The Held Carese II jacket is designed to compete in the high-end category of all-season 3/4-length adventure-touring motorcycle jackets.
The Carese II goes one better than most however, with "Quattrotempi" design.
Quattrotempi, in Held parlance, means:
Four seasons, four riding types (scooters, street riding, dual-sport and touring), four elements (rain, heat, wind, cold) and with four "protections" (shoulder, elbow, back and knee).
OK, so it's what Dr. Dretske, my Philosophy 101 teacher would call "protruded logic".
But it comes across better in the Held photos than it does in words...
Our feeling is that you'll need an insulating layer to really make it through winter however, although "Tretempi" wouldn't sound as good.
As usual, you can disregard the marketing propaganda because the Carese II has a lot going for it.
It's packed with features -- useful features -- and the ventilation system is the #1 priority.
The jacket even includes a magnetic holding system for securing the flaps on either side of the main entry zipper in an open position.
They're held open with four magnets on either side and this exposes a long mesh vent front and center, the perfect location to bring in gobs of fresh air.
The interior of the Carese II jacket shell is also a standout, with its "3D" Coolmax mesh liner and very fine detailing. And it also has lots of places for air to flow through.
The jacket includes a removable Gore-Tex waterproof liner. When removed, the Carese II becomes a very comfortable 3/4-length jacket for all but the hottest riding conditions.
But here's a cool trick: the Gore-Tex liner is sized so that it can be worn over the jacket shell for a complete waterproof solution, protecting the shell from becoming water-soaked!
Ventilation was a primary concern in the Carese II's design and there are vents all over the jacket, front, rear and sides.
The large square front chest vents have covers that fold and hold with a magnet on each side.
Other vents are zipper type and some are more functional than others, like the huge arm vents with dual zipper runners and the main entry vent.
The jacket includes CE approved Level 1 SAS-Tec elbow and shoulder protectors but no back protector, which is a miss at this price. An optional SAS-Tec back protector will fit the pocket, however.
The Carese II jacket has a lot going for it, with nice styling, lots of useful features and comfortable fit.
We were first introduced to Held products many years ago, when the German company was making gloves in a factory in Germany.
They used to have a live webcam that provided a view of the employees on the factory floor, cutting and sewing gloves.
Then the company grew, became a full-line motorcycle clothing purveyor, moved most of the production overseas and developed a worldwide distribution system.
In the U.S.A. in 2015, Schuberth NA took over the distribution of Held products from the previous small company that served as the U.S. Held representative for many years.
Hopefully, Schuberth will move to develop the Held brand name in the U.S., especially for Held clothing, which isn't as well known as other brands.
There's a lot of work to be done; for example, the Held USA website is, well, let's just say it needs a makeover.
Currently there are no direct product listings or information without using Flash (don't do it) or requesting a mailed catalog (really?).
Instead, go to the German Held website and at least you can view the 2016 catalog in HTML5, albeit in German and with loading times slower than a somnambulant turtle in Greenland.
There's no search function or "jump to" page index, so you'll have to scroll page by page through 200+ screens.
In any case, Schuberth had a big Held display next to their helmet booth at the 2015 AIMExpo (report) and that's were the Carese II was demonstrated, along with all of the other Held clothing and gloves.
So it's not clear where Held is headed. Value-priced mass-market gear? Probably not. A pared-down selection of higher-end, intelligently designed products? That would be our guess.
The Carese II jacket is a good start. It's designed to compete with the highest level adventure-touring technical gear currently available from several well-known brands.
It has an array of unique features that make it a definite contender and it has excellent ventilation for a jacket of this type.
Don't let our tame all-black Carese II jacket sway your opinions. It's actually a very nicely styled jacket that really pops in the other colors.
So buy yours in the white (actually very light gray) with the black or blue or orange trim. Do yourself a favor: don't buy the black.
Do manufacturers still make all-black clothing? Apparently there's still a demand for it. Somewhere...
The Carese II outer shell is made from a relatively flexible (and somewhat pedestrian) Cordura 500, a fairly common shell fabric well known to motorcyclists.
In this case, it feels substantial enough to hopefully provide good impact and abrasion protection.
