Just to be clear this post is not meant to be a thrashing of any product. It is just an opinion on dealing with wet conditions that I have formed based on my own travel experiences (riding through multiple 8 hour+ storms). It is also an explanation for why we don’t have a waterproof liner as standard on the new Power Shell and Navigator suits.
For the most part, there are three common implementations of waterproofing:
- A removable waterproof liner that zips inside the jacket
- A built-in non removable liner (usually sandwiched between the outer shell and inner mesh lining)
- A waterproof membrane fused to the protective shell fabric
All three implementations are inherently flawed.
A suit with a removable liner means that you have to take off your suit on the roadside, spend a few minutes inserting the liner and then put the suit on again. Hopefully you were wearing something presentable inside.
Then when it stops raining take off the suit again, unzip and unbutton the liner and put the suit on again. In most cases this is going to be a much harder process as all the fabrics are now wet and sticky.
After a few iterations of this, you will consider leaving the liner either permanently on or off.
Keeping the liner permanently zipped in means cutting off all airflow. This is essentially what it means to have a built in non-removable waterproofing layer. Just cut off all airflow. So those vents are just for show, making this sort of gear worthless for even moderately warm temperatures.
Additionally, in all these implementations, the outer shell will undoubtedly get wet and absorb water – even if it has some sort of DWR treatment. Though you may be dry inside, the outer layer of your gear will not be which means it will get heavier, sloshy, drippy and even stinky! So even though the storm may be over, your suit will still be wet and you need to dry it, a process that may take hours. Wet gear will eventually lead to a colder climate inside the suit! Regular generous use of water repellent can help alleviate this issue to some extent – but only to some extent.
For gear with fused fabrics, venting is always going to be a major issue. Any vent is a step towards compromising the waterproofing of the suit – hence most examples have extremely limited venting again making them very uncomfortable in even moderately warm temperatures. Again, the outermost fabric will still absorb water and become wet and heavy.
Drying all this gear is not very easy either. In a hotel room you definitely have to turn the heater on at high temperatures – not a very comfortable sleeping environment in most cases. A simply hang dry (without turning on the heat) would leave the stuff soggy by next morning – leading to an unpleasant smell.
When I travel, I like to be comfortable and find it convenient to simply slide on/off the rain suit in a few seconds and be on my way. This way I don’t mind adapting to changing weather instead or being uncomfortable the remainder of the day. I don’t have to take off my suit and spend the time inserting a liner. I don’t have to deal with wet gear when I reach my destination. I have airflow when I am warm. I can seal out the wind/water when required.
I apologize for this but I simply had to “bold” the entire paragraph above to stress on comfort. I ride to enjoy – not to suffer.
Times have changed
Gone are the days when a getting a cheap rain suit meant a piece of vinyl/plastics. Now you can get a good quality breathable rain suit at your local outdoor/camping store for less than $40.
The breathability myth:
One point where a lot of people get thrown off is “breathability”. Do not be fooled by the way manufacturers market breathability. Breathability means that water vapor may escape from the micro pores (does not mean that you get incoming airflow – these membranes are windproof).
Even though your very expensive liner may claim to be breathable, the implementation is greatly hampered in most cases. Many of these breathable fabrics (such as most Gore-Tex products) have a PU coating to avoid contamination. This coating has a pretty big adverse effect on the breathability performance of the membrane.
Two articles explaining this in detail can be found here:
Breathability is important – most definitely. But you don’t want to overpay for a liner that is first of all not very convenient and secondly not even as breathable as promised.
Be true to yourself
In a previous post, I wrote:
“Be honest with yourself and determine what percentage of your riding is done in the rain. 10%? 20%? Even if is more than 50% percent, would you rather not be a little more comfortable for the rest of the time you are on your motorcycle. Compare the inconvenience of slipping on a rain suit to the inconvenience of not having any airflow!………….While it is tempting to grab a jacket that has a built-in waterproof membrane, there are severe trade-offs that you should consider seriously and do an honest evaluation of the how, where and when you intend to ride.”
You know your needs better than anyone else. Remember that you also need that new aftermarket seat, a better set of auxiliary lights, and some new tires, decent riding socks etc. – all the stuff that you can buy with the money saved.
So what am I trying to say here
In my personal opinion, the best way to deal with wet conditions is to wear an external rain suit. It requires the least effort to put on and off. It is extremely waterproof. It keeps your inner jacket/pants dry so its easy to deal with them at the end of the day. It’s easily replaceable and quite affordable. You don’t end up overpaying for a fancy liner that is far less convenient or effective. You get the best of every riding condition. Dry when it rains. Warms n snug when its cold. Your vents work when its hot.
Reach the same conclusion
This is not just our opinion. A quick search in the forums will give you comments like these:
“Right now I have a jacket with a waterproof removable liner, because I am a sucker for deals. It works okay in shorter rains (30min-1hr), if I expect to be in the rain longer than that, I toss a rain suit over otherwise the shell will get heavy”
“People keep calling it a “stupid” idea(it is), but few really understand what the alternative in the price range tends to be – a Z-liner system(which is even stupider). This means you have a water resistant outer shell with a NON-REMOVABLE waterproof membrane behind that, and a mesh lining on the inside. This means in heavy rain, your outer gets soaked and heavy as hell, and in the heat, your vents don’t work very well because the membrane is in the way.”
