Since its introduction into the US military in 1965, four-pocket M-65 Field Jacket has built a reputation as an essential piece of utilitarian outerwear. It’s inclusion in films such as Taxi Driver, First Blood, The Terminator (and Annie Hall!) helped cement its iconic garment status. Over the years, fashion houses have taken the M-65 pattern and adapted it to their own needs, but the quintessential look of the jacket has remained unchanged for decades.
Now Pando Moto - whose mission statement is to create stylish motorcycle wear that also protects it's wearer properly - have produced their take on this timeless classic. Pando Moto’s M65 Camo Jacket may take its cues from the M-65, but it is anything but a derivative imitation. Instead, it’s packed full of neat features specifically incorporated for us motorcyclists.
First off the fabric itself - the single-layer 16 oz canvas is woven with 25% Dyneema (a UHMWPE fibre that boasts a strength-to-weight ratio that is up to 15 times stronger than steel) for added abrasion resistance, and features chain stitches and interlock seams to create an extremely durable garment.
The jacket also comes with KNOX CE approved shoulder and elbow protectors for impact protection, and there’s also a discreet pouch for back armour (although the armour itself is not included).
All this you’d expect from a protective garment of this calibre, but it’s the little details that really set this jacket apart.
One of the most notable features is the bi-swing back panels, which make for a particularly comfortable fit and allow a much greater range of movement when riding. Essentially an elasticated shoulder gusset, the bi-swing panels also mean that the sleeves don’t ride up your arms when reaching for the bars. Additionally, the M65 features velcro-fastened triangular cuffs that fold down to further prevent that irritating air gap between jacket and gloves.
Both the collar and the cuffs are lined with a velvet-soft corduroy, which feels great against the skin and is a nice contrast to the decidedly robust fabric of the rest of the jacket. The cuffs also feature nylon and velcro adjusters, and the collar is fastened with a tab in the same heavy-duty nylon, with two press stud closures - all of which provide a pretty solid barrier against the elements.
Being a single-layer, the M65 is a lightweight jacket and is perfect for the sunnier days of spring and summer and the riveted vents under the arms will ensure you don’t get too hot. The M65 is certainly not an all-season jacket and neither does it boast any waterproof pretensions - a relatively short downpour left me suitably soaked.
The Pando Moto M65 has a much slimmer silhouette than its namesake and whilst it does feature two side adjusters to cinch in the waist, as well as a drawstring in the hem, its worth noting that this is a fairly form-fitting garment anyway. Great for those with a slim- to-average build, however, if you’re more solidly built, you might consider going up a size.
The M65 features the classic four outer pockets, as well as an additional internal pocket big enough for a wallet or a large smartphone. Other nods to its military past include the velcro strip above the breast pocket for attaching your name, obviously no name strip is provided so you’ll have to get creative... Finally, there’s the eye catching camouflage finish, which is extremely subtle and rather than being a print is actually woven into the fabric Jaquard style. Overall, the Pando Moto M65 Camo is a fantastic looking lightweight and practical motorcycle jacket packing a host of neat details - it looks great on or off two wheels and in spite of that camo certainly stands out in the crowd!
PANDO KARL JEANS by 'Camera' Dan Jones
Protective motorcycling jeans. Something that I've always struggled with and haven't yet found 'the ones' for me. So much so, that until these Pandomoto Karl Devil's turned up in the shop, I had still been wearing a bog standard pair of jeans that I stole from my mother!
When it comes to motorcycling, like anyone, I want gear I buy to look good but I don't like compromising safety and functionality, and I hate the thought of not being protected in a spill. And my mum wouldn't hate to see her vintage denim torn to shreds.
Since my quest for a good bottom half began I've wanted kevlar protection, good knee and hip armour, with a leg length long and wide enough to sit over my ankle boots without the need to re adjust the annoying 'half-mast hitch-up' every time I stop at the lights. They also needed to do all of that whilst not being massively expensive, although research suggested I'd not see much change from £300.
Shopkeep Gareth knew this, so when a pair were delivered he confidently but quietly placed them in front of me and said "let me know what you think".
My eyes lit up, slim-fit - check, kevlar - check, armour - check, black denim - check (there's a running joke that I'm always dressed monochrome). We were off to a good start! Then came the point where my enthusiasm usually turns to disappointment, trying them on. This is where things got really interesting.
Not only did they fit really well but there were also some features of the jean that even I didn't know I wanted. Like the slight elasticity in the fabric making them comfortable and give in the places that usually end up being a circulation constricting bunch of denim (usually around the groin area, never a pleasant feature). Also, the armour, I never even thought about front loading pockets being such a luxury. Gone are the days of having to strip off in the toilets to remove and consequently re-fit padding. I can now remove and re-fit them in seconds without the need to hide. Now the final question "How much?" with a slight wince expecting to be forced over my budget. Gareth's response was £220 and my response was an assertively simple "DONE!" as I slapped them down on the counter and had my card out before he could get to the till and my eyes drifted around the shop trying to see what the £80 leftover could get me.
That was a few months ago, I've held off on writing this review until I could give a verdict on some proper first hand riding experience and I can confidently say they have held up their side of the bargain. They're comfortable like I said before, have deep strong pockets, especially for that back one which I have no worries about my wallet staying in place whilst riding. The shape of the armour is great for my knees and seems to mould well around them. Leg length is really great for the bike in fact I don't think I've ever had to re-adjust them over my boot.
I've had to really rack my brains for some negatives. But all I can come up with is, that the knee armour tends to fall below the knee when walking but once on the bike a bend in the knee seats them properly. Hmmm, what else? I'd like them to be pure black? Can I put that as a negative? The black option I got come slightly faded and stone washed but thats personal preference and nothing a Dylon tab won't fix for my own personal 'fashion' taste. While I can't vouch for the protective qualities, having not had an 'off' in them yet - touch wood! I do have confidence in them doing what they should. Pando are a relatively new company to the motorcycling scene, but in my eyes more than welcome when they're putting out such good products without a crazy price tag.
If you want to know a bit more about them, have a look at our Shop Supervisor Ben's review of the Pando Jacket (above), he gives you a bit of background which would be pointless for me to duplicate. And see how they're evolved from an early pair reviewed by Steve a few years ago in Gear Guide #52
If you fancy a pair of Karls, pop by the Bike Shed Shop to try on or if you're confident on your size (I found the 32's to be accurately 32's!) get them online soon, here shop.oldbikeshed.wpengine.com.