But the use of Cordura rather than Gore-Tex is one of the biggest differences between the Carese II and some of the other high-end jackets that use Gore-Tex Pro Shell With Armacor for the jacket exterior.
But, apples vs. oranges here maybe. A Gore-Tex Pro Shell jacket can cost up to twice the already-expensive list ($849.00) of the Carese II.
Here's something very curious though: there's a "Gore-Tex" label on the inside of the jacket shell but, as far as we can tell, the shell is not Gore-Tex and does not include any Gore-Tex membrane nor any membrane liner or regular liner of any type.
W.L. Gore & Associates is usually very fussy about where and how their labels are used and displayed and the Gore-Tex label on the inside of the Carese II jacket shell is a bit confusing.
Here's another one: see that Gore-Tex label on the lower left front pocket? Apparently, the lower pockets are lined with Gore-Tex to make them waterproof. That has to be a first -- Gore-Tex pockets!
And while we're at it, one other curious external feature of the Carese II jacket shell is the use of SuperFabric located on top of the shoulders, a spot that won't do much for abrasion protection on the outside of the shoulders.
Apparently, a bit of styling took precedence over functionality here, which is a shame, considering the added cost and complexity of including the SuperFabric.
The SuperFabric should have either been located on the outer part of the upper shoulder or a combination along the top and sides of the shoulders, where it would potentially do the job of abrasion protection on the shoulder and upper arm during a slide.
Some of these are nitpicks and again, the standout feature of the Carese II is the ventilation system, so we'll get into that in more detail.
The Carese II has a Gore-Tex removable liner that can be used as a stand-alone windbreaker shell.
The liner has a clever feature: it's oversized, so you can also wear it over the jacket to make the entire shell waterproof, should you so desire. It's a snug fit when worn over the top of the shell, but it does work.
Just one thing...too bad they didn't add some high-viz color and/or reflective bits to the outside of the liner though, which would be there for when you really need it -- in the rain and fog.
Perhaps due to its dual-use personality and design, the Gore-Tex liner styling isn't what we'd call svelte, so while it may be OK for wear around the campfire, it certainly isn't something you'd want to wear out to dinner, unless you're only going for a Big Mac.
While some may think a separate and removable waterproof liner and no waterproofing on the outer shell fabric as a disadvantage, we'll disagree, especially in this case, with its "Why didn't I think of that?", wear-it-over-the-shell design.
Making the outer skin of the jacket shell waterproof would have meant compromising the ventilation, because very special attention would then have to be paid to the vent system to ensure the waterproof integrity.
This makes manufacturing more complex and adds to the cost.
In fact, if you want maximum ventilation and air flow with some waterproofing, it's usually better to have a removable waterproof liner and pop as many holes as you need in the shell to get the air flowing through.
The flip side of a non-waterproof outer shell fabric is that the outer shell can become soaked when you're caught out in the rain, but modern fabrics dry quickly.
And let's face it -- the vast majority of your riding will be in dry weather anyway, so optimize for the 80%, not the 20%. If you live in Seattle, you'll be looking at a jacket with a full Gore-Tex outer shell anyway.
By the way, one other advantage of the windbreaker-like Gore-Tex removable liner in the Carese II is that it's very thin; it can be removed without affecting the sizing and fit, which remains the same. Bonus!
And speaking of curiosities, here's one more: the Carese II does not include a thermal liner. That's kind of odd for a claimed four-season jacket, no?
However, the Cordura 500 shell is fairly thick and the Gore-Tex removable liner does provide wind protection so that all helps somewhat when riding in the currently low temperatures we've been experiencing.
But our riding in the Carese II in late winter/early spring cold weather does demonstrate a need for a separate insulating liner, such as a light fleece jacket or sweater.
If you are going to ride with the Carese II in winter, add your favorite fleece or other light-to-medium weight street jacket base layer and then you'll also have something casual to wear when you arrive at your destination.
The Carese II jacket has removable CE Level 1 "Cloverleaf" type shoulder and elbow protectors made by SAS-TEC. These are pretty hefty pieces and the elbow protectors continue down the back of the forearm.
Despite the "Cloverleaf" name, they don't seem all that much different from standard SAS-TEC which, if you haven't seen it, is a dense material that supposedly becomes stiff on impact to absorb the impact energy.
