Riding Gear Questionnaire

Ron

Active Member
#1
I'm trying to get my first good piece of all-around riding gear (gravel, rain, cold, etc) and I'm getting confused wading through all the options. Below is what I'm wanting... if I'm chasing a ghost, please let me know.

Wants/Needs:
  • Sub $1000
  • 2-piece (I do commute to work, and I feel like just using a jacket on some days would be very acceptable)
  • Give warmth (w/o electric) til ~ 30F. If removable liner is needed, must be zip in (i.e., can't be achieved thru wearing 5 sweat shirts)
  • Waterproof (ideally, during heavy downpours as well)
  • Work for dirt & pavement
  • A few waterproof pockets (just for wallet, primarily)
Questions:
  • All gear should be sized over "regular" (jeans, tshirt, etc), correct?
From the research I've done, it seems like the Aerostich Darien & Aerostitch AD1 is a popular combo. To ask a stupid question, does the fleece liner for the Darien zip in?
 
#2
I'm trying to get my first good piece of all-around riding gear (gravel, rain, cold, etc) and I'm getting confused wading through all the options. Below is what I'm wanting... if I'm chasing a ghost, please let me know.

Wants/Needs:
  • Sub $1000
  • 2-piece (I do commute to work, and I feel like just using a jacket on some days would be very acceptable)
  • Give warmth (w/o electric) til ~ 30F. If removable liner is needed, must be zip in (i.e., can't be achieved thru wearing 5 sweat shirts)
  • Waterproof (ideally, during heavy downpours as well)
  • Work for dirt & pavement
  • A few waterproof pockets (just for wallet, primarily)
Questions:
  • All gear should be sized over "regular" (jeans, tshirt, etc), correct?
From the research I've done, it seems like the Aerostich Darien & Aerostitch AD1 is a popular combo. To ask a stupid question, does the fleece liner for the Darien zip in?
You can order the jacket with or without the second zipper for the liner.

-Mark
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#3
That's interesting about the Darien. The older ones all came with both zippers. Both the Stich fleece liner and my Gerbing heated jacket liner would zip in to my cira '02 Darien jacket. Now the second zipper is an option that must be checked when ordering to get it.

Honestly, I think your 'Give warmth (w/o electric) til ~ 30F' point is subjective, and unrealistic. Buy an electric jacket liner. Rule #1, if you put it on, plug it in. You don't have to turn it on to benefit from additional warmth and if you need it, you dial in some heat. And forget what ever controller comes offered with what ever you buy, get a Heat-Troller from Warm n Safe and use that instead. Others are not the same.

In practical use of the Darien, if you zipped the liner or heated liner in, it made it easier to remove both as a unit. However, the single main zipper then allowed more cold/air bleed into the body than if you zipped the liner up itself and wore the Darien over it, zipped to itself. If i was riding in sub 30's, I always put the liner on as a separate unit, zipped it up, then put on the Darien.

Check out Olympia & Firstgear stuff too. A bit lower price point, but still good gear. The Firstgear Kathmandu Jacket has been popular for a long time for good reasons. Alpinestar, Rev-it and others are out there.

Define what you want, like 3/4 length or waist length, venting, water proof or water proof liner/exo shell and go sift thru the offerings. In terms of Goretex or similar, fully waterproof gear with venting and a removable 'warm' liner, there aren't a whole lot of options.

I like full length zippers on pants legs. Klim doesn't do that. I prefer 3/4 length jackets, so the Darien and the Klim Latitude worked for me. But neither come with a 'warm' liner, so it's tough to keep jacket and pants under $1000 with both those brands.

Not all gear is sized as over wear. Especially pants. Make sure you read carefully to see if they are "over pants" which will be sized to fit over clothing, or just rider pants worn over LDComfort or other under garments.

Oh, and "waterproof pockets" is a tricky one. Even Klim's outer pockets on a full Goretex jacket are not "waterproof". BTDTGotaNewCamera. :confused: And if you ask them, they get real cagey about why that is. Some Klim jackets come with a waterproof bag to clip to a pocket lanyard.

The inner chest pockets on the Darien and Klim jackets have kept my contents dry. Otherwise, put the wallet in a zip lock baggie for any pants pocket.

edit - "work for dirt and pavement" Define that a bit more please. True dirt gear would be more armored and that's a penalty in weight and comfort that not everyone is willing to make. And sometimes cost as well. Klim Badlands Pro comes to mind.

