Can American budget bike gear brand Fieldsheer finally compete with premium Italian competitors like Alpinestars and Dainese? This Adventure Tour suit is the closest they have come yet.
What're They Supposed To Do? The Fieldsheer Adventure Tour Jacket ($US439.99) and Pants ($US329.99) are designed to offer ultimate performance for long distance ADV riding, no matter the riding conditions. Armour in critical areas and the use of abrasive-resistant materials provide protection in the event of a spill. Vents, a removable waterproof liner, and a removable insulating liner provide protection from all types of weather.
The Adventure Tour Pants seat is made from super tough 1680 denier ballistic nylon.
How're They Supposed To Do It? The Adventure Tour Pants and Jacket utilise a 500 denier Maxtena-Pro outer shell. The fabric was designed to be smooth, yet durable, with high abrasion resistance. The jacket features removable CE-approved armour in the shoulders, elbows, and back and memory foam in other high impact areas.
The pants utilise the same grade armour with 3-step adjustable armour pockets, and memory foam panels for the hips. Fieldsheer's two-stage liner system uses a removable waterproof and breathable membrane and an additional waterproof insulated layer, that the rider can use depending on their needs. The zippered pockets are waterproofed as well.
The Adventure Tour Jacket features several vents that open wide, enabling maximum circulation.
The jacket has a direct ventilation system, which allows air to flow from six vents in the front to one large vent in the back.The jacket has adjustable sleeves, a removable collar extender, and adjustable velcro waist straps and cuffs. There are two zippered front hand warmer pockets, two chest, one zippered map, one inside velcro, and one mobile phone pockets. The pants and jacket can attach together using a waist zipper and snap connectors. The pants feature full-length side-zips for easy on-off, and are anatomically fitted for optimal riding position. Additionally, there are stretch panels above the knees, crotch, and thighs. There are reflective panels and piping throughout the pants and jacket, which increase the suit's visibility in low light conditions.
While wearing the Adventure Tour Pants and Jacket around LA, I often get mistaken for a bearded super hero.
How Do They Perform? I've been testing the Adventure Tour Pants and Jacket for the last several months while commuting throughout the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. While I haven't had the opportunity to test the gear out on a long touring ride or a dual-sport excursion, or in any weather conditions except for "hot and dry," I've still been able to get a great feel for it.
The Adventure Tour Pants feature full-length side zips, allowing for easy on/off.
First, the suit is designed to fit over your street clothes. This is great. (Context: In February, I was in a freeway accident, wearing just jeans, boots, a jacket, helmet, and gloves. I walked away with only a scrape on my knee, so I figured that was my one shot at getting lucky. I had a one-piece full-leather race suit that I started commuting in, because it offered a lot more protection than my jeans, and I couldn't afford a touring suit at the time. That being said, the race suit was a pain in the arse. It took me at least 10 minutes at the beginning and end of work everyday, just to change. Not to mention the suit was hot and uncomfortable for anything but a crouched position. But, alas, I was well-protected.) The Fieldsheer pants feature full-size zips, so you don't even have to take off your shoes or boots. The pants can come off in seconds.
The jacket's vents actually work really well. I live in Downtown LA, which is notoriously hotter than the Westside, so there have been several occasions where I've been riding through traffic in 90+ degree heat. The vents on the arms open wide, and you can feel the air flow up the sleeves, around your body, and out the back. It's been hot the entire time that I've been using the suit, so the vents are always open. They can be opened with one hand, but to close them, you must use two.
The Adventure Tour Jacket held up well after a 50mph freeway spill.
More recently, I was riding down the 405 at about 50 mph, occupying my own lane, when a car changed lanes just feet in front of me. Their sudden and unsignaled move left me little time to react and I found myself somersaulting down the freeway, as my Street Triple skidded ahead, while the car that cut me off continued to drive away. Fortunately, the driver of the 1-ton truck who was following me was not on his mobile phone (unlike the rest of Los Angeles's drivers) and thanks to his quick reaction, I was not run over from behind.
Two somersaults later, I miraculously landed back on my feet, picked up my bike, and rolled it off the freeway. I checked my body to make sure that no bones were protruding from my skin, and was amazed to see that the Fieldsheer suit looked like it had barely been affected by the asphalt with which it had just become acquainted with. Kudos to Fieldsheer and the Adventure Tour's 500D Maxtena-Pro outer shell. Thanks to you, I kept all of my skin that day.
The Adventure Tour Jacket features extra pockets for your burner phones.
Another feature that stood out to me is the plethora of pockets in the pants and jacket. The pants have two zippered rear pockets, two zippered waist pockets, and a zippered thigh pocket. The Jacket has four exterior pockets, two handwarmer pockets, and four interior pockets. Plenty of space to store keys, small gadgets, earplugs, a map, or whatever else you may need on your person.
The pants pockets feature waterproof zippers for when the weather turns nasty. Due to the fact that I live in Los Angeles and all of California is experiencing a historical drought — I have not been able to test the waterproofing of the pants and jacket. Also due to the fact that it's still hot-as-balls outside, I've been unable to test the insulated liner (for both the pants and jacket) though they feel like they'd be very warm. I'll update the review once I've had some experience with those features.
One thing that has kind of bugged me about the jacket is the velcroed collar. It has a tendency to snag my beard and the two often get into a Jiu Jitsu match, using my face as the mat. Though, I suspect that lesser men would not have the same issue that I do.
The Adventure Tour Pants and Jacket look great in red, white, and blue.
How Do They Compare To The Competition? Compared to premium ADV suits from brands like Dainese (compare the Teren suit at $US480 for the pants and $US320 for the pants), Fieldsheer absolutely matches it in the quality of its materials, looks and performance. Where it falls (very far) behind is in the quality and efficacy of its armour. Where, on the Dainese suit, that's a two-layer component made from injection moulded plastic and memory foam, covering a very wide area of the body part it protects, Fieldsheer's armour is crappy old just-about-CE foam covering only a limited area. For instance, the CE1 back protector extends only halfway down your back and the elbow protectors cover only the joint, not the forearm. Dainese, Alpinestars et al also include real armour for your hips; its torsion on those that can twist your spine, leading to paralysis. The pockets in Fieldsheer's suit will not accommodate more comprehensive armour upgrades.
Adventure Ready? No. Due to the poor quality, limited protection (there's no excuse in 2014 not to fit CE2 armour) and small coverage area of Fieldsheer's armour, we cannot recommend buying this suit at this time. Particularly given that on-par price wise with our favourite ADV suit, the much more protective Dainese Teren. We commend Fieldsheer for the advances it's made in material qualities, fit and design, but strongly encourage them to step up their armour game, stat.
Pictures: Alan Shen