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.
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.
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.
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.
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