Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar Jacket and Pants Review
Alpinestars could have been forgiven for standing pat on the laurels earned by its Valparaiso jacket and pants combo. Having worn them extensively on long rides, they were an outstanding matched pair of touring and adventure-ready gear. However, the new Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar jacket and pants show that there was room for improvement.
The Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 jacket is a true four-season jacket, and I managed to test it in three seasons in a single day, courtesy of the various micro-climates in Central California and the coast.[Visit the Ultimate Motorcycling Reviews Page]For the hottest weather, there is no shortage of venting and airflow on the Valparaiso 2. The stars of the venting system are the two large flaps that can be opened in the chest area, which aggressively gulp in air. With the Valparaiso 2 jacket in its standard configuration, they are closed. Top open them, zip up the zippers and fold the square panels diagonally. This opens up two large diagonal vents.You can secure each flap in two ways. You can tuck the flap under itself, or use the exterior snap to secure it. While tucking looks cleaner, when the flap is in the snap position, you can easily grab a tab and pull it closed—Velcro secures it until you can stop and zip it shut—should the temperature drop quickly or it starts raining.That, of course, is only part of the venting system. Each arm has a 6.5-inch zippered vent that brings in plenty of air. The netting inside is so open that, if you’re wearing a short-sleeve shirt on a hot day, you can see your bare arms. Be sure to put on some sunscreen for those hot rides.In the back, there are twin 10-inch zippered vents, which easily exhausts the air that is collected by the chest and arm vents. I rode in 100+ temperatures and was warm, but completely comfortable. For such a substantial jacket, it does an amazing job of keeping you cool on the hottest of summer days.It’s important to note that I wore the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar jacket with the optional CE-certified Alpinestars Nucleon chest and back protectors, which augment the standard CE-certified protection in the elbows and shoulders.There was never a time when the full suite of protection felt intrusive or cumbersome. Though you might think the chest pads would restrict the air flowing through the chest vents, it is simply not an issue.I strongly recommend that you toss the useless back pad included and get the Alpinestars Nucleon KR-2i back protector ($50), as well as the Nucleon KR-CiW Protector chest pads ($40/pair). They are absolutely worth it, install in les than a minute, and greatly enhance the quality feel of the Valparaiso 2 Drystar jacket.Certainly, if you’re using the Valparaiso 2 as an adventure jacket, the Nucleon protection is mandatory as the likelihood of falling off-pavement is much higher.Okay, so the jacket works in the summer. As things cool off, as they did when I was riding through a steady drizzle on California’s legendary Cabrillo Highway, it is amazing how adaptable the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar jacket is.I pulled over and zipped closed all six vents, along with cinching the Velcro wrist closure, all the while still wearing a short-sleeved cotton t-shirt. It wasn’t until the thermometer on the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT started reading in the 50s that I started to get chilly, and that was less than 30 minutes after riding in three-digit temperatures.At speed in the drizzling rain, the Valparaiso 2 jacket was fully waterproof, and air was not getting through to me. Additional warmth and waterproofing features that came into play is the soft Velcro-closure collar, as well as the heavy-duty main zipper that his hidden behind two flaps.Had the temperatures dropped further and the rain gotten more intense, Alpinestars has it covered.The Valparaiso 2 jacket comes with a thin Drystar liner that keeps the rain at bay, as well as a new thinner thermal liner for warmth—both long-sleeved, of course. The two interior liners can be zipped together and worn in tandem, or separated and installed individually.While taking either liner out isn’t too time consuming, you will want to find a dry spot in put the liners in. The zippers for the body are easy enough to use, but you are stuck fiddling with the snap-tab on the back and two on each wrist.Oddly, the two wrist tabs are not color-coded, so you have to be careful to not get the sleeve twisted and improperly connected. On the upside, the fixed loops on the inside of the sleeves, as well as the snap-loops on the liner, are red and easy to find. Plus, the snaps go together easily.With the combination of the wind-stopping design of the exterior shell and Drystar liner, plus the heat-retention of the thermal liner, you should be warm down to freezing, and at that point I’m parking the bike.If a long-sleeve cotton shirt isn’t warm enough for you under