In short, this combination of jacket and pants from Rukka is the best riding suit I’ve ever used, hands down, and I’ve tried more than my fair share of suits over the years.
There is a caveat with regard to the pants though, so before you spend your hard-earned cash (you’ll need a good chunk of it), go through the article and find those notes.
For others who are not attention-deficit, enjoy the full scope of the review below. 🙂
Why This Suit?
When you think of high-end riding gear, Italy often comes to mind. Indeed, the only suit I’ve used that comes close to this Rukka gear (at least in terms of fit) was a Dainese offering from back in the day. Of course, they still make great suits, as Editor ‘Arris can attest.
But if you’ve ever studied the history of design, you’ll know Finland has been kicking ass in this field since the Paris World’s Fair in 1900. The strength of Finnish design has continued to build since then; names like Saarinen, Alto, Wirkkala, Sarpeneva (to name a few) are now part of the lexicon of 20th century design.
But I digress; what’s this have to do with this suit?
Everything – Rukka is a Finnish design company, and they have brought all that is special about Finnish design to these products. This includes not only innovative ideas and an ability to create products with inspiring form and function, but also an intimate understanding of their materials. Plus these are northern Europeans, with Germanic attention to detail. They are the kind of people you want to design your suit, and you will discover they do not disappoint.
If you’ve read my previous gear reviews, you’ll know I prefer ventilated jackets. I’ve used them for over a decade now, since buying one when I was about to do a boil-in-the-bag imitation inside my non-mesh jacket during a sweltering summer’s day in Toronto. Riding with that first mesh jacket transformed summer riding for me. It was like riding in a T-shirt again, but with crash protection.
With the improvements of these mesh jackets since then, I recently experimented with making one my sole jacket. The Scott mesh jacket I had last year was a decent piece of kit, but I wasn’t in love with it. It did however prove that I could do three seasons with a removable-liner mesh jacket, in conjunction with my lined Harley rain jacket.
So the search began for not only a new vented jacket, but pants as well. What attracted me to the Rukka Airman Jacket was that it was made with a newish material called Cordura AFT (Air Flow Technology). This stuff is said to be significantly tougher than the garden-variety mesh material out there, and it doesn’t look like mesh material, as the weave is tight, while still flowing massive amounts of air.
Vented D30 armour adds to the toughness.
The jacket comes equipped with a Gore-Tex liner with something called Outlast infused in it. This material was originally developed for NASA to regulate the temperature of their space suits. It is said to absorb heat from your body when it is warm and give that heat back when your body cools down. Could this possibly work? Read on.
The Rukka Airvision pants are similarly equipped and they have an additional selling feature called the Rukka Air Cushion which is said to promote better air flow in your butt and prevent water soaking up in the event of a downpour. Hmmmh, a built-in Airhawk seat?
The pants also have an Antiglide system which is a Keprotec patch in the seating area. That all sounded pretty good, and I was curious to know how this medley of technology translated into the real world…
My Airman jacket arrived first, after much deliberating with the Rukka marketing department about the sizing. They have such a wide array of sizing that they can accommodate anyone, including me with my ape-like appendages. However, this does mean you need to take quite a few accurate measurements.
Upon cracking the box, and holding the jacket, I knew this was something special, and putting it on confirmed that feeling. I don’t wear business suits, but this must be what it feels like to have something tailored perfectly to fit. Add to this the impressive attention to detail, including magnetized flaps, zips that are designed to be used with gloves on, rubberized snap buttons, a neoprene collar, waterproof pockets, and even a waterproof pouch. Everything breathed thoughtfulness and quality. I was in love.
The Airvision pants arrived quite a bit later and, after the semi-religious experience of putting the Airman jacket on for the first time, I have to admit I was initially a bit let down by the pants. The quality and workmanship are all there, but they’re a snug fit, like putting on a made-to-measure racing suit. The pant legs seemed too long, dragging on the ground while in socked feet. With the suspenders on (a much-needed feature as I have no ass), the crotch area was giving my privates a tad too much of a snug feeling.