“The only way to get venting through the membrane is if it is laminated to the outer shell, and that generally costs big bucks. ….. If you want a new, genuine Gore-tex laminate, it is going to run you $800+ for a jacket alone. “
“I started with waterproof liner. Dumbest idea I’ve ever seen. I tried it once, yes I was dry for the most part, but my pants and jacket were saturated with water, and heavy, when I got where I was going I hung them up and they dripped on the floor for about an hour. Also, the liners are not full coverage, the sleeves are shorter and the collar is lower, so I didn’t stay completely dry. Now its two piece **** rain gear. Lightweight, packs small, cheap, and works well. I stay dry, when I take it off my gear underneath is dry, I shake the water off the rain gear and its dry in ten minutes.”
“Rain gear over top of supposedly-waterproof gear. Seems everything leaks at least a little (and my *** stuff leaks a lot), doubling up works pretty well though.”
“ *** jacket and pants breath well and work OK for an occasional rain. For extended wet riding have to wear a rain suit, I have *** brand, it works OK. Inner liners make no sense to me. Do you really want to take off your pants on a side of a road in a rain and stand in your undies while stuffing the liner in the pants?”
These comments are a very small sample taken from only a few threads. As you research this deeper (or learn from your own travel experiences) – you will arrive at the same solution – a rain suit over the riding gear is the best option.
In all fairness:
Recently a few garments have popped with which feature a waterproof outer layer sourced directly from Gore-Tex. We have not included these in the discussion because the cheapest of suits of this type are at least DOUBLE the price of everything else with the most inexpensive example starting at $1548 for a set of jacket and pants. Additionally these suits are very new with not enough feedback available (apart from the media reviews) to make a conclusive statement. One of the aspects that definitely require you to wait-and-see are the new Gore Lock Out closures (zippers?) that have had negative reports from early adopters.
When you purchase a waterproof jacket which is similar in specifications (in terms of protection) to the Navigator or Power Shell, you also end up over-paying for a flawed waterproofing system. Many of them claim to be 100% waterproof but a quick google search will prove otherwise. I would rather have these manufacturers be a bit more honest and charge me less by leaving out the gimmicky waterproof liners.
This is what we have done at Teiz Motorsports. The Power Shell and Navigator don’t come with a liner. Instead, we have focused on protection with the use of Cordura, Sas-Tec and SuperFabric. The prices are far lower than any of these products with fancy branded liners. Yet, with a rain suit our suits are more protective, more waterproof, and more versatile!
Snug as a bug in a rug - the rug being Frogg Toggs
Snug as a bug in a rug - the rug being Frogg Toggs
Question: Which rain suits do recommend for wearing on top of these jackets and how have they worked out for you:
I bought two sets (for me and the wife) of Frogg Toggs for $39 each from Academy in March 2011. Been through multiple 8-hour storms plus months of rugged non-stop use during several trips. Both suit are still in top-condition and never failed us.
I think they were on sale when bough them but I am sure you can pick up a complete suit for under $50. They are the Pro Action series and more rugged/expensive/reflective options are available. Ours have worked out perfectly and seems like they have quite of a bit of life left in them. I would rate them 10/10 and wouldn’t mind getting another pair if I wreck these.
The feeling of arriving at your destination without worrying about how to deal with wet gear is priceless. We never have to wait for our gear to dry. I even use mine as a windbreaker. Heck I wore mine around London and Paris on rainy days so I don’t have to worry about carrying an umbrella. Another pro is that they pack really small in the provided bags and weigh next to nothing.
The long explanation is a pre-cursor to the next question.
Q: What is your opinion on the Touratech Companero & Klim Adventure Air when comparing to the Teiz Sahara:
The Companero & Adv Air are great jackets- but are they really worth that price?
All three jackets have been designed for a similar purpose: To make your summer adventures more comfortable. The main difference is that the Companero & Adv Air include the waterproof outer jacket. The Sahara does not include a rain suit and lets you choose your own rain gear.
Why don’t we include a rain suit with the Sahara? We have talked to several leading manufacturers of waterproof fabrics. We could never come up with a waterproof jacket that would cost YOU less than the Frogg Toggs despite the Frogg Toggs being just as waterproof. So with our version of the rain suit (like with the Gore-Tex suit) you would have to pay more but don’t necessarily get better real-world performance.
Now how expensive is it so replace the Gore-Tex layer of the Companero & Adv Air? Damage does not have to occur in a crash but rather normal usage such as an off-road ride with a lot of falls in harsh conditions. Being the less abrasion resistant layer, the rain suit will be much more easy to damage and rip-up. Frogg Toggs are $39 to replace and I dont have to worry about how harshly I mistreat them (because they are easily replaceable). I wouldn’t treat my Gore-Tex suit the same way because I know it is going to cost an arm and a leg to replace. Also look into how much the Gore-Tex layer weighs and how does it pack. There are reports about the Gore-Tex waterproof liner that raise these concerns.
