I live in Idaho, and our riding season is quite short—we’re lucky if we’re able to ride seven months out of the year. But earlier this spring, I was fortunate enough to receive a Rukka Armiina riding suit to try out. The Armiina is a three-season motorcycle-riding suit intended to insulate you from the weather and give you more time on the road. I am pleased to say that I (comfortably!) started riding a month earlier than usual thanks to this suit.
By late March of this year, I was ready to escape the cold temperatures and head south to do some serious riding. I was all packed and ready to go, waiting for a window of opportunity, when a clear, 40-degree day came my way. Donning my Armiina suit, I climbed aboard my motorcycle for the long ride and felt immediately comfortable. I didn’t have any hint of that “I have to ride carefully because I have to get used to this new piece of gear” feeling. And I stayed warm while riding despite the chilly weather.
I am a larger woman—5-foot-11 and a size 14-16—and I usually have a hard time finding riding jackets that fit my long arms and riding pants that fit my 33-inch inseam. Not a problem with the Armiina. Even though Rukka is a European company (European-cut items can be a tad slender for us full-figured gals), the sizing was generous and the suit comfortable without being bulky. In fact, the fit was pretty much perfect for my body, including my broad-ish shoulders.
The Rukka Armiina Riding Suit is made up of two separate garments: a jacket and pants. Each has a zipper, allowing the top and bottom pieces to be zipped together to make a single riding unit. Though the two garments attach, they must be purchased individually, so I’ve reviewed the pieces separately to provide a good sense of each. Let’s start with the jacket.
Rukka Armiina Jacket
There’s a lot of state-of-the-art technology incorporated into the Armiina suit. In all the places that matter, the jacket is made of Armacor, a wear-and-tear resistant, three-layer laminate with a Kevlar-reinforced polyamide fabric as the outer material. This gives riders superior skin protection if they should ever need it.
The jacket also has a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex Pro Shell as a climate membrane. What’s great about this outer membrane is that the outer material never becomes saturated with water when you ride in the rain—which I did a lot of on my trip—and so you don’t get the chilling effect that comes from riding in sodden gear all day. Plus, the thermal inner lining kept me warm and toasty on my ride.
What does all this technology talk mean in practical terms? It means that when Mother Nature decided to send some rain into my riding day, I didn’t have to stop and put on a rain layer. I didn’t have to get undressed on the side of the road, put in an inner rain liner, or go through my luggage looking for my rain gear. I just kept riding. I was thrilled.
The downside of having an outer shell made of Gore-Tex is that when the temps get warm, so do you. Sure, Gore-Tex is a breathable, waterproof material, but it breathes only to an extent. I rode from Idaho (40 degrees), through Utah (50 degrees), Nevada (60 degrees), Arizona (70 degrees), New Mexico (80 degrees), and finally to Texas (90 degrees). By the time I got to my destination, I was hot!
The Armiina does have a couple of strategically placed vents, and they worked very well while I was riding. The vents are located in the armpits at an angle that maximizes airflow into the arms and down into the back of the jacket (but if you close the waterproof vent zippers, the jacket is watertight!). The pit vents are angled just right so that water won’t get into your suit if you leave the vents open while riding in the rain, which I did once the weather got warmer.
The other thing I’ll say about the jacket’s venting is that if you choose to wear a hydration pack, such as a Camelbak or Kriega hydration pack, the vents get blocked and airflow decreases. I wore a hydration pack on this trip, and the straps on it hugged my shoulders right where the vents are located.
As for fit, I really liked the myriad of adjustments on the jacket. Dual-position snaps on the forearms and biceps let you snug up the jacket according to how many layers you want to wear underneath. The jacket also has two waterproof inside pockets (one of which includes a cell-phone pocket) and two outside pockets.
The Armiina jacket has ample safety features, including plenty of reflective material for visibility while riding at night. There’s 3M Scotchlite reflective tape on the front and back of the sleeves and on the back of the collar, and reflective Rukka logos are located on the sides of the sleeves and the back of the jacket. Plus, the armor is excellent—patented RVP Air Protectors are located in the elbows and in the back.
The all-round zip—the zippers that connect the jacket and pants—is also a safety feature. First and foremost, it keeps the jacket from riding up in case of an accident, thus preventing road rash. The connecting zippers also make the suit a single unit so that no cold or wind can creep in around your midsection.
Speaking of zippers, the only thing I disliked about the jacket was its front closure, which uses the Gore Waterproof Lockout Closure system. The system is a metal zipper slider that connects two rails—double polymered tracks—designed to smoothly interlock on closure. This is great in theory, but in practice, the system gets easily filled with dust and other particles while riding, and it can be frustrating to close (and may even pop open while riding if not closed properly). However, I will say that the Lockout Closure made the suit absolutely watertight.
While I chose the red Armiina, the suit jacket also comes in gray, high-visibility yellow and black, and all black. Whichever color you choose, the color panels are cut in a flattering hourglass shape that accentuates a woman’s figure without calling attention to all the underlying armor.
Rukka Armiina Trousers
The Armiina Trousers are made from the same Armacor wear-and-tear resistant outer material and breathable waterproof Gore-Tex Pro Shell as the jacket. Additionally, they feature tear- and abrasion-resistant GTX Super Fabric reinforcements in strategic areas, so these pants can’t be beat for protecting your skin.
The front closure on the Armiina pants uses a regular-style zipper. There are two Velcro fasteners at the waist, one at the top of the zipper and another on the side of the waist. Two small pockets with zipper closures—located on the front of the pants, parallel to the waist—allow you to store small items. The pants also come with a pair of Velcro-in suspenders and elastic U-straps to keep the pants right where you want them (I did not use the suspenders).
At the bottom of the pant legs are zippered gussets just like those on the hips of the jacket. These gussets are great because they allow you to open and close the hem of the pants to accommodate any style of boot—just open the zipper to accommodate bulky motocross boots like the ones I’m wearing, or close the zipper to fit the pant legs around touring boots.
Rukka’s antiglide system of Keprotec is sewn into the seat of the pants. This material grips the seat of the motorcycle so well that I actually had to rise up to scoot back on the seat. It’s great for performance motorcycling and carving corners when you want your butt to stay firmly in the saddle.
Like the jacket, the Armiina pants have RVP Air Protectors at the hips, knees and shins, which are easily removed for laundering through an external zipper. Waterproof stretch panels above and behind the knees make it easy to walk in these pants. Plus, when on the bike, the pants don’t pull while bending your knees. The pants also have a removable zip-out thermal lining that has cleverly color-coded button attachments at the hem so you can line the buttons up easily and quickly when putting the lining back inside the pants.
Rukka’s Armiina is a state-of-the-art riding suit that allows those in cooler climates to extend their riding time into early spring and late fall. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent fit and impressed with the quality of the materials and construction. While the retail cost of the Armiina suit is up there, the four to six weeks it adds to the beginning and end of my riding season is priceless.
For more information, visit AdventureMotorcycleGear.com.
Details at a Glance: Rukka Armiina Riding Suit
Jacket Price: $1,195
Sizes: 4-16 US
Colors: Black, Red, Gray, HiViz Yellow/Black
Trousers Price: $895
Sizes: 4-16 US
Short Sizes (subtract 2.75 inches from the hem): 8-16 US
Long Sizes (add 2.75 inches to the hem): 6-12 US
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