Information and reviews about the latest gear for your motorcycle adventures.

Cool Riding with H-D Hydration Vest

It’s stinking hot, and you’re not looking forward to pulling on your leather jacket, so you argue with yourself about weather or not to wear it, “she’ll be right I won’t come off today”, you convince yourself. Inevitably the jacket ends up in the saddlebag, after all if it gets cold you can put it on later… Not so anymore with Harley-Davidson’s Hydration Vest.

Words & Photography by Shanksie.

The instructions say “This 100 percent nylon vest is lined with polyacrylite crystals that absorb and hold water to help keep the rider cooler in high temperatures.

If you live and ride a motorcycle anywhere north of the 26th parallel in Australia then chances are that at some point you would have discovered that no matter how fast you go, you just can’t seem to ride cool and if you have to stop, heaven forbid, you’ll melt down entirely.

Dehydration and heat stroke are two of the most critical dangers in that riders face in North Queensland with the onset of warm weather riding.

In the old days there were a few of us who had the sense to soak our long sleeve tee shirt down and put it on under our jackets. That worked … for about an hour … then we had to pull over at the next rest stop and re-soak the shirt. Needless to say basically it was a pain in the butt.

However by about the year 2000, the first mesh clothing was hitting the market. Good stuff if it’s 26 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit) degrees outside, but what about getting hit with 35 degrees Celsius (96 Fahrenheit) air at 100 kph (60mph) an hour?

Dry heat like that on your dry skin means any moisture on the surface of your skin is going to be pulled out right away and you’re going to be about as hot, or hotter, than if you were sweating away inside a full coverage jacket.

Then someone came up with the cool tie, a neck device you hydrated for 45 minutes with water and put … around your neck. That did okay for reducing your carotid artery from sending over heated blood to your brain lessening your chances of heat stroke, but what about your overheated core? Still overheated.

Finally several years ago mankind stumbled upon the water retaining properties of certain polymers and began to develop vests that you could hydrate with water in about three minutes and ride with all day without having to re-hydrate them. Evaporative Cooling Vests were all the rage, but expensive.

Thankfully today they are far more affordable.

The Harley-Davidson Hydration vest is fully hydrated when soaked for ten minutes and has a zipper front with stretch side panels. It has mesh panels on shoulders and chest for extra cooling, and to top it off has an embroidered H-D badge on the left chest.

We’re told the Polyacrylite crystals in these vest last approximately one year or fifty uses.

I picked up my new H-D hydration vest from Suncity Harley-Davidson in Townsville where the recorded temperature, that day, on “Elder’s weather website” for Townsville was 27 degrees Celsius by mid morning.

Our lunchtime destination was the historic mining town of Ravenswood, 130 km southwest, where the midday temperature was reported to be 34 degrees Celsius. It was hot, dam hot and too hot for a full leather jacket.

Nevertheless twenty minutes later, I was heading west out the Flinders highway, wearing the new H-D hydration vest, my full leather jacket and vest (with patches) and I was surprising cool.

I arrived at Ravenswood an hour or so later cool and refreshed, my partner on the hand along with some fellow riders all climbed from their bikes perspiring profusely and made a dash for the bar.

How did I rate it, for function – that was keeping me cool, 10 out of 10 and at around $60 it’s a small price to pay for the comfort it brings.

On the way home my partner, K-Bear, tried it out and also gave it the thumbs up. Needless to say we’ll be getting another one during the week so there is no argument next weekend.

Handy Hint: I found it pays to soak the vest half an hour before you plan to get on your bike as it will allow the excess water to drip off the jacket and you won’t end up with a wet shirt. (I found out the hard way).

A special thanks to Kerry at Suncity Harley-Davidson, Townsville for getting the hydration vest in.

You can contact Suncity H-D on 07 4774 2355

September 24, 2012

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