Most serious dirt guys seem to not ride in the rain and wear jerseys over exo-armor with similar on the pants. Perhaps you're thinking more of Adventure Gear? Basically this means armor and vents with either a waterproof shell or a waterproof liner. Some liners can be worn under or over the jacket. I have an Olympia mesh jacket with that feature. It's less than optimal for LD riding as you have to stop and put the rain liner on. Thus the popularity of jackets with a goretex or similar membrane in the shell and venting. Zip up or un-zip to adjust to ambient temps and conditions w/o having to pack a rain set.
 
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rneal55555

Premier Member
#4
I have a First Gear Kilimanjaro I think their Kathmandu is essentially the same with a different cut. I've been in some significant rain with it and stayed dry. I've had the jacket for several years and wouldn't hesitate to get another one. I picked up the one I have on clearance for less the $150. (Not likely to see that again) I've never pulled the trigger on the matching pants but am planning to. I should mention I also have a 20 years old Gerbing liner that I us much the same as Eric although with a much newer Gerbing controller.
 
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kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#5
Currently using a Firstgear Kilimanjaro with their Venture Air pants.

I think 'waterproof' may be more aligned with 'water resistant' (a.k.a. you'll get wet, maybe not drenched, but wet), depending on how well it's sized. @EricV in his comments above went into good, succinct detail on those details.

To be honest, I think most serious hard-core riders are looking for much the same items in the same order....

That $1000 price point may or may not be the deal-breaker (see also: Motoport)
 

Ron

Active Member
#6
That's interesting about the Darien. The older ones all came with both zippers. Both the Stich fleece liner and my Gerbing heated jacket liner would zip in to my cira '02 Darien jacket. Now the second zipper is an option that must be checked when ordering to get it.

Honestly, I think your 'Give warmth (w/o electric) til ~ 30F' point is subjective, and unrealistic. Buy an electric jacket liner. Rule #1, if you put it on, plug it in. You don't have to turn it on to benefit from additional warmth and if you need it, you dial in some heat. And forget what ever controller comes offered with what ever you buy, get a Heat-Troller from Warm n Safe and use that instead. Others are not the same.

In practical use of the Darien, if you zipped the liner or heated liner in, it made it easier to remove both as a unit. However, the single main zipper then allowed more cold/air bleed into the body than if you zipped the liner up itself and wore the Darien over it, zipped to itself. If i was riding in sub 30's, I always put the liner on as a separate unit, zipped it up, then put on the Darien.

Check out Olympia & Firstgear stuff too. A bit lower price point, but still good gear. The Firstgear Kathmandu Jacket has been popular for a long time for good reasons. Alpinestar, Rev-it and others are out there.

Define what you want, like 3/4 length or waist length, venting, water proof or water proof liner/exo shell and go sift thru the offerings. In terms of Goretex or similar, fully waterproof gear with venting and a removable 'warm' liner, there aren't a whole lot of options.

I like full length zippers on pants legs. Klim doesn't do that. I prefer 3/4 length jackets, so the Darien and the Klim Latitude worked for me. But neither come with a 'warm' liner, so it's tough to keep jacket and pants under $1000 with both those brands.

Not all gear is sized as over wear. Especially pants. Make sure you read carefully to see if they are "over pants" which will be sized to fit over clothing, or just rider pants worn over LDComfort or other under garments.

Oh, and "waterproof pockets" is a tricky one. Even Klim's outer pockets on a full Goretex jacket are not "waterproof". BTDTGotaNewCamera. :confused: And if you ask them, they get real cagey about why that is. Some Klim jackets come with a waterproof bag to clip to a pocket lanyard.

The inner chest pockets on the Darien and Klim jackets have kept my contents dry. Otherwise, put the wallet in a zip lock baggie for any pants pocket.

edit - "work for dirt and pavement" Define that a bit more please. True dirt gear would be more armored and that's a penalty in weight and comfort that not everyone is willing to make. And sometimes cost as well. Klim Badlands Pro comes to mind.

Most serious dirt guys seem to not ride in the rain and wear jerseys over exo-armor with similar on the pants. Perhaps you're thinking more of Adventure Gear? Basically this means armor and vents with either a waterproof shell or a waterproof liner. Some liners can be worn under or over the jacket. I have an Olympia mesh jacket with that feature. It's less than optimal for LD riding as you have to stop and put the rain liner on. Thus the popularity of jackets with a goretex or similar membrane in the shell and venting. Zip up or un-zip to adjust to ambient temps and conditions w/o having to pack a rain set.
To try to catch as much as possible here..
The 30F requirement is for commuting to work (~30 minutes, one way). I achieve that with a leather jacket and heated grips today. I don't really ride much colder, being as I live with the midwest and have dropped a bike because of the ice before. If I do intend to do long-distance, totally agree with electric gear.

