Tag Archives: adventure spec

Tested: Adventure Spec Linesman jacket

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jak - 4Tested: Adventure Spec Linesman softshell jacket

Where: 1600km off-road tour in southern Algeria, a few days in Morocco in April and another month riding in Morocco in November.

UK price: £249
Supplied free for testing by Adv Spec

Weight: 1011g + armour; size tested: Large (me: 6ft 1in/186cm • 205lbs/93kg)

See alsoKlim Overland and Aerostich Darien

Additional photos by Dan W, Dave K, Karim H and Robin W

tik• 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

cros• 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:
aspecA 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.
jak - 18What makes Adv Spec’s Linesman different from an outdoor-lineslablesports 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.
aspeclineIf 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’mjak - 1 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 aspecnoslevjust 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 linespokespecially 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?
jaxI 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-fullface 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.

xr4 - 17The 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 klimagsand. 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 forcefieldrather 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.

xr4 - 27Best 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.

jak-17It’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.

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Klim Overland jacket – first impressions

Full Klim Overland review here

klimov-11The cupboard was bare, the fridge was an icy cavern bereft of succulent goodies, and the sun was shining. It was high time for a shopping run to Ullapool. And, finding myself between chapters on the new AMH, it was also high time to saddle up the CB-X for a ride along the lochs and glens to try out some new gear.

Adventure Spec supply me with free or reduced cost
gear in return for advertising in AMH

In need of a decent coat for a winter getting to and from the desert, Adventure Spec recently sent me a Powerlet Rapidfire heated jacket and Klim’s Overland jacket. AS had already sent me a Latitude to look at a couple of months back. But considering the investment in such a key item of gear, I found the Latitude either a little small in L, or klimov-01way too big in XL. And in other ways it didn’t quite compare with an Aerostich Darien Light which I still consider a benchmark in travelling jackets.

Wearing the Powerlet liner (about the bulk of a fleece), the Overland in Large felt tight across klim_jacket_size_guidethe chest and shoulders and yet, according to the chart on the right, I’m (42″ chest, 6’1″, 95kg) at the lower end of their Large range. The Overland was snug on me dressed in full gear – but still useable.

What Klim say
If you’re taking your first steps into Adventure and Adventure Touring, the all new Overland series from KLIM® is a tremendous value [sic].

My first impressions
Good value, solidly built three-season shell that’s well-designed, has some tidy features and an understated look. Warmer than you think too, but could use more- or just bigger pockets in and out. And beware: Klim sizing comes up small.

Klim Overland – a quick look
• The Overland costs £379 with tax from AS and is listed as $429 + tax in the US or another $50 for the huge 3XL size
klimov-03• My Large weighs 2.04kg, less 330g without back armour pad
• It has four pockets: two hand pockets the hem with vertical entry water-resistant zips, a smaller vertical chest pocket and a similarly small one on the mesh inside (right)
klimov-06• There are water-resistant zipped armpit vents down the sides that you might just undo on the move, and two corresponding long vertical back vents (right)
• The front two-way zip lies under a velcro flap with a stud at each end, and the soft, Tricot-lined collar can be cinched for a snug seal. There are also cinch cords on each side of the hem, velcro arm tabs below the elbow and velcro at the wrists
klimov-02• The jacket has ventilated D30 E5 EVO XT armour on elbows, shoulders with a slightly less highly rated slab of non T5 D30 across the back (right)
• Eight discreet 3M Scotchlite reflective flashes front and back
• The cut is boxy and most of the arms and shoulders are over-layered with coarser and darker abrasion-resistant panels of 840D weight Cordura. The light grey body is made of much less stiff regular nylon fabric of about half that weight. The mesh lining is polyester and the membrane is Gore-Tex tw0-layer Performance Shell which is ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry ®’ and the jacket has a lifetime warranty too.

klimov-04Review
A few years ago when Klim first came to the UK, I remember looking at a Badlands or something at the Ace Cafe Adventure Day and thinking: £800 for a jacket – really? Of course Rukka had come to price themselves up there too, incorporating what I considered fussy, over-complicated ‘technical’ designs that seems to be a way of justifying high prices on a lot of stuff these days. But 800 quid for a garment made in Southeast Asia?

Maybe ‘start high – bring in the cheaper stuff later’ is a recognised marketing strategy. That’s how it looks to me with Klim in the UK and now we have more normally priced jackets like the Traverse, and the second take on the Traverse which is known as the Overland.

