Women’s Rainsuit Jacket, $74.99, XS–XL,
Black/gray, Pink/gray, Light Blue/gray, Yellow/gray
Men’s Rainsuit Jacket, $84.99, XXS–XXXXL
Black/gray, Red/gray, Blue/gray, Yellow/gray
Rainsuit Pant, $54.99—Black
XS–XL (women), XS–XXXL (men)
As the old adage says, “Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.” And what those words mean to me is that it’s time to get my raingear ready for the riding season. And sure enough, I realized that my old rainsuit had seen better days. There were exhaust pipe burns through the fabric on the right pant leg, a broken zipper and frayed and stretched-out cuffs and suspenders, giving the whole ensemble a general look of disrepute. So it was clearly time to look for a new set.
I’ve worn and eventually discarded at least half a dozen rainsuits—not only because they wore out, but because each brand had various traits I didn’t like. This time, I knew exactly what I was looking for, and when I found the Tour Master Sentinel Rainsuit, it looked like it would fit my needs perfectly.
Tour Master, one of the top brands in riding apparel, has been in business for over 30 years, and they’ve continuously refined their offerings. The new-for-2009 Sentinel is the top of the company’s line of raingear, and with good reason. The first thing I noticed when I tried on the jacket and pants was the near-perfect fit. The women’s sizes are designed and styled especially for the female form, unlike many other companies’ rainsuits that that offer only unisex sizing, or just cut down the men’s sizes and slap on a women’s label.
Both jacket and pants are made of waterproof rip-stop nylon with sealed seams, and are highly breathable, making them comfortable even on the hottest summer days. The pieces are very light, yet strong enough that they won’t rip easily. In fact, rip-stop nylon was developed during World War II as an inexpensive replacement for silk in parachute construction. The jacket includes reflective piping and panels featuring the Tourmaster logo, and the pants have reflective panels, as well.
To help with air circulation inside the suit, the pants have a mesh lining and the jacket is lined with a different, tightly-woven mesh. The men’s jacket features chest map pockets and a zippered venting system, and both the men’s and women’s jacket has zippered vents underneath each arm. Both the men’s and women’s jacket and pants have an assortment of other zippered internal and external pockets, including waterproofed hand pockets.
The jacket has a heavy-duty front zipper with a wide, 2-1/2-inch wind flap fastened with Velcro, helping to keep both wind and rain out. There’s also a jacket-to-pant zipper attachment in the back to help accomplish the same goals. This zipper system also helps prevent the pants from riding down or the jacket from riding up while you’re on your bike. Even if you choose not to zip the jacket to the pants, the pants have a high-rise rear panel that rises several inches above the top of the elastic waistband.
The Sentinel gear has a bunch of other nifty features, as well. There’s a drawstring system that allows you to pull the jacket around your hips as tightly as you’d like. The bottom half of each pant leg is zippered to make it easier to slip them on. Both pant and jacket cuffs are elastic with Velcro flap closures; again, keeping out wind and moisture.
The pants are available with or without Nomex, a heat and flame-resistant material also used for applications like Nascar racing suits, space suits and firefighters’ gear. The Nomex panels cover nearly the entire inside lower leg of each pant leg, and I thought it was well worth the extra $30. Just think about how many pairs of rain pants you’ve ruined just by brushing them against your bike’s exhaust pipes.
A tough nylon seat panel rising from the crotch up to the hips adds strength and prevents excessive slipping while you’re seated on the bike, and the stretchy waterproof and breathable material in the inseam allows the pants to more easily flex with your movement. One of my favorite design elements is the four-panel knee design that allows plenty of bend without your knee stretching against the pants. This feature combined with the extra-long pant legs makes these the most comfortable riding pants I’ve ever worn.
Another cool feature is the hood attached to the jacket that, when worn under your helmet, helps eliminate water from dripping down inside your collar. When not in use, the hood rolls up and stores easily under the jacket collar. You’ll never even notice it’s there until it’s time to use it.
The pants come with a rip-stop nylon storage sack, and the jacket has a self-contained storage pouch. The last rainsuit I wore was so bulky that it took up nearly an entire saddlebag. The Sentinel rainsuit packs to about half the space, filling only part of my saddlebag and leaving plenty of room for other gear.
I’ve worn the Sentinel rain jacket and pants in all kinds of wet weather, and even in a driving rain they’ve performed admirably. There’s no more restriction of movement as with some of my other riding gear, and not a drop of water has leaked through. I’m happy to report that the Sentinel rainsuit has all the features I could ever ask for.