The Switchback is essentially a non-vented textile jacket that can provide good protection from the cold, but can be quickly turned into a mesh jacket for when the heat rises. To do so, the jacket has a removable panel that runs across the chest, arms and back and it’s all held in place by zippers. Once removed, this layer can be stowed away in a backpack and it reveals large mesh panels beneath, essentially rendering the jacket ready for the summer heat. It takes a couple of attempts, but the process of removing and reattaching the outer shell quickly becomes fairly straightforward and logical.
The Switchback is constructed out of tough 1000D Cordura and it uses YKK zippers, all around. Another nice addition comes in the use of SasTec Level 2 armour at the shoulders, elbows as well as a large back protector. SasTec is one of those clever visco-elastic materials that is soft to touch and takes the shape of the rider’s body, but quickly hardens under impact. It is resistant to large temperature changes and is reusable after an impact.
The jacket comes with a number of zippered pockets, both inside and out, but the zipper pulls work in the opposite direction to what we’re accustomed to - pull down to close and up to open. The logic is that it’s easier to pull upwards when you’re on the bike and in practise, this is actually quite effective. The problem is that you’ll probably keep forgetting this, especially if you own other riding gear with conventional zippers; and pockets tend to be accidentally left open.
With the outer shell on, the jacket does a good job of protecting you from cold – as low as 10 to 15 degrees. But given the fact that there’s no inner liner, how well it will fare in Ladakh levels of cold is an unknown. Remove the outer shell and the vast mesh panels allow for an exceptional amount of airflow, as long as the rider is moving. But come to a halt at the traffic lights and things start to get quite hot. The primary reason for this is that the jacket is quite heavy, even with the outer shell removed and is over a third of a kilo heavier than my Dainese mesh jacket, which also has a Level 2 back protector in addition to chest protectors.
My second issue with the jacket lies in its fit. As commonly seen in riding gear from domestic brands, the fit is baggy and not very form-fitting, particularly at the arms (despite the adjustability) and stomach area. This is understandably in an effort to accommodate riders of varied shapes and sizes, and while it may well be appreciated by some, I prefer my jackets to have a snug and ergonomic fit. This, the Switchback does not offer.
The Switchback is available at the Fool’s Gear store in Mumbai. This jacket has numerous merits in the form of tough materials, a high level of protection, decent finish and a clever solution to varying weather conditions – but its not perfect; and at Rs 15,000, it also happens to cost quite a lot. That’s a price at which you’ll also find numerous entry-level options from European brands.
Where: Fool’s Gear, Mumbai
Price: Rs 15,000