Joe Rocket Sahara Vest
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Cooling Vests Page
| Owner Comments (Below)
Believe it or not, some time
right after the Industrial Revolution, learned scholars were quoted as
saying that anything that could be discovered had been.
pompous, those old farts... Little did they know how many cool
motorcycle products and accessories would be "discovered" in the early
parts of the 21st century...
Maybe its because I'm
becoming (or already am, depending upon who you ask) an old fogey
myself, but I still get pretty excited when something new and useful comes
Back in the old days (you can be sure you're entering Fogeydom when you say things like "back in the old days"...), new
motorcycle gear came along about once a decade. Maybe today's jaded
youngsters are used to seeing new developments on a near-weekly basis,
but not me. Recent "discoveries" in hot-weather motorcycle
clothing have been really exciting.
We now have super-light helmets that actually flow
air; mesh jackets and pants that are as comfortable as pajamas; fabrics
that wick away moisture; and now under-garments that use a recently
rediscovered ancient technology - evaporative cooling - to help keep us
The Joe Rocket Sahara "Evaporative Cooling System"
vest uses a special polymer material in the liner that absorbs moisture,
then slowly releases it in the form of a gas. This process,
(called "evaporation" for those of us who were out riding during Physics
class) creates a cooling effect that is put to good use in helping to
keep us comfortable during hot weather riding, or even for hanging-out
in hot weather comfort.
Sahara vest is made by motorcyclists for motorcyclists, so it's
appropriately tailored for wear under motorcycle jackets, with a
shorter back that will fit under most jacket styles. The sides of
the Sahara vest are made from a wide elastic, which helps the vest fit
comfortably and close to the body. This is important for the
optimal evaporative effect.
The vest will zip into the newer Joe
Rocket Phoenix 2.0 and Reactor jackets, which is a nice feature, because
when dry, the Sahara vest also provides some wind protection and a bit
of warmth. This means that the Sahara vest could be worn out in
the morning under a Phoenix jacket, and then as the day heats up, it can
be hydrated and used for cooling.
The Sahara vest is very light when dry at 265 grams
(9-3/8 oz.). Joe Rocket recommends soaking the vest in cool water
for one to three minutes, but I found that soaking it a bit longer seems
to cause it to hold more water. After gently wringing it out a
couple of times to eliminate the excess H2O, the vest weighs in at
1846 grams, or about 4 lbs., 1 oz. That's a difference of about
1573 grams, or 3.47 pounds of water!
One of the nice features of the Sahara vest is that
the liner seems to be made of some type of fabric that allows you to get
most of the evaporative cooling effect while still keeping most of the
water from soaking your T-shirt worn underneath.
Other clothing that I've tried that uses
evaporative cooling effect can sometimes also give a "wet T-shirt" feeling
underneath, which isn't all that bad when you're riding in the heat, but feels pretty
icky otherwise. The Sahara vest does feels a bit damp underneath, but
the liner prevents that soaking wet feeling. It's nice to be cool without
also feeling like you've
just crawled out of the Atlantic with your clothes on...
Our house has a nice, deep well that
provides cool tap water, which works nicely to hydrate, or "activate",
the vest. I use a deep plastic Tupperware container and fill it
about half-way with tap water, then I fold up the vest, sink it to the
bottom with something heavy and let it soak.
The vest can also be
placed in a plastic grocery bag after it's activated and stored in the
refrigerator for a while to get an extra cooling effect, but I'm usually
not thinking that far ahead. If you know you're going out for a
ride in a few hours or the next day, and it's going to be a hot one, the
refrigerator trick comes in handy. Alternatively, some ice cubes
can be added to the "hydration activation device" (the water bucket!) to
cool things down even more.
The Sahara vest's cooling effect works
best when underway, although it can also be felt as soon as you put it
on. I don't really notice feeling the wetness, but I do notice the
cooling factor. It seems to last about one hour when riding a "naked"
bike; a bit longer behind a fairing. It's not a pronounced chill like
walking into an air-conditioned room, but the subtle cooling makes
riding more bearable during those
miserably hot and humid days.
In the past, I've sometimes
avoided riding in the middle of the day in the summer because it's just
too uncomfortable. But the Sahara vest provides just enough relief,
and in the right places (on the back, chest and stomach) to make a
I have a first-generation Phoenix
jacket, which doesn't have the extra liner zipper, but it really
doesn't matter. The Sahara vest fits nicely underneath either the
mesh jacket or my new
Firstgear Hypertex mesh jacket, and it will fit
under just about any mesh or other perforated jacket.
When activated with water, the Sahara vest is not designed to be
used under any type of non-perforated jacket that doesn't provide large
amounts of air flow. The air flow is necessary to provide the
evaporative cooling effect, and if you wear the activated vest under a
leather or textile jacket, you'll only feel awfully wet and sticky.
The Sahara vest also folds up into a nice little
square, so it's easy to tuck it into the back pocket of a jacket or into
a small tank bag. Joe Rocket warranties the Sahara vest for one year,
and the vest is available in sizes from small to XXXL. Whether you
have a new generation Phoenix jacket or not, the Sahara vest is a worthy
addition to your hot-weather riding ensemble.
A word about
New Enough: Paul and Holly
Thompson are among the most honest vendors you're going to find on the
Internet. You may be able to cut a slightly better deal somewhere, but
you won't get the personalized service that you'll need if have a
problem or want an exchange.
This is especially important when you're
purchasing products through a website, sight unseen. New Enough carries
Firstgear, Vanson, Joe Rocket and other brands of apparel, both new and
used (by the way, webBikeWorld has no affiliation with New Enough other
than as a satisfied customer). New Enough graciously provided the
Sahara vest for evaluation in this review.
Review: Joe Rocket Sahara Vest
From: New Enough
Retail Price: $79.95; available for $69.00 at New Enough
in: Canada (Joe
Comments: Uses evaporative cooling effect
when soaked in cool water. When dry, can also be used
both to ward off the chill in cool weather. Zips into
Joe Rocket Phoenix 2.0 and Reactor jackets, but can be worn
under any mesh-type motorcycle jacket that flows air.
Fits comfortably and is very light when dry. Has elastic
side panels, no pockets. Can be used when not riding
See below for comments from
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"Hi: I totally agree with your review on the Sahara Jacket..
wore mine this weekend - temps in the 90 - 100 range. Wore the
Jacket indoors as well, then got back on the bike, and it still
felt good... It gets hot in So. California, so I'll be wearing
this jacket (with my cool tie) a lot.. :-)."