As we all know, motorcycle riding gear is essential to a rider’s safety, comfort and of course, style. When a company like Alpinestars offers up with a kit that earns high marks in all three of those categories it’s worth taking the time to check it out. We would like to submit the trio in Exhibit A: Alpinestars Durban Jacket, Pants and Boots. This combination is not for the casual rider or commuter, this is extreme riding gear meant to protect the rider in the harshest environments known to man. For that reason, this premium kit comes with a steep price tag. If you need cheap gear then the Durban may not be for you. If you are in search of the best gear money can buy, read on.
The Durban Jacket ($699) and pants ($499.95) are a combination of Gore-Tex, CE armor and ceramic coated reinforced Superfabric. It sounds like something Captain America should be wearing but it’s actually the latest multi-function riding jacket and pants from our friends at A-Stars. In addition to protecting you from the elements the Durban Jacket features adjustable fit, multiple pockets/storage, zippered air intakes, strategically placed CE armor, reflective piping and exhaust vents but the sleeves are also removable too. The Durban Jacket has an integrated storage area on the back for a two-liter hydration/water bladder as well as provisions that allow the Alpinestars Bionic Neck Brace to be worn underneath it. It also features a removable Gore-Tex fleece-lined liner and compartments which will house optional A-stars back protector and shoulder pads.
By integrating all of these features, Alpinestars has positioned the Durban Jacket as one of the most advanced and comfortable jackets I have ever worn. The articulated elbows help keep armor in place, adjustable straps tailor the fit of the jacket arms and offer a free range of movement while the waist zipper allows the Durban Pants to attach to the jacket and form a complete two-piece riding suit.
The Durban Pants ($499.95) feature leather panels on the inside for added grip when riding off road while also providing an added level of protection from the strategically placed Superfabric (Basically a Kevlar-like material). The knees are articulated and removable CE knee armor is standard. A removable Gore-Tex liner with micro-fleece provides added protection from the elements.
Last but not least are the Durban Boots ($479.95). Add these lightweight bad-boys to the mix and you have the trifecta. These full-length riding boots feature a Velcro closure at the top, three-buckles and a work-boot-style sole which combine to make a riding boot that is both stylish and functional. The body is constructed of full grain leather with a Gore-Tex membrane and strategically placed materials in the toe, heels and shin areas. The Durban Boots are comfortable and required no break-in period at all. They are comfortable for walking around since they have that traditional-style sole and are made from soft leather. They do fit a little on the large size, I usually wear a size 9 boot but I wear a size 8 in the Durban.
Clearly the design is intended for the Adventure Rider but the Durban is just as adept at pulling touring duty on a Gold Wing as it is sport-touring or dual-sport riding on an ADV bike. My first experience with the Alpinestars Durban gear was during the 2012 Honda Goldwing Adventure Ride from Virginia to Tennessee along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Of course, Mother Nature had her way with us the first day so I got to experience the Durban in torrential downpour. The outer shell of the pant and jacket do a decent job of keeping you dry during standard rainfall. I had to put the liner back in the jacket at our first stop because rain was getting through the removable arm zippers. Once the liner was in place, my body did not get wet. The pants and boots were getting pounded and neither conceded until the crotch of the pants finally started to absorb water after a half hour of deluge. In fairness to A-stars, the Goldwing seat is perfectly designed to pool up so I was sitting in a puddle of water and eventually it did soak through. The Durban boots never let in any rain at all. As any legitimate touring rider will tell you, it is imperative to coat your gear with rain repellent and that’s exactly what I did… when I got home.
Later that same trip we experienced both extreme heat and some chilly mornings. The gear handled as expected from a $1700 get-up. The boots are warm yet the breathable material never had my feet sweating like crazy in the heat and kept me warm in the morning. The jacket was equally excellent in the heat. Without the liner in place, the multiple vents in the front and back allow for a nice steady stream of fresh air to pass through. Zip them up and you form an impervious layer of protection from the cold temperatures anywhere above 50-degrees. After that you will want the liner, which makes the Durban damn near impervious to cold. We experienced mid-40s on rides in Oregon and Northern California that support that claim.
My only real complaint about the jacket is the neck area. When it’s cold or you are riding in temperatures below 65-70-degrees you can zip the front up and leave the flap open that normally seals of your upper torso from the wind. A-stars almost thought of everything as a snap on the backside keeps it folded out of harm’s way so you can run the front jacket zipper open to allow maximum airflow on those really hot days. But the other side has the hard side of the Velcro attachment and it flaps in the wind. Plus, exposed helmet liners on the base of the helmet by the rider’s jaw can stick to that Velcro and it is damn annoying. Another snap on the left side would allow you to peel that flap back as well and would alleviate the one major gripe I have found after two months of wearing this gear in a myriad of conditions.
As sport touring gear the Durban, with its grey and black design, looks right at home. The numerous pockets allow you to store cell phones, wallets, maps, cash and other various items. Two of the front zipper pockets live up to A-stars waterproof claims. I discovered this first hand when I left my iPhone in my front pocket during the downpour at the Blue Ridge Parkway. While the gear looks sporty enough for knee-dragging on a Ninja 1000 it is most well suited for dual-sport type rides. This is adventure touring gear in its most refined form and that is where it shines.
Although the only photos we have are some mild dirt roads on a Kawasaki Versys, I have utilized the jacket and boots for dual-sport trail rides on both enduro and ATVs. The jacket offers a full range of motion and the added functionality of the hydration pocket on the back allowed me to use my CamelBak bladder in my jacket which consolidates things. The numerous zippered pockets are convenient for hauling GPS, keys and snacks too. But for off-road purposes the function I appreciate the most are the removable arms. Zip-off the arms, tuck them into the convenient pouch on the back of the jacket and voila you have a riding vest. You do lose the added protection of the elbow guards and layer of protection from branches and roost but when you ride off road your body gets way hotter than it does on the street so having that function is a huge plus.
The boots are so comfortable that I could deal with wearing them on the ATV even though I normally wear half-length boots when riding those beasts in the hills. As a dual-sport boot, they are definitely a little too nice for me to choose to wear them in the muck and mud on a regular basis, but you could if you wanted to. The performed as good as any moto-boot when splashing through puddles and dragging a foot through a turn, dabbing in a rut or getting nailed by errant rocks. In my book, they are more than just fancy-looking foot gear.
So, when the dust settles, smoke clears and the rain subsides the question remains: Are the Durban Jacket, Durban Pants and Durban Boots worth the money? Absolutely. Are they for everybody? Not at all. Like I said, this is the ultimate in high-end touring gear designed by one of the most respected and technically advanced motorcycle gear manufacturers in the world. This is the pinnacle of A-stars touring gear and it is not cheap. You buy the Durban gear when you have plenty of discretionary income and plan to wear it for many, many years of real adventure or touring rides. With a total price of almost $1700 for all three pieces, the Durban kit is not for the faint of heart. Then again, neither is adventure touring
The Alpinestars Durban Jacket is one of the best adventure touring jackets on the market, and when it’s combined with the Durban pants and boots, the trio makes for the ultimate AT gear package.
If you are looking for top of the line adventure touring gear then you have to stop and consider the Alpinestars Durban jacket, pants and boots. This trio of protective motorcycle riding gear is the top of the Alpinestars Tech Touring line. The jacket and pant shell are constructed of multiple Gore-Tex fabrics with removable CE certified armor. As far as the appearance goes, the Durban Jacket and matching Durban pants look rugged but remain low-key compared to some more flamboyant competitor’s designs.
Content & Images By: Ken Hutchison