Aerostich Darien Light Pants Review

Gear -

By

Aerostich Darien Light Pants

The most basic and lightest pair of pants Aerostich sells, the Darien Lights nevertheless benefit from the quality, versatility and sheer cleverness that defines the brand. Read why in this Aerostich Darien Light Pants review.

The Gear:
Constructed from a 200-Denier Nylon Gore-Tex, the Darien Lights are noticeably lighter and thinner than not just the other pants in the Aerostich range, but also are the most waterproof motorcycle pants in general.

Because there’s just that single layer of fabric — no liner, no separate waterproof membrane — the $327 Darien Lights are able to breathe exceptionally well, despite the lack of ventilation ports or mesh panels. This weekend, I wore them in conditions ranging from 80-degree city riding to 42-degree rain in the mountains. With only a pair of y-fronts underneath, the Lights were cool and comfortable in the city heat and kept me at a comfortable temperature all the way down to about 50 degrees. As it got colder, I just had to hug the tank tightly to keep my legs out of the wind. The rain wasn’t terribly heavy, so as you’d expect, I stayed dry throughout.

But, It was my fault I got cold. The Lights are designed to work equally well as overpants. Full-length zippers up the sides of each leg mean the pants open completely — you don’t have to step into them — making it exceptionally easy to put them on over a pair of jeans or work slacks.

Those same zippers make it really easy to put on tall riding boots like the Aerostich Combat Touring Boots you see me wearing here.

Darien Light Pants
The Aerostich Darien Light Pants, zipped open, displaying the TF3 knee armor and sleeve, which mounts to the white Velcro.

Inside, Aerostich’s own TF3 armor is included in the knees. A generous length of Velcro runs up the knee area on the pants’ interior, making it possible to easily dial-in the location of that armor.

TF3 is a hefty chunk of viscoelastic foam that remains soft and pliable as you wear it, but hardens somewhat on impact. Doing so deflects impact energy away from your joints and, because it doesn’t go totally rigid, provides cushioning as well. A hard plastic “cap” sit on the outside of the armor, further deflecting energy and providing protection against penetration. TF3 isn’t CE-rated because Aerostich actually came out with it before the European standard was established. Because the vast majority of the Minnesota-based company’s sales are in America, they didn’t see the need to go back and achieve the European Union’s stamp of approval. But, in that test cycle, it actually transmits around 30 percent less energy to the wearer’s body than the standard requires. It’s safe stuff.

Darien Light Pants
The Aerostich Darien Light Pants use TF3 armor (teal), an impact absorbing and deflecting viscoelastic foam.

The Darien Lights can also be retrofitted with the brand’s TF5 hip pads (you also need to order the hip pad sleeves).

Abrasion protection? We haven’t had a chance to test that yet, but the company has seen a few pairs returned after highway-speed crashes. The pants were destroyed, but the wearers uninjured. The lightweight material is designed to sacrifice itself in a crash in order to protect the rider.

The brand is forthcoming with the limitations this brings, stating that the Darien Lights won’t be ideal for high-speed sport riders or people embarking on long adventure touring rides. In the case of the former, there’s simply not enough abrasion protection on offer for 100 mph + get offs and, in the latter, long distance riders are better off going with Aerostich’s “Roadcrafter” range of products, which are designed to survive multiple crashes. A long ride could be cut short if a crash destroys the Darien Lights.

But, for my intended use, the Darien Lights should be perfect: dual-sport riding. In that role, they should be hugely versatile, working in the kind of changing weather conditions you experience in the mountains — from 100-degree sun to freezing rain and even snow — and providing multiple options for protection. On easy rides, I can stick with the included armor while, for harder stuff, there’s room to wear a pair of knee braces underneath. I didn’t opt for the hip pads because I prefer to wear armored shorts off-road; those provide the additional coccyx protection I require after injuring that part of my body last year.

And the Darien Lights will go further than that, too. They’ll be the most rugged pair of snowboarding pants on the mountain this winter, while providing all the flexibility and ease of movement that sport requires. I may even leave the knee armor in for a little added peace of mind.

Read More, Page Two >>

Related Links:
More About The Armor: Aerostich TF3 Armor Explained
The Ultimate: Aerostich Roadcrafter Review
Aerostich In Action: Why Motorcycle Lane Splitting Is Safe and Good For All Road Users

  • Alex

    Great review…

    Just wish Aerostich was a little more affordable.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Made-in-America, lifetime quality costs money. For a reason.

      • Tessier

        I still rock a Darien jacket that was my Fathers. He past away in 1997 and the jacket had 10 years on it when he passed. I had one major crash and simply sent the pants and jacket back to Aerostich who promptly repaired them and sent them back. Tell me another company that will repair and rebuild there gear.

