Leather is hard to beat in terms of durability and abrasion resistance, which is why you see road racers clad in animal hide from neck to toe. Leather also blocks wind and adds style, but, in addition to weighing and costing more than comparable textile apparel, leather is often hotter and has less weather resistance. With its Element Cooling Leather Jacket and Pants, Tour Master seeks to address these latter two issues.
Black leather absorbs sunlight in the visible spectrum, which makes the leather “look” black, and in the nonvisible, near-infrared radiation (NIR) spectrum, which is converted to heat and makes black leather feel warm to the touch. White leather, on the other hand, reflects sunlight in both spectrums, making it look white and feel cooler to the touch than black leather. The TFL Cooling Leather in Tour Master’s Element apparel uses special dyes and pigments that reflect rather than absorb NIR, which is said to reduce the surface temperature by up to 15 percent. Furthermore, TFL says that the temperature difference between standard leather and Cooling Leather increases with the duration and intensity of sun exposure. To test these claims, we laid the Tour Master Element jacket down on the sidewalk next to a standard black leather jacket for an hour on a sunny, 80-degree day. Our infrared thermometer broke, so we used the backs of our hands and the Tour Master jacket felt significantly cooler to the touch.
Cooler surface temperature is all well and good, but without an identical black jacket and pants made of regular leather to wear back-to-back with the Element, it’s hard to say if it’s significantly cooler inside. The Element apparel is made of thick leather and the only vents are small ones on the front and back of the shoulders and front of the thighs. Wearing it during a photo shoot on a hot day, my body heat was trapped inside and I was still hot. Additional ventilation would help the rider feel cooler by allowing more air to flow through the jacket and pants.
The jacket and pants are made from 1.1-1.2mm cowhide that’s said to be waterproof, but Tour Master labels the apparel as water “resistant” because the zippers are not waterproof. (We haven’t tested these claims because we’re still waiting on El Niño to bring some drought relief.) The leather has a soft, broken-in feel, the jacket and pants are lined with mesh, and everything felt comfortable from the first wear. Multiple pockets, CE-approved elbow/shoulder/knee armor, an articulated triple-density back protector, a full-sleeve Z.O.Q. (Zip Out Quilted) liner, stretch panels, adjustment straps, reflective panels and both 8-inch and wrap-around jacket-to-pants zippers make this a fully featured ensemble. The Element Cooling Jacket ($399.99) and Pants ($319.99) are available in men’s sizes XS-3XL in black only.
For more information: See your dealer or visit tourmaster.com.