As I say in the book, setting off on a long trip you’ll be wearing your jacket just about all the time for weeks or months. It’s got to work well, feel right and be up to the task as it’ll become your second skin. One thing that categorises Klim as a serious contender is they only make rugged waterproof shells and eschew what is to me the cheap measure of a zip-out membrane. If you want a serious Gore-tex type jacket, get one where it’s laminated to the outer shell. Yes, it costs more.

klimov-10I set off for what turned out to be a 180-mile ride on an October day with temps peaking at 13° and strong winds forecast. Underneath I was wearing the Powerlet, a thick shirt and a vest, and leather trousers plus thin unlined gloves. I planned to fire up the Powerlet when the chill got to me. As it turned out – perhaps because I was stopping a lot – that never happened. The Overland kept me warm all day right up to sunset which was impressive. It means you can wear less clobber underneath but I suppose may get hot working hard off road in a warmer climate. For that reason I chose the grey version rather than the black. It really can make a difference.

klimov-07Doing it up I noticed that with the Powerlet’s high wire-laden collar and a shirt collar too, there wasn’t really room for my thin neck buff I usually wear. The front collar stud was a two hand squeeze to do up and the collar felt tight at the front while loose at the back where the cinch is. In other words the collar fitting was too upright or – neanderlike many humans in this digital, screen-staring era – my neck and head stick forward like a round-spined Australopithecus. Trying it again now it definitely presses on my Adam’s apple, but not unbearably so. Normally I prefer loose clothing and the Overland is a ‘snug’ fit round the neck and in the arms  and across the shoulders with arms pulled backed which is probably more flattering, cosier and aerodynamic.

klimov-09klimov-08Riding along I thought I felt a chill under the arms through the vent zips, but not enough to plug in the heated jacket. And anyway this could be attributable to my bike / screen /posture / speed. Later on I didn’t even notice it.

P1000435At one point I left the bike perched on a sunlit hillside track and walked on to recce the route. In a black jacket I’d have cooked like a Findus boil-in the-bag cod in parsley sauce, but the Overland was surprisingly cool. By the time I got back to the bike I did have a bit of a glow on, but rode back the few miles to the main road unzipped and flapping by which time normal operating temps had resumed.

klimov-05An hour and lots of lipsmacking pics later I pulled in at a cafe near Poolewe and instinctively went to slot my gloves into a pocket to came up against the Overland’s main flaw: too small pockets. I suppose I could have stuffed then into one of the lower pockets but what I’d like a decent, map-sized chest pocket or some meshy drop pockets low down inside (they could actually be easily tacked on to the mesh. What do other riders do? – cart around a tank bag or backpack – or slip them in a topbox I suppose. A jacket called Overland needs overlandable storage. For the return run I also removed the back armour to free up some room. It made the jacket lighter and more flexible, but I can’t say it felt significantly more roomy. For that the shoulder pads need to come out but I’ll keep those for the moment.

P1130862Riding back with the sun now dipping behind the hills, I expected to resort to the Powerlet, but riding up to 80mph the Klim still hung in there. The wind was up now too, pushing me around on the single track roads and at one point coming over a pass I distinctly felt the wind catch the back vent flaps and pull me around in the seat.

klimov-12So – preliminary findings on the Klim Overland adventure touring jacket. Warmer than you’d think, under pocketed but the plain looks that are growing on me. Great armour and adjustability too. Resistance to pelting rain and ventability to be established. I always wonder if the latter might compromise the former.

Full Klim Overland review here

P1000489

Gonzo versus the Onesies

gonzobeanzThis Hurricane Gonzo seems to be taking a while to clear the area. It’s been so windy in the UK that yesterday for the first time more power was generated by wind farms than nuclear power stations. Must be all those beanz eaten by the greens. Though right against a wall, the X bike still got blown over by a gust which also blew my boat out of the park. And twice I’ve had to retrieve the rain cover pressed hard against a deer fence on the other side of the field.
I’ve lavished the BMW with ACF-50 rustbut actually as long as it’s more vertical than horizontal, a spell in fresh rain washes off any rain-bound salt sprayed off the Minch. Ferrous or otherwise, rust never sleeps up here, as the two bike racks on the right testify. I only bought them two months ago!
rukredFaced with the long ride south before an even longer run to Morocco, it’s good to have clothing like my prized retro Rukka  waterproof (left) in which I can confidently face two days of 60mph autumnal showers. It waterproof alright, but it’s only PVC cloth so not especially good against the wind chill.

rukplugProblem is how to run the Aerostich electric vest with the Rukka without wires coming out my trouser leg. The answer: a Powerlet Luggage Electrix Connector (left) normally powerletused for powering/ recharging gadgets stashed in your tank bag. Melt a few tactical holes in the Rukka, then screw it on with some Aquaseal for good measure (right)

AustinimogulWith my snug Gul fleece onesie (left), I expect this set up to get me nominated for the Bake Off TV show. It may not get you invited to the best parties (unless you’re the celebrated sartorial unitarian, Austinimo, right), but it eliminates a two-piece’s heat sapping overlap and associated cold spot around the critical kidneys, while stopping you packing on so many layers you feel like a turkey trussed up for Christmas. That creates a feeling of comfort which induces relaxation and so defers fatigue and rhythm-ruining pee stops. (I think I’ve just hypnotised myself).

With my double onesie combo and heated jacket I can turn on, plug in but not chill out on winter’s long road.