I have two textile Castle jackets, their riding pants, and a pair of their summer gloves, and an LS2 Strobe modular helmet. Castle is a very small company from Green Bay, Wisconsin, but their stuff is made in China. These items were inexpensive as I buy stuff on end of season clearances. The exact items are no longer available, but I'll make a brief report on the brand since updated versions are around. I also have a set of Frog-Togs.
The winter weight jacket
is 3/4 length, with a removable quilted insulated liner and a slightly rubberized waterproof permanent lining. It has convenient pockets and certified armor, and has adjustment straps at the waist, cuffs and arms. There are zippered air vents. It also has a dark but highly reflective thin stripe. It has an easy to use zipper on the inside bottom back to connect to the pants. Altogether, it has held up well over the years--approximately 7 now. The liner and a sweatshirt (with the riding pants, appropriate gloves etc.) have been all that I have needed in colder conditions--above the snowline in the Rockies or just another day riding in North Dakota (well, I exaggerate, typical April and November in North Dakota).
The summer jacket
is the usual short length, it has a removable rainproof windbreaker liner, and also plenty of pockets, but not as many as the winter jacket
. Again, certified armor and a zipper to connect to the pants, and an adjustable waist and cuffs. It flows a lot of air at speed, and I feel comfortably cool with the jacket & riding pants, with jeans and a tee-shirt underneath, until about 95F. It has also held up well over the years, approximately 9.
The riding pants
have a permanent waterproof lining similar to the winter jacket, with zippered vents, certified armor, and the pants easily zip to either jacket. There are convenient pockets and adjustments. The removable quilted liner works well. I've been a little surprised that the waterproofing doesn't keep my legs too hot in summer. The summer jacket without the liner, and the pants without the liner, together with a tee-shirt and jeans doesn't get too hot when moving until the upper 90's F. Again, the pants seem to have held up well over the years, like the summer jacket
, about 9 years now. One negative is that the side leg zippers don't open up completely, but have a waterproof gusset that doesn't seem to be wide enough to allow me to put the riding pants on over my boots--so I still have to take the boots on and off to change out of these pants.
Fit: both jackets are mediums. I take a 38 short in a suitcoat, and find that I can get enough adjustment in the jackets for them to fit comfortably. The pants are also mediums, I wish they were about an inch less in length and an inch more at the waist, my jeans size is 32 x 32. Maybe a small would have fit better in length but it would have been too narrow in the waist. Maybe they weren't intended to be worn over jeans with a belt? Maybe my doctor is right and I should loose ten pounds?
It's a bit fiddly to remove the armor, but it goes in and out of Velcro'd pockets in the lining reasonably enough. The jackets & pants are easy to keep clean with a damp rag. I machine wash and hang dry them at the end of each riding season, and the black winter jacket & pants haven't faded, nor has the red on my summer jacket turned to pink. So I'm happy with that.
I seem to wear out summer gloves
every 2 or 3 seasons. The last time I needed summer gloves, the matching Castle brand was on sale again. Honestly, I didn't plan on being so matchy-matchy. The Castle summer gloves fit well, wash up well, and are comfortable all day. They are not waterproof, and even in summer, wet gloves at speed can be cold. That's why I find myself using heated grips all year long. (My winter gloves
are insulated and waterproof, but a brand that appears to have been discontinued.)
I bought these at end of year clearances, and I think each jacket was around $50 to $70, with the pants also around there. They have held up well, and I am certainly pleased by these purchases. When it's time to replace them, I may give a look around at the more expensive brands just to see if fit & features are better. But since they seem to be doing the job comfortably, I might just go back to Castle again.
My wife gave me an LS2 Strobe modular helmet
for Christmas two years ago. https://ls2helmets.us/modular/strobe#description
I have found it to be comfortable, so I guess I have a "long oval" head as indicated in some reviews. At first, the pads were too tight, but that's normal for a new helmet and now it feels just right.
I like the mechanisms:
- The sunshield control is conveniently located on the left lower side. It was stiff at first, but has become easier with use. My prior helmet had this control on the top of the dead, and it was sometimes difficult to locate. The LS2 control is easier to locate.
- The latch is a metal item that clicks in and has a simple pull tab to release. It's a lot better than the old-school d-rings. Much less futzy.
- It also has a chin curtain, which is removable. This works out great in the cold of the early or late riding season.
- Both the chin vent and the upper (top) vent are easily worked with heavy winter gloves, and I can even feel through the gloves whether the vent is open or closed.
Another positive is that the helmet doesn't feel particularly heavy, my former helmet (which I'm keeping handy as a spare, but it's old) was also a modular and so I'm used to the heavier style of helmet. The Strobe also has the usual features, such as removable, washable liner, eyeglass channel for us four-eyes, some reflective materials.
But there are some negatives. The shell is only thermoplastic, not fiberglass. I didn't find out until recently that fiberglass is considered to be better than thermoplastic. And the top vent will whistle slightly at highway speeds when it is open and there is a stronger crosswind (e.g., 15 to 25 mph). The whistle goes away when I turn my head toward the crosswind. It doesn't seem to happen when the wind is below 15.
I'd say more about the Frog-Togs
, but I suspect that they are so well-known as a brand and as a product that I can add little that isn't already well known. They work well against the rain, even at interstate speeds. And they can add just the right amount of additional insulation to the summer jacket for early morning or late night travel in the summer months.