Size tested: Large (me: 6ft 1in/186cm • 210lbs/95kg)
• Light • Has pockets for armour • Dark grey is neither boring black not dull silver • Vertical back vents work with a daypack
• Costs a lot • Not an all-season coat without a heated liner • Not convinced by cuff vents • Miss the arm cinch straps from the Overland
What they say: The KLIM Traverse line of completely waterproof, extremely durable and functional off-road outerwear is the benchmark in all-conditions comfort. Still unmatched in the industry, Traverse is the one solution trail and dual-sport riders can count on to deliver the most enjoyable ride in the most miserable conditions. This generation of the Traverse receives an intelligent redesign to match the off-road legacy of our Dakar lineup’s improvements including a refined fit, updated reflective materials, and intelligent ventilation system improvements. As durable as ever, better fitting and with an increased comfort range, the Traverse is designed to take the threat of rain out of your riding equation. Ride all day, any day, every day in absolute dry comfort.
Review As with some of my bikes, my Klim Overland was a jacket I’d have been happy to have kept were it not part of my self-styled job to keep trying new things. Then in 2016 they dropped the Overland and replaced the original Traverse with the updated and much lighter Traverse II I have here. Pitched as a light, trail-biking jacket, rather than high-speed touring coat, it’s more or less the same as an Overland but without armour included, elbow cinch straps and less reflectivity too. Plus it comes in a less dull range of colours apart from the ubiquitous black: a dark olive green and the dark slate grey I have here.
The light, Gore-Tex 2-layer nylon 66body shell fabric and spread of durable 500D Cordura patches or layers over the arms broad match the Overland – just about adequate for 4-season riding if helped by a heated vest, and up to prangs with a bit of armour. The main zip is two-way, with a velcro rain flap and rain gutter. The adjustable, velcro-tabbed microfleece collar is less of a tight fit than the Overland – or at least it has a velcro closure, not pop studs. And there’s the same adjustable bottom hem to keep draughts at bay.
Vents are the best arrangement I’ve used for truly effective airflow: two huge slanted zip vents on the front (easily opened and closed on the move), with matching smaller exhaust vents at the back (less easily operated with the jacket on, even at a standstill). Vertical back vents still work when wearing the typical daypack.
They’ve added lower arm vents to the Traverse II which I’m not convinced are that useful when you can just open the velcro cuffs. The rationale is that vents enable you to keep cuffs, front zips and other adjustments closed so armour doesn’t dislodge too much when needed. Although I rarely use it, it’s good to have inner sleeves for optional elbow, shoulder and back armour.
Inside there’s the same lightweight mesh liner while will support the addition of some mesh drop pockets, as I did on my Overland (below). Or, you can use the rear vents to access all the space between the mesh and the shell. In large it’s a snug fit on me with not much room for too many bulky layers, but that’s what a good heated vest is for. For that, I found the arm-cinch straps on the Overland were good at pressing the heated liner down on to the arms for added warmth. If it’s a long ride you can do as much with elastic or straps. Other than that, I much prefer the slate grey and nearly black colouring, even if reflectivity has taken a back seat on the Traverse II. Looking forward to Traversing some miles with testing downpours.
• Smart-looking design • Good fit according to AS size chart • Generous length keeps you snug • Very light and rolls up to about a litre (right) • Integrated hood • Two-way zips on the vents • Kevlar abrasive patches • Actually has 3 outside pockets (contrary to AS description)
• Main zip is one-way and lacks storm flap • Single underarm vents limit air flow • A bit heavier than the claimed 650g • Is an integrated hood that useful?
What they say: A lightweight waterproof breathable over jacket with DuPont™ Kevlar® reinforced impact areas. This expedition/trail jacket includes a helmet a[sic] compatible fold away hood, body vents and one throttle friendly chest pocket.
Review The Trail shell is the latest addition to Adventure Spec’s own-brand rider wear, including the vented Atacama Race jacket, similar open-weave Mongolia and the popular Linesman softshell I used last year. The long-awaited Trail is their first waterproof shell to wear all day, rain or shine, or over some of the above listed jackets. It breathes, it vents, it’s waterproof and has an integrated hood. But note that unless you’re riding in the tropics, as an all-weather, trans-continental travel jacket you may find the TWS a bit too skimpy; the body is not much thicker than my hill-walking cag. The priority has been to save weight and bulk while retaining some function and the agility needed in off-roading rather than sitting on the slab at 120kph.
