I have been debating buying an all-weather textile riding suit for a while. I wanted something for the winter and summer that I could just slip on over my street clothes and ride. I’ve been told by many that the Aerostich suit is excellent, but the high price tag had put me off. I use a lot of BMW kit as it always wears well and uses quality materials, but it also was topping out at close to $800. Alpinestars makes the Drystar at a more reasonable price, but I was a little concerned about it being hot in the summer. I had read a couple of pieces on the Joe Rocket Survivor suit, but was not sure. The price was far better, but I had questions about Joe Rocket quality. I did like their Big Air™ ventilation system, though, so I was leaning that way. With the big touring season coming up (D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge with MSL tours), I was faced with a decision point.
With perfect timing, the good folks at Riders Discount offered me a chance to review the Joe Rocket Survivor Suit. It has had two good runs already in the nasty environment known as an English February. I will review the suit in detail here and then update the performance over a longer period. Check back here for updates on the performance of the suit.
Short version; If you are considering a riding suit with appropriate protection, comfort, and a good fit, but choke back tears when you see the price, this could be the suit for you.
Location – Hampshire, UK – Motorway, A roads, B roads, single track, Green lane.
Bike – 2006 KTM 950 Adventure (el gato negro)
Conditions – on/off rain and sleet. Temperature, 1-6C (34-43F). February 2010
Fit, Finish, and Construction – I put the suit, with the winter insert, on over street clothes of trekking trousers and a short sleeve T shirt. The X- Large suit is heavy. When you pick it up, you know it is a proper riding suit. I’m a 6′ 2″ (1.88cm), 210 pound (95 kilo), 45 year old male with the appropriate middle age proportions and the suit fits snugly as a riding suit should. That means if you are thin, it may be a little loose or if you are heavier than me, a little tight. Joe Rocket provides sizing advice here. Sure Fit™ adjustment points are well placed along the legs, waist and arms too. The part of riding suits or riding trousers I always fear is a short leg, but the Survivor suit has a nice long leg that stays down over my BMW Santiago boots. It also has long zippers on the outside of the leg to allow easy fitting over boots. The weathertight zips, snaps and pockets all work easily and seem firm. The suit is stiff right out of the package, but should loosen up with break in. The only down side to the fit and finish is a little too much branding for my taste. Joe Rocket has the “Rocket” name as patches on both shoulders, in day-glo yellow on the breast pocket and in reflective lettering across the shoulder blades (although this is already peeling off and I may help it along).
Warmth, Weather Protection, and Riding Comfort – Joe Rocket claims ‘100% WATERPROOF’ and on my two 1 hour rides, it was. I had intermittent rain on one ride and pretty constant rain and sleet on the other. No leaks and perfectly dry when I took it off. The real test will be when I’m in a long tour situation and a full day of rain which is when most waterproof products normally come up short. However, for now, I report faithfully that this was as good as I have ever experienced and I have ridden a lot in the rain in recent years (Hello, Norway!). The really surprising thing was the warmth that I experienced with just street clothes and the winter insert. Absolutely toasty. I think the snug fit really helps with this. Again a long ride in the cold and rain might require more, but I would be happy travelling with just an extra pair of thermals and maybe a vest in the english winter, so that says a lot. The suit was also very comfortable in the saddle. It was well proportioned in the seat to allow movement and no tugging on the sholuders. The trouser legs were long and did not ride up the leg. Crucially, it was not slippery in the saddle either, which is a thing I hate worse than anything. The left leg pockets are a little weird looking, but they held my wallet and keys safely and that is what pockets are supposed to do. The suit uses the Joe Rocket Big Air™ ventilation system, which I hope will work well in the summer, but was not tested in these rides for obvious reasons. I honestly cannot find much fault with the suit when it comes to being warm, dry and comfortable, so I won’t. Good piece of kit.
Impact and Abrasion protection – As a father, I am more and more concerned about remaining safe as I ride, so I look for proper touring protection kit these days. I’m not a track guy, nor a sports bike rider, so I don’t need that kind of protection, but I do want something that will give me a good chance of meeting the road and surviving it. Joe Rocket uses Rock Tex™ 600 for the outer layer with double layers on the shoulders, elbows and knees. It also has CE armour on the shoulders, elbows and knees. It also comes with a back pad that can be replaced with a CE back pad if you so require. (good discussion on that topic here) Thankfully, I’ve not had the occasion to test these qualities, but my non-expert eye rates them as good or better than my current Hein Gericke Trousers and Jacket. Importantly, the Battlefield Bikette liked the solidness of the protection and was quite happy that I was taking protection more seriously. Finally, the suit also has a melt resistant material on lower leg area which I will be keen to test on the KTM in the summer. The right side exhaust on the KTM absolutely scorches my leg in the heat, so hopefully this will provide some respite as well as not melting. I’ll report back in July or August.
Conclusion for the initial review – Reasonable, neutral looks, even if it is a little too “Rocket-ish”. Good weather protection and fit. Reasonable protection. Great value against its competitors. Check back for updates as I put the suit through its paces in London commuting, European touring, and the occasional green lane or battlefield farm track.
UPDATE after 9 months of use.