OK, call me traditional, old fashioned, simple, dumb.... but i LOVE my aerostich darien jacket.
h-o-w-e-v-e-r... when you see an ad for a more modern and fully-featured adventure touring jacket for nearly half the price, your curiosity is piqued.
advertised in last month's owners news, i just had to give it a try. referring to the images below, it was the integrated hydration system, the zip-off pockets and sleeves and the zippered ventilation on the upper arms that made the sale. as we all know, the darien jacket can get pretty hot at times.
it was $226 shipped from motorcycle-superstore.com. such a deal!
now, with about 400 miles on the jacket, i am starting to form some opinions.
first off, the cortech sizing runs small, i wear an XL darien (which is still a tad large on me), but had to send back the XL for cortech's XXL.
it's made of slightly lighter material than the darien, and uses a different liner. i've not been able to test in it the rain, but it *appears* that it will be at least as good as the darien. the crash padding is not as good as the darien's temperfoam, but it does come with an integrated back protector.
the sleeves feature snaps to adjust for arm size and/or the presence of the included thermal liner. one very important sleeve feature (for me, anyway) is the pocket on the right sleeve. i put *everything* in there my darien... keys, chapstick, garage door opener, change, a knife, earplugs. well, that doesn't work with this jacket, as the pocket is extremely small. i can barely fit the bike key and one pair of earplugs,.
one sweet feature is a snap on the upper left shoulder that mates with the collar of the jacket to hold it open on hot days... a v-neck effect. i am constantly rolling my darien collar under to do the same thing and it just doesn't work as well.
the hydration system is actually a modular backpack that can be removed. it also features places to put other items, such as wallets, keys, papers, small camera, iPod, etc... and would make a perfect accessory for walking around a racetrack. when mounted to the jacket, the drink tube slips through an elastic loop to hold it in place... this broke within 5 minutes of use. the velcro loop that surrounds the tube near the mouthpiece does hold it in place until one starts bouncing around off-road. the drink tube's mouthpiece really needs to be the 90-degree-style, it's a little difficult to get a good swig when wearing a full-faced helmet like my arai XD.
there is a bit of assembly/disassembly required for this drink system... the straps fit through small slots in the back of the jacket and then around your shoulders. so it's not something you would want to be taking on and off every 5 minutes. the one thing i don't like is the waist belt used to keep the backpack firmly in place. it's thin and i keep forgetting to click it into place. it is located outside the jacket (it's not in the pictures below) which tends to block the entry to the lower pockets. looking at the design, it's almost unnecessary and i *may just cut it off.
last, back to what first attracted me to it... the ventilation. there are two nicely-sized zip-open vents on the upper arms, and the two front breast pockets actually zip off, revealing mesh panels... very nice design, although the zippers take some tiny fingers and exact manipulation to re-attach. the sleeves are also removable via the same type of zippers (with the same type of re-attachment issues) and they can be zipped partway open for added ventilation. this all works in conjunction with a zippered flap on the back to allow the air to flow through.
other features include several interior pockets with velcro closures to hold wallet, phone, etc... and two front pockets for camera, glasses and whatnot.
all-in-all, well worth the money, but i can't say that i'm ready to list my darien for sale. true, the darien fits like a tent vs. a nice trim fit for the cortech, but the darien just has that indestructible feeling that i like when there is a potential for up-close-and-personal-inspection of the ground. and it may be basic, but man, i really did miss features like the darien's huge breast and right-sleeve pockets.