Gear for the year: Rev’It Sand 2

I wasn’t too happy with how my dual sport gear had worked out in 2012, so I decided to try again in 2013. This time around, I went for some of the best stuff on the market – Rev’It’ Sand 2 jacket and pants.

Photos: As credited   Title shot: Bill Petro

What they’re made of

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The Sand 2 jacket and pants are your typical modern three-layer textile gear, with an inner thermal layer and an inner waterproof hydratex layer.

The jacket’s outer layer is 52 per cent polyester and 42 per cent polyamide , with plenty of vents (the sleeves unzip wrist-to-elbow, and there are two back vents and two chest vents). The jacket comes with CE-approved armour in the shoulders and elbows, but the back protector is pretty puny (Rev’It offers an upgrade). You can also attach a Moveo or Leatt neck brace to the jacket’s exterior.

There are adjustable straps to tighten or loosen the jacket’s sides, to emphasize or hide your physique (or make room for that massive spaghetti dinner you stopped for on the ride home). The jacket’s collar is adjustable as well.

The jacket has a fair bit of built-in adjustability.
The jacket has a fair bit of built-in adjustability.

There are four pockets on the front of the jacket (two of them are handwarmer pockets), and a waterproof map pocket on the back of the jacket. The jacket retails for around $490 online.

The pants have an outer shell that’s 64 per cent polyamide and 36 per cent polyester. They have a tab for adjustability at the waist and ankles, and there’s a rubberized panel inside the legs to help you grip your motorcycle’s seat while you’re standing on the pegs. Useful stuff!

There’s CE-approved knee armour in the pants, and some foam padding in the hips to lessen the crunch if you fall over. There are two waterproof hip pockets, with zipper closure, and two non-waterproof cargo pockets on the thighs.

There are four pockets on the front of the jacket; only two are waterproof. The pants have waterproof pockets at the hip, and non-waterproof cargo pockets. Photo: Bill Petro
There are four pockets on the front of the jacket; only two are waterproof. The pants have waterproof pockets at the hip, and non-waterproof cargo pockets. Photo: Bill Petro

Both jacket and pants have zip-in waterproof liners, and thermal liners that zip inside of those. The pants are designed to be worn over underwear, or long underwear (think Under Armour). The pants and jacket zip together in back.

How they worked out

Staying cool

This is adventure riding gear, intended for someone who wants one-size-fits-all equipment. In other words, there’s a waterproof liner for rainy days, plenty of venting for hot days, and if you get cold, you can zip in the liner.

The trouble with this approach is that the Sand 2 can indeed fill each roles, but doesn’t necessarily do the job as well as dedicated equipment.

The map pocket on the back of the jacket is waterproof, but some other external and internal pockets aren't.
The map pocket on the back of the jacket is waterproof, but some other external and internal pockets aren’t. Photo: Bill Petro

The Sand 2 gear’s best point is its performance in hot weather – it’s supposed to flow 200 per cent more air than the original Sand jacket. With full-length arm vents, and excellent venting on the pants as well, the jacket and pants would serve most street riders just fine. A mesh system would perhaps run a little cooler, but not all riders want to wear mesh gear, and this is much more versatile, certainly offering more protection in a crash.

For tooling around on gravel roads and mild trails at slow speed, the Sand 2 gear would also work. But if you really want to give ‘er in the dirt, you’ll heat up quickly in this suit. That’s not a knock against the Sand 2 gear, as all its competition would be the same, unless you buy dedicated off-road gear.

If you ride at a typical adventure bike pace, without getting badly stuck or venturing too far off the main trail, you’ll likely appreciate its combination of protection and ventilation. I certainly enjoyed the fantastic venting while riding through the southwestern US last spring. As long as I was rolling, I was pretty comfortable.

Instead of a waterproof shell, the Sand 2 gear relies on a zip-in liner. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Instead of a waterproof shell, the Sand 2 gear relies on a zip-in liner. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Staying dry

The Sand 2 jacket and pants do a good job of keeping you comfortable in hot weather, but they don’t fare so well in wet weather, due to their use of a zip-in rain liner.

Picture the following scene: A motorcyclist is cruising along a busy highway or street, when it unexpectedly starts to pour – and the biker doesn’t have his waterproof liner zipped in.

This unfortunate soul has to:

1). Pull over in a safe spot along the side of the road, where there’s enough room to change.

2). Take off the pants and jacket roadside.

3). Zip in the rain liners.

4). Hit the road again, likely already half-soaked by rain.

