Tag Archives: Forcefield armour pads

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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The Right Trousers? Klim Dakar 2016 ITB quick test

itb_dakar_itbTested: Klim Dakar 2016 ITB pants.

Where: Over 200 miles trail riding in the Pyrenees.

UK price: £155 at Adventure Spec

tik

Solid construction, good fit, look good in olive. Dry quickly on the move.

cros

Poor venting when seated in hot, slow conditions.

See also: Klim Outriders

aspecThese pants were supplied by Adventure Spec in exchange for advertising in the AMH7

What are the best trousers to wear for overland travel? I can’t say I’ve ever got to the bottom of it. rittrosBreathable and vented Cordura overtrousers for the ATGATT brigade, kevlar reinforced jeans (right, sort of), leathers (below, 1982), MX pants? More than a jacket, it can be a tricky compromise between comfort, practicality, looks, plus rain and crash protection.
itb-82Since the very start I’ve gone for leather trousers for biking travels as well as biking work. squatWatching Alvin Stardust and Suzi Quattro on TotP may have had something to do with it, but back then before Cordura, Gore-tex, D3O and kevlar, it just made sense unless you loved the smell of wax cotton in the morning. Leather is low to zero maintenance; lasts forever; look good in town and country, on or off a bike; good at sliding down the road or bashing into things too; warm enough in the cold; doesn’t show the dirt and is wipe clean – but quite hot in the heat.
The main problem is at 2.5kg they’re so heavy they need braces to keep them up, and year by year it gets harder for me to swing the old leg over high-saddled trail bikes. It’s great to feel protected, but it would be nice to do so with less weight. And the older I get the more I’m disinclined to hurt myself on a bike. In the 21st century there must be something out there better than a skinned cow for riding the ranges.
I have a pair of Aerostich GTX pants with full length side zips for easy putting on, but can’t bring myself to use them as anything other than rain overtrousers on a long cold ride for which they’re pretty bulky when not worn. I’ve never really been sold on membranes, which I’m beginning to realise, understandably err more towards waterproofness than breathability. If they’re going to be clammy, I’d sooner wear something breathable and then pull on my classic Rukka for downpours.
itb-stondKlim make GTX trousers to go with their jackets too, but I asked Adventure Spec to try a pair of no membrane Klim 2016 Dakar In The Boot pants. I plan to wear them on this autumn’s Morocco tours instead of the leathers (by which time I’ll have more to say about them for travelling). For the moment I used them on one of Austin Vince’s two-day Pyrenean rides.
tros-pyrWearing thick layers of nylon wouldn’t be my first choice – I do prefer natural materials like cotton or leather, but these things just aren’t always as practical. Your Klim Dakars are a heavy, thick pant made of lined Cordura and strategically positioned stretchy and ventilated panels. On top of the thighs are longitudinal vent zips with mesh behind, and alongside each of them a small patch pocket – the only ones you get. There are leather patches on the inside of the knees where you contact the bike, as well as sleeves inside for knee and hip armour. The hip sleeves could double as regular inside pockets. You get a velcro reverse belt, plus a zip fly and studs for a snug fit. The 38s fitted me just right.
itb-standAnything but yet more dreary black is fine with me – but so is the extreme opposite of dazzling, high-octane colours. I find the olive and black combo just right. If you want to go shouty and frighten the horses there’s a set in burnt orange as well as plein noir. itb-ffieldThe whole lot weighs 1280g, exactly half my leathers plus 190g for a £20 pair of Forcefield shoulder pads which AS recommend for the knees over less durable D3O. As it’s not the semi-final of the Ezeberg I didn’t bother with hip armour.
itb-bentkneeThe best thing you can say about this sort of gear is that you forget it’s there. Beating up and down the valleys of the Pyrenees, getting on and off the TTR250 loaner to read checkpoints was no chore. I’d prefer a zip at the ankle to make a snugger fit ITB while still making them easy to take off.
scorchiNo so good was the fact that in the 35°C+ temps the thick pants got quite hot and sweaty, especially when waiting in the sun for the navigator to decode the map, but doubtless my leathers would have been cooking too. The vents should have cooled things off, but I found the foot-long knee-to-hip zip vent only really caught the breeze when I stood up like a proper itb-vetnerITB Dakar racer. When sat down the breeze just fluttered over the zip without purging any clammy air. Any chance I got to stand up, I did to get some flow on. What would really work when seated is some sort of lateral arched or sprung vent above the knee, acting a bit like those Ventz sleeve thingies (right).
At one point mid-afternoon while letting the baking air-cooled TTRs cool down a bit, I just had to join in and drop my ITBs to air the heck off. Back at the ranch, 4 litres of sugar-and-salted water later, hygiene dictated laundering them before the next day’s ride.
wale-22That day was at higher elevations as well as on faster tracks and backroads and the ITBs felt much less sweaty. Back home a proper wash in a machine saw the dye leak from the leather and take the edge of the orange branding on the pockets. The rubbery Klim knee logo picks off too if you need a lower still profile.
klimdaksSince then I’ve used them trail biking in Wales – a lot cooler and with deep puddles so no probs getting hot, and when soaked from a big splash itbbsthey dried quickly once on the move, so I never had the impression of wearing soaking trousers. When I got back on both days they were barely damp. The venting felt more effective too: closed up in the early morning chill and unzipped as the day warmed up and things got technical.
In Morocco (left) they worked fine – not too sweaty and the vents were in range, but missed some pockets.