Aerostich Darien Jacket | Gear Review

Aerostich Darien jacket
The Aerostich Darien jacket shown in Tan and Gray.

My first experience with Aerostich riding gear came in 1983 while I was a staff editor at Cycle magazine, when the then-fledgling Minnesota company turned out its first riding suit, the Roadcrafter. It was a revelation at the time, and it became my go-to choice for commuting. After logging uncounted thousands of miles in that suit, in the early 1990s I tried one of Aerostich’s new two-piece suits, the Darien jacket and pants. Since that time, I have always had Darien and Darien Light suits on hand because they are exceptionally tough and durable, and they flat-out work and work well through a wide range of riding conditions.

Aerostich Darien jacket
Quality zippers, seam sealing, hook-and-loop adjustment straps and a Gore-Tex layer help make the Darien a top choice among riding jackets. Magnets in the neck area firmly anchor the collar tabs when unzipped to prevent flapping. But they can be a bit fiddly when closing things up; you need to use the hook-and-loop-lined throat strap to complete the seal.

Made in the USA, the Darien uses a functional three-quarter-length design, built with abrasion-resistant mil-spec 500-denier Cordura Gore-Tex breathable/waterproof outer fabric that is seam-taped to create a truly waterproof garment. As such, it eliminates the need for a separate rainsuit when traveling—a big plus for dealing with varying riding conditions and saving precious packing space. The jacket includes removable hard-shell TF3 elbow and shoulder armor, plus big patches of 3M Scotchlite reflective material for nighttime conspicuity. Hook-and-loop mounting pads make it easy to add one of three optional back protectors from Aerostich. Elasticized waistband straps and a bottom drawstring allow for easy fit adjustments, and with seven pockets on the exterior and two inside, the Darien provides loads of storage space.

Aerostich Darien jacket
The Darien’s generous cut can now be tailored in the arm area with convenient adjustment straps.

Compared to my older Dariens, this new-issue sample now adds waterproof zippers for pockets and vents, adjustable anti-flutter sleeve straps and removable magnetic clasps that stop the collar tabs from flapping about while riding with the jacket partially unzipped. The ultrasuede-lined collar sits tall and is generous in diameter to allow space for layering turtlenecks or neck warmers underneath. Better yet, the collar can now be folded down and snapped in place for added versatility in warmer weather. Nice touches all.

My Dariens have served remarkably well for decades of use; I’ve found that the metal zipper pulls are the only wear-and-tear items requiring replacement over time—and these are top-quality heavy-duty YKK zippers, the best that money can buy. I’ve put so many miles on my Dariens that I’ve worn out a couple zipper pulls, replaced them, and worn them out again. That’s a lot of miles with nothing else wearing out or failing.

Aerostich Darien jacket
Generous application of reflective materials helps boost nighttime conspicuity.

Some people have opined that the Darien looks a bit boxy and plain. Well, I figure I sport something of a boxy and plain body type that can’t be improved much by what I wear. So I go with the “handsome is as handsome does” philosophy and forget about trying to look stylish; I prefer riding comfort and function any day of the week. The Darien now comes in closely spaced sizing options, with 11 increments from sizes 36 though 56 so you can get a more exact fit. Color selections include Black, Gray, Hi-Viz Yellow, Orange and Tan. With an MSRP of $597 the Darien falls within the upper ranges of pricing. But amortize that over thousands of miles and 10 years of happy riding as I have, and it adds up to a for-real deal. 

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