Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Aerostich Roadcrafter Comparison – Standard Roadcrafter vs. Lightweight Roadcrafter Suits

It’s no secret that Kim and I have been wearing Aerostich Roadcrafter one piece suits for years.  You probably know that we really, really like them, so we wanted to be up front with our “bias” towards this piece of kit.  That being said, we’ve had the opportunity to compare and contrast the differences between the standard Roadcrafter one piece suit and the newer Roadcrafter Light suit.  We’ve literally ridden these suits tens of thousands of miles in extreme heat and cold.  We’ve also ridden them for hours on end in dry, damp, rain and bucketing down rain.  As such, we’d thought we’d offer our impressions of the suits.

Both of our original Roadcrafter suits have handled the years very well and we still use them on a daily basis.  That being said, we’ve been riding in hotter and hotter locations and heat has become a more significant issue.  Our recent trip along the Trans American Trail in the hottest, muggiest weather we’ve ever experienced, made checking out a lighter weight option almost mandatory.  Ten or twelve hour days in the saddle in significant heat certainly makes the riding more difficult and potentially more dangerous.

 So it was with some excitement that I ordered an Aerostich Roadcrafter Light for Kim for our wandering trip across much of Europe in mid July heat.  Kim has a pretty off the shelf size frame, so I was able to order one right off the rack for her in grey and hi-viz yellow.   It arrived in just a couple of days ready to wear.

The standard Roadcrafter is made with 500 denier cordura Gore-Tex with 1050 denier cordura in the ballistic areas (i.e. high impact areas).  Both these deniers are much thicker and heavier than the 200 denier outer layer cordura Gore-Tex of the Roadcrafter Light.  Aerostich claims that the Roadcrafter Light is has roughly two thirds the abrasion resistance of the 500 denier cordura.  They don’t publish the denier of the ballistic areas for the Roadcrafter Light, but it seems to be similar to the ballistic material used in the standard Roadcrafter, meaning it is very sturdy.

There are significant differences between the standard Roadcrafter and the Roadcrafter Light.  Think of the Roadcrafter Light as the evolution of the standard Roadcrafter.  According to Aerostich, there have been numerous improvements including:

  • waterproof zippers,

  • snap down collar,

  • removable rare-earth magnetic collar clasps,

  • water-resistant inner wallet/phone/iPod pocket,

  • adjustable impact pad positions,

  • inner pocket hook for accessory pocket

  • and a mini-carabiner helmet holder clip.

There are additional options, including:

  • Integrated Boot Raincovers,

  • Chest Impact Pad,

  • Chest Insulation Pad (Standard and Electric/Heated versions) can also be incorporated.

Having tried it on, Kim commented immediately it felt lighter than the standard Roadcrafter.  The difference in weight is indeed very noticeable and it is significant.  She also said that it felt ready to wear and exhibited none of that having to “break it in” feel.  We note that although the standard Roadcrafter has a brief “break in” period, it eventually becomes like an old pair of jeans; very comfortable.  Fit in the Roadcrafter Light appears to be the same and Kim thought it was quite comfortable.  Getting in and out was also the same easy procedure as it is for the standard Roadcrafter.

Since the Roadcrafter Light has some claimed improvements, we thought it appropriate to discuss them.  So far, the suit has been entirely waterproof.  There have been no leaks and none of the previously dreaded Aerocrotch.  The zippers do seem to have tighter teeth, but it has not effected the ability to zip or un-zip them easily.

The snap down collar (in the back) is easy to use and makes the collar snugger and easily closed.  As you may know, there are now strong rare earth magnets in the base of the collar and in the collar tabs.  They keep the collar down while riding so you don’t have to ride with the collar closed.  They are very effective, however, perhaps a bit too effective.  When you are suiting up and you want the collar up, you need to exercise a bit of care zipping up so that the collar doesn’t automatically fold down.  This is a minor annoyance and if you had to choose between having or not having the magnets, you’ll definitely prefer that the suit have magnets unless you are riding in the Antarctic and the collar always has to be up.  The water-resistant pocket seems to do it’s job, we’ve not seen any water in the pocket.

There is a very definite difference between the armor mounting in the two suits.  The standard Roadcrafter has a sort of inner liner that has sewn in pockets to hold your armor.  The Roadcrafter Light comes with separate pockets which you Velcro into the suit in the appropriate places.  While the pockets stay in place once you position, Kim has found that she has to use a little more care when putting her booted foot into the suit, especially on the right leg where it does not open all the way.  She’s never had an issue getting the suit on or off, it’s just that she needs to be more careful putting it on so that her boot doesn’t get hung up with the pocket.  That said, if you don’t wear armor, this is a non-issue.  If you do wear armor, it shouldn’t be considered to be a big enough issue to turn you off from buying the Roadcrafter Light.  Lastly, the inner accessory hook and the helmet carabineer are nice to have, but aren’t anything spectacular.

We did not order the integrated boot rain covers, chest impact pad or chest insulation pad so we can’t comment on them or how well they do or don’t work.

Overall, Kim really likes the Roadcrafter Light and now wears it most of the time.  If it’s going to be cold, she opts for the Roadcrafter standard, but in all other cases, she rides with the Roadcrafter Light.  It is lighter, fits the same, watertight and packs smaller than the standard Roadcrafter.  There’s really nothing not to like about this suit.

So if you are the type that always wants the most protection that you can get in a cordura suit, or you ride in mostly cold temperatures (i.e. 50 or below) you’ll probably want to opt for the standard Roadcrafter.  But if you are ok with having two thirds the abrasion protection, in a lighter, cooler suit for $200 less, then the Roadcrafter Light may be for you.

You should really check out both suits yourself, but we thought we’d offer you our perspectives.  Your perspectives may be different, so take the time to investigate what will work best for you.

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