By Bill Heald
[This Firstgear Scout IV Motorcycle Jacket Review was originally published in the January 2008 issue of Rider magazine]
Call me obsessed, but I pay close attention to the evolution of the riding apparel I’ve used over the years. For example, I stay aware of the new features that grace the new version of my helmet, and I recently discovered my favorite leather jacket is now on its fourth iteration. I acquired a Firstgear Scout motorcycle jacket back in the mid-’90s, and I’m told the original model dates back to 1991. It had everything I needed in a riding jacket: great ventilation, snap-in cold-weather liner, lots of storage and body armor.
I also loved the fact that it didn’t look like a hard-core biker jacket–if you didn’t know better you might think it was a regular bomber-style garment. This made it appropriate for wearing off the bike (especially when traveling by air, where all that storage comes in handy). The latest version (called the Scout IV) stays true to the original and is much improved in terms of features and function. The only real “downside” is a more motorcycle-specific look, which obviously won’t bother most of you (I kind of miss the collar and low-key look of the original).
Like the first Scout, there are two big exterior pockets that run parallel to the main zipper (which has two tracks so you can close the jacket tightly or a bit looser if you want). These pockets house the Cargo Storage System, and when you zip down the inside perimeter of either pocket you reveal perforated leather for ventilation (the air comes in here and exits out vents in the rear). This Torso Vent System moves a lot of air quite effectively. Hook-and-loop next to these vents keeps the big pockets closed securely until you want to rip into them. The Cargo Storage System has all kinds of pockets on both sides, and the right side has an elastic lanyard for keys or whatever. There are handwarmer pockets and an interior pocket as well.
Another cool ventilation feature is actually an improvement over the original Scout’s “airscoop” sleeve vents, which were found at the wrists and couldn’t be used if you wore gauntlet gloves. The new Scout has some mesh in the split front sleeve, which you can open for ventilation in hot weather thanks to two-way zippers. For cold weather there’s a snap-in, full-length Thermoliner with a Thermoneck neck warmer (that stores in the liner when not in use). The body of the jacket is 1.2-1.3mm Kwik-Dry water-resistant leather with Powerstretch leather panels for freedom of movement, double stitching in key areas and reflective piping in front and back. CE-approved armor is found in the elbows and shoulders, and an optional ($9.95) Temperfoam back pad slides into a zippered internal sleeve.
Fit, ventilation, protection and storage versatility in the Series IV are either equal or superior to my 10-year-old Scout, and the new version has a 10-year warranty. Prices range from $399.95-$449.95 for men’s sizes M-4XL; men’s tall sizes L-4XL; and women’s sizes S-2XL.
For more information see your dealer or contact Firstgear, Tucker Rocky, 4900 Alliance Gateway Freeway, Fort Worth, Texas 76177; (866) 302-5676 or (817) 258-9008; www.firstgear-usa.com