Even if you’re wearing fully-perforated or mesh riding gear, you’re going to get hot while riding in summer heat. The minimized airflow inside of less-than-fully-vented leather or textile jackets and pants only exacerbates the problem. However, no matter what protective gear you have on, your body will sweat during higher temperatures. The trick is getting air to flow over the sweat and cool your body through evaporation. Rev’It’s Oxygen Shirt and Pants aim to move moisture away from the rider’s body for a cooler, more pleasant ride.
The Oxygen Shirt and Pants are base layers meant to be worn against the skin. For optimal effect, they should be snug but not overly tight. While moisture wicking clothing is nothing new, the stitching techniques and variable weaves used in the Oxygen’s construction do assist in the evaporation of moisture. For example, the chest features a “3D airvent zone” which is woven in such a way as to allow perspiration to evaporate quickly. Being in a prime location for ventilation via a zipper or jacket perforations makes it fairly obvious when air hits moisture at speed. For those who say they get the same effect with a cotton t-shirt, the difference is that the Oxygen’s 93% polyaramide content allows the shirt/pants to dry much quicker than cotton, maximizing the effect without leaving you wet for extended periods.
Rev’It uses a variety of weaves to increase the surface area of the Oxygen garments, thus promoting evaporation. As with the chest, the shirt’s back receives what the manufacturer dubs a “climate control unit.” To my eye, it simply looks like a different weaving pattern, roughly the size of a back protector, that creates more space for air movement. Various patterns are also found on the underarms and the backs of the knees where moisture tends to collect when in a riding position. While I’m certain the names for the different sections are marketing speak, I recognize that different areas will benefit from evaporative assistance since airflow is limited in the underarms and on the back beneath armor. Finally, Rev’it states that special ribs on the elbows, shoulders, and knees also help to keep those areas warmer in cold weather by providing an insulating layer of air – a claim that I was unable to check during SoCal spring and summer riding.
Those who read my review of the Rev’It Replica Jacket and GT-R Pants may remember that I had a problem with the pants abrading my knees on a long day in the saddle. The Oxygen Pants prevented this from happening by allowing the fabrics to rub against each other instead of the GT-R’s lining irritating my skin. Additionally, the slipperiness of the Oxygen gear made it easier to don and doff my leathers when I was sweaty.
Speaking of sweat, our recent rides to and from the L.A. Basin to Laguna Seca illustrated how much a good base layer can improve my comfort on long, hot days. Yes, at a stop, I still felt my temperature rise and the perspiration flow, but at the end of the day, my shirt was considerably drier than a cotton t-shirt would’ve been. Similarly, in the almost completely closed environment of my crotch, the Oxygen Pants made a huge difference. Anyone who’s ever ridden with cotton boxer briefs under leathers for an entire summer day can attest to how the cotton will be literally dripping with sweat at the end. The wicking capability of the Oxygen Pants left my nether regions drier than with regular underwear and prevented the indignity of butt rash. (TMI, I know.) I’m sure my companions were grateful for the antibacterial finish on the Oxygens. After two full days of desert riding, the clothes had minimal body odor – a win for anyone who sat near me at meals.
My only complaint about the Oxygen Shirt and Pants is that they run a little large. Perhaps I should’ve noticed the “normal fit” listing on the Rev’It website. Since the size 54 Rev’It Replica Jacket I tested has a “race fit” and is quite snug in the arms, I ordered an XL in the Oxygen gear. The fit was a little looser than I would’ve liked. So, if your size is on the bottom limit of the scale (XL is for Euro sizes 54-56), you may want to go down a size with the Oxygens. The Rev’It Oxygen Shirt retails for $70 in sizes M (46-48), L (50-52), XL (54-56), XXL (58-62) and the Rev’It Oxygen Pants for $55, both of which are prices comparable to wicking activewear I own and other motorcycle-specific wicking base layers I’ve researched online.