If you fancy the waterproofness and uniquely experienced look of classic, traditional 100% English waxed cotton gear but demand modern venting, TF3 technical armor and Scotchlite™ reflective areas, a Falstaff ought to do it.
Its authentic English waxed cotton is exactly the same fabric proven in traditional British outdoor and rider’s gear. Rugged 8.25 ounce fabric, made the same way for over 170 years, with proven resistance to inclement weather, while the cotton fibers allow it to breathe. It is highly durable, exceptionally comfortable and proven by generations of riders, outdoorsmen and commercial fisherman (wearing oilskins) in the harshest conditions. As the fabric ages it also develops a well-worn and comfortable patina, telling your unique story of every mile ridden.
The Falstaff features a rich plaid cotton lining, with two huge inside pockets, a soft Ultrasuede faced collar, and an oversized cargo pocket behind the back vent reflective flap.
In hot weather it wears more comfortably than the British jackets because of its generous dual slider zippered underarm and back vents. And the standard Aerostich TF3 impact armor provides crash performance far beyond what the 'olde-blighty' gear offered. Cleans with a damp sponge.
The abrasion resistance of waxed cotton (when compared to the Darien's 500 Denier Cordura) is better than you'd think. Black, Brown, Green, or Orange. 36–54.
Other ReviewsCycle World Review, 1/2011 (PDF)
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Customer Reviews (44)
- Old Guys (and jackets) RuleReview by Jeff Hughes
Seems like the older I get, the more I appreciate old school. Old Guys Rule and all that. And so this was an itch that had been there awhile. I’ve got a closet full of proper shit. Dainese race leathers and Vanson street leathers and BMW kit. Aerostich Roadcrafter and First Gear winter suit. Fleece this and Cordura that. Gortex everywhere. Mostly, now and for a lot of years, it’s been the Darien. Pants and jacket. That setup works a treat.
But the more I looked inward, and back, the more the thought stuck. Alas. Go online and look up ‘Belstaff’ and you’ll die a little inside. They’ve gone full-Monty fashion, just like L L Bean, catering to the Starbucks crowd. Crusty old Bikers they ain’t, anymore.
The Darien jacket is a proper, modern ‘technical’ garment. Cordura and Gortex and padding at the shoulder and elbows. Works fabulous for layering. And unlike its cousin, the Roadcrafter, the Darien approaches being truly waterproof. So the dilemma was this: how could the Falstaff improve upon that? The concept was an attractive one: A renewable, organic variation of that much-liked Darien theme. No longer having to worry about damaging that delicate Gortex membrane when stuffing the jacket in a pannier or bungee’ing it to the back of your seat. Waxed cotton once ruled. Does it still have a place? The reviews, here and elsewhere, are mostly positive. But sprinkled in amongst the happiness are a few critiques. Mostly, I kept circling around one question: would the Falstaff be sufficiently waterproof? I mean, how the hell do you beat Gortex? After three Roadcrafters and that long-in-the-tooth Darien set, I’m kind of spoiled.
I’ll stop here for a moment and observe that there are no truly waterproof rigs in the motorcycle world. Your jacket or suit might be, but ride all day in heavy rain and it’s just about impossible not to have some water wicking in around your neck, especially as you open and close that jacket numerous times. That sort of intrusion is predictable and slow, however. What you don’t want to happen is to have your jacket itself lose its integrity. That’s the path to instant misery.
There was a second question: How well does waxed cotton breathe? Gortex is justifiably famous for holding out the rain even as it lets your natural perspiration escape. Unless you go cheap with a nylon rain shell, there’s no longer any need to ride inside a sauna. But waxed cotton? Well, it’s a more complicated question than first appears. We tend to think whether a garment breathes or not as binary: either it does or it doesn’t. But, in reality, that quality exists on a continuum. Compared to that old, non-porous, nylon rain slicker you bought with your first bike, Gortex moves lots of air. But compared to, say, the polypropylene/film used in something like a Frogg Toggs suit “which moves even more air”, Gortex doesn’t score nearly so well. Which is to say, there’s not a simple answer. My guess is that waxed cotton breathes _somewhat_. Better than a nylon rain shell, but not as well as Gortex. My second guess is that it breathes _enough_. Sitting on a bike you’re not generating a lot of heat or moisture. Why not just a new Darien? Well, truth be known, that option is on the short list. But the thing is this: after a decade and something north of 100,000 miles I ought to love the Darien. But I don’t. You know how you grow really fond of some favorite garment? A piece of clothing that just sort of ingratiates itself, that has an evocative sense of ‘rightness’ when you pull it on? The Darien jacket never had that. The Darien works, for sure. Above all else, mine has been reliably waterproof. But there’s a cold aloofness about that jacket. Like a girlfriend with whom the sex is great but who otherwise never much laughs.
