Joe Rocket Air Force Alpha Motorcycle Jacket Test
The Joe Rocket Air Force Alpha riding jacket is not only a sharp-looking military themed tribute jacket – it’s also a cleverly designed and ruggedly executed piece of protective riding gear.
The textile exterior is a tough 500-denier Hitena nylon material that features the winged star air and space power emblems embroidered onto the front and rear shell; “U.S. Air Force” is also embroidered on the left sleeve and collar. The interior is a smooth, perforated polyester. The jacket is not listed as waterproof.
CE-rated impact protectors are located at elbows and shoulders. A removable back pad is standard equipment, but it can be replaced with a CE-approved spine protector. Elastic adjusters just below the elbows keep the sleeves snug, and elbow impact protectors are in place for crash protection. A high-density foam lumbar pad is provided across the lower back.
What appears to be a flap-closure pocket on the left chest is actually a military spec I.D. holder with hook and loop closure. But when the flap is opened to display the clear plastic I.D. holder, the back of the cover flap drops down and reveals a small zipper closure pocket.
In addition to the small I.D. holder pocket, there are two zip-closure exterior slash pockets, a spacious zip-closure interior pocket accessible even with the liner in place, and an exterior box pocket on the right sleeve with hook and loop closure on the flap.
Ventilation is provided by zippered vents in the bicep area of each sleeve. Extra warmth for cool days is provided by a zip-out insulated vest liner. An interior storm flap backs up the main zipper to prevent drafts.
For me, the jacket worked well riding in temperatures into the high 40s, but it isn’t a cold-weather jacket unless you add a long-sleeved base layer in addition to the zip-out liner.
The high visibility package is particularly interesting. Whether you need these functions for riding on-base, or you want the flexibility to increase your conspicuity in low-light conditions, fog or other poor visibility situations, the Air Force Alpha jacket makes the transition very easily.
Front deployment is done by unfurling the fluorescent orange/silver reflective panels from a small zipper at the front of each shoulder. The bottom end of each panel folds up under the strap at the waist adjuster and attaches inside with hook and loop material. The back panel deploys from a wide zipper across the top of the back and drops down where magnets self-attach to their contact points at the lower back. Very slick and easy. Replacing the panels to their storage pockets is as easy as deploying them.
Riding with the panels out revealed no problem with the back panel, even at freeway speed, but the front panels, lacking any mid-point attachment, tended to pull around to the side of the jacket at highway speed. But the attachment point did not release, so it created no real problem. At lower speeds, they stayed flat against the jacket.
Fit adjustment is provided by hook and loop closures at the sleeve cuffs, and hook and loop adjustment tabs at both sides of the waist. Snap loops are provided inside the lower edge of the back of the jacket to allow attaching to the belt of your pants.
The Air Force Alpha is constructed identically to the Marines Alpha and U.S. Army Alpha Military Spec jackets, so the basic features described here would be common to those products as well.