Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket Test

Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket Review | Unique Versatility
Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket, vents closed

I have issues when it comes to selecting the correct motorcycle gear – especially for adventure riding. Being a motojournalist doesn’t help these issues either, considering I’m constantly testing the latest and most innovative gear.

Following years of reviewing jackets, you quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. This is vital knowledge to pass along to the consumer, especially due to the high price of some jackets.

In the world of adventure gear, the current trend is versatility; nowadays it seems as vital as waterproofing. Adventurists need tough motorcycle apparel that can provide comfort in the Sahara Desert during peak sun hours or during a frosty morning ride on Blue Ridge Parkway in late fall, and everything in between.

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The problem is budget; it’s hard to find anything that works well and doesn’t cost over $500. Enter the Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket.

For the past 2,000 miles or so, I’ve donned only the 3/4-length Ballistic Adventure jacket across a variety of riding disciplines. It was used while standing on the trails, touring mountainous regions on the asphalt, and commuting.

The jacket requires patience due to its two-stage waterproof and insulated sleeve zip-out liners, but otherwise complaints were few – especially for the sub-$300 price point.

Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket Review | Unique Versatility riding shot rear
Riding shot, rear (photo by Milgaro)

My first positive experience with the JR Ballistic Adventure jacket arrived on Italy’s island lost at sea, Sardinia, while testing the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally. Temps were cooler in the mornings, and warmed up during the afternoons, allowing me to experience the jacket from sub-60s to the lower 80s.

I also experienced a light rain shower, and the outer RockTex 600 shell’s claim of being water resistant – read, resistant, not waterproof – held true. I didn’t bother to stop and insert – aka, take the time to insert – the waterproof inner liner. Throughout my experience in Sardinia, the jacket performed well. But nearly 200 miles is not enough to truly test gear. Back home the evaluating continued – much harsher evaluation while on my personal bikes.

The testing began on the trails; while aggressively piloting my Touratech-prepped V-Strom DL1000 on some single tracks, I had a run-in with a few trees, banging the elbows – one of the more vulnerable areas of a jacket – multiple times. Thankfully the jacket’s elbows – and shoulders – are reinforced with stronger, 840D Ballistic Nylon; they still look new after meeting Mr. Tree multiple times.

Added protection in the elbows and shoulders is provided via C.E. approved armor; the jacket also features a high-density spine pad that is thankfully removable. I removed it on a few intense rides because it was causing discomfort. Joe Rocket does offer an optional C.E. spine protector that may provide better comfort while amping up safety.

To provide warmth and waterproofing, the Ballistic Adventure jacket includes a two-stage liner system. Each liner is full sleeve; one is for insulation and the other for waterproofing, and each can be used alone.

As stated before, the jacket’s outer RockTex 600 shell is “water resistant,” and kept me dry in brief showers and one ride through about 45-minutes of steady rain at highway speeds on a Ducati Multistrada 1200. I would have pulled over, but didn’t want to waste time inserting the rain liner on the road.

When inserted via four color-coded (thank you!) sleeve snaps, one collar snap and two breast zippers, the 100-percent Vinyl liner will keep you completely dry regardless of the depth of a rainstorm.

But it can make the jacket quite stuffy, especially when the humidity is up and the temps are soaring. I keep the liner with me for extreme rain – but that’s it. Although I have yet to take any overnighters, I can see the liner getting more use as a separate jacket to keep the chill out while camping. It was designed to wear alone, and features two hand-warmer pockets.

Also, when the rain liner inserted, plan some extra time to zip it and also secure the Velcro closure; if not, the rain liner’s Velcro gets caught on the jacket’s two-way main YKK zipper. As for the quilted liner, zipped in alone it will keep you toasty in temps around freezing with the proper base layers. When combined with the rain liner, warmth becomes a bit greater.

Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket Review | Unique Versatility
Vents opened

Where the Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure Jacket impressed most was ventilation and fit.

The jacket is equipped with Joe Rocket’s Variable Flow ventilation system that features two zip-down panels on the chest. Three sides of the panels detach, and the entire panel folds into a zipped pocket, allowing for much air intake on the chest.

These unique panel vents work in harmony with two shoulder vents, and two long vertical back vents, the latter having two-way zippers for custom ventilation. Joe Rocket also smartly designed a two-way zipper on the cuffs that perform a double duty of acting as a cuff adjuster or forearm vent.

The Ballistic Adventure jacket has removable sleeves, which zip off just above the elbow. This may attract some riders – especially those in tough enduro or urban situations. Personally, I will never use this system of removable sleeves, which has become a popular trend among leading apparel companies.

The jacket’s fit is as superior as its ventilation. The Adventure uses JR’s 8-point SureFit custom adjustment system that allows for a truly custom fit in a variety of areas – an easily adjustable strap at the waist, vertical zippers at the torso, two-way zippers at the wrists, and arms.

Also aiding in the comfortable fit are FullFlex articulated elbow expansion panels. These provide the most advantage when standing up during intense ADV riding situations.

And when ADV riding, the more pockets the better; the Ballistic Adventure features four-interior and three-exterior cargo pockets. The outer pockets consists of two on the front waist, and a lower one on the back that is practically standard on all ADV jacket; the lower-back pocket has room for a few water bottles, and is capable of swallowing a 750ml or 1.5 liter bottle of wine (but not two; don’t ask). The jacket also arrives with an upper back pocket for a hydration bladder (sold separately).

Another element that provides added comfort is the extended microfiber-lined collar with Velcro enclosure. The collar is comfortable on the neck, and – when closed – does not get hung up on helmet straps. Unfortunately, on hotter days when the jacket is unzipped, there is no way to secure the open collar.

The jacket also arrives with the standard reflective strips for 360-degree visibility and an eight-inch zipper for attachment to pants, such as the Joe Rocket 7.0 Textile Pants.

JR’s Ballistic Adventure is offered in two colors – Black or Silver (shown), in sizes small (38-40-inch chest) to 3XL (54-56-inch chest). I wear a 42 or 44, and ordered a large; it fit true to size.

And the best part? It retails for $299.99 – an attractive price considering the versatility across a range temperatures. But where this jacket’s true character surfaces is through its cooling ventilation and perfect fit; I already now this will be my go-to summer and fall ADV jacket.

For additional information, visit Joe Rocket.

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