Alpinestars Durban Jacket - Product Evaluation

Adventure-touring home run.

Alpinestars Durban Jacket - Product Evaluation

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Top of Alpinestars’ Tech Touring range, the Durban is as tricked-out with features as a Victorinox Swiss Champ knife—enough that you may wonder if an instruction manual is required. Not to worry; however complex it might be, the Durban is a stylish and practical jacket.

Focused on adventure-touring, the Durban offers a different set of compromises than some other touring wear. While this jacket is waterproof, both in claim and our experience, the designers were even more focused on making sure it ventilates adequately in hot weather when the wearer is working hard keeping his bike under control on a rough road or trail.

Essentially, the Durban is split into two different coats. One is the outer shell, carrying CE-compliant armor and a plethora of pockets, and it is made, in general, of non-waterproof fabrics treated with a water-repellant finish. That outer shell is loaded with vents, including sleeve ends that can be unzipped and hook-and-loop cinches undone to let air flow upward. On each upper arm, a nearly foot-long zipper opens to reveal perforated fabric. Below the top of each shoulder, a zipper opens to make a 3 1/2-inch-wide air scoop in a high-flow area. At the chest, the storm flap is split into upper and lower sections, with the upper portion equipped with snaps (as is the neck clasp) so it can be folded back and stowed out of the way, allowing air a clear shot into the front of the jacket if you slide the main zipper partway down.

On the back, two 6-inch-long zippers open behind the arms to give air a path out, which quickly dries sweat and keeps you cooler than would a less-open jacket. What’s more, the sleeves will zip off completely, turning the Durban from a jacket into a vest.

All these vents and zippers would be very difficult to keep watertight, so that task falls to a simple inner jacket consisting of supple, two-layer Gore-Tex Paclite lined with light polyester fleece. This inner jacket has no pockets and zips into the outer shell with separate zippers. Thus, when you put on the Durban with the liner in place, you first zip the inner jacket—creating your wind- and waterproof shield—and then zip closed the outer shell over it.

Alpinestars even thought of what to do with the inner jacket when a ride starts cool and turns hot: A zip-off pouch on the rear of the outer shell has just enough room to stow it. Storage doesn’t stop there. The outer shell has seven front pockets, of which the two lowermost are made with waterproof fabric and zippers. A central back cavity will hold a large hydration pack.

If the Durban is light on anything, it’s insulation. With the liner in place, you will be comfortable while riding unfaired bikes down into the upper 40s. But the close-fitting styling doesn’t leave a lot of room for layering to cope with colder-yet weather. Alpinestars sells very warm and snug long underwear that helps, but really cold riding will likely mandate use of an electric underlayer.

In many ways, it’s best to think of the Durban as part of a system. Alpinestars offers matching pants that can zip to the jacket, optional chest protectors that fit into provided pockets, an off-road-style neck brace and a heavy-duty back protector that can replace the relatively light one that comes standard. It’s a stylish, versatile approach to adventure-touring, and one that is likely to be particularly appealing to riders who want to stay both dry in the rain and then cool when it gets really hot.

DETAILS

**Alpinestars, Inc.

2780 W. 237th St.

Torrance, CA 90505

310/891-0222

Price...$695**

Ups

  • Svelte military fit and look

  • Pockets, pockets and more pockets

  • Suitable for a broad temperature range

Downs

  • Little room for layering

  • Main zipper engages backward from most U.S. men's jackets

  • Priced at the high end of the scale