LL Bean Fleece Jeans And Chrome Courier Bag

LL BEAN Fleece-Lined Double L Jeans, Relaxed Fit $49.95
There are those that like to wave their motogeek flag high. Wearing the latest Gore-Tex, ballistic nylon, Kevlar full body-armor suit is a source of pride and identity to them. I'm not that guy. I like my gear in the classic denim and leather, fitting more like it was tailored to me, rather than like some kind of high-tech weather balloon. That said, I'm not some Neanderthal that doesn't believe in real comfort or using modern materials, I just want them to look classic. Vanity is my middle name.

That said, these LL Bean jeans are one of my favorite pieces of riding gear for when it's cold out. The fleece liner adds a bit of bulk, but doesn't change the classic lines of the jean very much. It also adds a good deal of comfort with soft fleece up against your skin, not rough denim. Worn alone, there is still airflow up the leg (more on forward control-equipped bikes than others), but it is considerably warmer than just jeans alone. It's somewhat like wearing a liner in your jacket, albeit one that can't be removed.

It's even better when used with a waterproof suit or overpant, adding an additional layer of insulation without the clinginess of long underwear. In fact, with the Relaxed Fit version I had it was no problem to slide on a pair or two of thermals under them for riding in very chilly weather. My near-freezing riding kit consists of: a pair of wicking thermals, followed by a conventional pair, then the jeans, then a pair of waterproof overpants (with the liner in). At the end of all that, I'm pretty darn warm, even if I look like a sausage.

I only ding the jeans a half star because it would be really nice if someone (LL Bean or a Moto-specific maker) would combine the insulation of fleece with a layer of Kevlar for serious protection against both cold and roadrash. The jeans also come in Classic Fit and Straight Leg-BB4.5 stars

Chrome Bags Backbone Messenger Pack $180.00
Chrome Bags claims to manufacture the "best bags on the market, period."That's a bold statement, but like they say, it ain't bragging if you can back it up.

The Backbone Messenger Pack uses a 1000 Denier Cordura shell, with a waterproof 18 oz. truck tarp inner liner. The seatbelt -quality shoulder straps are made of five-bar webbing, and feature an easy to adjust cross strap. The harness also incorporates two large Velcro-secured straps with attached "D" rings. These can carry an optional cell phone holster, keys, or whatever. Military spec seam binding tape protects all critical seams and other features include reflective rear webbing, stainless steel buckles, YKK zippers, and an EVA foam back panel to keep the thing from sticking to your back. There is also a carrying handle in case you don't feel like slinging the thing over your shoulders.

Measuring 21 inches by 20 inches by 7 inches (flat) the Backbone has a capacity of 2400 cubic inches. If you need more carrying capacity than that, you might want to consider taking a truck. The cargo bay is easily accessible through a large flap that's secured by Velcro and a heavy duty, adjustable web strap, there are also two smaller document type compartments, one of which is secured by a zipper, and a three gadget sleeves. In one of the more important testing phases I was pleased to learn that the bag will easily hold two happy meals, and a dozen of Dunkin's best with room left over for a six pack, and then some.

As you'd expect from its pedigree the Backbone performs its basic functions exceptionally well. It's comfortable, and easy to slip on and off I might add, the large flap makes it easy to get stuff in an out, and it's unobtrusive when you're underway, all good things if you're a courier, commuter or just running errands. Those same attributes also work well when the pack is used for day trips, overnighters or even weekend jaunts. Frankly, I'm not that keen on carrying a weekends worth of laundry on my back, but the Backbone worked out nicely when I took a recent overnight trip on my dual sport bike. The Backbone worked out a lot better than the stylish, but small off-road style packs my buddies all carried.

Overall the Backbone gets high marks; it's a well designed, high quality piece of work that shall we say "delivers" the goods. -MZ
4 Stars
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