I had a 7-week trip in the USA about to start. I’d be riding virtually every day, through a range of latitudes and altitudes. I’d be riding from late summer into the autumn. With luck the trip would hit me with cold, very wet and baking hot!
Potentially great testing grounds for this Gore-Tex Pro 500D laminated jacket that says it’s Quattrotempi; four season.
Laying the jacket out on my living room floor, I set to discovering all the aspects that the Atacama offers. Two stood out straight away. Gimmicks or completely logical?
On the back of the jacket are two thin mesh tubes running vertically; one on each side. There is an option to have led light strips threaded through these. The strips run off a back up charger pack which you slip in your pocket. I admit to rolling my eyeballs a bit at this, until I saw how bright they are on a pitch-black night. With these very bright strips as high as they are when riding, they are a significant eye-catching visibility aid! Yet discrete when not needed. I stopped being sceptical.
The Atacama also has discrete but very effective Scotchlite reflective strips on the pockets, the chest, shoulders and in several places on the back of the jacket.The other potential gimmick, which actually is very logical, is that the rear of the jacket has a pocket in which you can place a water bladder. The drinking tube feeds through and pops out of the jacket just below chin level. I like the idea that I don’t have to be taking a backpack type bladder on and off all the time.
The bladder and the light system are optional extras.
The Atacama uses Held’s clip-in technology; a system of turquoise coloured loops. This is to attach the decidedly warm inner liner or to clip in Held’s e-Vest Airbag. Simple and effective. It’s easy to use. No fumbling!Before going any further with the discoveries and the things that I like about this jacket I want to note something that I don’t like. For me there aren’t enough pockets inside the jacket. I would like to see at least 1 more. 3 internal pockets just isn’t enough for a rider who likes to be able to carry phone, paperwork, vital medicines etc on my body. I’d love an internal pocket that’s big enough to tuck a map into, or to slot a paperback into when I’m off the bike. For many riders this simply isn’t an issue. The 2 waterproof waist level outer pockets, combined with the inner pockets, are enough.
In spite of hunting determinedly I found no other dislikes at all!
Because of my pocket peccadillo, and that I’m a great fan of layers that I can use both on and off my bike, I always go for a larger size jacket than I physically need. The Atacama is available right through from an S at 38 inch chest to a 4XL at 50 inches. I’m 6’1” and I like the way the rear of the jacket covers my backside when I’m sitting on my bike.
The protection is made up of reinforced Armacor with SuperFabric protection at crash zones. An SAS-TEC CE back protector and CE approved Held Cloverleaf SAS-TEC shoulder and elbow protectors slot in snugly. There’s also chest protection padding that’s built into the front of the jacket.
Is it waterproof? Well, I had the heat I’d expected but the 7-week ride only gifted me with a morning, and a few days later an afternoon of drizzle, so no rain test at all really. But on my return to the UK, I had the better part of 10 hours riding in torrential rain at both motorway and back roads speeds.
The rain was so heavy that roads were flooding and the saner side of me was asking what on earth I was doing. Until that is I realised that I was warm and dry; completely comfortable. Not even the remotest sign of water ingress and bearing in mind the number of options for venting, that left me impressed. As in very impressed.I like a jacket that has the potential to set me up for comfort in as many weather conditions as possible. Ideally, not only has a jacket got to keep me warm and dry, but it has to give me the option to stay cool too. For me this aspect was going to be the make or break. If the Atacama was going to get this right, in addition to the other thumbs up aspects, then it would be worth its top of the range status.
Those who know about riding in heat fully understand that it’s important to give a gentle flow of air in as many places as possible. They also know that when air temperatures get above body temperature, a rider needs to zip up just about everything. The outside air otherwise is being allowed to make a body hotter! Zipping up most venting options is better sense than touring for hours with all zips open.Would the Atacama allow me to vent according to needs, or was it going to be a ‘go for it, or none’ pair of options? It gets an enthusiastic set of thumbs up from me!
The inner fabrics include Held’s Cool-Max mesh system. The fabrics are designed to let the air flow. I particularly like the way the fabric between the back protector pocket and my back is pocked with indentations so air flows well between these pretty solid surfaces.You have the option to ride with a secondary main zip in the front. This allows the breeze access to a mesh strip that runs the length of your torso. With many previous jackets, I’d ride in hot weather with the front partially open and I lost count of the number of bugs that made it inside; some of them stinging, all a distraction. Problem solved with this option.
I really dislike jackets that don’t get zips working freely. I’ve had jackets that have had me still diddling trying to zip up when my mates are on their bikes and getting impatient. Getting them undone again has had me feeling as if I’m doing a Houdini straitjacket act instead of enjoying the freedom of motorcycling! The Atacama is zip perfection. All slot together easily and they glide when operated.
The collar fastening uses a small amount of Velcro and magnets. There’s a clip and loop system that can be used to hold the collar back when required. I tended to use this when I was off the bike and wandering. Or when I had the secondary venting zip in operation, so the collar wasn’t flapping as I rode.Both sides of the chest look as if they have pockets but no, these are waterproof flaps which unzip, roll down and tuck away allowing for a significant amount of airflow.
To the sides of the upper section at the back of the jacket are zip down mesh lined openings which allow airflow through from the front vents.The sleeves have vents that run 2/3 the length of the arms. I like that they have zippers both at the top and at the bottom. This means that not only can I open as much or as little as I like of the zippers, but I can open the cuffs to allow air intake too.
I never normally do this as I am concerned about sleeve slip if I come off. A very handy Velcro strap greatly decreases that risk. Simple yet very effective.The lower section of the arm zips also allows you to open the cuff wide so putting gloves on and off is really easy.
And on that subject, the tags on all the zippers are tough and glove friendly.
The waist of the Atacama has Velcro operated strap so you can make the jacket fit you according to however many layers you have put on. And the arms each have two of these straps with the same purpose in mind. These arm straps also help keep the elbow protection pads in place, whatever you are wearing.
For riders that like to attach their Held trousers to their jackets at the back, the Atacama allows for this very well.
So, has the cheapskate cynic in me been mollified? Would I spend this sort of money on a jacket? After all, I could wear a less reliable jacket and carry a pakamac. I could do a very nice boil in a bag impersonation with a jacket that doesn’t vent well, but that would be both distracting and a risk. I learnt that the hard way once! I could battle with zips as I have in the past, and I could be philosophical about leaks. I do have a couple of jackets that are perfectly ‘ok’ but…Well, I’m a convert. The Atacama is so well thought out that it’s become a friend already. As in its great fun to ride with. It’s never given me even a hint of a distraction and it does what it says it’s going to do. Motorcyclists who are looking for an uncomplicated yet clever jacket that makes life as a rider very easy in all conditions, are going to love this. It’s a great investment.
It feels and looks quality, because simply, it is. It’s very comfortable to wear.
The materials and the design aspects constantly underline what a great jacket this is. Even down to the thoughtfulness of a chest loop to put a keyring through to hang your bike keys on.
I’ve yet to ride with this jacket during winter but I’ve no doubt that I’m going to be a happy motorcyclist!
Link: For more information and to Order
Photos by Jim Moss