Proving ground: RST Titanium Outlast jacket & pants
In a word: Yeahsorda. That’s the answer to the question we asked a while ago: it is possible to have a four-season jacket and pants that combine every desirable feature?
In other words, can they be waterproof yet breathable, warm in winter yet cool in summer, slim and lightweight yet still offer a high level of protection?
RST reckons its flagship road kit, the Titanium jacket and pants, does just that thanks to ‘Outlast’, a proprietary material developed for astronauts. The high-tech fabric claims to proactively regulate the rider’s body temperature or, in other words, before he or she overheats or begins to shiver. Yep, just like Goldielocks’ porridge. The showroom spiel is that it’s similar to ice in a drink: as it changes from solid to liquid, it absorbs heat and cools the drink, maintain the desired temperature for longer.
Okay, so does it work then? Read on. The first thing you’ll notice as you throw on the jacket is how surprisingly thin and lightweight it is. And that includes a spine protector which comes standard, too. Three big ticks there. Opening it reveals it doesn’t have the onion layers of some other jackets but just a thin, slightly rubbery-backed, removable liner. That’s the stronaut-approved bit and all you apparently need.
I’ve been waiting for just the occasion to test the claims and what better than a miserable, cold day in torrential rain? A bad day on the bike is better than a good day in the office, right?
I apprehensively skipped layers leaving with only a thin, merino wool t-shirt between me and the jacket for added warmth.
After subjecting yourself to hours of incessant rain, the Titanium jacket and pants will indeed keep you dry. Its Teflon-coated outer shell repels water well and the NASA stuff prevents clamminess. It’s not always easy to be waterproof and breathable, so two further ticks.
Water does creep under the gauntlet of the matching Titanium gloves, however, dampening the jacket’s cuffs and presumably the cuffs of your undergarments, too. One cross. In fairness, though, this isn’t an uncommon problem. If you can manage with the fiddling (and don’t have ox-like forearms) then the solution is to secure the jacket’s cuffs over the gloves. Just give yourself a head start to gear up. Now for the $64,000 question or, more specifically, the $499.95 question: does it live up to its claims and keep you warm?
I was cold. Not miserable, but erring on uncomfortable as I traversed through brisk countryside. Of course, we all have differing temperature tolerances but that isn’t supposed to matter with the Outlast material, which claims to take care of that.
When I left home I wondered whether I’d made a mistake not wearing a few extra layers but I resisted the urge to turn back and, instead, put the manufacturer’s claims to the test. I’ve since worn the Titanium kit with added layers and voila, problem solved. But that’s me and you might be perfectly comfortable with just a t-shirt underneath. My fingers also grew a bit numb so the gloves certainly aren’t suited for the depths of winter, either. The Titanium jacket and pants are intended for road-going riders but they’ll serve the heavy-breathing, dual-sport crowd well with big, zipped vents on the chest, back and pants. Tick.
RST describes its hugging fit as a “semi-sports cut” which accentuates your powerful, V-shaped manliness thanks to the CE-certified shoulder protectors, big accordion-flex panels for stretching comfort and Velcro waist adjusters to suck it all in. Snapbutton fasteners cater to all arm circumferences and there’s a neat, neck adjuster for pencils and rugby types.
The pants feature a similar, doublefastening waist system, a 360-degree connecting zipper to the jacket and plenty of waterproof pockets including handy cargo pockets on the thighs and a rabbit pouch at the back of the jacket.
A clever touch is the Napoleon-style, zipped pocket on the left breast for storing a wallet or phone. It’s protected from the elements yet easy to access without needing to undo the main zipper and, before you ask, takes its name from the French military commander who was often featured in portraits with his right hand inside the left side of his jacket, presumably to retrieve a pistol.
Speaking of protection, the jacket and pants armoury need no upgrading with CE-certified reinforcements on the elbows, shoulders, back and knees and there’s also plenty of reflectivity throughout. The shoulders, upper-arm and knee areas are finished in a classy, soft-touch suede, too.
RST’s four-season jacket and pants fare well to combine every desirable feature. Sure, it’s at the pricey end for the brand but RST claims much of that comes from having to pay royalty fees to the company that owns ‘Outlast’ which conducts rigorous tests of each product before production approval.
The Titanium jacket and pants aren’t magic bullets to replace your collection of motorcycle gear. Instead, each is a credible, technical and comparatively affordable offering to embarrass the premium, Italian makers. If you feel the cold, just make sure you add an extra layer.
RST Titanium Outlast jacket & pants
Price: Jacket $499.95; pants $329.95
Available: All good motorcycle stores
MOTORCYCLE TRADER’S RATING SYSTEM (out of 5):
First Class: *****
Damned good: ****
Worth a look: ***
Keep looking: **
Give it a miss: *