        Klim stuff is nice but if it’s a touring trip I’ll take my aero stick over Klim anyday! The sign of wear is that after 20 years and 100,000 miles the red color of the jacket has started to fade, but then again all my other gear has been replace several times over. Love Aerostich gear!

        • Justin McClintock

          “Tell me another company that will repair and rebuild there gear.”

          Fox Creek Leather in Virginia will.

    • SneakyJimmy

      You will forget the cost the first time you wear it. Its a great value when compared to other high end brands.

      • Piglet2010

        You have to think of Aerostich gear in terms of dollars per year or dollars per mile ridden – then it becomes budget gear. : )

  • Brian Caudle

    These look like great pants for adventure riding. Are they availible in stores to see and feel or only through aerostich?

    Would love to see a review of some of the klim adventure gear.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Aerostich stuff is available through Aerostich.com or, if you’re in SoCal, at the PopUp store they’re doing in Carslbad 20-24 this month.

      • Jai S.

        I’ll be there. Looking forward to getting fitted for a RoadCrafter.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Get these options: TF5 hips pads w/sleeves, chest protector, forward rotated torso and arms.

          And get it to fit right, don’t leave extra room so you can layer. There’s plenty of room to layer without upsizing.

          • Piglet2010

            My Roadcrafter Light was a poor fit, restricting movement. Having a 1-inch wide long gusset ($75) added to each side has turned it into the one of the two best (and most comfortable) pieces of riding gear I have (the other is a pair of insulated Aerostich Elkskin Gauntlets).

            • Jai S.

              Piglet, what sort of temperature ranges are you riding your Roadcrafter in? How does it do in the heat?

              • Piglet2010

                I have done longer rides in the Upper Midwest summer humidity on sunny days with 95° F temperatures – hot, but not overheating hot as long as one is moving. Above that, I will take my chances with less substantial Joe Rocket Phoenix gear. As for cold, no real insulating value, but as windproof as anything I have worn – long thermal underwear for the legs and a heated vest should make any level of cold tolerable (assuming you can keep you hands and feet warm).

          • Jai S.

            Thank you for the advice. I’m in SoCal as well; how is it in the heat? I’m looking at this and the Teiz Powershell. Since it doesn’t rain much, ventilation is far more important than water resistance.

            Price isn’t really that big of a deal, and though the Roadcrafter is right up to my limit. I prefer something that protects, and is comfortable in the summer. The Teiz looks to be at an advantage in that.

            Looking forward to checking the Roadcrafter out.

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              A cheap knockoff will only ever be a cheap knockoff. The Roadcrafter is the most amazing piece of riding gear you will ever put on your body. I wear it in every conceivable weather condition and am never anything but comfortable.

              • Piglet2010

                Have you tried a Motoport suit (I have not)?

                • Jai S.

                  I have not. They are only about 50 miles from me. Their prices are right to my limit. I’ll check them out.

            • Stuki

              The Roadcrafter is as clammy in hot weather as every other piece of clothing with a GioreTex membrane. It’s sorta-kinda decently ventilated, hence works OK for touring riders from Minnesota riding through warm areas at a good clip, but for stop and go during Socal Summer, it’s plain insanity.

              Aerostitch would sell a veritable tonload across the Southern part of the US, if they could just kick their almost obsessive Goretex addiction, and make an “Aircrafter” suit patterned on the Roadcrafter. The market is screaming for a top quality mesh suit that won’t just melt and tear as soon as it touches asphalt. And the Roadcrafter is so well designed for being practical on a bike, very little even comes close. Just the right weight/stiffness/shape to give room for real clothes underneath and to keep the armor in place, without flapping around in the wind or turning the rider into a sail.

              • Jai S.

                Thank you for your insight. Everything has some downside, and it makes sense that lack of ventilation is the Roadcrafter’s. I have Goretex products. It’s great, it breathes, but it doesn’t “ventilate”.

                One thing that I’m finding useful is to ignore the fanboys. People that say something is amazing all of the time, trash talk it’s competitors, and romantisize a product generally can’t help you.

                Thank you for not doing that.

                • Piglet2010

                  Jai S. – Funny thing is I thought that people going on about Aerostich were annoying, until I finally tried their gear. It really is that good, and their customer service is excellent.

              • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

                Zip open the back and pit zips, zip down the chest a bit and it’s really still clammy?

                I find it’s much more important what I wear underneath. Roadcrafter + jeans + 90 degree + heat = sweaty balls. Roadcrafter + shorts + 90 degree (or more heat), just fine, plus I can really cool down on short breaks.