Contrary to AS’s online description (which may get corrected), the Trail has three external pockets (left), not one. Good to see. In one of the lower pockets is a small combination whistle/tyre valve-core tool. The latter will work but blowing through the tiny whistle, the air soon backs up and doesn’t make a usefully audible noise. For that a proper ‘pea whistle’ works best.
High-wear areas like elbows/forearms, shoulders plus the lower sides get rugged kevlar patches which also help give the otherwise plain nylon shell some eye-catching texture. The elongated back with its drawstring hem helps keep draughts at bay when crouched over the bars on a mission.
Adv Spec suggest the bonded membrane shell errs towards waterproofness rather than breathability, and without layering, the thin body fabric won’t keep you as warm as heavier jackets. When things do warm up or slow down in gnarly terrain, single underarm vents (right) with two-way, water-resistant zips help the air flow through, especially if you open up the front. But with front zipped up and on the move, I’ve found single underarm vents less effective in purging air.
I’m not convinced the roomy hood which tucks into the collar is such a useful feature for bike riding, even if it does make for a cushy collar. It’s huge, and the rationale of it stopping water running down the back of your neck is not an issue I’ve experienced with a snug jacket collar or wearing a neck buff. Around a camp or at the roadside, it may have its uses (I mislay at least one cap or hat a year).
I think many potential buyers would sooner see that weight re-allocated towards some sewn- or velcro’d in sleeves for armour pads. Such an option would broaden the Trail’s use out towards less technical moto-travelling as opposed to pure dirt biking, where some sort of padded or armoured top (right) would probably be wise.
For the purpose for which it was designed, Adventure Spec’s super light Trail Waterproof Shell will suit many riders. Be it the bike or the gear you wear, lightness is always desirable, but to me all-weather functionality is more important. For my sort of riding I’d be happy to skip the hood and, if necessary, carry another few hundred grams for proper through-venting, a big, securely dry inner pocket and a storm-flap over the front zip.
What they say: Perfect for dual-sport, adventure, touring and daily riding. Fully seam taped, unlined, HT200D Nylon GORE-TEX® jeans-cut pant with full length separating side zips inner and outer weather flaps to help the pants go on and off fast yet keep rain and wind out.
What I think • Usual excellent Aero taped-seam quality • Easy to put on and take off • The right amount of useful pockets • Great contoured cut; don’t feel bulky • Breath well and waterproof so far • Long, but OK because ankle can be cinched in • No fancy washing requirements
• Quite pricey from the UK • Sold only via Aerostich USA • Bulky to stash when not wearing, but isn’t everything
Review About time I reviewed my Aerostich AD1 Light pants. They’re pitched as lighter weight 200D Cordura Gore-tex overtrousers; less stiff to suit the occasional rider rather than ice-road commuters who’ll want Dariens or Roadcrafters in heavyweight 500D; two names which helped make Aerostich’s name in the US among Iron-Butt long-haul pros. Riding hard, fast and often, a 500D Roadcrafter is the best thing for 85-mph slides down the highway. But who does that any more? Indeed, unlike many riders it seems, I rarely wear overtrousers at all, unless it’s actually pouring or very chilly. I don’t mind getting wet legs if the end is nigh, but when it isn’t I like the fact that I’m tucked, zipped, studded and velcro’d into my AD1s. Strict trademark laws make casual use of the V-word forbidden in the US. Jeez – and I thought I making a quick joke! Looks like I guessed right: in the US they must say ‘hook-and-loop’ which rolls off the tongue like a mouthful of old wool.
On me the AD1s fit is just right: comfy and unobtrusive – as high praise as you can bestow on motorcycle clobber. You don’t feel like you’re schlepping around in a pair of baggy, swish-swooshing bin bags. The curved cut of the double-stitched seat and knees all help, and Aerostich do go out of their way to give you more than just S, M, L and XL. With their detailed sizing chart (right) you have little excuse to not get the right fit. No complaints with breathability or waterproofing either – legs don’t really sweat or get cold. But when they do, one of the best things is the ADs are easy to put on and take off; a big incentive when you really ought to pull over and do one or the other but don’t want to faff about or risk tripping over, banging your head on your rocker cover and waking up in a hospital corridor.
