The first test I always put riding gear through is the same threshold a building inspector uses on emergency exit windows. The premise: Could any idiot navigate through without assistance? If use of the exit requires extra time, reading directions on the opening device, or an extra person to get through the window, it’s all over.
After donning the TPG Basegear, which is essentially high-tech lightweight long underwear tops and bottom, I began the drill with the TPG Escape pants and TPG Teton jacket straight from their shipping package. Without looking more closely. This is the test. It’s to be done blind.
Pull the pants on, and position the body armor. Is it somewhat difficult to move, and does it stay where it’s relocated? Would it roll off the region it’s charged with protecting if you were in a rolling accident? Are legs long enough for a seated position? Check. Easy on, easy zip, easy snap? Is there Velcro where you need it? Detect any suck-up or bind with the overlap hook at the waist? Before zipping the leg bottom, is there ample accommodation for the boot, but not too much?
Pull on the coat, position shoulder and elbow armor. Check sleeve length. Feel for (no peeking) the horizontal zipper at the small of the back that joins coat and pants together. Does it make sense in your head; in your hands? Do the sides join easily? Wrist adjustment, neck zip, all snaps and overlays proportioned to do the job and no more?
Check. I could have done this blindfolded. And if you’re on the side of a road at night, or in a sudden torrential downfall, or if the last rest stop was 125 miles back, this is the way gear should go on (and off). And it did.
So we’ve passed the building inspector test. Time to check it in the field. On October 13 it was 38 degrees and sunny in the Selkirk Mountain Range, 2,300–3,300 feet above sea level in northeast Washington. Wearing no heat-assisted clothing; only Levi’s, leather gloves, neck scarf, full face motorcycle helmet and FIRSTGEAR Basegear, TPG jacket and pants.
The TPG in FIRSTGEAR’s integrated system of components stands for Technical Performance Gear and it works in three layers. The Basegear is the foundation, and the fabric keeps you comfortable and wicks away moisture faster than cotton. The second layer is the Tech Liner Jacket, not sold separately but part of the men’s Firstgear TPG Rainier Jacket, Teton Jacket, and the women’s Firstgear TPG Monarch Jacket. Plus, it can be worn by itself. For something so capable, it’s remarkably lightweight. The outer layer of the TPG system is breathable, waterproof and ties the whole system together with shock-absorbent body armor called d3o. The sum of these parts allows for comfort in the rain, the wind, and for me today, very cold weather. TPG Escape Pants have two cargo pockets and the one on top of my left thigh works great for phone, wallet and keys. Hip and knee armor can be manipulated enough for comfort—no knee compression while touring. No air infiltration detectable, whatsoever. Venting options on both the pants and jacket are ample. New for 2011, there’s an inner pant liner (included in the purchase price of Escape Pants) that can be worn as outerwear when the ride has ended. My Escape Pants came with a standard liner, not inner pants, and I suspect teasing would be in order were the liner to be worn as a stand-alone.
As I’m six feet tall and slight of build, I opted for the Men’s Escape Pants and Men’s Teton Jacket. The resulting fit in L (long) was perfect. Jacket and pants have removable liners for warmer climes or seasons, and are put together with quality workmanship throughout. The attention to fabrication translates into great comfort and serious safety gear that feels more like a tailored garment.
The only issue I have with this setup is pretty basic. Upon accelerating, my butt slid on the bike seat. Leather and denim are what I’m accustomed to and sliding isn’t normally my experience. With the Escape Pants, the slide was consistent. And living in a very remote rural area, in 40 miles there were only three stops. Because of this I never remembered to brace for the slide. I was too busy enjoying the fall colors in complete comfort.
Probably shouldn’t have used Armor-All on the seat last time I washed the bike.
Motorcycle Gear Tested:
Written by Susan Swan, Courtesy of Thunderpress.net