OK … I’m not a big fan of wearing a motorcycle jacket, especially when the temperature is 90 degrees and the humidity has you feeling like you’re in a sauna. I’m a big fan of T-shirts when it gets hot (I also like to show off my ink). Remember, I’m a motorcycle “libertarian” … I think adults should evaluate a risk and make their own decision as to accepting that risk. That said, there’s no arguing that a leather or Kevlar type jacket with armor in the right places can save you from some serious pain and disfigurement. But, even though the first thing riders think of when considering these jackets is usually safety and/or looks, there is also a strong case to be made for comfort.
On a recent journey, I rode through rain and temperatures that ranged from the low 50’s in the Rockies to 105 in the Texas panhandle. For this trip, I selected a Tourmaster Intake Air Series 3 Jacket. While there are a lot of brands to choose from out there, if you’re looking for comfort, you should ensure that whichever one you choose has similar features that will make your ride more comfortable.
This jacket has a mesh shell that is very well ventilated and that means it remains relatively cool on a hot day (when you’re moving). When the temperature gets cool, you have a choice of two liners that can be inserted separately or in combination for maximum insulation. The lightweight liner provides great wind resistance and is also rain resistant (not at the level of a quality rain suit, but it does keep you dry in light or moderate rain). The lightweight padded liner provides insulation and when these two are used together, the jacket provides comfort at temperatures as low as 45 degrees (for me). Stick a thermal T-shirt under it and your good to go down to about 40. For hot desert weather in the 90’s or higher, you can wear the mesh outer jacket over a wet T-shirt to keep cool and hydrated. This jacket provides the advantages of three different pieces of clothing resulting in less required storage room and lighter weight, both premium requirements for long road trips. Both liners can be rolled up tightly and take up very little room. During my trip, I actually wore the jacket in extremely high dessert heat and at 12,500 feet in the Rockies, where I went from the high 70’s in Ft. Collins, CO to the low 50’s at 12,500 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park and then back down, all in less than three hours. I was able to adjust my clothing for comfort in just a few minutes and then easily readjust as I descended. Very convenient, very compact and far less expensive than multiple jackets.
For those of you who also value the protective aspect of outerwear more than me, this particular jacket offers construction of Armor Link, 600 Denier Carbolex and 1680 Denier ballistic polyester with CE approved armor at all the strategic locations. Hell, I don’t have a clue what all that means, other than it offers you some great protection from impact and road rash.
Comfortable long trips on a motorcycle don’t take any luck at all … they take careful planning. The correct choice of equipment is critical. You must pack lightly, compactly and efficiently, meaning that everything you bring along should preferably have more than one use and leather doesn’t fit this description. This premium jacket certainly fits the bill (all right … leather looks a little cooler, but even without the liner and with the vents open, it is still hot as hell on a warm day).
Pants are a whole other subject …