When I get a riding suit I look for protection against the elements, such as cold, heat and rain, but its primary purpose needs to be protection against injury during an accident. There are some awfully posh outfits that look great, but should I be tumbling down the road at 60 mph, perhaps I am less interested in how I look than in how I will feel when I come to a stop.
Aerostich is primarily concerned with crash protection. Comfort and looks are secondary. Its Darien suit, jacket and pants, is made of 500 denier Cordura Gore-Tex breathable/waterproof outer fabric, which is pretty hardy stuff when it comes to sliding along on the asphalt. Shoulder, elbow and kneepads are included, and Scotchlite panels help to be seen when riding at night.
Both items are single-layer, with no liners, which I like. Single-layer means cool on a hot day, and layers can go underneath when it is cold. Which allows me to ride from Big Bend to Banff without a problem.
Lots of pockets in the jacket, and ventilation for those hot days. The collar is a stand-up to fully cover the throat on a cold day, and on warm ones can be folded down and secured by snaps—with magnets keeping those pesky ends from flapping. Very wise. Hook and loop adjusters at the waist and skirt make sure the fit is right, for hot weather or cool, and adjusters on the sleeves make sure there is no flap.
Pants have full-length zippers on both legs, making them easy to get off should you have a pair of jeans underneath and want to go for a stroll. Snaps on each side can adjust the waist to accommodate those jeans, while a web belt with Fastex buckle runs through half a dozen loops and makes sure the pants do not fall down. Two jeans-style slash pockets are on the front and a third on the back.
The American-made Cordura is extremely resistant to abrasion, but does require a break-in period. When I first put on the suit it was quite stiff, but after a couple of thousand miles it is becoming more flexible. Going through the break-in ritual ensures that you will bond with it. So it is with Aerostich garments…learn to love them, as they will be with you for many years.
The Gore-Tex layer is what makes the Cordura nylon both breathable and water-resistant—but since California is in drought I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ride in a serious rain. That will happen, I’m sure. The gear is not cheap, with the Darien jacket costing $537, pants, $337. But it may be the last riding suit you need to buy.
For more information, call (800) 222-1994 or visit aerostich.com.
(This Gearlab review was published in the October 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)