MC Tested: Dainese Zima Lady Jacket and Tempest Pants Review

Putting Dainese’s touring gear to the test with an epic cross-country road trip.

Dainese Zima jacket and Tempest pants review
The Zima is Dainese’s top-tier women’s jacket, while the Tempest pants are a mid-tier product.Photo: Julia LaPalme

When you're setting out on a cross-country trip that will take you through 30 states (including Alaska), cover more than 30,000 miles, and span four seasons, there are a lot of things you need your gear to do. Safety is obviously a big priority, but so are weather protection, comfort, and durability.

And as a woman fit is always a struggle, so for such an epic adventure I was intent on wearing something tailored specifically for the female form. That's how I ended up with Dainese's Zima jacket and Tempest pants, both from Dainese's women's ADV and touring line.

For comfort and fit the Zima jacket is made from Dainese’s “Mugello” fabric, which is mostly nylon but also incorporates some elastic material so that it stretches and moves with you. There are cinch straps at the waist, zippers that let the jacket flare out at the hips, and snaps to tighten the upper arm and wrists so you don’t end up with excess fabric flapping in the wind. These all worked well to help me tailor the fit and adjust for adding or removing layers. I did find that the Velcro at the neck had a tendency to catch my hair, so I had to be careful about making sure the neck strap was folded on itself whenever it wasn’t in use.

The Tempest pants—from a different model line but still ready to zip together with the Zima—also offer some adjustment. Straps at the waist meant I could get pants that were actually proportioned correctly to my deceptively wide hips without having to sacrifice a proper fit in the waistband. If only my jeans could be this clever! All in all the gear is highly adjustable and proved very comfortable. So much so that I wore it hiking a few times, including one trek down into Carlsbad Caverns.

Zima jacket Velcro vent
Look out ladies! (And guys with long hair.) The Velcro on the Zima’s collar strap will grab your curls in an instant. That tiny opening on the shoulder is one of just TWO vents on the Zima.Photo: Julia LaPalme

That said, let’s talk about what really matters in touring gear—weather protection. Riding through the late winter and early spring (and then, as it turns out, summer, fall, and early winter!) while touring the country, I encountered everything from spitting snow at elevation in Colorado to sweltering heat in Miami and lots of rain, including a proper deluge during a red-alert tornado watch in Georgia. Through it all the Dainese gear worked great.

Temperature was one of my biggest concerns when picking gear, because as a native Los Angelino, I’m not particularly acclimated to sub-freezing temperatures. With the included thermal liners and my own layers I stayed reasonably warm down into the mid-30s, and given that I was riding a Yamaha FZ-07 that left my torso exposed to the wind, I think that’s pretty good.

When temps were at the other end of the spectrum, like the heat of Arizona or the humidity of Florida, the gear was pretty hot. One of the reasons the Zima works so well in the cold (and in the wet, but more on that later) is because the jacket only has two vents at the shoulders. I did find that leaving the button-down storm flap on the main zipper open and opening the vertical pockets on the chest helped push some air into the jacket, but not nearly as much as a couple of regular vents would have. On the pants, there are vents on each thigh that definitely proved helpful in preventing overheating.

Dainese jacket zippers
Look at all that adjustability! Side zippers unzip to allow the bottom of the jacket to flare out over larger hips, and those side straps let you adjust the jacket’s waist circumference.Photo: Julia LaPalme

On any big tour you’re going to encounter wet weather, and it’s in the rain that these pieces really shine. The Zima jacket is top-tier Dainese and has a GoreTex membrane, while the Tempest pants are from a lower rung on the touring ladder and use Dainese’s D Dry membrane. But when fully buttoned and zipped up—from the ice-cold storms in New Mexico to the tornado weather in the Southeast—both shells were impenetrable and I never suffered even the slightest dampness. The outer shells do get quite saturated which can make them fairly heavy, but they also seem to dry fairly quickly.

Finally, there’s the issue of protection, which is something you never want to have to test. Unfortunately, I did! The jacket has armor at the elbows and shoulders (and a pocket for a back protector) and the pants have sizeable knee armor, and I’m grateful for all of it because I lowsided the FZ at about 45 mph on a gravel-covered corner.

Dainese jacket crash damage
Crash damage. The other elbow and both knees looked as bad or worse. Even so, I wasn’t injured or even bruised, and I bruise really easily!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

I hit the ground on my hands and knees and dug my elbows into the ground as I slid to help slow myself down. When I came to a stop I assessed the damage. The zipper on the thigh vent on one leg got ripped off, and the fabric on one knee was worn through, revealing the armor beneath. The jacket fared a bit better, as the only real damage was on my elbows. My boots and gloves (also Dainese) were still in usable shape.

With all those holes in my pants and jacket they’re definitely no longer waterproof, but I'm gonna give them huge props for their armor because beyond being a little sore the next day I wasn’t injured at all. There’s a lot to be said for gear that can keep you comfortable during months of touring and then keep you safe when things go really wrong.

In the end, the Zima jacket (Buy It Here) and Tempest pants (Buy It Here) worked wonderfully together to make for a great riding experience no matter what I ran into on the road. The fit is flattering and adaptable to a range of body types, and the gear manages to not be bulky while still cutting no corners on features. I've always been impressed with Dainese's race offerings, and their touring gear proved to be every bit as good.

DAINESE ZIMA JACKET & TEMPEST PANTS
PRICE: $550 (jacket), $280 (pants)
CONTACT: dainese.com
MC GRADE: A+
VERDICT: Customizable and bulk-free fit with solid excellent weather and protection. A few more vents would make the jacket better for hot weather, but might compromise its total waterproofness.