that array, an Alpinestars Tech Layer top that will keep you comfortable should the temperature drop another 10- to 20-degrees.Being an adventure touring jacket, the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 also has impressive cargo capabilities. The two lower pockets are huge, and secured when the flap is closed by both Velcro and a snap—something that gives me an important piece of mind. Although not described as waterproof, there’s no way rain is getting in.There are also two convenient smaller integrated pockets between the main pockets and the chest vents. These pockets have a waterproof zipper, and the interior pocket material is waterproof to protect paper documents and other cargo from sweat contamination.There’s an integrated fanny pack that’s large enough to hold the two liners and a pair of gloves, further enhancing the four-seasons-in-a-day functionality of the Valparaiso 2 jacket. Resist the temptation to put hard parts in that fanny pack, such as a tool pack, as it could cause injury in a fall.There are details galore on the Valparaiso 2 jacket. When the temperature is warm and you want to keep the collar open, a magnet effortlessly keeps the flap in place. Sliding buckles on the sides, forearms, and biceps make it easy to personalize the fit.Like the two outside waterproof pockets, there’s also an easily accessible inside waterproof chest pocket. That’s my favorite pocket for my smartphone, so it’s helpful to have a pocket that will keep it absolutely dry.There are two large lower mesh pockets on the interior. Usually, I’m not a fan of those, but a strong Velcro closure, with a sizeable tab to help open it, means that larger items will be safe inside.With the thermal liner installed you lose access to the interior jacket pockets, but two similar large internal pockets in the liner replace them.The Drystar liner can be worn independently off the bike in inclement weather, in a pinch. In that usage, there are no pockets at all. A Velcro neck closure aids in warmth, as well as wind- and water-proofing, as does the gathered waist and elastic/Velcro wrist closures. Good breathability of the Drystar material will stop you from sweating.
Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar Pants
An outstanding jacket deserves a matching seat of pants, and that’s exactly what the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar pants are. The Valparaiso 2 pants share many of the same features as the jacket, including a thermal liner and a Drystar line, and the two can be worn one-at-time or in concert.The jacket’s two large chest vents are reprised just above the knee of the pants, with the same two options—tuck or snap to hold. Air flows freely, and temperatures over 100-degrees don’t faze the Valparaiso 2 pants.Nicely flexible CE-certified knee guards deliver impact protection—they’re comfortable when riding and not annoying when walking. Adventure riders will want to remove the knee guards and wear something like Alpinestars Fluid Tech Carbon knee braces ($350 each) for knee support and additional impact protection, while street-only tourers will be fine with the standard knee armor. There are also foam hip pads—toss ’em and get Alpinestars CE-certified Hip Protectors ($30/pair).Roomy and comfortable, Alpinestars gives you a couple of options for fit on the Valparaiso 2 pants. Sliding buckles, like those found on the jacket arms, are used on each side of the waist, plus suspenders are included for those so inclined. I was fine with or without the suspenders, with the waist adjusted easily to comfort.Cargo capacity isn’t particular large, but Alpinestars expects your wearing the jacket and on a bike with bags. Regardless, the side zip thigh pockets are roomy enough for something like a smartphone or wallet.Unlike the previous Valparaiso pants, the new Valparaiso 2 pants are much roomier below the lower leg. Before, I could barely get the pants zipped over the Alpinestars Toucan boots, which are very dirt-oriented adventure boots with lots of armor. It’s no problem getting the Valparaiso 2 pants over them.You have a couple of options with the ankle area. You can run them tight, for a warmer and water-resistant fit. Or, leave them loose and let the air flow over your legs. Velcro cinches the cuffs down, and the waterproof zipper can be unzipped for even more airflow.As expected, for added security and warmth, the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 jacket and pants can be zipped together, turning them into an ad hoc single-piece suit. Speaking of zippers, there’s a water dam behind the fly zipper, so plan ahead a bit.Individually, the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar jacket and pants are outstanding pieces of adventure travel gear. As a pair, they stand ready for a four-corner, four-season ride around the country, and if you’re interested in dirt along the way, the Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar set is ready.
Alpinestars Valparaiso 2 Drystar Jacket Fast Facts
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!