The latest from the folks in Morgan Hill, California, went through a real wringing as I enjoyed a trail ride at Hungry Valley SVRA in some nasty rain. What better environment in which to assess gear?The $99.95 M16 jacket is simple and light, without any of the plastic or fancy stuff. In fact, remove the pads in the elbows, and you could venture into town anonymously—how many other enduro jackets could you do that in? It is a spring or fall jacket as opposed to an outright winter model—functional for both warm days, say up to 75 degrees, and cold ones, as low as 40 degrees. Once you heat up, unzip the sleeves, stow them in the back pocket and look as cool as you feel. Or open the vents underneath your arms. Still hot? More vents at the top of the chest and down the back allow the M16 to operate in full fan mode.Sizing was accurate, with an unrestrictive cut that fits over chest protectors (thanks to waist adjustments), and the jacket was just long enough to keep wetness out but not so long as to hinder sitting on a bike. The sleeves, with their vents and easy-to-remove elbow pads, employ a tighter cut toward the wrist that lessened their flapping in the wind. The pocket package is functional without much flash. The pockets’ flap-covered zippers held most of the torrent at bay, but the material was eventually overcome to a small degree after becoming saturated (we spent several hours in the rain).Water resistance still was much better than expected. The jacket kept out most of the water, even in a downpour; it also didn’t have either of us sweating and thus wet from the inside out, a common problem on heavier, more-restrictive jackets.The Gunner jersey ($29.95) is standard fare, but the moisture wicking was noticeable. The cuffs and sleeves were a bit more snug than most jerseys; under the jacket this wasn’t marked, but a little more room would be nice.Continuing with the military theme, the Bomber glove ($34.95) looks tough enough to do battle anywhere. It fits, well, like a glove. Sampling in the muck revealed the only flaw of these mitt protectors: The strips of nonslip material on the fingertips were simply too small and ineffective to provide any tackiness with which to grab our sodden clutch and brake levers. Most gloves make you feel as if you’re glued to the metal, but these were slippery.At first glance, the black Panther II pant ($99.95) appears quilted. Pick it up, and its lack of bulk becomes obvious. Vents along the thigh open to allow a breeze to reach your hot spots, but the elastic patch in the crotch was a little too vented as it let in water without a fight. That’ll wake you up!Overall, we stayed dry; the ripstop material on the pant didn’t let water pass. Its over-the-boot design is also great for keeping water out of your boots.A word of caution for thumper pilots: The material, normally protected by your boots, will melt against a sizzling header or clutch cover. While the adjustable hook-and-loop cuff can tighten up the base around the boot, I couldn’t get it as tight as I would have liked. The waist adjustments definitely aided in comfort.
The pockets on the thighs allow you to carry your keys, though the idea of smacking against a branch and driving a key into my thigh kept me from testing this concept. However, a small wallet would also fit, nice for the dual-sport rider making a lunch stop.—Bryan Nylander