The package arrives…Don’t you just love that black-as-darkest-night look when you first pull it out of the wrapping? The dyes deep and rich, before being touched by the sun and rain and a million bugs and a hundred thousand miles worth of air flowing past? Yeah, I almost went with brown. But, assuming this works, it’ll get used on the white Harley too. Black, it is. The Falstaff definitely has more heft than the Darien. But not by a lot. Not enough to matter.
More importantly, my first worry about the jacket is instantly dismissed. Some wax cotton finishes are supposedly ‘sticky’ or ‘tacky.’ You hear bad jokes about not rubbing up against your mom’s really nice sofa, lest it be soiled. The concern, for me, is the fairly expensive cameras and lenses that inevitably accompany my adventures. I don’t need anything rubbing off my jacket onto those. Nor onto the seat of that expensive new BMW I just bought. The truth, at least with this Falstaff, is that the texture is none of that. It’s warm and lovely and tactile, and nothing comes off on your hands. It’s welcoming. It’s friendly. It makes you feel good when you touch it. It’s perfect. Sliding it on even new, virginal.
It feels way better than my Darien ever did. The thing about the Darien is that it always felt ‘unfinished’ to me. It has no lining and the velcroed-in shoulder pads are just kind of hanging there. Mine never detached when they weren’t supposed to but I never shrugged into that jacket without the feeling that they _might_. And that awful collar. It took me years to accept that that wasn’t going to change. If Andy Goldfine ever asked me I’d have told him in a heartbeat to fix those things. Nylon lining like in the Roadcrafter. Soft, velour collar. Done. The Falstaff has that stuff. Except “even better” the lining is the soft, brushed cotton of your favorite flannel shirt. The Falstaff is one of those rare jackets that prompts a little smile, just putting it on. It’s really, super comfortable. It feels like an old friend from the get-go.
That actually prompted another question. Since the cotton liner is permanently sewn in, would it compromise venting? The answer, after several 90-degree days, is an unequivocal no. Frankly, I was shocked at how well the Falstaff vents air. Maybe it’s because the jacket has more body than the Darien, holding its shape better. I dunno. Whatever the reason, the Falstaff flows air at least as well as, if not better than, the Darien.
This is getting a bit long, so I’ll cut to the chase: Two trips, a week apart. Nine days total on the road, spanning a tidy portion of Appalachia. Not a drop of rain to be had. So I’ve yet to be able to explore how waterproof the Falstaff is. Who knows, maybe Aerostich includes some sort of good-weather Karma with this jacket? What I can say is that I love how it wears. How it feels. How it makes _me_ feel. There’s an emotional warmth to this jacket that I just love. It’s soft. It’s supple. It drapes off the shoulders in a way the Darien never did.
Truly great motorcycle gear does more than keep you warm and safe and dry. It evokes memories of adventures long past, while provoking a tease of what still lies ahead. On the road, it’s your best friend. Time will tell. But I’m already thinking the Falstaff falls squarely in that truly great category.
It rocks. (Posted on 9/12/16)
- I live in this jacketReview by Wheelnerd Todd
I got my falstaff three years ago because it looked awesome (I have a problem with buying brown gear, seriously.) I figured it'd be the shoulder season jacket and I'd use it occasionally.
Nope. It's the only jacket. Touring? Falstaff and riding pants w/ suspenders. Cold out? Falstaff and layers. Hot out? Falstaff with vents open. Raining? Falstaff and rain pants... you get the idea.
The venting turns out to be better in serious heat than mesh, since you create an area of slower moving damp air around your body. If you ride an upright bike and open the cuffs you get a freaking awesome draft of cooling air up the sleeves and into the pits which is great if you're say 30 miles out of Page AZ and the sun is going down on a 95 degree 500-some mile days and seriously SCREW that sun. Shut everything down and it's a fortress with room for layers two days later when you're getting blown off the road at 31 degrees over the top of cedar breaks.
After 3 years of 10 mos 5 days riding some stuff needs love. I need to retreat the upper arms, a zipper on the cuff broke today, and there's some wear of the liner inside the cuffs.
My only real complaints with it are detail oriented. The cuff closures are finicky and if you don't do them right they bunch and let air in which is annoying. The thing is also heavy. DAMN heavy. It weighs more than my 2 year old daughter. It's also kind of lame it doesn't have a back protector standard. (Posted on 5/15/15)
- Initial impressionReview by Michael
Quick impression: This jacket is more comfortable in the first 5 miles than my original weight Darien after 10K miles and multiple washings. My hi-viz Darien may be bullet proof, but it sure is stiff. Strongly consider the Darien Light or the Falstaff unless you are planning on circumnavigating the world by bike.
