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Gearing Up for Summer Travel

June 23, 2010

I have been jonesing for a new women’s cut textile jacket, ever since last summer’s disaster-of-a-coat went away. Okay, the coat was fine… almost. I had purchased a textile Teknic ladies riding jacket on close-0ut— always has great bargains! It was great to have a women’s cut jacket; however, the particular jacket style turned out to have major failings (for me) that I didn’t realize until I was on the road and temperatures were soaring.

The first problem was that it turned out to be one size too large. The fit was fine in the cool weather of the coast when I was wearing a fleece jacket underneath. However, in the heat of the central valley, I removed both my fleece layer and the jacket’s liner, the incorrect sizing* caused the jacket to literally climb up my back at highway speeds. It was completely maddening and nothing I did seemed to keep it down. I tried taking out the back armor, because the jacket was bunching up around it in an awkward way; this only allowed the jacket free reign to hike up my back as far as it could. The other big problem, and another cause of the flap-happies, was not enough venting in this particular model. The pockets were lined with a non-breathable poly fabric, rather than with a mesh fabric, so there was no way the wind could flow through the jacket. The flapping was a nightmare that drove me almost insane. Riding insane? Not a good thing…

I ended up selling the jacket to a friend who “fit” the jacket better than I did. For the past few months, I have been researching a replacement jacket in a mesh-textile combination. My boyfriend is more than happy with his FirstGear Mesh-Tex Jacket. His only complaint has been that the collar is scratchy (it’s great to have an in-house review). I knew I didn’t want the same style because I am incredibly sensitive to “scratchy”, so I looked at FirstGear’s Contour Mesh Jacket, which is a ladies’ style jacket with a suede-like inner collar, similar to that on my MotoGP textile jacket. Okay, I didn’t just look at it, I ordered one.

I like, because the folks who work there actually review the products, and the advice for this particular jacket was to “order one size larger”. Because of my previous experience, I was hesitant to order a size large, but the coat fits snugly around my hips, as I like it, so I don’t think there will be the creeping up issue. And, being mesh, it has plenty of flow-through to keep me cool in what I’m expecting will be the dog days of summer up in Oregon next month for the BMW International Rally.

Liz's new jacket

New FirstGear jacket and CamelBak Better Bottle

I also had a chance to get to REI last week, a rare occurrence since our closest store is more than two hours drive away. I checked out the Alite Designs Monarch Chair, reviewed fully by bolty a few days prior. It was great to see the chair in person and to sit in it. When I read Stacy’s review, my biggest concern was how it would support my back, as I tend to aggravate lower back issues by sitting incorrectly or without proper back support. I tried out the Monarch Chair and it felt very supportive, more so than my current Crazy Creek Original camp chair (which I don’t take motorcycle camping due to its non-packability). If I were in the market for a packable chair, the Alite Monarch would be my choice. As it is, we tend to camp where there are picnic tables, with no need to carry an extra piece of gear. (Big thanks to Stacy for clueing me in to this great product!)

The item I did purchase for moto travel at REI is a CamelBak Better Bottle. I always make a point of carrying water in my tank bag, because I get thirsty on the road and can’t necessarily wait for the next convenience store. It seems a little cheesy to keep filling up my Arrowhead water bottle until the plastic becomes so squashed looking that I’m embarrassed by it, so I thought I’d give the Better Bottle a try this year. It has a bit valve, so I can take a drink without taking my helmet off, and it is supposedly drip-free. (The exterior label says “spill-proof bite valve”, and “not leakproof” on the inside… hmmm… guess I’ll find out the first time I use mine.) The Better Bottle is also BPA-free (better than a “non-refillable” water bottle from the store), and I can get CamelBak’s hands-free adapter (an extension tube of sorts) if I decide I want on-demand water straight up into my mouth while riding.

*Ladies, the go-to site for information about purchasing gear is GearChic. I should have followed Joanne’s advice and tried on a variety of jackets before purchasing, as every manufacturer has different sizing. It’s a little tough in my rural area to get to a good gear store to try on, so I admit to sometimes “buying without trying”, which doesn’t always prove to be successful.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 3:38 pm

    Great info on the jackets! I too am realizing my need for summer gear. First of all my helmet’s venting system is for show only – well I don’t feel anything! My coat is a man’s heavier jean material with armor. I bought that after trying on a bunch of women’s jackets and my long arms stuck way out! I’m hoping to be able to find a women’s jacket that is prettier than what I have and I need summer wear.

    • June 24, 2010 2:51 am

      Good summer gear is crucial in hot climates. I am a firm believer in ATTGATT, and I am grateful that there are mesh-textile combinations to both protect and offer some heat relief. Riding in the heat is like riding with a blow-dryer blasting on high over your whole body! Not pleasant!

      You might also check into the leather/textile combination jackets, or perforated leather. Prior to having a textile jacket, I pretty much just wore my red leather jacket in the heat. It has zips in the arms, on the upper torso and in back, with a mesh lining which allows airflow into and through the jacket. For a leather jacket, I have found it quite suitable for hot-weather riding.

      Good luck with your search. Keep researching and trying on; something will turn up that you love and that fits!

  2. VStar Lady permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:42 am

    I’m happy with my Rocket Ladies 3-in-one, okay, except for the color -black, it can really draw the heat when the temperatures rise to 100 (but then it’s time to stop and enjoy the shade and a cool splash of water). I like the mesh (it’s armored), and the outershell is easy to zip off/on. The liner is not for cold weather but it blocks wind and some of the wet. You still need a fleece for the really cool days so an extra size up is okay, it draws in at the waist and I’ve never had a problem with it riding up, plus it zips to the pants. Lots of vents to open with the outer shell on when the temperature is in between, but watch you don’t mistake a vent opening for a pocket. Helmetorheels, is there really a helmet that vents??? Sometimes you just have to flip up the visor or stop and pour water on your head.

    • June 24, 2010 2:58 am

      Thanks for your feedback, VStar Lady. It’s great we are starting to have more choices in gear. That wasn’t the case even four years ago when I was looking for my first jacket.

      Regarding keeping a cool head, I often just get my StyleSaverScarf wet in the coldest fountain I can find, and on it goes under the helmet to cool me off for miles… until the next drinking fountain!


  1. Quick Review: FirstGear Contour Mesh Jacket « Lilred's Riding Blog

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