My inspiration, so to speak, for this review, came from a comparison of adventure jackets that I read recently in a magazine. Now I am not a great fan of product reviews that appear in magazines. By and large, motorcycle journalists simply don’t know enough about gear and how it works. They usually don’t ride in the gear they’re testing. And they don’t get the kind of feedback that people like us get from hundreds of customers who buy it; and who then report back to us on their findings.
There’s also a fundamental ‘conflict of interest’ that prevents a magazine from ever being critical of a product. And that is because no magazine is going to write a review that might upset a current or potential advertiser. Which is why such reviews are very rarely critical; most are pretty bland, and say nothing. And indeed nearly all the jackets that were reviewed in this particular magazine were from brands who advertise with the magazine.
It was perhaps because of this that, in the review in question, all of the jackets received four or five star ratings, despite the fact that some cost less then £300; some cost more than £1500. None was found to be wanting. Significantly, a number of the jackets reviewed could not, by any stretch of the imagination, even be considered adventure jackets.
Some might suggest that we too have a conflict of interest; after all, we sell pretty much everything we review. Well, in theory yes, but in practice not so much. We call it the way we see it. If we don’t think much of a product, we will highlight the issue. And we feel we can do this because we sell lots of products, and what we have found is that customers will often buy a product we have criticised because the feature or facet we are talking about does not concern them. Or, if the issue concerns them, they’ll buy a different product from us.
Conflict or not, rest assured that our reviews do ruffle feathers. We are often contacted about our reviews by aggrieved manufacturers, but our response to them is invariably that if we didn’t highlight issues the chances are that nobody else would. In fact, we are actually performing a useful service for them, we explain. It‘s a view, of course, that they don’t always agree with!
Suffice it to say that our views are just that. As ever in life there are no ‘rights’ and no ‘wrongs’; there are just shades of opinions. But our opinions are based on a considerable amount of knowledge, lots of experience, and the constant feedback we get from the kinds of customers who use their gear in the manner that was intended.
We don’t just look at a garment’s spec., and come up with an opinion. There is always an evidential basis for our views. But that still doesn’t mean we’re always right. Well not all the time anyway!
Let me start by saying what I always say when we put these reviews together. We don’t offer all the brands out there. And so some people will perhaps be disappointed that their favourite jacket is not included in this review. Well, we can’t, and don’t, offer every brand; but we do take this business seriously, and we do kind of think we have selected the best gear out there from the best brands.
So let me get another monkey off my back. What exactly is an adventure jacket? It’s an important question because most so-called adventure jackets out there would not work if you really were having a serious adventure. A real adventure jacket does not have an attached membrane. It will have a removable one, or no membrane at all; and that’s because if you’re somewhere really hot, or if you’re working hard off-road, the last thing you want anywhere need your body is a membrane. Because a membrane will make it harder for your body to sweat. A membrane will also act as an insulating layer. And a membrane will prevent the oncoming air from cooling you down.
Adventure jackets with laminated membranes may look the part. They will often look right on an adventure bike. They sit longer; they are rarely black, they have lots of vents, and so on. But, in truth, these jackets are really just touring jackets in the ‘adventure’ style. And this should perhaps not surprise us because, in truth, a lot of adventure bikes these days are just touring bikes with long-travel suspension.
These adventure-style jackets can still be fantastic bits of kit. And if you want to go touring somewhere warm, but in the knowledge that it might also rain, then a laminated, adventure jacket may be just what you need. And so, in this review, we are going to make a distinction between what we are calling ‘proper’ adventure jackets where the membrane can be removed, and laminated adventure jackets where the membrane cannot be.
Of course, there are still a few adventure-style jackets out there with drop-liner membranes, but such jackets are little more than slightly cynical exercises in styling, and will not be up to much when the going gets tougher. They won’t vent well, and they will ‘wet out’ in the rain.
Anyway, let’s look at our ‘Top 10 adventure jackets’. Now, apparently, this is what we have to title a review like this in order to rank highly on Google and YouTube. But here’s our little secret; our Top 10 actually includes 11 jackets. Don’t tell anybody!
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