A lot of times, the features and benefits of any piece of apparel get lost in the maelstrom of high-techy sounding fabrics that goes into it. The Rainier features this brand-named construction (600-denier nylon, Kevlar and Teramid), but it's technical construction also point to a garment that is well-built for its intended use.
As FirstGear brand manager Mark Salvatore put it, they knew the customer for this high-end bit of riding gear is demanding. These are the guys who ride 25,000 to 35,000 miles a year. "If you're going to sell products to them, it's gotta be technical," Salvatore said. "When it comes to building technical or selling technical, you have to earn that crowd. You don't just throw it out there and it's gonna sell. It has to be proven and tested and people have to give feedback."
The Rainier has just about all the pockets a person could want, including one just inside the zipper, by the chest, perfectly suited for cell phones. One feature I didn't use, but only because I didn't have time to think about it, was the under-helmet rainhood. Safety features include reflective panels and a hoop on the back on which a light can be clipped. The Max Flow Vent Lock system allows air to scoop into front intake vents and out through the back.
A two-way zipper front makes adjusting your pants nice, too.
I didn't use the venting system much given we rode mostly through cold weather, but could see that the front intakes on my jacket were blocked by my backpack straps. I suppose a pair of saddlebags could solve this problem, but sometimes a backpack is necessary.
One of the biggest bonuses of the Rainier is the Tech Liner jacket that zips out and can be worn as a standalone piece. Not only does this allow a rider to shed the outer shell during stops and still stay warm, it's a smart bit of kit when you're looking for a more casual look. I never found the three-layer combo to be uncomfortably bulky. If anything, the three pieces together provided that real cozy, lived-in feel you get from your gear after spending three days on the road together.
Kincart said the jacket is built for all weather and all conditions, a pretty reasonable claim. "It's the jacket you pick if you're going from Florida to Alaska," he added. "It is a motorcycle jacket first and foremost, but because of the build standards that are used, and the quality standards, it is something that will last. It's almost an investment." The jacket retails for $399.95 and comes in small through 4-XL, and in Tall sizes, large through 2-XL.
As mentioned, I never needed to use the liner of the Escape pants, just the outer shell and the Basegear bottoms. These — and a little bit of engine heat from the KLR — provided all the warmth I needed on the ride. Like the Ranier, these pants have myriad pockets in all the right areas, including fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets. And heat-resistant panels from the knee to the ankle protect against hot exhaust cans.
One of my two issues with the pant is aimed at one of the features I also really liked. This was the knee-to-foot zipper on each leg designed for easy on-and-off. I happened to be wearing motocross boots on the trip and the ankle-end of the pant wasn't wide enough for the zipper to be closed all the way down to the foot, leaving the pants flapping a bit in the breeze.
The other issue is the location of the knee armor. I'm well aware of my short inseam; however, I'm not sure I like to be reminded by knee protection that hangs down around my shin when I'm not on a bike. I can hike it up into place while riding, but it just seems to hang a bit low.
Perhaps this would be different if my waist was a little smaller. The inseam would shorten up a bit! This or I should have checked out the short sizes. The Escape pants retail for $249.95 and come in men's and women's sizes. (Continued)