Being a pretty boring fellow, I’m the kind of dude that likes consistency – with constant improvements. Andy Goldfine began his Aerostich company back in 1983, with the Darien coming along in 1992, and the current 3/4-length jacket is a fine piece of engineering. The name comes from the tropical Darien Gap in Panama, which indicates a relatively lightweight jacket, and my size 48 (or 2XL), with full shoulder, elbow and standard back armor, comes in at an ounce over five pounds.
It’s a single-layer coat, meaning no inside lining, no zip-in liner. I generally ride with layers down to about 50 degrees, or a heated liner when it is seriously cold. Which doesn’t happen often where I live in California. I think we had three freeze nights last winter, easy to tell because the cats’ waterbowl on the porch gets a thin layer of ice.
The Darien is made of American-made 500-denier Cordura, using that semi-miraculous Gore-Tex fluoropolymer membrane. No, I have no idea what a fluoropolymer membrane is, just what it does. Billy Gore patented this back in 1969, and it allows the Cordura to be relatively waterproof, windproof and breathable. Breathable? It’s a one-way affair, keeping out rain, but allowing sweat to exit. I rode in a number of wintery showers and stayed dry…except once on a windy, rainy day for a dribble down my neck as I had forgotten to put on a neckerchief. But if you are in for a day-long rain, I would recommend having a serious rainsuit along, as in the past I have found that even the Cordura Gore-Tex can get a tad soggy.
This 500-denier material is pretty tough stuff, and should a rider unfortunately fall, can take a good deal of abrasion. Aerostich uses its own TF (Tempered Foam) armor, with impact-absorbing hard shell, not the European approved CE variety. The Darien comes standard with TF3 armor, but Aerostich also offers optional, no-cost hot-weather TF6 and the cold-weather TF2; you can read more about the various armor options in their catalog or online.
Lots of big pockets, and Aerostich has mastered the art of making two pockets out of one. The outside zippered breast pockets hold a heckuva lot, as do the unzipped reverse pockets on their undersides. Which passengers in need of hand warmth or just hanging on can also use. Over the left breast is a smaller pocket with a hook-and-loop closure and a D-ring of sorts that you can attach your keys to…delightfully old-fashioned in this age of electronic fobs. Two more large zippered pockets are down in the lower third of the jacket. Only thing missing would be a poacher’s pocket (as they used to be called) at the lower back, where a poacher could hide a rabbit. Or a rider’s warm liner. Inside is a top-closing phone pocket on the left, a side-closing map pocket on the right.
Fit is good, with cinching straps at the waist, and an elastic cord at the bottom. Each arm has two cinching straps, and the cuffs have zippers and cinching straps. Armpit and back vents are very useful when Mr. Sun shines bright. Big YKK zipper runs up the front, protected from the rain by a hook-and-loop secured flap. The folding collar has a pleasant liner, and can be used tall in the cool weather, or snapped back to half-height in the warm. Small magnets at both ends of the collar make sure nothing flaps. Nighttime visibility is good, with the use of 3M Scotchlite reflective material.
All told, the Darien is a darn good jacket, especially with summer coming on. My jacket is tan, and four other colors are available. Price is about $600, which isn’t cheap, but you get a lot of jacket for the money.
For more information, visit aerostich.com or ride up to Duluth, Minnesota.