BEST ALL-SEASON JACKET
Canada poses special challenges for manufacturers of motorcycle clothing. Canadian summers, especially this last Canadian summer, can be brutally warm, bordering, again, this last summer, on the oppressive. But come September — OK, not this September — the post Labour Day chill sends everyone scurrying for their thermals. Except for those rich enough — and with enough closet space! — to afford an outfit for every season, finding a true all-season jacket that can handle our climate extremes can be a challenge.
Not one the new Dainese D-Explorer is wilting from. Though there are many three-season outfits — I’ve previously lauded some of Olympia’s jackets, like the Dakar, for their versatility — there are none with the true range of comfort in diverse climate conditions that the D-Explorer gives you.
For one thing, the D-Explorer gets all the details right. The outer shell — a combination of Duratex and Mugello fabric — is fairly water repellant all by its lonesome. There’s a laudable jumble of pockets (two of them waterproof) and the Explorer is eminently adjustable (the collar can be adjusted two ways, the waist can be cinched and the cuffs and arms are adjustable for tightness. In other words, the D-Exploxer can be tailored to various shapes of rider within each jacket’s size range.
That’s good news since the D-Explorer also comes with a separate Gore-Tex rain layer and a thermal liner. Throw in some excellent protectors — a Wave D1 Level 1 built-in back protector and some truly excellent hard elbow protectors that cover a surprising amount of your lower arm — and the D-Explorer is another case of the excellence we’ve come to expect from Dainese.
So far, though, the D-explorer doesn’t sound much different, at least technically, than a dozen or so competitive three-quarter-length adventure touring jackets. Better constructed and a bit more fully-featured, perhaps, but not extraordinary. Certainly, nothing that would justify its $1,099.95 suggested list price.
What does make the D-Explorer worth that serious dosh, however, is the most innovative adjustable ventilation system in the business. Called the Dainese Modular Flap System, essentially there are two large 330 millimeter by 130 mm vented sections in the front and a truly humungous 440 mm by 280 mm perforated area in back. Combined, they’re large enough to rival many full “mesh” jackets — like the aforementioned Olympia Dakar — for air flow. The unique aspect is that each of the vented areas is covered by a flap — hence the nomenclature — held in place with zippers. Each flap is fully adjustable, so not only is the D-Explorer well vented but one gets to modulate the air flow by adjusting how high or low one zips said flaps. Ingenious and an innovation that works pretty much as advertised, the only limitation to how much air the D-Explorer is able to pass being the huge back protector.
It makes for what I think is the most versatile jacket currently available. Fully unzippered, said Modular Flap System is almost as breezy as the aforementioned Olympia Dakar. Yet, with the flaps zipped up and both internal layers clipped in, it’s comfy cozy right down to about 10 degrees C — if you’re a cold weather wimp like me. Dainese does such a great job of sealing unwanted air flow — around the collar, up the sleeve, even those zippers that cover the vents — that the D-Explorer is the one vented jacket that one can layer up and use when the weather gets truly Antarctic. Just before the snow fell, I took a 2,000 kilometre ride where the mercury was never above 11 degrees and fell as low as four. Thanks to my Venture Heat electrified vest, I was warm and toasty, the aforementioned lack of leaks making the heated panels extremely effective. In fact, I didn’t have to turn the vest’s controller past its lowest setting. On lesser vented jackets, even with inner layers there would have been too much wind blowing through and I would have had to crank in some serious amps to ward off the chill.
The D-Explorer is the most versatile jacket I have ever tried and one of the few multi-layer garments that are truly all-season. Top marks.