We've come a long way baby! This phase is no more apropos when talking about women's rain suits. I remember the days when rain suits were not gender specific. They were big and bulky and made from a non-breathable vinyl material.
Well, those days are over. Tour Master introduced a women's rain suit called the Sentinel a couple of years ago, and after wearing it for two seasons can attest this is all I ever need to keep me dry.
The Sentinel jacket and pant modeled Laura McCarthy, WRN's production assistant.
The jacket and pants are made from a waterproof and breathable rip-stop nylon shell with sealed seams. Unlike other rain suits, the Sentinel is very lightweight, not heavy like a vinyl or canvas suit.
The Sentinel is specifically cut for a woman's figure -- evident by the stylish princess seams down the front of the jacket, and by the feminine colors -- baby blue, and pink and yellow (shown below).
While a rain suit is designed to be worn over riding leathers or outer garments, during summer rains when it was warm, I removed my lightweight leather coat and put on the Sentinel jacket. Unlike rain jackets of the past, I didn't roast inside the Sentinel when warm humid air mixes with rain because the nylon shell is breathable. When I was feeling super hot, I unzipped the small vents located in the "under arm" spot. You have to remember to unzip them before riding because you can't get at those vents while riding. There is also a small mesh vent in the back of the jacket that’s covered by a rain flap.
Great spot for a vent, in the arm pit where heats gets trapped the most.
The size medium I have in the Sentinel fits more like a jacket than an overjacket. The few times I attempted to wear it over my leather jacket, I found it was a tight fit. If you intend to wear the Sentinel over your bulky leathers, you might want to order a size larger than you normally wear. If you intend to wear the rain jacket in place of your riding jacket and over, say, a fleece sweatshirt, the size is true.
Same sizing issue with the pants: I normally wear a size 4 (their XS), but these would not fit over my jeans. So, I returned them for a size 8-10 (their medium) and now they fit comfortably over my jeans, which is really what you want rain gear to do as you won’t be able to change out of your jeans and into rain pants quickly on the side of the road with a downpour approaching. Note that the sizing chart on the Tour Master site reflects sizing in inches not the sizes I've noted. This must have changed since I ordered my suit.
Notice the elastic expansion area on the waist of the jacket, the reflective triangle Tour Master logo, and the rain flap covering a mesh vent that stays permanently open. Laura is wearing jeans under the pants and a long sleeve shirt (no riding jacket) under the jacket.Detailing to the Max
The Sentinel has many special features that make this a high quality rain suit. Let's start with the jacket. I really like the fleece-lined collar that is soft against my neck. No annoying seams. The pants and jacket zip together ensuring that the jacket covers the pants in the back so rain does not seep in there. A loop on the inside collar (and on the waist of the pants) allows you to hang the garment from a hook so it can dry after a ride. There is reflective piping on the front and back for nighttime visibility, and a small triangle Tour Master logo on each arm and on the back is also reflective. For those who care about the placement of logos, the Tour Master logo is also sewn onto the front left breast area of the jacket in grey thread stitching.
The waist zipper that attaches to a zipper on the jacket.
More details include a wind flap over the front zipper that secures with Velcro. You should expect a wind flap like that on all rain jackets. The cuffs are elastic and have a Velcro closure to ensure a snug fit there. The jacket always kept me dry. I never experienced any leakage. Finally, there are two zippered pockets on the outside of the jacket and a roomy zippered pocket on the inside.
Tour Master has thought of everything. Here's an "Aqua Barrier" hood that goes under your helmet to prevent rain from seeping through your collar. It stows away in hidden collar pocket.
The pants have many features you should expect in a good quality rain pant. I like the polyester mesh lining (that’s also in the jacket) that helps keep air moving inside so you don't roast. The elastic waist makes pulling these pants on easy. The rear panel of the waist extends up to your lower back to seal out wind and rain. The rear seat area is made from a high-density nylon (tougher than the rest of the garment) for added strength. You won't split your pants if you have to bend over or squat. The crotch area has a layer of thin stretchy rubber so you don’t slip on a wet motorcycle saddle.
The knees also feature this nylon / stretchy rubber combination so the garment "gives" when you bend your legs. Reflective panels are placed strategically on the side of your knees so you can be seen when riding at night. There are two zippered front hand pockets on the pants. It's nice to have the extra pockets although I didn’t use them because I have to lift up my jacket to get at them.
The Sentinel rain pants come in two versions. The higher priced ones feature DuPont Nomex, a heat resistant material, on the inner legs. This protects the pants should they come in contact with the exhaust pipes. My pair did not have the Nomex panels, but this is a feature I would opt for in the future because it's easy for the baggy pant legs to accidentally touch the exhaust pipes.
The leg zipper only extends the length of the calf. In this shot, take note of the reinforced knee area and Velcro closure on the leg cuff.
The true test of any rain suit is how it protects from the rain, and how quickly you can change into it should you need to do so on the side the road. The Sentinel does protect from rain well. Regarding the second point, I have had some rain pants where I could put my leg, boot on and all, through the leg opening because there was a full-length leg zipper proving me with the extra room. I couldn't do that with the Sentinel. Even though there is a calf zipper widening a gusseted ankle area, I needed to remove my clunky riding boots before slipping my leg through the opening. This takes a little extra time when you're trying to do the quick-change operation on the side of the road, but this minor quirk is not enough for me not to like the Sentinel or find another rain suit.
Another really cool thing: the jacket folds into itself like this, with a clip for extra security.
The Sentinel has so many thoughtful features that make it easy to wear and easy to take along. Available colors for the jacket are: pink, light blue, yellow, and black. Tour Master is known for its wide sizing as follows: XS – XL, and Plus S – Plus L. The price: a very reasonable $69.99.
The pants come in black only, sizes XS – XL and Plus S – Plus L. Price is $54.99. Pants with the Nomex heat panels cost $79.99. To find a dealer near you, visit TourMaster.com
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