Even though we’ve not been in the motorcycle business long enough to become jaded and cynical, it still takes something a bit exceptional to get us really excited. But the suit we are talking about here is, in our opinion, worth shouting about.
The suit is what we would term a ‘proper’ adventure/off-road suit. Now, much as we love the American brand Klim, we do take issue with their suggestion that a genuine adventure suit should come equipped with a 3-layer, laminated, waterproof shell. Frankly, it’s why we’ve never really understood the Badlands suit. The fact is that if you’re crossing an arid tundra on your GS, or making your way up some particularly gnarly path on the Trans European Trail, the last thing you want anywhere near you is a waterproof membrane.
A membrane will make it harder for the body to cool itself down. When we get hot, we sweat; that sweat needs to move from a liquid state to a gaseous state in order to draw heat out of the body; a process known as evaporative cooling. That mechanism is impeded if there’s a membrane in the way. The sweat will be prevented from turning into a vapour as efficiently as one would want. As a result, there will be a build up of moisture; you will not cool down. You’ll just feel wet. At the same time, a membrane will prevent the oncoming, cooler air from from providing respite from the heat.
And so a proper, adventure suit will have a removable waterproof layer; and that’s exactly what you get with this Held suit. But that’s only the start of it. At every turn, this is a suit that impresses. First, the inner waterproof layer, both top and bottom, come courtesy of Gore-Tex. That, of course, is reassuring. When a manufacturer uses Gore-Tex, you know that they are intent on doing things right. But these inners have another trick up their sleeves and legs. They can be clipped inside the garments, or they can be worn over the top. And that is brilliant. In light rain, you might leave them underneath the outer garments. But if there was the prospect of riding for several hours in heavy rain, you would put them on the outside to prevent ‘wetting out’. You’d then get to your destination, and the jacket and pants would be bone dry. It’s a neat solution, and with stretch built into the waterproofs, there’s not a problem getting them on over the outers. Full marks to Held.
In terms of the fabric, the chassis is made from a 500 denier Cordura; and in our view that’s the right weight. Yes, you can get heavier, and on a pure commuting suit you might be persuaded that heavier would be better, but for a combination of on- and off-road riding 500 is about right.
Now, having said that an adventure suit needs to be highly breathable, one of things you should look for in such a suit is as many vents as you can get and, on that score, the Carese Evo does not disappoint. In the chest, the two upper pockets can be unzipped to create large venting panels. And these are faced with uncrushable, honeycomb, 3D piping that forces the oncoming air around the body. Two full-length zips run up the flanks to reveal mesh venting. The same up the sleeves. You get vents on the back of the arms, across the back and in the shoulders.
But we’re not done yet. Running top to bottom of the jacket, both front and back, are ribbon vents that stay permanently open. What this means is that this jacket is never going to be the warmest, but then again it was never meant to be. Funnily enough, in researching this outfit, we watched some of the internet reviews of previous incarnations of the suit. One chap, whose only qualification for reviewing gear seemed to be that he owned a bike, bought the suit from his local clothing emporium. He jumped on his bike; it looked like a cold day. He did his normal round trip, came home, got off the bike, complained that he got cold in it, and proclaimed to the world that nobody should buy it. The poor sap didn’t have a clue what he had bought. It was a bit sad to watch, in truth. But, a word to the wise, if you want something that, out of the bag, is going to keep you warm, don’t buy the Carese Evo. That’s not what it’s about!
Still not done on venting yet, however. The double storm flap can be held open by means of a set of magnets that run up and down either side the zip. When you do this, you reveal mesh panels that run alongside the zip. Once again, these will allow extra air into the jacket. The bottom line is that this is one of the best vented jackets on the market. Put it like this. I’m due, Covid permitting, to do a big BDR ride in California this November. It will be hot. There will be a lot of sand. It will be hard work. I will be spending a lot of time on the floor, climbing back on to the bike; especially if Sara decides to ride into me again! All this will take my temperature to near boiling point. And so this is the suit I will take with me.
