Gear Review: Olympia Hudson jacket

Riding around SoCal in a non-venting leather jacket, I came to a realization: I needed some new gear, stuff that flowed a lot more air. Remembering Olympia had made some revisions to its line since being acquired by Canadian distributor Motovan, I rang them up, to see what mesh jackets they had in stock. A few days later, a kind man from Purolator dropped off a new Olympia Hudson jacket for me. Time to see what the new and improved Olympia’s riding gear is all about!

The details

The Olympia Hudson jacket currently carries an MSRP of $329 Cdn., and is available in the four colours of the photos below. It’s made from poly fabric, with the outer shell made from 600D fabric and 1000D reinforcement panels, beefing up the areas that would most likely bear the brunt of a slide down the pavement. There is also a fair bit of mesh fabric on the jacket. This allows a lot of airflow, but probably wouldn’t fare so well in a crash, despite its “ballistic poly mesh” description. That’s the trade-off of a mesh jacket: you get reasonably tough construction in the shell and impact areas, but in order to flow more cooling air, you’re going to give up some protection.

There is removable CE-rated foam armour in the elbow, shoulders and back of the jacket; nothing fancy, but certainly up to the task. There’s also reflective piping all around the jacket to improve visibility at night.

Olympia also included an eight-inch zipper at the back of the jacket that can be used to connect the jacket to a pair of riding pants. This is a safety measure that most riders using mesh gear likely won’t bother with, but it’s there if you want it.

For comfort, the Hudson has a mesh lining and a neoprene-framed collar, as well as adjustment tabs in the arms, waist, and halfway up the sides of the jacket. There are two zippered pockets on the outside of the jacket, and one on the inside. While that might not be enough for a touring-minded rider, it’s more than enough for jaunts around town, and that’s mainly where this jacket is intended to be used.

Finally, weatherproofing comes from a rain liner that can be worn either over or under the Hudson jacket; it’s designed to look like average streetwear, and wearing it on the outside probably makes more sense. I did use this liner a couple of times, and it does work, but I much prefer single-layer gear when it’s raining.

I didn’t use the Hudson very often when it was pouring, with the exception of the Fundy Adventure Rally, where I was immediately soaked through. It’s hard to avoid that if you’ve got a monsoon pouring down your collar, and if you’re planning to ride in the rain, a dedicated rain suit would work better. However, this rain liner will work in a pinch. Just don’t plan to stay dry in it through a whole day’s riding in seriously wet conditions.

There’s also a removable thermal liner, which I never used. I suspect it would make the jacket more comfortable in cooler summer evenings, but for riding outside the late June-early September season, I would prefer something warmer.

At the far left end of the starting lineup for the Fundy Adventure Rally, Zac questions whether his Olympia jacket’s liner would keep him dry all day. It didn’t. But in lighter rain showers, it would do in a pinch. Photo: Daniel Espinosa

How did it work?

The first-ever piece of Olympia motorcycle gear I owned was an older hi-viz AST jacket. I bought it second-hand off the ADVRider forum, then used it as a dual sport/commuting/touring jacket for the next few years. It survived all the abuse I threw at it, even a crash, and went on to serve my father-in-law when he bought his first motorcycle. When he sold his bike, he gave the jacket back to me, and I put it back into all-season duty. Despite a few scuffs, and one ripped seam where I crashed it, the jacket still does not leak, and actually looks pretty good (especially if you want to stand out from the crowd at a Yellow Vest protest).

Zac’s old AST jacket still serves him well, and certainly helps him stand out from the crowd.

Clearly, pre-Motovan Olympia gear was good quality. So how does the current production equipment hold up?

After 15 months of on-and-off usage of the Hudson jacket, I’d say it’s a well-made piece of gear that’s quite comfortable, and provides reasonable protection, considering it’s a mesh jacket. I never had any high-speed “incidents” in the jacket, but did have a roll down the gravel when I fell off a TW200 at the Fundy Adventure Rally. Both the jacket and I were unscathed after that.

The Olympia Hudson was extremely comfortable in the California heat, flowing plenty of cooling air. The black fabric didn’t attract too much heat, as I’d worried it might.

All summer long, this was my go-to jacket for dual-sport riding, and at the end of the the season, it’s still in great shape, with no tears, no jammed zippers, no sort of damage at all. Even the white trim on the jacket still looks relatively clean, despite being absolutely plastered with muck at times. There were plenty of opportunities for this jacket to fall apart, and it didn’t.

It certainly flowed air much better than any other jacket I own, even the AST with its gaping vents, which made it a must-have for our long, hot summer. On press trips to California and Tuscany, it was perfect for the warmer climates (and also was much more comfortable to wear while schlepping about in airports).

As a result, if you’re looking for a relatively lightweight summer jacket, I’d say the Olympia Hudson is worth consideration. My only real complaint was the Velcro closure on the collar, which I felt was a bit wimpy.

I didn’t like the short cut of the jacket, which doesn’t suit my body type. That’s likely not a problem for most riders; I have short legs but an awkwardly long torso, and someone with more standard dimensions would fit into the jacket better. Besides, the Hudson is styled to be a street riding jacket on the sporty side, and that usually means a shorter cut.

So for me at least, this jacket is reasonably priced, decently rugged, and while some of the four available colour schemes might be a bit unattractive, there are some colours that look quite presentable. It’s not flashy or high-tech, but it gets the job done. If I was in the market for a mesh jacket, I’d probably look for a longer version of this jacket, but if you want a waist-length cut, this might be just the ticket for you.

 

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