The RST Pro Series Ranger CE is labelled by RST as the ultimate go-anywhere jacket, designed to accompany you around the world.
Time restraints wouldn’t allow a round-the-world test, but my trip to Morocco took in a wide variety of weather conditions to find out whether the Ranger jacket could live up to the promise.
It rained for most of my 295-mile ride to board the ferry in Plymouth, followed by an increase in temperature as I rode to southern Spain. There was another big jump in the Sahara, where at points it reached a very hot 43°C. I can’t think of many better ways to test a jacket designed to take a rider around the world.
The Ranger is loaded with features that gave me a great deal of flexibility for long journeys in variable terrain, and I found it to be an excellent jacket throughout my trip.
Stretch panels allow good freedom of movement, both on and off the bike, and there are a lot of pockets.
The two internal pockets are a good size and sit low in the jacket so there is no additional bulk around the chest.
Two good-sized cargo pockets on the front are very secure and fasten with a zipper and a fold-over Velcro flap on top. A vertical zip at the rear of each of these pockets reveals a soft-lined hand warmer pocket.
The rear map pocket is also securely fastened with a zip and a Velcro flap and it can be removed from the jacket and used as a bumbag thanks to the carrying strap that’s incorporated.
Fit adjustment at the bottom hem, arms and waist give lots of options and once set to my comfort these only needed to be adjusted when adding or removing bulky layers. In my case I did need to adjust them when riding for long periods in temperatures above 40°C meant I lost some body weight.
The circumference of the collar can be adjusted with a Velcro fastener and a hook and loop allow the collar to be left open for better ventilation.
A further tab sits across the front zip of the jacket a few inches below the neck. RST say this allows the zip to be pulled down for ventilation and will keep the jacket closed if an airbag goes off underneath.
At the time of review there’s no version of this jacket available with an integrated airbag, but an RST Airbag L2i Armour Shirt can be worn underneath. This shirt combines an In&motion airbag with CE Level 2 shoulder, elbow and chest armour, plus a CE Level 1 back protector. Wearing this would mean removing the armour included in the jacket.
RST describe the Ranger as having modular construction, which means three layers - the main armoured jacket, a thermal liner that can be worn underneath and a waterproof layer that can be worn either inside the main jacket or over the top of it. RST call the thermal layer a “destination inner coat” that can be used as a standalone thermal jacket when off the bike.
I only wore the waterproof layer as an over-jacket when riding in heavy rain on the way to Plymouth to catch the ferry.
I find blocking out wind and keeping the main jacket dry is the best plan for a comfortable and warm ride. Sodden and heavy main jackets are also difficult to dry before the next day’s ride.
Worn as an over-jacket the waterproof layer kept me perfectly dry. I usually take a lightweight waterproof jacket on trips for off-bike use. On this trip I relied on the RST over-jacket in the event, even though it’s a little on the large side when worn without the Ranger jacket underneath.
There are no pockets in the waterproof over jacket, which I feel makes sense because the over-jacket keeps the main jacket pockets dry.
Accessing the main jacket’s cargo pockets would be made a lot easier if the over-jacket had a two way zip. You could then open the over-jacket from the bottom and give easier access to the pockets.
The Ranger also provides lots of ventilation. Two panels on the front are each fastened by a zip on the long side and a Velcro strip at the top and bottom. Once open, the panels tuck away and a further zip is used to keep them folded away. This sounds a bit fiddly, however in use it’s not and I found it easy to use.
This front ventilation panel sits directly over the chest armour, though RST resolve this apparent blockage by using chest armour with holes in it.
There are ventilation slots with zip closures on each shoulder and on each arm there is a two-way zip that opens long slots to give airflow.
Finally, there are two zips at the rear of the jacket that allow warm air out. By altering the number of vents you have open, or partially opening some, you can vary the amount of ventilation.
The ventilation was pretty good even with my Helite air vest sitting over the vents. As I approached the Sahara the temperature rose to 43°C.
No amount of ventilation will cool you down in this temperature. The only time I felt any chilling effect was when I got back on the bike after a stop, which was because my base layer was soaking from sweat. For a brief time the sweat evaporating from the wind rushing into the ventilation openings cooled me a little.
The last 40 miles of the journey to our overnight accommodation, a Kasbah on the edge of the Sahara, was in a sandstorm with whirlwinds surrounding us.
At one point visibility was less than 40 metres, the road surface was obliterated and also very slippery. As I passed through some of the whirlwinds my bike moved around violently as the rotating wind blew in from different directions. I was surprised to find none of this fine sand made its way through the vents and onto my base layer.
The shoulder, elbow, back and chest protectors all meet the higher Level 2 of the CE impact standard, and the overall CE approval rating for the jacket is AA, the middle of three levels. The armour didn’t feel obtrusive and was flexible enough to move with me as I rode.
The jacket has matching trousers, which connect together using a long zip. I wore the trousers at the same time for review, and could connect the two easily without being a contortionist.
As an extra feature, a hydration pack can be fitted into a pocket at the rear of the jacket and an outlet hole and loop are provided so the pipe can be located to allow you to drink when on the move.
Overall, I found this to be an excellent jacket. It feels very well made, it's exceptionally comfortable and well tailored to give me a feeling of security and confidence.
The fact it has a waterproof liner/over-jacket, a thermal liner that doubles as a coat when off the bike and Level 2 armour at elbows, shoulders, back and chest make this jacket stand out from the crowd.
The comprehensive nature of the jacket and jeans combination means there’s nothing else to buy before you set off on an adventure.
My only minor criticisms are that I would like a bag to pack the thermal layer into when it’s not in use, as is provided for the waterproof layer, and a lack of colour choices at the time of review. I wore the black version with silver reflective detailing. The other alternative is a camouflage design, which is not to my liking.
This apart, I am very happy with the Ranger jacket. It was comfortable in the wet, in cool temperatures and also when scorching hot. The ventilation panels in this jacket are easier to use than most and give excellent ventilation.
The modular system of three layers works for me and gives the flexibility I look for when I head off on an adventure where I’ll face varying weather conditions.