Dane Drakar mesh suit review

Combination of mesh outer suit and Gore-Tex waterproof layer suits all conditions

Dane Drakar suit in use on a motorcycle

by Jim Blackstock |

Creating the perfect piece of motorcycle clothing is not easy; it must satisfy various – and often mutually-exclusive – criteria, such as being protective yet comfortable and flexible. Keep water and wind out yet allow the body to breathe. Keep you warm when the temperature is low outside yet help you keep your cool when the heat starts to rise. This suit from Dane seeks to achieve all of this by combining two key garments in one.

In its most basic form, the Drakar is a mesh suit that is lightweight and comfortable and allows masses of cooling air to keep the rider cool – essential for any tour in warmer climates. However, this will not keep the wind or rain out and so it also features a detachable Gore-Tex Paclite wind and waterproof yet breathable layer that can be worn inside or outside the mesh layer to keep you warm and dry.

Wearing the suit with the waterproof liner fixed to the inside of the mesh ‘outer’, the whole ensemble is a little snug though it doesn’t feel constrictive or uncomfortable. The Gore-Tex layer is somewhat rucked-up to fit inside the Cordura outer though and you would definitely want to be wearing a long-sleeved base layer to prevent fairly uncomfortable Gore-Tex/skin interaction.

Removing the Gore-Tex liner is a proper faff, as you can imagine. You have to remove all of the suit, withdraw the Gore-Tex layers from the jacket and trousers and put the mesh versions back on again, this time without the lining. In this case, the suit is instantly more comfortable, as you no longer have the compressed Gore-Tex layer against your skin and just the mesh lining on the inside of the outer.

There are plenty of adjustment options on the outer layer, including poppers on the upper and lower arms and a waistband to pull the bulk in. With the Gore-Tex layer removed, the Drakar is a traditional touring suit, with a long jacket with plenty of pockets joined to a pair of touring-style trousers, with the usual hand pockets as well as a pair of cargo pockets, one on each thigh.

Get the right size and it’s really comfortable; a little harsh and scratchy on the inside but if you wear a pair of long-sleeved base layers, you won’t notice it. And let’s face it, even in the warmest climates, a pair of decent wicking layers are essential to make the most of the vast airflow that the mesh panels offer.

With the outer layer on in isolation, I found it easier and more comfortable to put the waterproof layer on over the top; it made the outer more snug but I found the comfort and fit preferable to wearing the waterproof layer on the inside of the mesh garments. It also makes it much more convenient if you want to add or remove the waterproof layer depending on the conditions.

When I tested it, it took almost four minutes to remove all the garments, then the Gore-Tex layer, then put it all back on again when I started with the Gore-Tex layer on the inside. It is a safe assumption to make that it would take roughly the same amount of time to fit the waterproof layer if you needed to although four minutes is a long time to be standing in the rain almost naked, fumbling with joining zips and tabs.

It only took a minute-and-a-half to put the Gore-Tex layer on over the top of the mesh outer, making this by far the preferable option. For early morning starts, put the Gore-Tex on over the top of the mesh (it will zip to the mesh layer if worn both inside and outside to give a nice, uniform fit) then as and when conditions allow, remove the Gore-Tex layer to benefit from the cooling breeze. If it comes wet or cold, then simply chuck the Gore-Tex layer on over the mesh suit, as you would if you were wearing leathers or denim in the UK.

When it comes to crash protection, the Gore-Tex layer clearly offers none but the suit is CE A rated and it comes with Level-1 shoulder and elbow armour and a Level-2 back protector. There are also numerous 3M Scotchlite panels scattered around both the mesh jacket and trousers and the Gore-Tex versions for improved night-time visibility.

Verdict

This is an interesting take on trying to satisfy as many requirements as possible. The adoption of two separate layers, each with its own specific task that, when joined gives all-around protection, is a nice solution - much like the use of thermal liners inside textile suits to give additional warmth.

Personally, I preferred using the waterproof layer on the outside of the mesh one as it was more comfortable and useful this way. It also means the mesh outer does not become saturated in the rain so that, if the rain stops later, you’re not then still riding in a wet suit.

Protection could be better – indeed, for that price, you’d expect it to be – but it does a great job of keeping all water out and you could, of course, use the Gore-Tex layer for other activities, not just motorcycling. However, at €1,198 (over £1,000*) as we write, it is a very expensive option and one you would really need to make use of to get your value for money.

Pros:

Great cooling and waterproofing

Separate layers for flexibility

Dane reputation and quality

Cons:

Eye-wateringly expensive

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