On the Bike
While riding, the jacket feels as it did when I put it on – perfect!
The pants also started to make more sense as well. With their additional length, when they rode up with my knees bent on the pegs, they still covered my shorter Alpinestars hiking/riding boots nicely. This helps to ensure water doesn’t easily get into the tops of my boots.
As an added bonus, I didn’t look like Mr. Floodpants, otherwise known as Editor ‘Arris (he has yet to find a pair of pants long enough for him). I also got used to the snugger feel of the pants and over about the equivalent of a season of use (the latter part of last season and this 2015 season so far), they seem to be breaking in a bit, or maybe I’ve got used to the way they fit?
Yep, the suit is cool. As advertised, the Cordura AFT flows the air though in copious amounts. The cool feeling has been aided by the fact that I’ve been riding a naked bike, or ones with a small screen. No surprise though, if you are wedged in traffic, with the hot summer sun beating down on you, or bulldogging a vintage BMW up a sandy hill to the highest point in the Ganaraska Forest, you’ll get hot and sweaty.
In cooler weather with the liner in, the Outlast material works surprisingly well. With the Outlast technology, the heat levels have to rise to the point where I’d want to take the liner out, before I would start to get uncomfortable. This makes it a great jacket to use for business meetings when I’m riding, so I don’t show up with sweat patches.
In liner mode, I can manage on an unfaired bike until about fifteen degrees Celsius. If the temperature drops lower, I add my lined Harley rain jacket. This combo worked well late into last season.
As for the pants, when it got cold I’d add long johns to the mix, and all was well.
I’m also happy to confirm the Air Cushion system works well in the pants. The Suzuki GW250 I had last year was a bit buzzy at high RPM and would make sitting uncomfortable within an hour. Not so with these pants! All-day comfort was the result when I swapped to the Airvision pants. This is great, as I never liked the disconnected feeling while riding with an Airhawk seat. No such issue with the Airvision pants.
Although I use additional over-the-suit waterproofs when it rains, rather than having a soggy outer mesh suit layer, I did test the Rukka suit without my outer rain suit, and it kept me dry. Of course, it does what all suits like this do; the outer layer gets soaked and cold and you feel it, although you’re still dry inside. It’s good to know it will work in a pinch though.
It seems to me it would be a better idea to make a removable, form-fitting outer rain cover for these suits rather than waterproofing the inner liner. Until they do, I’ve got my system and it works beautifully. Plus, with my current outer rain gear set up, I get the added benefit of two waterproof layers. All good!
Speaking of the liners, their installation is pretty simple, especially in the jacket where the two snaps and loops per sleeve are colour-coded. Not sure why they didn’t do this colour-coding in the bottom of the pants though? The only minor issue with the jacket liner is that the front zippers are so similar to the outer jacket that, if you’re not paying attention, you end up mismatching the outer and inner zips.
On the protection front, I feel completely secure with this suit. The Cordura layer is tripled on the knees and elbows and that material seems to be a heavier grade. The generous D30 armour also adds to the sense of security.
Wrapping it Up
As stated at the start, this is the absolute best suit I’ve had the pleasure of using – the only catch being that the form-fitting pants take a bit of getting used to.
In the year that I’ve had the suit, nothing has broken or failed, and it still looks like new! If anything did break, I would not have to worry as the jacket and pants are warrantied for five years.
So I’m happy to report I have found riding-suit nirvana and if I ever trash this suit (heaven forbid), Rukka will see me spending my own money to buy a new one. As mentioned, this is not an unsubstantial amount. The Airvision pants are currently on sale at Revzilla for US $489.00 and the Airman jacket is listed at a hefty US $899.00.
According to the Rukka website, we do have a Canadian distributor, although I don’t see the Rukka products on their website, but you can get all the info you need on Rukka’s site here.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and in the case of the Rukka Airman Jacket and Airvision pants, you get good value for your money, even though it’s a rather large pile of cash to fork over.
Enjoy the ride!
Cheers, Mr. Seck
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.