But the stuff seems pretty firm to begin with...although it does become softer as it warms with body heat.
Bottom line, the dense SAS-TEC material is fairly thick and relatively heavy and not very flexible, but the tailoring of the jacket helps to keep it comfortable.
There's a piece of Temperfoam that comes with the Carese II as a back pad. It basically just serves to fill the pocket in the rear.
To remove it, there are two very tiny zippers on either side of the foam, in the back of the jacket on the inside.
Unfasten one of the zippers, then undo the hook-and-loop strip along the bottom and pull the foam pad out.
UPDATE: The SAS-TEC 9314 back protector fits the Held Carese II jacket. It has a list price of $50.00 -- not bad actually. The Held 9314 back protector is shown on page 174 of the German HTML5 online catalog with a list price of €29.95.
Here is a .jpg of page 35 in the 2016 Held catalog, showing the Held SAS-TEC Cloverleaf protector system.
Main Upper Vents
There are two main entry points for air to flow into the Carese II and both work really well.
First, there are the two upper squares you can see in the photos, that look like pockets and are placed in the traditional 3/4-length jacket upper pocket locations.
They're backed with a vinyl layer for waterproofing when the vent is closed and they open on two sides with a one-piece zipper. You can then fold the cover inside or outside and it secures with a magnet embedded under the fabric.
We tried both and we prefer the outside location, which forms a scoop that seems to draw in more air.
Main Entry Vent
Don't forget the front entry system, which allows you to open the flaps on either side of the main entry zipper and then secure the flaps on either side with 4 magnets embedded on each side.
This reveals about a 60 mm wide 3D mesh vertical opening that runs from the collar all the way down to the bottom of the hem. Pull the collar open and secure it to a hook on the left side and this front opening allows a lot of air into the jacket.
Note that the main entry zipper (YKK Vislon type) does not have a locking runner.
"3D" Mesh Lining
By the way, the 3D mesh inside the vent and covering most of the inside of the jacket shell really helps to keep a nice airy space between your body and the jacket shell and this space also helps to circulate the air.
That circulation is needed if you're wearing the Gore-Tex liner underneath, because the air moving over the top of the liner pulls moisture away from your body.
Vertical Chest Vents
There are also vertical 140 mm long zipper-covered vertical vents on either side in front, about mid-chest.
Pull each zipper down from its garage to reveal a narrow slit on either side, which helps somewhat with ventilation but doesn't really form a large entry point.
Horizontal Chest Vents
Just below the big upper front vents are horizontal waterproof zippers on either side.
These are a combination pocket and vent, another clever idea. However, they work better as pockets than vents, because again, the opening is very narrow so not much air really flows in.
The front of the arms includes a huge 40 cm long zipper that opens to reveal another long vent that works well. The zipper has two runners, so it can be opened from either the top or bottom and the opening can be regulated to vary the intake.
Unfortunately, the zipper runners for the large arm vents do not have the locking feature, so the runners can't be secured in a specific location.
There's another 170 mm long zippered vent in the rear of each arm, behind the bicep.
In the rear of the jacket is a large horizontal vent along the top of the jacket, plus two 22 cm long vertical zippered vents on either side of the central part of the back.
Open all of these vents and you have something approaching the late and lamented REV'IT! Sirocco jacket (review) or the Alpinestars Cape Town jacket (review), which are (or were) two of the ultimate warm-weather 3/4-length jackets.
As mentioned above, the Carese II has the unique pockets/vents in front, mid-chest, just below the large main vents.
Sharing a pocket and vent is actually a pretty good idea and we discovered that certain items stored in the pocket will actually help venting, because a bulky item keeps the zipper open, forming more of an entry point for air to flow into the jacket.
The horizontal waterproof-type zippers on these pockets even have a little zipper garage for the runner. It's located towards the centerline of the jacket.
Also mentioned above, the large main pockets on the lower part of the jacket are both marked as waterproof and the pocket on the left has a Gore-Tex logo stitched on the front.
From all appearances, both of these front pockets are lined with Gore-Tex rather than vinyl to make them waterproof.
This isn't confirmed because there just isn't a lot of technical information on the Carese II jacket, but it sure looks and feels like Gore-Tex membrane to us.
