I’ve been using Aerostich gear for some years now. In fact my original Roadcrafter two-piece suit from 1988 is still in use by one of my sons. Early in 2009 I purchased a new Darien jacket – described in their literature as “...outperform(ing) whatever you now wear. It’s built for both hard everyday wear and the most extreme ‘no limit’ adventure and endurance riding situations. Whether you are heading across town or out across Siberia, this is the toughest and most reliable single-layer Gore-Tex Cordura textile jacket we make.”
Tough and reliable it most certainly is but let’s go back to when I first took it out of the box. The Darien is the only riding jacket I’ve ever owned that could stand up firmly on its own from new. It probably would have supported a medium-sized house plant if I’d bothered to try. The manufacturer suggests an immediate wash to begin the ‘breaking in’ process (only a matter of months!). Good idea, after that first wash it would only have supported a small house plant.
In the past five years the Darien has seen extensive use in a variety of testing conditions and environments. It has come home caked in snow. It has seen temperatures as high as 38C (100F). It’s been subjected to tsunamis of water. It’s been to the top of a snowy Stelvio Pass and the middle of a hot Mexican desert.
The aforementioned single-layer Gore-Tex™ construction keeps water on the outside. Even in near-monsoon conditions I’ve remained completely dry. When the mercury drops a selection of inner liners keeps me cosy and warm. When the ambient temperature rises to ‘broil’ I simply open the vents and it flows air with amazing efficiency.
What else? Nine pockets, some vast, help make this jacket my virtual office on the move. As a range of alterations are available on new garments I was able to achieve the right fit for me. Within certain limits repairs are also possible.
Downsides? Well, it’s not really what you’d call fashionable; it’s primary purpose is function. But that’s okay because I live on the roadway, not a runway. Nits? Minor. Hook & loop closures (often referred to as Velcro™) are numerous and can ‘pull’ fabric on some lighter weight undergarments. Lastly, Aerostich gear is not available in shops. It’s mail-order only from Duluth, Minnesota. If you live outside of the USA you are subject to your country’s import duty and tax regimes.
How is the Darien holding up so far? A couple of years ago it was returned to the factory for a minor tune-up to re-seal a couple of seams and replace a zipper pull. On our recent Baja trip over the Christmas holiday it faced its severest test to date coming in repeated contact with several grades of local er, aggregate. After a wash (separate from the whites) it looks the same as always; ready for the next adventure.
Will I get another Darien? Most certainly. In terms of pure performance and value-for-money I’m not sure anything yet matches it. I have other jackets which are very good but the Darien is the go-to jacket for tours. It just flat out works; in all conditions. Besides, I want to confirm that a new one really will support a potted poinsettia.
Mike Moloney © 2014
Mike Moloney © 2014