I’ve never been accused of being stylish; I chose my gear for the year based on function and practicality, which for me means turning to the extensive Aerostich catalogue, having used their Darien gear previously.
The Aerostich gear was selected with a particular trip in mind. This year, I’m doing a six-week, 25,000-km journey that will encompass just about every conceivable riding condition, from extreme heat to extreme cold, high-speed highway across the prairies to low-speed single track trails in Alaska.
About 10,000 km of the trip will be off-road, so versatility was a crucial consideration.
Aerostich Darien Light Pants and Jacket with TLTec fleece liners
Already familiar with the rugged all-weather functionality of the Aerostich Darien jacket, I opted for the lighter alternative, the Darien Light.
With all of the same features of the regular Darien (generous venting, waterproof Gore-Tex shell, multiple pockets, full armour) the Darien Light features a thinner HT200 denier nylon fabric that Aerostich promises will be more comfortable at both the low and high end of the temperature range.
While it does not offer the same level of abrasion resistance as the 500 denier Cordura found in the regular Darien, initial impressions confirm it runs a little cooler and offers greater freedom of movement, both of which are especially appreciated off-road. To step the protection up a notch, I also ordered the optional T3 back protector.
The Darien Light pants similarly offer a greater level of comfort with less protection than the regular Darien version. Full-length zippers ease installation, allowing you to pull them on quickly without removing your boots.
Both pants and jacket were ordered with optional TLTec Wind Blocker fleece liners that offer additional warmth when conditions turn chilly but compress down to a very packable size when they are not.
Pricing for the Darien Light jacket starts at $467; pricing for the Darien Light pants starts around $327. The TF3 back protector is $75, and the TLTec liners are $207 for the top and $115 for the bottom.
Aerostich Vegan gloves, Triple Digit rain covers
Complimenting the light jacket and pants are the Aerostich Hot Weather Vegan gloves, so called because they contain no leather. The short cut of the Vegan gloves allows cooling air to flow up the sleeves of your jacket while still offering adequate protection for your wrists and palms.
The Vegan gloves have integrated knuckle guards to protect your hands, and a squeegee on the thumb to help you clear your visor when riding in foul weather.
In cooler temps, the Vegan gloves will be replaced with my usual Elkskin gloves; since neither are waterproof, they will be supplemented by a pair of bright orange Aerostich Triple Digit rain covers that transform your hands into a giant pair of lobster claws. I’ll have to steer clear of seafood restaurants while wearing them.
The Vegan gloves are $57; the Triple Digit rain covers are $47.
Aerostich Combat Touring Boots
Manufactured for Aerostich by Sidi, these heavy leather boots are supposed to offer a high level of protection without the clumsiness of motocross boots. Although they are likely to be a little hot the extra protection will be welcome when the off-road shin banging begins.
The boots are made from full-grain leather, with a reflective insert in the heel. A combination of an outer buckle, an inner speed lace system and hook-and-loop fasteners keep the boots tight.
The boots are not waterproof, but Aerostich thoughtfully provided their waterproof boot rain covers that hide invisibly inside the leg of the Darien Light Pants but can be quickly deployed when the weather turns nasty.
Unfortunately these boots were not immediately available when requested but hopefully will arrive in time for the big trip. Apparently, they take a little time to break in, but I’m sure they will be well worn by the time I get back.
Combat Touring Boots are $357 a pair.
I’m a big fan of flip-up helmets. My last three helmets were Shoei Multitecs. I am really excited to try the new Shoei Neotec to see for myself if the reported improvements over the Multitec live up to the hype.
The Neotec is supposed to offer the same level of comfort while being quieter and more aerodynamic. It is also supposed to offer improved venting and despite being fitted with a flip down sun-shade, have roughly the same overall weight.
The visor is larger for improved field of vision and is fitted with a fog reducing Pin Lock insert for use in cold and wet conditions. One of my favorite upgrades is the completely removable and washable liner that makes getting rid of sweat and dust build up as simple as doing your laundry.
The Shoei Neotec retails around $630.
When I’m back from my big trip I’ll give a full report on how the gear performed and how it held up to the abuse. I can hardly wait!
I will also be using three different sets of tires for the trip and will offer some comments on how they compared elsewhere on CMG. Aerostich supplied their mini-compressor for me to take along; that will certainly help with the parking lot tire changes.
Finally, a big thanks to the folks at Aerostich, Shoei and Motovan for arranging such a comprehensive list of gear. I’ll follow up with full reports on hwo the gear faired at the end of the season on CMG.
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.