Even though you can get expertly designed riding gear for every imaginable purpose, it’s still nice to have a do-it-all jacket. That’s what the Joe Rocket Atomic Ion jacket is aiming for – a space in your closet as the dependable and versatile riding coat you can turn to regardless of the weather outside. Plus, its $219.99 – $234.99 MSRP leaves a little change in your wallet, considering options in the textile segment can run double that price or more.
The exterior is a waterproof treated Rock Tex material that does its job well protecting against moisture in light rains. Variable Flow ventilation includes two large vents on the chest, two on the arm and two on the back, all with waterproof zippers. The chest vents include button snaps that keep both vents fully open, and contribute to making the Atomic Ion comfortable up to near triple digit temperatures when the full sleeve, thermal liner is removed.
Additional touches include INNOLITE Ultra Reflective material on the shoulders and elbows, vastly improving visibility in combination with the 360-degree reflective panels and logos. The CE-approved shoulder and elbow armor is externally accessible, removing the hassle of having to fuss inside the jacket if an armor swap or upgrade is necessary. There’s a removable spine pad included, too.
Fit is definitely American, with room to move in the arms and torso. I am a large and the Ion is comfortable affording plenty of space for base layers if desired. With the insulated liner removed, fit becomes even more generous. However, the elbow armor remains well-placed and doesn’t rotate enough to cause worry that it would be amiss in the event of an off.
Forearm adjustment snaps offer more customizable fit, as do Velcro pull waist and cuff adjusters. Together these comprise Joe Rocket’s 6-point Sure Fit custom adjustment system.
Movement in the Ion jacket is aided by the Full Flex articulated back expansion panels behind the shoulders. The back panel also includes a padded utility pocket at the base for additional storage, suitable for carrying a tool roll, road snacks or other small incidentals that may be necessary on the road.
The neoprene collar is soft and didn’t cause any issues during my time in the jacket. In fact, comfort is the most appealing aspect of the Ion jacket. Throughout, from the cuffs to the collar, to the way the CE armor sits on the shoulders and elbows, everything feels natural and strikes a pleasing balance between too loose and restrictive.
I’ve worn the Ion in damp, 40 degree weather, in scorching triple digit conditions and most climates in between. Its shortcomings are at the extremes. When temperatures are cold, the Ion is less insulated than I’d have liked and in the intense heat, even with all vents open and the liner removed, it tends to get quite hot.
The jacket’s sweet spot is anywhere from 50 degrees up to 85, 90 degrees. It manages light precipitation without issue, but I’ve not had the chance to subject the piece to an extended deluge, so I can’t comment on its reliability in a real downpour.
One small design feature that I appreciated is the left-side interior pocket, built into the main chassis of the Ion. The outer shell has a storm flap that zips up in addition to the primary external zip closure. The interior pocket is accessible with just the primary zipper open, allowing you to keep the storm flap sealed. It came in really handy as a cellphone pocket, providing quick access to my smartphone without the need to dig around.
I also like the look of the Ion Jacket. The Hitena and INNOLITE elements on the shoulders and elbows give the jacket a sporty look, but it’s not overdone. The lines are clean otherwise, with nice reflective accents on the front and back and minimal branding.
All in all the Joe Rocket Atomic Ion Jacket is a solid piece at an affordable price. It’s equipped to handle a variety of conditions, and while it may fall a bit short at the extremes, it has proven to be a reliable and functional jacket in a number of varied situations, from sport riding in the early spring to adventure touring in the late summer.