The work for dirt and pavement comment - I do occasional gravel travel and I'd like to wear my gear than. I'm not doing woods or racing with the jacket. I don't think I need better protection (currently), but I think Darien does have some with protection plates. All in all, I want something that can stand up to the "beating" of gravel travel.

What's the major difference between Aerostich/Klim/FirstGear/Olympia, besides price? From how I read your post, it seems like they all give the same level of water protection, but I sense that isn't quite true.
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#7
That helps clarify things. In those terms, I think any of the gear we are discussing will handle gravel travel fine. I've done plenty of ADV stuff in my Klim and Aerostich Darien, as well as the Olympia and Firstgear stuff.

So, you asked:
What's the major difference between Aerostich/Klim/FirstGear/Olympia, besides price? From how I read your post, it seems like they all give the same level of water protection, but I sense that isn't quite true.
To a degree, fit and function of the features. I really liked the venting on the Darien. Better than the Klim. The Darien does not have a liner, which can be a plus and a negative. On the plus side, no liner to get caught in the vent zippers, which meant I could un-zip and zip up while riding for under arm vents. On the Klim, it has a light mesh liner. On the plus, it felt a little nicer on your bare skin, (arms), but on the negative side, it was constantly getting caught in the smaller, finer zippers on the Klim. The Darien used coarser, larger zippers, and I didn't mind the feel of the unlined inner surface on my skin, (but some really dislike it).

The Oly kept me dry, but was physically bulkier than the other two. Firstgear is similar. Not as tailored a cut, different design concepts on each brand. It comes down to features you like/prefer and what fits your figure too.

I'd have to go look at each comparable jacket to really break it down more. My Oly jacket and pants, people would ask "where's your snowmobile?" Bulky. But great placement on the knee armor.... once I spent close to $100 with a specialty gear tailor to re-position the knee armor pockets so they fit me. My issue there was I'm fat. So by the time I get the waist size that works, the inseam is 6" too long.

Klim and Darien jackets fit me better, were not as bulky, but performed just as well at keeping me dry. The extra $$ gets you lighter gear that works. But is it lighter enough, and does it work better enough, to justify the extra cost, for you?

Venting is, to a degree, a function of your body position on the bike and your bike's ergo/aero. If you sit behind a massive windscreen like on a GL1800, it's tough to get cool air flow to you in the summer. There are products. :D On a FJR or Super Tenere, that was not an issue for me. IN some cases, the air flow of your bike may make some jacket/pant vents work F**king fantastic, or not at all. Everyone does different things with similar ideas on venting. Look at the placement of the vents and consider that with where air hits you on your bike.

Getting wet. Even if all of the materials are essentially equal, rider position and airflow on your bike can defeat the best gear at times. Wet crotch, water down the neck, or thru the leg zippers and wicking down your socks into your waterproof boots. Look at where wind hits your legs. Then look at the pant zippers. Inside or outside the leg, or on the back side of the leg. Consider that as part of your choice.

Hope that helps a bit more. Keep asking questions.
 

Ron

Active Member
#8
That helps clarify things. In those terms, I think any of the gear we are discussing will handle gravel travel fine. I've done plenty of ADV stuff in my Klim and Aerostich Darien, as well as the Olympia and Firstgear stuff.

So, you asked:


To a degree, fit and function of the features. I really liked the venting on the Darien. Better than the Klim. The Darien does not have a liner, which can be a plus and a negative. On the plus side, no liner to get caught in the vent zippers, which meant I could un-zip and zip up while riding for under arm vents. On the Klim, it has a light mesh liner. On the plus, it felt a little nicer on your bare skin, (arms), but on the negative side, it was constantly getting caught in the smaller, finer zippers on the Klim. The Darien used coarser, larger zippers, and I didn't mind the feel of the unlined inner surface on my skin, (but some really dislike it).

The Oly kept me dry, but was physically bulkier than the other two. Firstgear is similar. Not as tailored a cut, different design concepts on each brand. It comes down to features you like/prefer and what fits your figure too.

