I first saw the REV’IT! Neptune GTX at Overland Expo 2015 WEST, as the REV’IT! team and I were huddled in the tent trying to keep warm during a flash snowfall in the middle of May. They were revealing a women’s version of a popular men’s suit bearing the same name. This suit takes women’s gear to a new level by matching the same tough fabrics and protective armor as the men’s line. While I watched the sleet and wind outside, the inclusion of Gore-Tex was also appealing.
It was a few months later during another rare weather incident—this time a hurricane during Overland Expo EAST—that I took the suit home with me to try. If anything, the weather of 2015 taught me that no matter what’s predicted, you always have to prepare for the worst. The same holds true for riding gear. When traveling, you want something that will work for both ends of the weather spectrum. I was curious if the REV’IT! Neptune GTX jacket and pants would do just that.
The suit boasts a lot of features as well as 4-season wear-ability. When you have the idea of riding the world you need it to be versatile. When you don’t have the luxury of a closet, one suit has to do it all for year-round wear.
The benefits of layers
The Neptune GTX comes with three zip-in layers: a protective shell, a waterproof mid-layer, and a thermal liner.
First, let’s look at the shell construction.
REV’IT! uses two durable fabrics. At the high-abrasion zones—the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles—is an 880D stretch Cordura, which is twice as durable as standard nylon, yet remains flexible yet protective where it’s needed most. The majority of the jacket is made from a fine but tightly woven high-density 600D polyester thread, which not only protects the rider but also keeps the overall garment light-weight. Both materials are equal to the men’s suit and are a step up from REV’IT!’s Sand series. (Weight of jacket by itself: 4lbs.)
Both materials are coated with Teflon (yes, think non-stick pans). Teflon is known for its slippery nature and when applied as a coating, the same characteristic that makes food not stick to metal pans, makes dirt not stick to the polyester or nylon fabric. Ideal combination for those off-pavement rides. Not to say that dirt won’t dry on it, but it will wash off easier, keeping the suit looking cleaner longer.
With that said, the outer jacket and pants are not waterproof. Last weekend I rode part of the day in the rain, and without stopping to add the waterproof layer, I did get wet but not drenched. The Teflon coating helped the suit not soak up every drop of water and dry quickly when the sun came out. At least REV’IT! includes a waterproof pocket on the outside of the jacket (as noted with a label, but I really wish both were) so my important items stayed dry.
Moving on to the mid-layer.
It’s worth a mention that the Gore-Tex lettering on the outside of the jacket and pants does not refer to the jacket or pants. It refers to the rain liner that zips in underneath the shell.
The waterproof jacket liner is fully finished with internal pockets, so once you zip it off the shell, it can be worn around town. The design isn’t bad either. The material is comparable to casual rain jackets and is designed with a soft inner layer to keep it from sticking to your skin. REV’IT! uses Paclite Technology so as that suggests, it packs relatively small. (Weight with the 2 layers: 6lbs)
There has been a popular discussion lately amongst the rider community: is it better to have the waterproofing as a layer or baked into the outer shell?
Having debated this topic myself, here’s my take:
This is the first suit I have owned that is not waterproof on the outside. At first, I was uncertain about the idea that the Gore-tex included in the Neptune GTX was a liner and not part of the shell like with other suits. But that it has its benefits.
Gore-Tex is best known for its waterproof, windproof, but breathable properties. What exactly is Gore-Tex? (We’re about to get technical.)
Both Gore-Tex and Teflon are made of the same polymer: PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). It is an excellent insulator, hydrophobic, and weather-durable, which makes it useful as a component of Gore-tex. Gore-tex is a stretched, porous layer of PTFE composite used to laminate another layer of fabric, thus creating a waterproof barrier. At this point water (or sweat) can only pass through in one direction as vapor, creating a “breathable” layer underneath and water resistant surface on the outside.
Although Gore-tex is a breathable membrane, it’s best suited for colder climates, as it needs a pressure imbalance (warm air inside the jacket vs. cooler air outside) for sweat vapors to be pushed outward. When riding in humid and close to body temperature environments, an equilibrium is created and, therefore, no place for sweat to escape to. While you may be ‘dry’ on the outside, the wet stays wet on the inside. This limits the number of seasons or weather conditions you can comfortably use the suit.
When riding in hot and humid weather (think 90ºF /32ºC: summer in the south U.S., Central America, S.E. Asia, many parts in Africa) and not traveling 65mph / 100kph (i.e. in traffic or off-roading) to cool off the sweat, the difference between a Gore-Tex infused jacket and a non-Gore-Tex jacket is noticeable. With the Neptune GTX, the overall weight of the fabric is lighter, it breaths more and I can ride longer without overheating. Ultimately, this makes the day more enjoyable. Hence, having a Gore-Tex layer as a removable liner is a welcomed change.
So why not ride with a thin, independent Gore-tex layer (like a simple rain jacket) on the outside?