(Posted on 10/15/14)
- It Looks Better With AgeReview by Steven
I have owned the Falstaff jacket for about five years. I have waxed it once two seasons ago. Last week, I was touring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with two of my buddies. We spent six hours in 49 degree temperature with heavy rains and I was the only one that stayed dry. I also stayed warm. What a great jacket. It looks better with age and is good at virtually any temperature. I will re wax this winter.
Thanks for a great product!! (Posted on 10/9/14)
- happy after 000's of milesReview by Gary
I purchased both the Falstaff jacket and pants last fall. These reviews were very useful in helping me make my decision so wanted to let everyone know my thoughts after several months of wear and having just finished a several thousand mile trip in all kinds of weather.
Firstly, I am very satisfied with my decision. I am biased to natural products so this was a fit. After riding in extreme winds and rain recently, I can say that neither the pants or jacket allowed any water in after a full day of riding in hard rain. Also, it held the wind away except in the 40-50 mph wind gusts (not fun). I did have to layer though but would with any kind of non-parka jacket. I also went through high-80s temps and although I was tempted to take it off, the jacket allowed sufficient air flow to allow me to leave it on. If I lived in Arizona and rode in the heat all the time (I live in the Pacific Northwest), I'm not sure I would choose this jacket.
I do not like to have a closet full of options and therefore like the 3-season flexibility of the Falstaff (or even 4 season although the snow and ice are not for me).
The only bones I have with the Falstaff are 1) that it is bulkier than layered approach although both have their advantages and 2) the collar velcro tab is not quite long enough to close easily. I have a 16 1/2" neck and for the wind, I had to close and it felt constricting.
Finally, I had the reflective stuff removed at time of purchase as the bike takes care of this and I didn't like the look. The staff were very helpful when customizing (shorten the sleeves) and in the purchase q+a process.
As the title says, I made the right decision for me. Hope all this helps. (Posted on 5/20/14)
- You will not be disappointedReview by Dan
- This is my second Falstaff jacket. My first wore out after 10 years of riding five days a week rain or shine. This by far the best motorcycle jacket I've owned and I have owned a lot. It is more water proof than my Aerostitch suit and my Gortex version of the Falstaff. I am very pleased with the changes made to the current jacket from the old one like the velcro mid-arm straps. I live in San Francisco and able to ride year round. The zip out liner is great when the fog is heavy and cold. Buy this jacket it is worth every penny! (Posted on 8/12/13)
- ExcellentReview by Robert
- I have had a Falstaff jacket since they were offered. I like the looks of it and the fit, it has kept me warm, dry and comfortable. I think it is 9 years old or older. Mine is a size large as chest sizes weren't offered at the time. As for layering, in the colder weather I wear a Gerbings jacket liner under it and a long sleeve shirt. Just turn up the heat,. I am considering buying the Falstaff pants to match the jacket. They are quite expensive. Right now I have a closet full of gear. I think some of it is going away. All in all a great purchase, it is showing some patina. I just ordered some wax proofing compound and will reproof the jacket for the first time. At least once a year I have hung it out in the sun to let the wax flow back to the wear points. This seems to work. (Posted on 5/4/13)
- Still Not Sold on My Falstaff..Review by Tombo
I've had my Falstaff for a couple of years now and I still find it hard to grab it for a ride when I have other motorcycle jackets beside it. It's got a few thousand miles on it but not nearly as many as I thought it would when I first ordered it. I love the waxed cotton and although others have complained about how dirty it gets I actually like the look. My sleeves have blackened and developed a nice patina as well as other parts of the jacket. I can only imagine what it would look like if it was my daily wearer.
Some things that keep this jacket from being worn more often are the armor and the sleeves. The armor is incredibly bulky and I have other riding jackets with very well concealed armor that is probably just as effective. I don't need to look like a football player when off my motorcycle. The armor is also not very comfortable when walking around off the bike.
As far as the sleeves go, my arms aren't very long and I've never had problems with any jacket ever having sleeves too short for me, but these sleeves are a solid inch too short. During summer I don't mind the gap between my gloves and jacket but in winter it's a pain. And there is also SO much extra lining in the section of the sleeve between the elbow pad and the wrist that even with a t-shirt on I have a hard time zippering the sleeve fully closed. Forget layering up or wearing a watch...the zipper won't even come close to the fully closed position. And because the wrist area is so large and bulky I have a hard time fitting my gauntlets over them comfortably.