I'd have to go look at each comparable jacket to really break it down more. My Oly jacket and pants, people would ask "where's your snowmobile?" Bulky. But great placement on the knee armor.... once I spent close to $100 with a specialty gear tailor to re-position the knee armor pockets so they fit me. My issue there was I'm fat. So by the time I get the waist size that works, the inseam is 6" too long.

Klim and Darien jackets fit me better, were not as bulky, but performed just as well at keeping me dry. The extra $$ gets you lighter gear that works. But is it lighter enough, and does it work better enough, to justify the extra cost, for you?

Venting is, to a degree, a function of your body position on the bike and your bike's ergo/aero. If you sit behind a massive windscreen like on a GL1800, it's tough to get cool air flow to you in the summer. There are products. :D On a FJR or Super Tenere, that was not an issue for me. IN some cases, the air flow of your bike may make some jacket/pant vents work F**king fantastic, or not at all. Everyone does different things with similar ideas on venting. Look at the placement of the vents and consider that with where air hits you on your bike.

Getting wet. Even if all of the materials are essentially equal, rider position and airflow on your bike can defeat the best gear at times. Wet crotch, water down the neck, or thru the leg zippers and wicking down your socks into your waterproof boots. Look at where wind hits your legs. Then look at the pant zippers. Inside or outside the leg, or on the back side of the leg. Consider that as part of your choice.

Hope that helps a bit more. Keep asking questions.
It does help significantly, thank you. Though, I am good at asking more questions...

For wearing gear, is it common to just wear like a shirt and shorts underneath? From my racing days, that's how we operated. Just looking for some confirmation for how the IBR folks roll.

As a general question for all, is there a significant difference between the FirstGear Kathmandu & 37.5 Kilimanjaro? By quickly comparing product sheets, it seems the Kathmandu has a hydro pack while the 37.5 is a bit more flexiable, water resistant, and doesn't have a hydro pack. I do plan on emailing them to see what they have to say as well...
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#9
Most of the LD crowd, myself included, tend to ride with just a base layer underneath for long distance riding. Some like to layer in cold weather, either instead of electrics or in combo with electrics. Some electric liners don't provide any insulation, only powered heat. Commuting may see the same gear being worn, but with normal clothes under. To a degree, what size you buy will dictate if this is possible. I preferLDComfort shorts and long sleeve zipper top. A surprising number of riders like the tights instead of the shorts. Other products are certainly used, but LDComfort was designed specific to this sport and uses a different fabric with better seam placement than any other products. They last very well too. And can be washed easily in the shower at the end of a long day riding, wrapped in a towel and hung over a chair or lamp in the hotel room and be ready to wear in the morning. The design of the fabric keeps moisture off your skin. This prevents rashes and eliminates the need for any powders, etc. The properties of the fabric are so good at keeping moisture off your skin that even if you wash it, squeeze out the excess water, roll it up in a towel, then put it on, w/in 20 seconds you feel no moisture on your skin. It will feel cool and damp when first put on like this, but quickly changes. It also is very effective as an evaporative cooling tool if you follow the instructions on the LDComfort web site.

The hard core every day, all weather commuters tend to gravitate to one piece suits.

A note on pants. Some pants offer suspenders or have a bib built in. I like suspenders, in part to allow a slightly loose fit at the waist, in part due to my rotund figure. I usually just add a pair of button type suspenders and install logger buttons. More secure than clip on suspenders. This way I'm not limiting my pant options based on suspenders. Mostly I look at pants in terms of leg zippers and venting, pockets, etc. I personally feel back pockets on riding pants are useless. I don't want to sit on my wallet on long rides and those pockets are seldom waterproof, (though usually are covered by a 3/4 length jacket).
 
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kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#10
As a general question for all, is there a significant difference between the FirstGear Kathmandu & 37.5 Kilimanjaro? By quickly comparing product sheets, it seems the Kathmandu has a hydro pack while the 37.5 is a bit more flexiable, water resistant, and doesn't have a hydro pack. I do plan on emailing them to see what they have to say as well...
I saw the Kathmandu on the rack, but gravitated toward the Kilimanjaro, simply because a lot of other LD enthusiasts have been quite happy with their performance. Yes, the Kili doesn't have liners and the like, but as Eric mentioned, with a LD Comfort top, and on days where it's starting out cool, the wearing of heated jacket liner, and things are good.

I'm not a big fan of 'wearing' my fluids, just means more time dinking around fuel stops trying to sort that out.

Personally, that jacket was a big step UP from the Tour Master Flex series I'd been wearing. That gear is trying really hard to do *too* much, to be honest.
 