Maybe the benefit is best described in an example: what happens when you are riding in the rain, the tires slip on oil or a wet leaf, and you fall and slide for a few feet? Or you are riding off-road and a branch catches your upper arm? The Gore-Tex waterproof layer is not as durable as the polyester or Cordura outer shell and will tear the fabric, leaving the layer rendered useless against keeping water out. Having it as a mid-layer, preserves the protective quality of the Gore-tex. Although the outer shell is not waterproof, the Teflon coating helps the fabric repel dirt and not retain water, meaning it does get wet, but it dries quickly.
And lastly, the zip-out thermal layer.
On every jacket I have owned with a removable thermal layer, I remove the layer and leave it in my closet. Some people like the zip-ins, and to each his own. If I were using this suit year-round from a home base, I would zip them in when I knew what the weather was going to be like during the weekend ride. But for long-term, long-distance travel, especially when packing space is at a premium, I prefer my own clothes to layer underneath. So, forgive me if I skip over the plastic, quilt-like, polyester fill layer. The other two layers are what really make the jacket dependable.
Extreme weather testing
As my riding partner says, if you are wearing a wool base layer, a fleece, a down jacket, a waterproof jacket, and a riding jacket and you are still cold, then it’s time to stop or you are riding in the wrong season.
Unfortunately, I am not in a location where I can test extreme cold or even cold weather. As noted above, you can always add more layers. Yet, taking off layers has its limits. The true test of an all-weather suit is how well it vents.
The Neptune GTX has 5 vents on the jacket and two on the pants. The two vertical vents on the upper chest and the two on the upper thighs are only 6” long, but allow a good amount of airflow. The horizontal exit vent across the back does its job and keeps the form of the jacket together rather than having extra fabric flapping in the wind. The drawback is that the jacket vents become obstructed if you wear a backpack, which comes in handy during long days of riding in hot weather. A low belt pack or tucking it into the rabbit pouch is a way around that. On the arms, you can open the zippers from the wrist to the elbow, but I wish the mesh fabric covered the entire area. It leaves a little triangle exposed to the sun if I don’t pay attention. So far, riding in 30-35ºC (86º - 95ºF) weather is comfortable on the bike and off the bike, the lightness of the fabric helps to not overheat.
The armor in the Neptune GTX is REV’IT!’s proprietary Seesoft armor, which is rated CE-Level 2 and the highest level of protection available. It’s temperature stable, meaning between 40ºC and -10ºC the quality of protection remains the same, and that covers any weather conditions you may be riding in. The open structure of Seesoft’s design allows for better ventilation during hotter days, while retaining impact protection and comfort while moving around on the bike. This is the first time it is included in a women’s suit and is the standard in most of the REV’IT! men’s line.
Even though it’s a relatively new suit, I have had the benefit of crash testing the materials. Riding a steep decline, my front tire caught a hefty rock and I went somersaulting over the bars. The armor in the suit protected all the necessary areas as I rolled over rocks and back to my feet. If I were to make one suggestion, it would be that when companies make long size pants, they also make long size knee protectors so it protects more of the shin. That was the only area—the two inches exposed between the top of my boot and the end of the protector—that was bruised repeatedly during that day. (Yes, I crash tested it several times.)
Finally, let’s talk about fit.
Between the men’s and women’s version, the style is the only difference. Same materials are used throughout, but women’s gear is designed by and made for women. REV’IT! has one of the largest lines of motorcycle suits for adventurous women. The fit of the Neptune GTX is a bit boxier than other suits in the REV’IT! line, but that is true for most adventure motorcycle gear these days.
First pleasant surprise was how well they fit. With that said, am above average height for a woman and regular clothes are hard for me to fit. The pants (which I ordered in 40 long - normally I wear an 8/29 long in jeans) were finally long enough. I say finally, because, after 5 years of searching for pants that sat in the correct position when riding, this was a first. It’s not only the length of the pants (long version measures a 33” inseam) but is where the knee pad sits on the knee when riding. Other pants I have tried, even when ordering men’s long length, the knee pad awkwardly rests above the knee cap, and that doesn’t do much for protection. The REV’IT! Neptune sits below the knee when standing up, and right at the knee cap when riding.
The jacket is a good fit, but I wish it came in a long version as well. I sized up (I ordered a 44 — normally I wear a 10/12 or large top) to gain length in the arms and the shoulders with all of the layers in were a little tight on the 42. Because I have a larger chest, the waist is much larger than I need and even cinched down it is bulky. Not a perfect fit but the adjustable rails at the waist help. The stretch fabric at the elbow and knees help with articulation and comfort.
Does it pass the test of 4-season, all-weather versatility? Absolutely. If I were looking for one suit to own that is capable of wearing during any time of year, this would be at the top of my list. The ease of adding and subtracting layers makes it viable for any weather you might encounter.