Troy Lee Designs Blais Jacket Review 0
Troy Lee Designs is more than a helmet painting business, but as the TLD empire has expanded into a complete line of dirt bike racewear and casual apparel, it has always kept a blend of style, performance and safety. One of the most impressive examples is the Troy Lee Designs Blais Jacket. Named in honor of the paralyzed off-road racer and American Dakar hero, Chris Blais, this off-road riding jacket meets the needs of modern riders with the ability to accommodate a Leatt neck brace.
My first trip with the Blais jacket was on a trail ride aboard our long-term 2010 Honda CRF250R. Right away it was apparent that the shell is cut for a riding stance. I didn’t experience any binding or limited movement, though I quickly heated up. The trails were wet, which made the waterproofing very welcome, but the temperatures were mild and I quickly worked up a sweat. I don’t ride with a neck brace but was able to appreciate the feature nonetheless. Having the neck collar removed does wonders for the venting. Vents are provided on the arms, chest and back, but taking off the neck brace access is a great way to shed heat. When it’s installed, the zipper operates easily and the rain flap over the top does its job without flapping in the wind. The collar is stiff and tall enough to rub significantly on the bottom of a helmet, which is annoying, so taking the collar off was preferred for all but the coldest weather.
I also spent considerable time in the TLD Blais jacket while driving side-by-sides. First I wore it for a muddy, cold ride during our 2010 Polaris RZR 4 UTV Test, then it went on a dusty two-day expedition through the desert in a Kawasaki Teryx followed by the 2011 Honda Big Red First Ride. At all three events, the jacket proved itself with ample storage from its eight pockets for spare gloves, a goggle rag, camera, cell phone and truck keys. Also, the zipper adjustment on the waist allowed the tail section to fit comfortably while sitting and resists bunching.
Aside from the slightly too-tall collar, the only other issue I had came from the waterproof zippers. They worked fine at keeping water out, but once they got a coat of dust in the desert they became hard to operate. I fully expected one to break, but they never did. However, I took care to wash them out as often as possible to avoid a major kink or failure. Velcro adjustment around the waist made for easy tailoring and the same goes for the wide wrist cuffs which quickly sealed up against wind.
As far as the extras go, the padding in the shoulder and elbows is appropriately light and reinforced stitching on the elbows helps in a crash. At first the patch on the left arm seemed a little goofy, but I came to love it, and so did everyone who noticed. The polyester mesh liner is comfortable, but this is not a particularly warm jacket – it’s a shell and I had great success wearing layers underneath.
Overall the waterproofing is excellent, storage is ample and it’s designed to work with a rider’s natural body movement. These were the key features for me so the addition of neck brace compatibility only adds to the value, though it is one of the priciest off-road jackets I’ve worn. However, the styling is clean without being flashy and it would be a great jacket for long-distance or dual sport riders.