What you get I chose my ADs in ‘long’ to get right down over the boot. They have two-way 47-inch zips right down the outside of each leg, so if you want to vent you can modulate down from waist or up from ankle (or just use Twitter like everyone else). At the top you can also reset the waist circumference with studs by an inch on each side (right). I have my 38″ Ls on the bigger setting and there’s a short elastic triangle at the back to take up the slack when lunch catches you with your trousers down. The zips have a full length rain flap of course and at the ankles have a big reflective panel (above left) allowing you to pull them in over boots or whatever. I find this is also useful in taking some of the 1220-g weight off the waist, especially as they’re so long (on my 38 Ls the inside leg is 34″). I wish my Klim Outriders did that (before I got it done myself). This support also avoids the need for braces.
You’re in Aero-Land so you know there’ll be a few pockets knocking about. Left thigh has a 8 x 7-inch velcro™ flap pocket with more v*****™ over the top to take a map pocket. On the other thigh is a same-sized pocket with a water-repellant side zipper. At the hips are two more velcro™ flap pockets and there’s another v-free open pocket at the back, plus a cunning, easily missed SAS-style zipped stash belt (right).
I’m not a great fan of the bulky TF3 Aero-armour (left), even if it might be technically better than slimmer examples like D30 (right) which will attach to the velcro™ inside the knee, or ForceField lattice armour which won’t. Knee pads are handy for kneeling by the bike of course, not just crashing. There’s more you-know-what™ along the sides of the waist hem and inside the shins, for more armour perhaps.
Recent trips have included coming back across close-to-freezing then rainy Spain in December, and a dawn-to-dusk mid-summer ride up the British Isles (right) where in June the chances of rain are high. On both occasions the AD1s did the job unobtrusively, keeping the chill out, the rain off and the stuff in [the many pockets]. A classic unfussy and functional design as you’d expect from Aerostich, and quite probably comparable with any other high-end membrane rainwear out there.
Additional photos by Dan W, Dave K, Karim H and Robin W
• Light and comfy to wear • Stylish, low-key design makes it wearable off the bike • Ready for armour (not included) • Lots of pockets, including on the back • High collar • Sleeves zip off • Vertical back vents work with a daypack
• Expensive • Not breathable; for warm conditions try the similar but open-weave Mongolia (right) or the Atacama Race • Don’t expect the protected feel of a fully armoured Cordura jacket
What they say: A windproof and breathable trail riding/rally jacket reinforced with Du Pont™ Kevlar® fabric on the key abrasion zones. Reinventing the trail riding jacket, via the tracks of the Trans Euro Trail. For decades the trail rider had very limited options when it came to riding jackets. Either big bulky motorcycle kit that was restrictive and heavy, or lightweight outdoor gear that offered little protection. It always seemed like too much of a compromise. The Linesman Jacket is the culmination of the depth of expertise that Adventure Spec has established helping many tens of thousands of riders travel untold miles around the world.
Review Adv Spec have lately introduced a batch of own-branded jackets including the vented Atacama Race, the similar open weave Mongolia and a softshell Linesman aimed at trail riders. It has been named after the volunteer researchers on the Trans Europe Trail (TET) which Adv Spec support – comparable with Touratech US’s Backroute Discovery Routes (BDR); a riding gear outlet sponsoring and even under-writing well researched ride routes.
I miss my old Mountain Hardwear softshell (right), left on a bus in Delhi after a couple of epic Himalayan bike rides. Back then outdoorsy softshell was quite pricey; a stretchy polyester outer fabric bonded (sometimes via a breathable membrane) to a soft, micro-fleece liner producing a lightweight shell that’s nice and non-rustly to wear while keeping the windchill at bay. What makes Adv Spec’s Linesman different from an outdoor-sports softshell is the lack of a membrane (my MH was annoyingly sweaty; not really breathable) or even a DWR coating. Instead you get a kevlar overlay on the high-wear or impact areas (the green parts) as well as front chest pockets which work as vents to purge through similar zipped slots on the back.
