Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Adventure Spec 'Linesman Jacket', a riders review...

I was lucky enough to meet up with some of the guys from Adventure Spec at a bike meet in Cumbria. It was a weekend run by Danny from Haggs Bank Bunkhouse near Alston and Adventure Spec were running a trail riding weekend. Danny had asked me to lead a group for him and whilst there, Lucy & I got talking to Dave Lomax, one of the partners.

Over a few beers and dinner, we somehow ended up with Dave sending us a couple of bits of kit for us to use on our summer trip through Europe as pioneer riders on the Trans Euro Trail. Dave just asked us for some honest feedback about it. This post is about one piece of that kit, the jacket I used which is the Linesman Jacket.

The jacket is a bit of a revolutionary design concept which Adventure Spec are leading the way on in the motorbike adventure touring scene with a new range of clothing. The guys at AS were the part of the original design team behind the KLIM motorbike clothing range and so have tried and tested their theories and they also have a background in the world of outdoor adventure, things like climbing, running, mountain biking etc.

The kit in the mountain world is all cutting edge fabrics, lightweight design, very technically designed to aid movement rather than limit it and it is always based upon a system of putting or taking off lightweight layers as you need. This is a very big change to the motorcycling world, where thick heavy fabrics are the order of the day, lots of pockets, heavy duty protection and waterproof, for the UK anyway.

The Linesman Jacket is all of the things the mountaineering jackets embody, but for a motorbike. specifically for an adventure motorbike.

So some feedback from me, just as a rider who has now been using this jacket for the last ten months.

At first impressions, I was sceptical of the fabric and the weight of the jacket. It felt heavy when I first took it out of the box and as it was brand new it was a little stiff too.

I looked it over and noticed straight away how well made it was, it felt a quality garment. When I looked at the armour, I found the reason  for the weight. it's a soft foam, but it's an absorption foam, so pretty dense as it's made to take heavy impacts and reduce them before their force reaches your body, there are removable shoulder and elbow pads and a hefty back protector.
Pockets too, plenty of pockets, including two on the back taken from the mountain bike world, but these mean zips and extra bits of fabric, this is a part of the weight and finally there is the fabric for the shoulders and elbows. This is a ballistic type of synthetic fabric which is used in stab proof jackets for the military. AS had to develop a whole new cutting system to get the right bits for the jacket because they couldn't cut it to shape in the normal ways!

When I put the jacket on, it felt good and fitted pretty well for my shape and size and just felt right from the off, the weight seemed to disappear which I still haven't got my head around, but hey ho...

For the TET, the ten or so countries we travelled through were pretty hot, often more than 30' c on a daily basis in the afternoons, I found that if I removed the armour and wore the Linesman as a jacket it was pretty good, but then I had no upper body protection, so in the end opted to just wear it all the time. It has removable arms, which I also tried, but again I didn't really like having my arms exposed and I had no other armour with me, so just went back to wearing the full jacket.

At these temperatures, it was too hot to wear to be honest and a lot of the time as soon as I stopped or got into any longer technical ground. I'd soon be sweating like a pig and getting tired because of it, so I took to taking it off whenever we stopped and completely opening the ventilation zips whilst riding, this made a huge difference, even the pockets have mesh inside to help with this!

I tested the abrasion resistance several times and to this day the jacket only has one mark on it and it has now been tested a lot... Even sliding down a tarmac road twice!

Since I've been back in the UK, the Linesman has become my go to jacket for green laning in Cumbria and multi day trips all over. At first I was a little hesitant when it came to the heavy rain as it's not meant to be a waterproof jacket. It required me to change my mindset a bit and go back to my mountaineering dressing process. After the first ride out in a downpour though I relaxed and just carried on riding, putting a lightweight waterproof jacket over the top when it got really windy and wet.

The jacket wets out on the sleeves and if you don't put on a waterproof can become a little cold in the winter winds and rain, but add that extra waterproof layer and you can just keep on riding.

In the snow this winter we've had, it's been perfect, allowing my sweat the pass through the fabric and get blown away on the winds. This will also have something to do with me pulling out my old climbing base layers and wearing them in multiple layers underneath plus a synthetic gilet which I have found to be the perfect setup for my days out. The mix of all these layers just allows your body to breathe, which helps with your energy efficiency and also keeps you warmer during exercise.

I tend to carry my phone in one of the chest pockets, my wallet in the other and nothing in the hand warmer pockets. I wear a really lightweight necktube, two or three base layers, the gilet and that's it. Then in my great little Kriega r15 rucsac, I carry a lightweight waterproof jacket for if the weather gets really bad.

Going forward I now know that my jacket issues are resolved, the Linesman will be my jacket of choice for our next part of the TET in Scandinavia this summer so next up for me will be to replace my trousers, buy some decent boots and look for a new helmet...

Lucy used the Baltic Insulated Jacket on our trip and has been living in it since we got back, so I'll see if she has time to write up something about that, as again it's another well thought out piece of kit that does it's job well.

Cheers for now...