The problem with Aerostich gear is that, once you get it all on and zipped up and the Velcro flaps adjusted and all the cold air is outside and all your body warmth is inside, you pretty much want to give up your dull, plodding existence in (Insert Name of Town Here) in suburban America and head for the reckless and dangerous wilds of Patagonia. Patagonia’s not that far away, is it? And gas is cheap, right? You’re already considering it, aren’t you?
Good riding gear can extend your riding season by several months, maybe even all year if you have heated handlebars. I’m here to tell you that the gear pictured here kept me warm on a winter day in Texas that started out at 24 degrees and got all the way up to a whopping 34 by sunset. I was as warm as a pop-up toaster waffle all day. “Thank God for Aerostich,” I kept saying.
Honda Gold Wing rider in Aerostich gear on a 24-degree Texas morning
Granted, Aerostich riding gear is perhaps not as fashionable as some more modern biker gear. It will not highlight the magnificent buttocks you’ve either been sculpting all winter or, if you live out here in L.A., have had implanted. And there are no unnecessary pleats, zippers or flaps. It is not an undergraduate fashion design student’s senior thesis that looks good in watercolor drawings but falls apart under duress. No, it is just durable gear that works, especially when you desperately need it to work. At a certain point — and usually that point comes as you’re sliding down a paved Patagonian Highway Nacionale on your elbows and glutes — fashion becomes less of a thing.
Here is what Aerostich says about one product, their Darien jacket:
The Aerostich Darien is the original advanced technology breathable-waterproof impact-armored synthetic (nylon) textile rider’s gear, and just like the above-mentioned other examples of specialized rider’s clothing, it is similarly more equipment than fashion.
Anyway, here’s the gear I borrowed and what I thought of it.
Darien Jacket: If you knew you were going to be sliding down pavement for a couple hundred meters but you got to choose what you were going to wear for it, may I suggest the Aerostich Darien jacket? It’s made of abrasion-resistant Mil-spec 500 Denier Cordura Gore-Tex breathable waterproof outer fabric with removeable hard shell TF3 elbow and shoulder armor. I also got the back armor insert. All inserts are held in place by sturdy Velcro.
The jacket adjusts in more ways than the stump speech of a politician on a cross-state speaking tour. In addition to Velcro tighteners at the ends of the sleeves, which you would expect, there are two Velcro tighteners on each elbow, a waist band belt to cinch the whole thing up, underarm zippered vents, two vents on the upper back to allow airflow, Velcro closures to seal up the front zipper and a collar that can keep every BTU of body warmth in place as you ride. Once you get everything just right, you will be comfy all day, no matter the weather. It retails for $597.
Darien TLTec Wind Proof Fleece Liner Jacket: This goes perfectly (and is made to go perfectly) with the above Darien Jacket. Best thing is you can wear it just as a jacket the rest of the time. It’s reversible, so you can either snuggle up in cozy fleece or reverse it and have the black Supernyl fabric (“an extremely tightly woven uncoated windproof nylon that could probably function reasonably well as sailcloth”) shell against you. Both keep you as warm as a microwaved gas station burrito. Worn with the fleece inside you get outside jacket pockets. With the fleece on the outside you get no pockets — at least not outside pockets to drop your cold hands into when you’re just walking around. Even though mine was the cheapest model of the four Aerostich lists, it still stickers at $237. The top of the line Darien jacket is the Kanetsu AIRVANTAGE electric liner model that costs $397, which is a lot. But it’s quality stuff, man. Your core temperature will thank you when it’s freezing outside and you’re wearing one of these.
Aerostich Electric Warm Bib: For the record, I have tried stuffing newspapers in the sleeves and breast of a riding jacket, expecting it to make me warm. It did not. I have had this Aerostich electric bib for several years and I can’t say enough about it for cold, cold days. I wore it on the 24-degree Texas day ride and was dang glad I did. In fact, I found myself having to click the switch and turn it off from time to time as it was too warm. With this inside you could probably do a motorcycle tour of Pluto. It comes with some connectors and wires to to plug into your motorcycle’s electric system. Well worth the price. It will spell the difference between cruising in comfort and freezing in teeth-chattering misery. Retail price is $97.
AD1 Light Pants: These pantalones are as comfortable for riding as they are for walking around once you get where you’re going, and there are enough pockets that you might be able to do with a backpack when you’re off the bike and buying a choripan or a couple empanadas down in Patagonia. Made of HT200D nylon Gore-Tex fabric to stay dry in the rain and breathe in the dry, they have removeable TF3 kneepads. A nylon belt adds adjustability while a zippered fly makes quick roadside stops a breeze. Retail cost is $387.
What would I change? The pads at the elbows, shoulders and knees are big square things and not really contoured to your body. Dianese gear has the best-contoured pads in the business, but most other gear has pads that snugly hold your elbows, shoulders and knees. I would like these to contour more to my relatively skinny edges. As is, it makes the gear more awkward to put on and wear. Also, loading the pads into the jacket and pants is a bit of a struggle. But I’m assuming they work in an accident. They are made for protection — they’re not just cheap plastic.
And while I’m no fashion maven, a more closely contoured cut might make the whole setup more comfortable. Aerostich prides itself on offering many sizes more than the competition. For jackets, you give them your jacket size, 41 long, whatever it is, so you’re more likely to get a fit. If I was keeping these instead of (sadly) returning them soon, I’d have gone back and forth more on size to get the perfect fit. Heck, I’d have flown to the Aerostich factory in Duluth. Luckily Aerostich has a lot of “pop-up” marketing events where they come to your town. You can get fitted there. Get on the mailing list. Order a catalog and read all the adventure travel stories. Like I say, it’ll make you quit your job and see the world. It’s out there waiting.