Your Linesman is not intended for tearing around Brands Hatch on you Gixxer, nor touring Alpine passes. It’s aimed at trail riders who’ll be doing their riding and crashing at much lower speeds. To make that less painful there are armour pockets at the elbow, shoulders and the back.
If you add in a hook or velcro tab at the top, this back sleeve could double up as a bladder holder. The Atacama Race comes with this feature; however it’s done, it would be good to see it added to the Linesman, even if a useful two litres might put a strain on the jacket. It’s nice to not have to use a day pack to contain your hydrator.
The shoulder armour pockets thoughtfully pin up out of the way towards the collar because on the Linesman you can zip-off the sleeves. The theory is, with the sleeves stashed in the rear pouches, the jacket more wearable in hot conditions. While I’m pretty blasé about armour, I’d still rather ride with sleeves. If I’m getting stuck into a sweaty work like a difficult bike recovery, I’d probably just take the jacket off. But I can see the value in removing them while retaining the security and utility of the pockets, perhaps on a warm TET evening in southern Europe for an amble down to the village bar. Update: In Morocco in April it was over 30°C so I did ride with sleeves removed and very pleasant it was too. The other two were cooking in their membrane jackets.
There are eight pockets: two on the outside at the hem as big as your hand; two smaller vertical chest pockets which double up as vents (so probably not a place for your phone or wallet); two more zipped pouches above the back hem which you can just reach with the jacket on; and two huge and very handy mesh ‘drop pockets’ inside (below left). I find these most useful and have added mesh versions to my other riding jackets; an easy and secure place to stash gloves of maps without having to interact with zips apart from the front one.
I can see the thinking behind water-resistant YKK zips on the front pockets/vents, but unfortunately this makes them too stiff to operate one-handed on the move and as you can see left on the top zip, the press-seal doesn’t close up fully to keep water out. Seeing as these are the more used zips, I’d prefer the conventional, freer-flowing zips as used on the rear vents and pockets (the lower zip pictured above). After all, the main front zip is the same. This ease of use applies especially to the front chest pocket/vents which are handy to open or close on the move while leaving the rear vents open. Like on my Klim Overland, these rear vents are inaccessible with the jacket on, let alone on the move; it’s often easier to ask another rider to zip you up or down. If it’s raining, valuables are better off in a waterproof pouch while you either get a bit wet or pull on a mac.
What did the others wear? I have a rather casual sense of dress in the desert and prefer not to feel hot or sweaty. I don’t like being weighed down or in-your-full-face lids or synthetic legwear and I don’t mind being cold for a short while. I wore: TKC Baja boots, Klim Outrider trousers, the Linesman with a wicky/merino undershirt plus a Shoei open face. I was comfortable with these choices and unlike many, couldn’t be bothered change once at the camp. Of the dozen other riders; 10 wore full-face MX, most with goggles; 3 had neck braces; at least 5 wore full armour underjackets over vests or jackets; 7 wore Cordura riding jackets all the time and probably with armour – the rest wore jerseys most of the time; 1 wore waxed cotton + armour; 10 wore nylon riding (over?) pants probably with armour; 1 wore jeans with armour and 1 wore leather trousers.
The sort of riding I did in Algeria added up to a half-days on the plateau highway at elevations up to 1600-m, regular gravel pistes, gnarlier soft sand and 2nd-gear sandy tussock oueds, short dune crossings, churned up sandy canyons, and wide-open sand sheet down at 500m, all with regular stops to allow regrouping and playing the sand. Temperatures ranged from freezing mornings to the upper-20s Centigrade.
Underneath I wore a wicky T-shirt or long sleeve, either synthetic (right) or merino when chillier. That’s quite a mix of terrain, speeds and temperatures wearing similar kit; I tend to put up with short-term discomforts rather than faff about with layers. Through it all the Linesman unobtrusively coped with the occasional opening or closure of the rear vents. I wore mine with only Forcefield elbow armour (left). I must admit I’ve felt better crashing hard in a Cordura jacket, with or without armour. Softshell has a rubbery feel which would snag as you slide and tumble, especially on the road where thick Cordura abrades almost as well as leather. Luckily that’s not something I’ve done for decades and on this trip it was just the usual slow speed spills.