                If you don’t have to take the suit off in public, a good set of summer long underwear (the kind that cools you down) reaps even more benefits.

                Come on people, this is getting dressed to ride a motorcycle 101.

                • Jai S.

                  I’m looking for something I can wear my work clothes under, so shorts are not an option.

                  Layering is great, and has it’s place but I prefer convenience when riding to and from work.

                • Piglet2010

                  If you want something to wear over work clothes, a properly fitted Roadcrafter/Light is an excellent choice.

                • Ben W

                  FYI – if you’re wearing work clothes, you won’t notice any difference with the PS from the thigh vents. Full sleeve dress shirts reduce the impact of the additional chest ventilation, as well. So, you might not notice much of a gain for commuting – but you would for joy riding.

                • Piglet2010

                  I like the one-piece underwear suits for best comfort – and of course if one does track days, they turn getting in and out of leathers from a life-or-death struggle to a mere PITA.

                • Ben W

                  Exactly. My RC was hot in the legs with my work clothes on, but so is anything. For joy riding, the right clothing choice was just fine.

              • Ben W

                That’s the niche Teiz is going after with the PowerShell and AirShell suits. They really are great quality – but still a compromise in some ways.

            • Ben W

              Having owned both, the Teiz is definitely more comfortable in the summer. No question, though I found the RC tolerable here in Dallas. I preferred the armor in the Roadcrafter.

              I have a custom-sized and colored Powershell with the thermal liner. It works great year round. So did the Roadcrafter. If I ran into someone relatively close to me in size, I’d sell the suit for $400.

              • Jai S.

                Ben, thank you for your comparison. I just tried on the Roadcrafter and it feels great, but I can definitely see a problem with venting. Climate in Orange County and Dallas is really similar, although you guys are more humid.

                I really like how the armor molds around the wearer on the RC, but from my research it looks like the PS offers more protection.

                Wait, which one would you sell, the RC or the PS?

                Besides temperature, can you compare the two? Which one has better quality? Which is more comfortable? Which one do you think offers more protection? Any really convenient features? Any annoyances? Which one do you generally prefer and why?

                Sorry to pick your brain so much, but you are the only person I’ve seen that has both the PS and the RC in custom sizes in a climate similar to mine.

                Thank you.

                • Ben W

                  I’m happy to offer any guidance I can. I originally sold my RC (it was bought used and didn’t fit me well) and payed out the wazoo for my PS. Ghazi, who runs Teiz, is a great guy and he’s local to me, so I had a unique point of comparison. Anyhow, the PS is the one I’d sell since it’s the only one I have.

                  Quality: They’re both great. No clear winner here.

                  Comfort: The PS is forgiving of size and body position thanks to several stretch areas and adjustment straps. The RC is less flexible in those regards, though I wouldn’t say it’s less comfortable. The PS also has a patch of material at the crotch that provides a bit of grip against the seat and I’ve learned to like that. Last, the PS seems to be a bit lighter, which may be due to the separate liner.

                  Protection: The PS uses SuperFabric ballistics, so it potentially offers better abrasion resistance, though the SuperFabric covers less area than the RCs 1000 Denier Cordura ballistics. The PS Sas-Tec armor is great, but it’s significantly smaller in coverage area than the RC armor. If you have pipe cleaner arms like I do, and especially if you open the arm vents, then the elbow armor can feel loose. The PS comes with hip and back armor as standard. I think both are quite protective, but I’d prefer more impact coverage (RC with optional hip, back, and chest armor) over advanced ballistics.

                  Features: The Gore Tex of the RC is dang convenient if you get caught in the rain. The RC is not 100% waterproof but it was all I needed. The PS soaks in a hurry. The venting in the PS is a major feature, though I was happy enough with the RC venting. The “back pocket” on the PS is silly and I’d rather have another exhaust panel there or nothing at all. It’s nice that you get the transparent sleeve pocket on the PS at no extra cost and, again, the adjustability of the PS is outstanding. I’m 6′, 38″ chest, 32″ inseam, 32″ waist. Pretty scrawny. My boss tried on my suit and, with a few strap adjustments, was comfy in it. He’s 5’10, ~42″ chest, ~32″ inseam, ~36″ waist. Teiz offers a cool “crash replacement program” that hopefully no one needs to use. The PS also has some snaps to hold the collar open on warmer days.

                  Annoyances: The PS needs a rain suit and the arm adjustments don’t work for me. I could get a tailor to modify the straps. I hate the Teiz logo. When I ordered my suit, I paid extra to have the logos removed – something he did only for me and refused to do ever since – and the PS looks a lot better. I think the reflective panels with the chevron styling looks a bit silly versus a single reflective color. I had no issues, other than sizing, with my RC.