So bottom line...If my Falstaff was stolen tomorrow I wouldn't buy another. I really like the look of the Falstaff and how it's aging, but unless I don't mind taking off my watch and dealing with annoying gloves/bunchiness/fiddling with gauntlets etc, and of course the football player look, I usually grab a different riding jacket. [I'd also like to add that Aerostitch DID try to remedy my problems with the sleeves and told me I could send the jacket back for alterations, but I chose not to do so. The jacket was brand new at the time and I didn't want to part with it.. I just figured I'd get accustomed to it with some mileage. So I do not want to fault Aerostitch..I just didn't take them up on their offer.] (Posted on 3/26/13)
- First Impressions Falstaff JacketReview by michael
What I like the most:
The waxed cotton conforms to my body, and over even a short period of time feels like part of me, almost like an exoskeleton (Bio Major). Much more comfortable for me than the synthetic textiles.
The length keeps my mid area warm-- I previously used shorter jackets.
Seems true to size, particularly with the body armor in place. If you plan to remove the armor, might want one size smaller.
Comfy in cold weather, but will need to layer for long rides and really cold conditions.
With all the velcro, extremely adjustable.
Made in the USA, and it shows- excellent quality throughout, and appreciate the very robust zipper, the Achilles heel of most jackets.
No experience in the rain yet, or in hot conditions.
Doesn't look so geeky worn in stores and restaurants, even with the reflective panels in place compared to some motorcycle specific clothing. The shoulder pads will make you look like you are on 'roids and command instant respect in bars, even around the Harley crowd. (Posted on 12/29/12)
- Great Jacket 2Review by Mark R
- As promised here is my end of season (hate to say it and hope it really isn't so) follow up to my spring review. I wore this jacket for about 12K of riding over the summer. In temperatures in to the high 90s and low 30s. Through torrential rains and sunshine. I stayed dry throughout. This was a great choice for a really different jacket. I got many comments regarding the look of the oil cloth. I proofed the jacket once when it was really hot and hung it in the sun to soak it. Worked quite well. Great coat great protection. I agree with the con of the collar velcro being a little weak but it did hold up for me well when it was quite wet out. (Posted on 11/23/12)
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A hundred years ago that’s how appreciative North Sea sailors and commercial fisherman referred to their waxed cotton foul weather gear. It was made from a combination of waxes and oils that saturated the tight weaves of Egyptian cotton sailcloth to make wet-proof, tear-resistant, industrial-strength work clothes. Waxed cotton was so outstanding it was soon adopted by others who needed to be outside regardless of weather, including farmers, ranchers, herders, hunters and motorcycle riders. Waxed cotton is the first breathable-waterproof textile.
This historical fabric develops a beautiful personalized patina after a bit of use, burnishing itself to a warm, natural appearance that’s easy to appreciate. And it's recently become popular again, this time partly as fashion because it looks so cool, and partly for it's functional benefits.
Waxed cotton was always a perfect material for all-weather functional motorcycle wear, so until about twenty years ago many experienced street and touring riders chose English-made waxed jackets as their everyday go-to gear.* It was never purchased for fashion, and was sweaty on nice days, offered no impact-resisting armor and had zero technical features. It worked well enough, but there was definitely room for improvement.
In 1999 the first Falstaff jacket (and later the Falstaff pants) introduced a bunch of those improvements, while keeping the wonderful windproof/waterproof/breathable 100% original waxed cotton fabric and classic all-cotton lining. Compared to early waxed cotton styles the Falstaff is a lot more comfortable across a wider range of conditions, easier to use and more crash protective.
For example, imported waxed cotton gear often uses a small belt-buckle to cinch the collar. This may be historically accurate styling, but isn’t possible to manipulate those little buckles surely and quickly if you actually depend on your gear for all-weather situations. A Falstaff accomplishes it with a classic collar strap design, fitted with hook-and-loop, so it’s fast and easy to adjust the jacket’s collar on-the-go. Practical improvements like this are what helped Falstaff gear become a hand-crafted sewn-in-the USA classic.
Separately, waxed cotton messenger bags also have as long and noble a history as seaman’s oilskins…with added military applications during both world wars for use as waterproof courier and map pouches, as well as specialized ammunition, first aid and weapons bags. All over the world some military forces today still use waxed cotton bags for specialized applications. Here too, Aerostich waxed cotton messenger bags work better and last longer than re-created fashion designs and styles.
For example, the lower corners of all messenger bags always are the highest wear areas for every design of this shape and form. Because this wears out well before the rest, Aerostich messenger bags are made with wear-resistant Cordura reinforcements in these locations. Re-created waxed cotton bags don’t include long-use-proven refinements like this careful little detail.
Which is why Aerostich waxed cotton messenger bags work better and last longer. Today’s Aerostich handcrafted waxed cotton messenger bags and Falstaff jackets (and pants) are genuine originals, and long-use-proven made-in-USA classics.
*Including me. Back in 1970 I was one of those riders. And my waxed cotton gear was proudly worn to the point of practical uselessness with largely holed-out pockets, threadbare sleeve ends and broken zippers…It took about five years of daily use to wear mine out. —Mr. Subjective