Best of all, I like the Linesman’s plain styling while not being yet more boring grey or black. Others, including non-bikey types, commented on the stylish, look too; something you can wear off the bike without handing over a pizza. Maybe it’s the design or maybe it’s the stretchy fabric which see a total lack of adjustability using cinch-cord, poppers or velcro. The plain elasticated cuffs and neck don’t need doing up or pining down once the Linesman’s on. It all helps enhance the look without detracting from the jacket’s function.
It’s probably not the only biking jacket you’d want to own, and you do wonder how durable the softshell will be after a couple of years of inevitable scuffing, but the Linesman does represent a new type of biking jacket with as much optional impact protection and storage as a typical Cordura-and-membrane coat, but more on-the-road windproofing than the fully vented jackets like Revit’s Cayenne Pro, Klim’s Inverse or Adv Spec’s own Mongolia and Atacama.
Leaving Tan Tan Plage. Up the coastal highway to Guelmim, then inland into the mountains where the skies are about to drop with a big crash.
I Rukka up. Not in a £1000 two-piece suit, but a classic 1980s PVC onesie off ebay for 40 quid. If you positively, absolutely do not want to get wet (other than what runs down your neck), classic Rukka PVC is the best. Just be careful what you search for – some uses of Rukka PVC onesies are unorthodox and NSFW.
I start climbing. It looks grim up there.
No PVC onesies for these two. Woollen jelabas rubbed with goat fat does just fine.
Between the downpours you can smell the scent of the herbs off the hillsides. Riding a bike all day makes it easy to dodge food, but at this little village shop I pull in for some bread, cheese and yogs.
Laughing Cow – one of the great travel foods of Africa. You’ll find it all the way to the Cape and back. Rumour has it Damien Hirst got his idea to pickle a cow in formaldehyde after finding a 15-year-old packet of Vache down the back of his sofa one night while on the munchies, and finding it tasted unnervingly fresh.
After Tafraoute the road climbs steeply onto the western Anti Atlas. It gets bleak and darn chilly. I watch the elevation rise to over 1900m or 6200’ and get colder and colder and colder.
Back again at the basic Igherm hotel – 7 quid rooms. If the footie was on there’d be standing room only in the bar, but it’s just some bint reading the news. Luckily, hot chorba (soup) is on. I get two bowls worth then retire to my cell to warm up from the inside.
Next morning – chilly – but WR fires up on the button. I love that about efi.
Down the road towards the High Atlas.
In Taliouine I decide I’ll try the Jebel Sirwa transit (MH7), seeing as I’ve not done it for years.
I ride the switchbacks up to Askaoun. A few kms out of town is a rough sign for Anzal.
Last time I did this route I met two locals in a VW Golf, but the track is a lot rougher than I remember – a bad sign as it means it’s no longer used by locals. Sure enough I get to the gorge and the track is now a streambed. A fourbie could crawl over this in Low 1st and so could I, but alone, I decide not to risk it. As many of us know well, it takes just one unlucky fall-over to do in a shoulder.
Instead, back at Askaoun I turn west. They’ve sealed the other half of MH7 – a lovely spring afternoon’s ride down to…
… the dam which is brimming over with a winter’s rain.
Another £1 vache stop at the village shop. A couple of KTMs and a DRZ shoot by. The first bikes I’ve seen.
It’s pizza night at the Bab Sahara in Tazenacht! The staff dress up like pantomime gondoliers and Pavarotti booms from the speakers. “Just one Cornetto… Give it to meee”.
Tazenacht is a normal market town and a great place to buy Berber carpets at good prices and zero hassle. I can’t resist a couple. That’s £120 quid’s worth – a lot of money really, but all dyed and woven by hand. I only hope the women who weave them out in the villages on the Issil plane get their fair share, but I doubt it.
Just another photogenic ruined mudbrick kasbah off the Oued Draa valley.
The dam up at Ouarzazate releases water daily to irrigate the gardens and palmeries all the way down to Mhamid on the Algerian border. Produce, eggs and meat as fresh as you like (vachish excepted).
I pull in at Tamnougalte. Tomorrow I’ll try a gnarly new way over Jebel Sarhro, then over the High Atlas and home.