                  General Preference: Buying new, I’d get a custom RC. I’d like to sell my PS and get a new RC. That’s financially stupid, but I’m responsible enough everywhere else in my life that it’s worth it to me to spend on gear I’m happiest with. I consider myself a weenie about being hot, but I the RC didn’t bother me. So. I don’t know what to say, other than that the PS would be a good choice for someone who wants even more airflow. I’d rather have the Gore Tex and armor coverage.

                • Jai S.

                  Thank you for the very detailed write up. My city gets about 10″ of rain every year, so rain protection is very low on my list.

                  The only significant issue I had with the Roadcrafter is that when I switched bikes (from my Strom to the to a R1200GS) the knee armor shifted from the perfect position to way too low. I asked and was told those are non-adjustable, but they can alter the pant length and should I switch bikes.

                  I think that could be an issue if I get multiple bikes.

                • Ben W

                  Jai, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help further. I’m happy to take pictures of anything on my suit for reference or answer any other questions. I had a tough time making the decision back when I was in your spot and, like you’ve found, there aren’t many folks who have experience with both. You can email me at transientben@gmail.com. Some other thoughts:

                  - Adjustability of the PS is pretty great. The knee armor can shift several inches within its pocket. The stretch panels at the lower back, knees, and backs of the arms support a great variety of bike positions.

                  - Other small PS annoyances: the arm and underarm vents are backed with mesh. It’s easy for the zipper to get stuck on the mesh when you zip them closed. The hip pockets are positioned a bit awkwardly for sport riding. If you put anything too large and rigid in those pockets, it’ll bind up uncomfortably. I use them mostly for odds and ends: ear plugs, my 4″ x 2″ x .75″ garage door opener, and silk glove liners. The RCs pockets were more functionally useful for me, but it’s not a huge deal since I ride with a Kriega US-20 and US-5.

                  - The PS is a tremendous value, considering what you get at the base price. More armor, more adjustment, etc. That said, if you do a custom size with the thermal liner, you’ll pay almost the same as you would for a custom RC. My suit was over $1000. It’s easier to justify that with the RC, because of their reputation and excellent resale value. Teiz damages the potential resale value of PS suits by running closeout specials where new suits in limited sizes/colors drop below $500.

                • Jai S.

                  Wow, thanks for the additional information. What I think I’ll do is go to Aerostich again and talk to them about the knee armor. Hopefully there is some happy medium. If not, I’ll go with the Powershell.

                  If you are ever in Orange County, let me know, I owe you a beer.

      • Piglet2010

        Or six days a week in their store (same building as the factory) in Duluth, Minnesota.

  • Josh

    Are you going to do a review on the boots as well?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      At some point. They’re great. Again, lifetime quality, all-day comfort. They don’t have a waterproof membrane, but they’re pretty solidly weatherproof with regular application of leather lotion. They’re as safe and supportive of any of the flashier modern options and will last longer.

      • Piglet2010

        Still breaking the boots in?

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Obviously, I’ve only had them a year.

  • Jason 1199

    Are Y-fronts another word for tighty whitees?

    • Eric

      Yup, ya know they used to advertise y-fronts as not only have a fly, but having a pocket. “Got change for the meter? Yup, got it right here behind my balls”

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    Best riding pants (well, I had AD1′s) I’ve yet owned. Everything you need (great comfortable fit, good armor, absolutely waterproof, and durable) and no flashy graphics, mesh liners to get caught, nothing frivolous. Wish I hadn’t gained weight and outgrew them…

  • phoebegoesvroom

    “The tradeoff for a light, breathable, flexible single-layer fabric construction is that you’ll be out $327 if you crash on the road in these pants.”

    Don’t forget, Aerostith’s riding suits, pants and jackets are often repairable after a crash. You send your crashed gear to them and they will give you an estimate to repair and whether they think it’s best to “total” them instead. I’ve seen some Aerostich gear that’s been in a serious crash and still be very much repairable. Plus, Aerostich likes to see their crashed gear because it helps them improve their products.

    Btw, I own/wear a pair of Roadcrafter pants and a size larger Roadcrafter 2-piece as well as their 2-season vegan gloves. I’m definitely a fan.

    • phoebegoesvroom

      Also, don’t forget you can often find good deals on used Aerostich gear! I paid less than half the normal price for my 2-piece because it was used…but still in great shape. My two piece actually cost me less than my new pair of Roadcrafter pants >.<

  • Jon Cramer

    Be aware of the waist sizing — they’re sized as over pants. My 34s are much closer to 38in.

  • Haydon Wolski

    anyone thought about wearing these over Kevlar jeans? would there be much point?