These three products are quite similar and are working to achieve the same functionality. Anyway, all the details about the jackets are on the web and you can compare the features and materials to determine how you want to spend your money. You asked for my personal opinion and here it is: The Gore-Tex liner on the Companero & Adventure Air is not worth it and the jackets do not offer any unique features/materials that would convince me to spend so much more on them compared to the Sahara.
Q: Why are some of the pockets waterproof considering your stance on waterproofing. Do these block air flow?
Our stance on waterproofing is unchanged. Even the Navigator jacket, Power Shell & Air Shell have similar pockets. There is so much airflow in this jacket that a little area blocked by the pocket is not making that much of a difference. To ensure airflow is not being limited by much, we have included only one pocket on the chest. The size of the back pocket is not much more than the back protector – again so much airflow around it that it does not have an effect on the ability of the jacket to breathe. However – if you feel that you need more breathability on the back – you can easily snip off the material inside the pocket. Some folks have also told us that they fold up the pocket lining instead of snipping it off – so they still have the pocket when they need it. So you do have the versatility there – instead of not having the option at all – without restricting breathability.
So why is the pocket waterproof? Because regardless of how you choose your waterproofing layer, your belongings should stay protected. For e.g water can splash on you or you could be riding through a short shower without rain gear. Keeping your belongs out of the direct airflow protects them from the wind.
To quote WebBikeWorld:
“I’m really pleased that Teiz has chosen to make the pockets waterproof, even though the jacket itself is not. This way, if you’re caught in a brief shower without a rain suit, the contents of the pockets will stay dry. I have a custom ventilated jacket that uses waterproof liners and none of the jacket pockets are waterproof, so I have to keep small plastic bags readily available if I’m going to stow items in the outer pockets and the weather looks wet.”
Q: What are some of the advantages of a one piece riding suit?
Depending on your needs, a one piece suit has several advantages over a jackets & pants combination. Superior protection is just the beginning. Since these suits are easy to put on and take off, in less than 30 seconds, it means that you more likely to wear your gear. The ability to wear the suit over street clothes give you the flexibility of taking off the suit every time you take a break. No need to even take off your boot for that. So eat lunch in peace instead of walking around in bulky riding gear. Any kind of riding gear gets hot and feels heavy when you are not moving and you will thank us for giving you the ability of strip down to you favorite pair of jeans and t-shirt underneath!
Apart from the obvious benefits for touring, if you ride to work, the one piece suit is going to make the process a whole lot more mangable. No need to arrive at work and change from riding gear to your work clothes. Just wear the work outfit underneath the suit, arrive at work and simply slip off the suit. Or how about when you want to go out for dinner or a movie and dont want to enter the restaurant in riding gear. One piece suits are versatile, practical, convenient and SAFE! You will love them!
Q: What are some of the key points to look out for when comparing to other suits?
- Shell Construction: Pay attention to this as this is what is what will be your new skin. We only use 100% authentic Cordura. No generic self-branded el-cheapo fabrics here. We use the most reliable, durable and comfortable fabric for our shell.
- Ballistics: SuperFabric is seriously expensive yet we use it generously because we genuinely care about your safety. The undisputed king of abrasion resistance, this fabric is what will prevent the skin grafts . SuperFabric is imported from U.S.A.
- Armor: Only the #1 rated Sas-Tec is what makes sense in a jacket of caliber. If you don't like your bones broken, make sure you jacket is equipped with Sas-Tec armor. We provide complete CE test results on our website. Sas-Tec armor is imported from Germany
- Back Protector: How "cheap" is it to offer a high-end jacket and then penny-pinch by making the back protector optional. We include a Sas-Tec CE Level 2 back protector as standard. This is no ordinary piece of armor it's the ultimate protection for you back. Safety comes standard on Teiz gear.
- Hip Armor: Yet another essential piece of protection that is standard on our suits. Also sourced from Sas-Tec.
- Vents: Vents are complicated to add read as more expensive labor. Larger vents are a bad business decision because extra-long zippers are exponentially more expensive than the more commonly used sizes. Yet we include the best airflow system you will ever come across with huge vents all over the suit.
- Zippers: We only use original YKK zippers - for everything. From the shortest to the longest every single zipper on a Teiz suit is YKK. True to the YKK moto, these little parts make a big difference! YKK zippers are imported from Japan
Removable Kidney Belt
This does wonders for long-distance comfort. Large panels and stretch fabric ensure a wide range of bellies can be accommodated. Ofcourse its fully removable using two zippers. Kidney belts keep your innards from shaking around and help support your lower back.
It really does help you ride longer with less fatigue. Does wonders for off-road riding thanks to the back support. Also helps to keep the back protector in place.
The collar can be snapped to the side so the neck strap wont bother you. You can snap it on each side for a comfortable ride and increased airflow.
Version 1.0 / Take a look at our past to see how we got here
You can definitely take a fall (or two) with our gear
Extreme environments call for extreme versatility
We like paved roads too!