Review: Macna Alpine Pants versus the Desert

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Mid-day riding the Bradshaw Trail and Red Canyon just south-east of Palm Springs, and I’m struck by a “hot weather” realization, the Macna Alpine Pants I’ve paired with the Geo jacket have vents. Not just vents, but 3D mesh vents mid-thigh. Hitting 50+ kph in the sand washes, standing there is a lovely cooling vortex sweeping my thighs and around to my buttocks.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but on a long adventure ride in the heat, Monkey Butt is uncomfortable business. I have experienced it often, in a variety of lesser vented competition… I’m looking at you Alpinestars Durban pants. So score one for the Macna Alpines; who throughout ill-fated adventure would keep this pimply-chaffy scourge to a minimum.

Score two on the fact the adjustable belt cinched down enough to allow me to ditch the included “Beardo” suspenders this morning. I understand the need to hold one’s pants up while riding, but the Alpine’s suspenders were wedgy-full in range of length. Should I really need to keep things together, these pants will attach to the Geo jacket at the lower-back with a robust zipper. Otherwise, the fit is decidedly European, and those of us in North America should consider a size (or two) up in most Macna gear – in Holland (Macna’s country of origin) we would be shopping at the big and tall shop, rather than the local’s preferred tall and skinny.

Speaking of zippers, the Alpine’s suffer a little from a placement issue with those upper thigh vents. Standing on the pegs these flaps’ zippers scratched up the tank on my 990 Adventure. The lower leg vents could be better thought through too, though easy to open thanks to a double headed zipper, they will just pick up hot air flowing over BMW boxer cylinder heads or off a KTM 990’s molten hot block. Venting would be improved by a zip in the back of the thigh. The zips themselves are fine-toothed and susceptible to clogging in mud, grit and dust, but I know these are more a touring and soft-adventure pant than a hardcore offering.

At the opposite extreme of the desert’s dry heat, I’ve used the Macna Alpines while riding through the trailing storms of a hurricane. While the waterproof liner is of questionable long term durability, there’s no doubting its effectiveness. Deluged during a midnight ride out on the East US Coast late last season, the Alpine pants proved dry and warm – no small feat.

Our desert adventure kicked off with a quasi-legal high-speed run along the Coachella Canal Road, which required occasional detours around a handful of gates. With the day building to what Californians consider mildly warm and itinerant Canadians consider “really nice”, we took on the gravel, rock and then sand washes of the Bradshaw Trail.

The Bradshaw is literally one of the area’s first roads, named for William David Bradshaw who first crossed the area in 1862. Bradshaw, demonstrating good business sense, knew that the northern gold mines of the time were rapidly becoming exhausted and that the flood of refugees from the area would need a more direct trail from the south across the desert to the new strike at La Paz. So, in May 1862, Bradshaw and eight other men set out to find a direct route.

Now, the trail is an OHV area and leads to some truly splendid desert and jeep trail riding. On a more concerning note, it sits adjacent to a stretch of unexploded ordinance from the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range http://www.onewheeldrive.net/2011/02/02/road-to-ruins-–-2-slab-city/). This discourages one from straying too far afield, no amount of CE approved armor will stand up to that sort of danger.

Pushing south into the Baja, the Macna Alpines prove their worth. In deep sand I go down, not hard, but hard enough. The knee armor stays in place, though the pants would benefit from full CE hip armor out of the box rather than the “armor ready” padding and pocket . The CE-approved knee armor itself is relatively small, but extended by lesser foam pads giving for additional protection. Unfortunately for those with more robust knee armor or braces, the pant’s fit is tight enough that you’ll not be able to cram in either.

As we head south and temperatures head north of 33C/91.4F the Macna Alpines start to show their venting weaknesses. The airflow, sufficient at more moderate temperatures, is overcome by the heat. Moderate clamminess and moderate monkey-butting ensue, though a portion of that discomfort is down to the KTM 990 Adventurer’s notoriously austere seat. These are all-season waterproof pants however, and the management of high temperatures are a lot to expect from such.

Overall then the Macna Alpine pants are a solid offering, befitting their $319.99 price point. Improvements could be made in terms of protection, and venting, but these are a strong touring offering from a brand that is new to the North American market. As an adventure pant, they are good for softer outings and travel, but as the ride gets more hard core you’ll want to look at offerings that can accommodate more extensive protection.

Details:
Macna All-Season Waterproof Alpine Men’s Motorcycle Pants – $319.99
Available at TwistedThrottle.com

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