrafter Light, but it seems to be similar to the ballistic material used in the standard Roadcrafter, meaning it is very sturdy.

There are significant differences between the Roadcrafter Classic and the Roadcrafter Light.  Think of the Roadcrafter Light as the evolution of the standard Roadcrafter.  According to Aerostich, there have been numerous improvements including:

  • waterproof zippers,
  • snap down collar,
  • removable rare-earth magnetic collar clasps,
  • water-resistant inner wallet/phone/iPod pocket,
  • adjustable impact pad positions,
  • inner pocket hook for accessory pocket
  • and a mini-carabiner helmet holder clip.

There are additional options, including:

  • Integrated Boot Raincovers,
  • Chest Impact Pad,
  • Chest Insulation Pad (Standard and Electric/Heated versions) can also be incorporated.

The R-3 light immediately felt lighter than the standard Roadcrafter.  The difference in weight is indeed very noticeable and it is significant.  It also felt more ready to wear and exhibited much less “break it in” feel.  Although the standard Roadcrafter has a brief “break in” period, it eventually becomes like an old pair of jeans; very comfortable.  Getting in and out was also the same easy procedure as it is for the standard Roadcrafter.

Since the R-3 Light has some claimed improvements, it’s best to discuss them.  So far, the suit has been entirely waterproof.  There have been no leaks with none of the dreaded Aerocrotch leakage.  The zippers do seem to have tighter teeth, but it has not effected the ability to easily zip or un-zip them.

The snap down collar (in the back) is easy to use and makes the collar snugger and easily closed.  There are now strong rare earth magnets in the base of the collar and in the collar tabs.  They keep the collar down while riding so you don’t have to ride with the collar closed.  They are very effective, perhaps a bit too effective.  You need to exercise a bit of care zipping up so that the collar doesn’t automatically fold down.  This is a minor annoyance and if you had to choose between having or not having the magnets, you’ll definitely prefer that the suit have magnets.  The water-resistant pocket seems to do it’s job, we’ve not had any water in the pocket.

There is a very definite difference between the armor mounting in the two suits.  The standard Roadcrafter has a sort of inner liner that has sewn in pockets to hold your armor.  The R-3 Light comes with separate pockets which you Velcro into the suit in the appropriate places.  While the armor pockets stay in place, I found that I have to use a little more care when putting my boot foot into the suit.  Especially on the right leg where the zipper does not extend the full length of the leg.  I’ve never had an issue getting the suit on or off, it’s just that I need to be more careful putting it on.  If you don’t insert the suit armor, this is a non-issue.  If you do wear armor, it shouldn’t be considered to be a big enough issue to turn you off from buying the R-3 Light.  Lastly, the inner accessory hook and the helmet carabineer are nice to have, but aren’t anything spectacular.

I didn’t purchase the integrated boot rain covers, chest impact pad so I can’t say how well they do or don’t work.

Overall, I really like the R-3 Light and now wear it most of the time.  If it’s going to be a cooler temperature I’ll opt for the Roadcrafter Classic.  So there are some advantages to the R-3 Light.  Because the cordura is a lower denier, it is lighter but fits the same, is watertight and packs much smaller than the standard Roadcrafter Classic.  There’s really nothing not to like about this suit.

So if you are the type that always wants the most protection that you can get in a fabric suit, or you ride in mostly cold temperatures (i.e. 50 F or below) you’ll probably want to opt for the Roadcrafter Classsic.  But if you are ok with having two thirds the abrasion protection, in a lighter, cooler suit for $200 less, then the Roadcrafter Light may be for you.

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