Long Term Test: Aether Canyon Motorcycle Jacket & Compass Pants
Aether is not a company known for its motorcycle apparel. In fact, if you know them at all, you’re probably into adventure hiking, snowboarding, or cold weather travel gear.
So, when I picked up a Jacket /Pants combo from them over a year ago, I struggled a little bit with how to properly review it. Advertising for their cycle gear is chock full of adventure bikes, and while I have tested BMW GS models and KTM dual-sports, they’re not my particular choice of moto mounts. Nevertheless, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. So with over 6,000 miles now put on both the jacket and pants, including a recent test of a 2 stroke Italian TM, (try to find parts at your local dealer, I dare you) this gear is ready for a review.
Head and Shoulders
If you’re a guy, we live in an age where jackets are now a dime a dozen. Seems like every apparel company worth their salt has a leather, mesh, or textile piece that will fit your ride style. The problem with most of these is that they’re only relevant for a particular type of riding. Enter Aether’s Canyon Motorcycle Jacket. While it does have an adventure style look, it doesn’t have 17 pockets that will make you feel like a 60-year-old Iron Butt Rally veteran. It’s clean, simple, and comes in your choice of deep blue, jet black, or engine grey colors. Think sleek and sophisticated.
The tech specs are impressive and include modern construction builds that are abrasion-resistant, waterproof, and seam-sealed. The superior interior padding for elbow and shoulders is EVO XT D3o and back protection is supplied via a VIPER PRO XT. Believe me, this stuff is top tier and worth further research, which you can find here- D3o
It also comes with zippered back vents, reflective detailing, and is Schoeller dynamic crash rated. For all you non-fancy riders out there, that last part basically means if you hit the ground at speed, the jacket won’t disintegrate into a million pieces. I can personally attest to this as I took quite a tumble while testing the TM featured above. The jacket retained zero damage even after rolling through sharp gravel and heavy dirt rocks. More importantly, I got up and walked away with no bone or skin damage. Crash Proven!
Specifically designed for comfort over long hauls, the Canyon jacket is more inclined to use in warm weather and feels extremely light. Yet, when I tested it riding in temperatures as low as 48 degrees with nothing more than a long sleeve shirt underneath, it still kept the cold at bay for a long time.
Below the Belt
Motorcycle pants can often be a tricky thing, some are too big and balloon out, while others are a good fit but can’t seem to situate the padding in the right places. While reinforced Kevlar is nice in your favorite pair of jeans, it does nothing for your hips or bones if you come flying off a bike and hit the asphalt at an odd angle.
As far as overall fit and finish go, Aether’s Compass pants are among some of the best I’ve tested. They’re marketed more toward the urban rider crowd, but I found them useful throughout all kinds of riding.
Just like the jacket, you get a choice of three colors that include graphite, black, and something called Overland brown. I have a feeling you could splash around in the mud for days and it still wouldn’t show up on something called Overland brown.
There’s amazing tech in these pants including more D3o protection for both your hips and knees. The Scottish canvas material used in their construction was so abrasive resistant that it nearly broke the testing machine. Say what you want, but that just sounds impressive! I was wearing the pants during the crash I mentioned above and I’m happy to report all my bones are still in my legs and had no signs of even a scratch on my skin. I was wearing Tech 10 Astars at the time (which are some of the best offroad moto boots you can buy), and afterward, they look much more scuffed than the pants. So extra kudos go to Aether for such an impressive and well-manufactured design.
These trousers are lightweight and provide a good sense of movement without feeling too loose. My only real complaint is that sometimes the main button that snaps the pants closed at the top comes loose for no reason. This might just be a design flaw with my particular pair of pants, as I haven’t heard of this frequently happening with other Aether pants. Either way, it doesn’t really have an effect on the pants, as both the zipper and velcro patch in the top panel does a fine job of keeping the pants around your waist.
I specifically requested these pants for summer riding, but if I’m being completely honest, they work all year round. There was only one day in December that I regretted not wearing a base layer legging underneath. They far exceeded my expectations in both comfort and usability, and while I hate to say it, I often use them more than my expensive Dainese Gore-Tex pants.
You’ll often hear motorcyclists complain about the cost of gear. This is usually followed by a lengthy conversation on how much money they spent on their bike and how much insurance will cost, blah blah blah….. But after riding for over 15 years and witnessing firsthand what it’s like to be in an accident, I can tell you without reservation that choosing the right gear to ride in (no matter the cost) is definitively the most important motorcycling decision you will ever make. At the end of the day, we all just want to get home safe and still have our skin attached. The Canyon Jacket retails for $750 and the Compass Pants are well worth it at $475. Neither one of these prices is incredibly above what you’ll find at other retailers selling the same style of kit. If you find something much cheaper, check the material first before purchasing. After having tested both of the pants and jacket in a crash situation, I can tell you the cost and quality is well worth it.
I was a little hesitant at first to put the Aether gear through its paces, the style isn’t for everyone and they don’t have that many options. If you base your judgment solely on a marketing perspective, they’re a company that doesn’t feel like it really belongs neck-deep in the motorcycle world. That having been said, once I threw away my views on style perception and whether or not I would look good aboard a Street Triple, I fell in love with this gear. You can throw it on all the time, the fabric has held up amazingly well, and when you’re not in the mood to leather up, it’s an easy and reliable alternative with half the weight. Consider me sold, Aether.
- Matt Hansen, Director/Producer