Rain clouds mean you've got to pull over and zip in your waterproof liners. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
Rain clouds mean you’ve got to pull over and zip in your waterproof liners. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

I’ve been that biker on the road. After I had to pull over and zip in my waterproofs roadside in Gettysburg, PA, I tried to avoid repeating that procedure. If there was rain threatening, I’d zip the liners in before I went. That way, you stay drier, but you lose your jacket’s hot weather venting. Instead of getting soaked in rain, you start to perspire. It’s a lose-lose situation.

It’s not as big a deal in cold weather, as most riders will likely want the waterproof liner installed then anyway, for warmth. And, I’m not pointing the finger at Rev’It alone here – most gearmakers have jackets and pants that use this clumsy zip-in system.

There are two obvious solutions to this problem: Gearmakers should do their best to make gear waterproof without the liner, or they should concentrate on making simple pull-over rainsuits that are easy to don quickly roadside. In fact, that’s exactly what I saw another journo wearing a Sand 2 suit doing – he’d chucked the internal armour in favour of better quality stuff, and had a waterproof rainsuit for riding in the wet. Essentially, he was only relying on the Rev’It gear as abrasion protection.

As long as I kept moving, the Sand 2 gear vented well. If I had to get off the bike for gas, the gear would get a bit warm Still, even off the bike, it breathed well. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
As long as I kept moving, the Sand 2 gear vented well. If I had to get off the bike for gas, the gear would get a bit warm Still, even off the bike, it breathed well. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

It’s true that it’s not as easy to make a jacket with a waterproof shell, and keep it from leaking, without creating a clumsy garment that doesn’t breathe or vent well. However, I’ve had textile gear that fit that bill exactly, and if their competitors can do it, Rev’It can as well.

Rev’It is smart enough to know what its customers want, though, and I assume most riders are doing exactly what my journalist buddy was – they’re relying on rainsuits. However, if you start tacking on extra price tags to your already expensive adventure riding gear, you’ll run out of money before you ever head out on your around-the-world trip. If the first thing you do when buying gear is to discard half of it, why buy it to start with?

One other downside of the zip-in system, is that Rev’It seemed to really chintz out on the zippers they used, and didn’t really put a lot of thought into their design, at least in the pants. The problem with the pants is the tag – it hangs right next to the zipper, and if you’re putting it together hurriedly (say, in a roadside downpour), you might get the tag caught in the zipper … and then you’re screwed. I managed to ruin the zippers for both the thermal liner and the rain liner this way, and was only able to half-zip them in. If you are familiar at all with zip-in waterproofs, you know that’s a bad thing – if everything’s not zippered together just so (the jacket must be zipped to the pants as well), you’ll spring a leak …

The zip-in rain liners in the pants worked OK at first, but when I got the tag caught in the zippers, both the thermal and waterproof liner zippers were mangled. Photo: Zac Kurylyk
The zip-in rain liners in the pants worked OK at first, but when I got the tag caught in the zippers, both the thermal and waterproof liner zippers were mangled. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

Another downside of this system besides its awkwardness in on-the-road situations: The outer fabric of your jacket gets absolutely soaked when it in wet weather, and you can feel rainwater trickling down your liners while you ride. It’s not particularly pleasant; you really need to wear the thermal liner underneath the rain liner as well, to avoid that sensation. Speaking of which …

Staying warm

The thermal liner Rev’It uses are zip-in units, but they work better than the rain liners. After all, you almost always know how warm it’s going to be during your ride, and even if you have to stop and zip them in roadside, at least you won’t necessarily get soaked doing so. Like the rain liners, you do give up venting capabilities when you install the thermal liners, but chances are if you’re using the thermals, you don’t want a draft anyway.

The thermal layers are bulky, though, and a few layered shirts might achieve a similar level of warmth. Unlike the zip-in jackets provided by many competitors, you can’t wear the thermal liners alone as a regular jacket, unless you want people offering you quarters for a hot cup of coffee. They’re simply a zip-in liner that keeps you warm on the bike, nothing else.

The Dawn to Dusk rally was chilly this year, but with the thermal liner zipped in, the Sand 2 gear was up to the task. Photo: Rob Harris
The Dawn to Dusk rally was chilly this year, but with the thermal liner zipped in, the Sand 2 gear was up to the task. Photo: Rob Harris

Pocket points

There’s more to a jacket and pants than liners and waterproofing. If you spend a lot of time on the road, you really start to appreciate little touches like well-designed pockets.

The Sand 2’s jacket and pants had pockets that were hit-and-miss. For instance – because the jacket shell isn’t waterproof, Rev’It had to include some waterproof pockets for your documents (the pants are designed to be worn without your street trousers underneath, so not only do you look like a fool changing your liners roadside in your underwear, you also have nowhere to keep your wallet).