There's also a large vertical zippered pocket on the right placket, under the flap. This is a handy location to store a wallet or phone, although this pocket is not waterproof.
Inside the shell, there's another vertical pocket in the right side, mid-chest. It has a red zipper and a taffeta lining. Below that is a horizontal pocket with a hook-and-loop closure tab.
On the inner left side of the jacket, there's a neoprene padded pocket that's labeled to hold electronic devices, such as a cell phone, music player, small camera, personal GPS device, etc. It measures 120 cm by 170 cm tall.
In the rear of the jacket is a large storage pocket with vertical zippers on one side only (right side). This can be used to store the waterproof liner.
Attached to that pocket is another pocket with a horizontal zipper on top under a flap. This can be used by the wearer or, in another clever idea, by the passenger to store a cell phone, small camera or music player.
The Gore-Tex removable liner does not have any pockets.
The Carese II has the standard motorcycle jacket adjusters, with a large hook-and-loop belt on either side to adjust the waist and dual hook-and-loop arm adjusters, one at the bicep and one at the forearm.
The arm adjusters are located on the inside of the sleeve only, to allow the long dual-zipper sleeve vent full open access for air flow.
The sleeve adjusters are made fairly robust, so they're a bit thicker than average. Sometimes I can feel them when riding, depending on how I move my arms or arm location.
But overall, combined with the excellent fit and cut of the Carese II jacket, the adjusters work very nicely.
The sleeve cuffs have a flat hook-and-loop tab for adjustment.
The jacket has some highly reflective strips on the front (lower pockets), the upper arms and the rear. Also, there's a strip of reflective material along the bottom part of the SuperFabric on the upper shoulder.
The collar can be opened and secured with a hook located on the left upper part of the neck.
The collar tab uses hook-and-loop and the tab is part of the opening front flap on the left side of the jacket, so it's not a separate piece.
This Carese II jacket is a size large and it fits as expected, which is just about perfect for a 43" chest and 34" to 36" waist. The model shown wearing the jacket in the photos has a 44" chest and 35" waist and is about 178 cm tall (5' 10").
Ignore some of the retailer sizing charts that list the size large as a Euro size 52 (40"-42" chest). This jacket fits more like a Euro size 54, so the listed sizing seems about one size off.
Note that a jacket like this -- any motorcycle jacket, in fact -- should be worn so it fits snugly to keep the protectors in place and this jacket is cut on a taper.
Most American motorcycle riders wear their clothes 1-2 sizes too big and you can see this in many of the advertisements.
This jacket is styled and cut very nicely to fit the body. Granted, it's not designed to fit anyone with a large stomach; in that case, an owner may have to suffer a too-large upper part of the jacket to get a waist size that will fit correctly.
|webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Held Carese II|
The Held Carese II jacket may seem expensive, but it actually competes very well with high-end jackets that cost a lot more and it can serve as your only jacket for a wide variety of riding conditions.
Held added a lot of interesting and useful features to the Carese II and the ventilation is excellent for a 3/4-length jacket of this type.
We can't say that it's the best ventilated 3/4-length jacket we've worn, although it's more than enough for our current colder conditions.
Batten down all the hatches and wear the Gore-Tex liner underneath and add a light fleece half-zip and we've been warm enough.
The jacket has a very nice combination of protection with ventilation, while keeping the mesh parts far from the impact and abrasion areas.
The interior of the Carese II is also very nicely finished, beyond what most motorcycle jackets have and beyond even some of the jackets we've seen that cost up to twice as much.
That makes a big difference because you'll actually want to wear the Carese II without the Gore-Tex removable liner -- the jacket lining is that comfortable. It also has sections of the 3D Coolmax fabric to keep a boundary layer of air around your body.
Also, the Gore-Tex removable liner works well as an internal liner of last defense against water intrusion.
It's interesting that Held designed the liner to fit over the jacket also, although we wish they had added some reflective material on the liner or even colored it white or high-visibility yellow.
While not quite a true four-season jacket because there's no insulating liner, the Carese II justifies its cost by being a very well made, very flexible garment that should serve for the vast majority of riding conditions anyone is likely to encounter.
The build quality, styling and the cut of the fabrics all conspire to give this jacket something of a je ne sais quoi quality where the overall feel is more than simply the sum of the features.