As far as protection and safety are concerned, one doesn’t always expect an adventure or off-road suit to deliver the highest levels of performance. Well, this outfit meets the new EN17092 standard at the AA level, which isn’t bad. That’s the same as the new Rukka Kingsley suit that has been created for the British Police. You get vented D3O in the elbows and shoulders, as well as pockets for optional back and rib protectors. There’s even an arrangement that allows you to Velcro in a chest protector. On the elbows and shoulders, there are panels of SuperFabric; in truth not the super, heavy-duty stuff. It is genuine SuperFabric but not, Jim, quite as we know it!
In a suit where you might spend half the day on the pegs and half of it on the seat, and in my case another half of it climbing back onto the bike, you want a suit that is comfortable. Well, the 500 denier Cordura is certainly not stiff and heavy, but on the jacket you also get Gore-Tex stretch panels under the arms. Behind the shoulders are concertina stretch bands that give you more freedom of movement on the bars.
The Carese Evo jacket also offers a whole array of adjusters. There are volume adjusters on the upper arms and on the forearms. Most importantly, you get a set of side adjusters. This is something we always look for on a longer jacket. Without them, fit is always just a bit hit and miss. These adjusters also allow you to regulate the volume in the jacket to allow you to add the appropriate mid-layers. At the hem, you can use the vent zips to allow the jacket to splay a little; another nice feature. There are, of course zips and Velcro straps at the ends of the sleeves that allow you to tuck your gloves in, if that is how you want to ride.
Pockets are not in short supply. The two chest vents can also be used as pockets. Below these you get two, waterproof flap pockets. At the back of the jacket, there’s a side-entry document pocket. Inside, there are two more pockets, one of which is designed to house a phone or device.
Other details? A concealed hood in the collar. Areas of Scotchlite reflective material. A pocket for a drinks bag. And a zip for connecting the jacket to the pants.
All too often a manufacturer will produce a great jacket, but then create the matching trouser almost as an afterthought. Well, not here. All the thought, and all the attention to detail, that has gone into the jacket has also been applied to the pants.
In many respects, the pants mirror the jacket. A 500 denier Cordura. A removable, waterproof membrane that can be worn outside the pant as well as inside it. Loads of vents, including cargo pockets that can be converted into vent panels. An elasticated belt at the waist. Two straps on the calfs. A zip at the bottom of the leg that allows them to accommodate even large, off-road boots. These zips, when lowered from the top, can also act as vents. Gore-Tex stretch in the crotch and behind the knees. Concertina stretch on the knees themselves. Leather panels up the inside of the legs, both to protect from the heat of the exhaust and to allow better grip on the tank. Not forgetting an extra layer of kangaroo in the seat. As with the jacket, you get D3O in the hips and knees. There’s even an option to fit a coccyx protector. On the knees, there are panels of SuperFabric ‘Lite’, as per the shoulders and elbows.
There are four pockets on the pants. Two, upper zip pockets. The cargo pockets, of course, can also be used as pockets; they are not just vents. Poppers at the waist allow the jeans to be fitted with Held’s optional braces. As with the jacket, you get strips and bands of Scotchlite reflective material.
One of the the most impressive aspects of this suit, although it’s a feature that applies to a lot of Held garments, is that it comes in a huge array of sizes. Both the top and the bottom go from a size Small up to 6XL. But even more impressive is the number of sizing options. In addition to the regular fit, the jacket comes in ‘slim’ and ‘tummy’. The pants also come in ‘stocky’, ‘slim’ and ‘tummy’. Again, in addition to the regular fit.
Given that so many other manufacturers are cutting back on their ‘extra’ sizes, it is both surprising and welcome to see a manufacturer that is determined to make its outfits work for the widest possible audience. It’s again impressive. We have not been working with Held for long, but we are rapidly coming to the view that the German company is one of the motorcycle apparel world’s best kept secrets.
The jacket costs £740-ish; the pants are £580. We will be holding the suit in all the key sizes. We won’t always have the outlying sizes, but they will normally be gettable within a couple of days.
So that’s it; the Carese Evo jacket and the matching Torno Evo pant. This is not just a proper adventure suit; it’s probably one of the best ones that money can buy. It is a truly outstanding bit of kit.
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