The jacket’s map pocket (on the bottom of the back, hanging right over your fanny) is waterproof, which makes sense. There are two waterproof pockets on the front of the jacket, which also makes sense. However, the internal breast pocket, where many riders would keep their wallet or cellphone, is not waterproof. I have a soggy passport as a reminder.

My wallet fitted handily in the cargo pockets on the pants. Photo: Bill Petro
My wallet fitted handily in the cargo pockets on the pants. Photo: Bill Petro

There are also waterproof hip pockets on the pants, but their placement doesn’t make sense. It would make much more sense to have waterproofed the cargo pockets, as riders would be more likely to carry stuff there, where it won’t dig into your side. Plus, the waterproof zippers on the hip pockets continually worked loose on me anyway, so how much good would that have been in a downpour?

Another beef: a few of the pockets only have hook-and-loop closure, instead of zippers. I realize that’s a good way to keep costs down, but it doesn’t inspire confidence. True, I didn’t lose my wallet mid-trip, as the pockets did stay closed, but a zipper or snap would have provided a bit more security.

Comfort

I spent a lot of time in this gear over the spring, summer and fall, and I found the fit fantastic – the pants and jacket have a very comfortable cut for on and off the bike.

Whether crouched over a small bike, sitting straight in the saddle of a standard or laid back behind the bars of a big cruiser, the Sand 2 was comfortable in every position. Photo: Bill Petro
Whether crouched over a small bike, sitting straight in the saddle of a standard or laid back behind the bars of a big cruiser, the Sand 2 was comfortable in every position. Photo: Bill Petro

I did try a couple sizes on before I found one that worked, and I would advise anyone interested in purchasing this to try it on before purchasing. You may pay more if you buy the gear in a dealership, instead of online, but you’ll appreciate the fit you get. There’s no point in buying premium gear and not getting a good fit.

As I mentioned in my initial story on this gear, the jacket has adjustable straps on the sides of the torso, and on the arms. You can use these to tighten up the fit, or loosen it as needed.

Bells and whistles

One area where the Sand 2 jacket shines is with optional add-ons. You can attach a Leatt or Moveo neck brace to the jacket, or a zip-in Challenger cooling vest.

You can attach a neck brace to the Sand 2 jacket - a useful option if you want to go bombing around in the dunes.
You can attach a neck brace to the Sand 2 jacket – a useful option if you want to go bombing around in the dunes.

However, I wasn’t able to try out any of these features, as I didn’t have a neck brace, and since I had to leave on my US trip in a hurry, Rev’It wasn’t able to ship me the optional cooling vest.

I can see how these options would make the Rev’It gear very appealing to the adventure riding crowd, though. If you’re sailing across Saharan sand dunes, a neck brace can be a very reassuring piece of kit, and cooling vest would also likely be very welcome when wrestling you your machine around the woods, or even in day-to-day midsummer gridlock.

In summary

Despite my misgivings about the liners, I was impressed with the Rev’It gear on the whole. It didn’t fray, the stitches didn’t let go – it actually held together. Of course, at the price they charge, it ought to – but much of its competition would have fallen apart much more quickly. After dragging it all across North America in 2013, the only real damage to the suit was a hole in the pant legs – I burned it there accidentally, on a Harley-Davidson exhaust.

I wore the Sand 2 in sun and rain, heat and cold, across the US and Canada in 2013 and was impressed that it held up very well, aside from the liner zippers. Stitches didn't pop, and the fabric didn't fray.
I wore the Sand 2 in sun and rain, heat and cold, across the US and Canada in 2013 and was impressed that it held up very well, aside from the liner zippers. Stitches didn’t pop, and the fabric didn’t fray.

However, at the price tag the Rev’It commands, you’re getting to the price range of some other very good kit. It’s not that much cheaper than Aerostich’s gear, and around the same price as Dainese. Other manufacturers like Olympia make some very nice gear at a lower price point.

While I would certainly consider buying Rev’It if I was purchasing a jacket or pants in this price range, I would weigh it against the alternatives very carefully before making a purchase, as none of the nice features and bells-’n-whistles make it a slam dunk over the competition, at least in my books. It’s good stuff, but there’s lots of other good stuff out there these days. Do your research, make your choice and pay your money; if you end up with Rev’It after that process, chances are you’ll be happy.


GALLERY

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5 thoughts on “Gear for the year: Rev’It Sand 2”

  1. Zac – I completely agree with your assessment regarding zip-in rainliners. I’ve owned other brands and experienced the same unfortunately outcomes you have. This Spring I plan to purchase a Klim Latitude jacket and pants and be done with it. While expensive – I think it’ll ultimately be much more useful to me to have waterproof Goretex layers built into the jacket.

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