Ron

Active Member
#11
Thanks for the insight kw & Eric.

I'm going to think on it a few days (so if you have any more thoughts, feel free to add), but I'm most likely going to go w/ Kathmandu for the simple fact of removable liners (liners will only be used when computing to work, and I don't want to remove an extra layer when I get to work).
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#12
I noticed a comment about riding with the collar open and it flapping and hitting the bottom of the helmet. BTDT. I started picking up some adhesive velcro and just cutting a square to stick on the jacket so I could velcro down the collar tab when riding with the collar open, (which I do a lot in warm weather). No more collar banging against the helmet, (which really does get annoying).
 
#13
I just wear Leather (pants with knee armor and traditional jacket) in the fall, winter, and spring with thermal underwear and a sweatshirt. Summer I have a pair of textile pants and a perf leather jacket. If it rains hard I have a Joe Rocket 2 piece rain suit to help. I have about $700 tied up in everything. Very comfortable and safe.
 

Attachments

jsoque

Premier Member
#14
I did my first and second iba's in Olympia odyssey, one piece. It was great!
Made a hole high in the pocket area so I could sneak out the power cord to my gerbings heated jacket and pants when I was up near Canadian boarder with VT, and when I was over at Erie to Sandusky, OH. Night times were cold.
Olympia outfits are 2-300. I still swear by X-Moto but, they are hard to find.
You can certainly find some used Dariens around there for about 5-600. 1K is off the rack, or a mis-fit from a rider who wants to get their $ back.
As for fleece, you don't want it to zip in. Go for Top and Bottoms tho. What if you want to take of just your outer shell and walk around, and stretch, and it's still a little chilly out, you will want to keep the heat inside of the fleece part and close to your body. Just my 0.02 c.
Stay healthy out there....
 

ibafran

Active Member
#15
Quote "I'm trying to get my first good piece of all-around riding gear (gravel, rain, cold, etc)"

Here's how I think about this now after making a lot of mistakes along the way. Your priorities may vary.
1- buy something with good armor. Good gear means more miles in a wide range of conditions. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to fall off a multitude of times and not get too hurt to get back on and keep going like an energizer bunny? Gear needs to be stout enough to do this. I used to tell my budding racers that expensive armor does not wear out and might last a whole career making the expense amortized over time/distance. Thus, my $1k Stich only costs me a $100/yr if it makes me happy for 10yrs. At 250 riding days/year my expensive gear cost 40 cents/day.

2- Good gear needs to be rain-proof. Nothing cools a rider faster than wet under-gear. The vents in the gear need to be easily controlled while riding. Being able to vent in a warm rain w/o ducting rain into the gear is great. There is nothing the matter with packing cheap raingear if it doesn't shred in high winds. My Stich rides 10F cooler when the outer ballistic layer is soaked. Thankfully it dries out in the wind fairly quickly when the rain stops.

3- Paved Road grit is bad enough. If you are going to do gravel/dirt, the gear needs to be easily cleaned. Because you have good gear you will ride more and get filthy faster and more frequently. Perhaps it will acquire an aroma between washings? The resultant extra social distancing might be good this year but not so good going forward?

4- Rather than buy the gear's high-end accessories, cheaper layers should perform well. That leaves money for really good boots and gloves. Acrylic fleeces come in different weights. Experience with cheap ones from the big box stores will tell you what you need for which temps. Try a $10 pair of women's acrylic tights from Walgreens under regular jeans for cold weather as a reference point. I have flannel lined jeans for sub-40F day rides and will add the tights to that for sub-30F day rides. I have a light and a heavy fleece neck gaiter that seems to be all I ever need to seal any neck drafts.

5- I started with a cheap elec vest until it died. Bought another elec vest that had a heated collar. A heated collar is now a 'must' for me. Haven't tried a jacket with heated sleeves yet. Like Eric posted, knowing how to use the elec stuff is key.

6- While wearing 5 sweatshirts can be good, current rider fashion is getting a good outer garment and layering up and down underneath it as desired. But one might have special needs. In my case, it helps me if I can step out of my riding gear and no longer look like a rider. This allows me to 'pass' for normal in society when I need to. I can wear business suits and arrive clean and dry on the bike.

your fun may vary,
fran
 
#16
While lined jeans are good, cotton is not your friend, fleece lined jeans are available, don't hold moisture and generally assure more comfortable as well as warmer.. just saying.