What exactly does “Tuk Tested” entail, you might ask?
This jacket has been tested more thoroughly than any other piece of gear in WBW history to date (that I’m aware of).
I just returned from a 5600-mile adventure ride while using the Ballistic 14 jacket. Beginning from my home in Airdrie, Alberta, Canada it ranged all the way to the northernmost location reachable by road in Canada: Tuktoyaktuk or Tuk for short.
Over the course of that trip, I encountered temperatures ranging from a chilling 30 degrees all the way up to a sweltering 90 degrees Fahrenheit and all the UV radiation that comes with it.
Plenty of rain almost every day for the first week straight, wicked dust on remote gravel roads and literally thousands of insects assaulted this gear for two and a half weeks nonstop. There was even a close encounter with a large bear as seen in the photo below.
A handsome textile jacket that is lightweight. Sturdy yet pliable with double-stitching in the soft exterior nylon shell which doesn’t appear to be waterproof, but the “Dry-Tech” branding on the back suggests otherwise.
Fitment and Finish
The medium sized jacket fits my 40-inch chest perfectly and there’s lots of possible adjustment on each arm through stretching elastic bands and rubber coated snaps. The waist on each side has velcro adjusters as well to achieve a comfortable fit.
The sleeves are sewn in such a way as to be slightly bent even when the jacket is just sitting on a hanger. This is further supported by accordion-like pleats on the elbow area to stop the nylon from stretching out from arms remaining in the bent position over many miles of riding. Smart design.
The velcro closures on the wrists offer a huge range of adjustment and lock down really tight to seal out wind and water over any size of glove.
After a few weeks of riding, I noticed the microfleece lining located just above the cuffs on the inside of each sleeve started sagging out of the sleeve and getting in the way while I was tucking in my gloves. Not a huge deal really, but irritating when you go to close up the wrist velcro and have to push in the liner first.
The main zipper is YKK quality and was always solid along with the other ones on the jacket vents and pockets. The zips never caused me any grief whether wet or dry at any time with the exception of the one on the inner thermal layer. More on that later.
The collar has three locking positions on it to hold the connector securely in place for sizing around your neck. I never had the collar open up once unless I hadn’t installed it correctly in the groove. The collar lining has soft microfleece inside it and a layer of neoprene at the top that caused no chafing and kept wind and rain out perfectly no matter how wild things got on my trip.
There’s also a hook on the opposite side of the locking slots available to latch the collar open if you prefer during hot weather riding.
After a few thousand miles of riding, I noticed that the red colored neoprene strip had been stained black by the bottom of my helmet rubbing against it, but wasn’t frayed at all.
Sharp Looking detailing
I love the tasteful branding on the shoulders, arms and back along with the overall color scheme. I would have preferred one without the white patches on the upper chest areas because the dirt and dust discolored it slightly over time, but it’s good for visibility purposes. I’ll have to try machine washing it to see whether the brownish tint comes out.
Venting and Breathability
I’m beyond impressed that such an affordable jacket worked in low and high temperatures equally well.
Dubbed the “Variable-Flow” ventilation system, the outer shell definitely allows perspiration to exit the inner jacket to the atmosphere.
This is especially noticeable in the lower arm areas despite the fact there aren’t any zippers there or anywhere on the arms to open up. I could feel the cool wind on my forearms at speed on the bike when the weather was hot, but not when I had the inner thermal liner installed and the weather was cold.
Well done Joe Rocket Canada!
Straps for the Vents
The vertical vents running down the sides of the zipper on the front of the jacket each have a small strap with a snap on the end which can be used to prop open the two vents instead of relying on the wind to blow them open to cool the rider.
Similarly, the vents on the middle of the back also have these straps to prop them open too. I haven’t seen this on even the Rukka jacket I just reviewed and adored.
Thermal Liner (Secondary Jacket)
I love it when a jacket comes with a bonus feature like this second jacket which doubles as an insulating layer under the main jacket shell. The puffy insulation isn’t feather-down filled as far as I can tell, but man does it ever work in keeping you warm. I enjoy wearing it around town as a casual jacket when I’m not riding.
The only beef I have with it is the zipper. I had it jam up several times when trying to put it on, and a few times the lock at the bottom came undone after zipping it up. The zipper split from the bottom up a few inches. Happily, each time I just backed the zip down to the bottom things went back into place without issue and all was well.
I like the side pockets on the inner liner and how they zip closed to keep contents from falling out. The liner is uber lightweight and so if not for the zippers I’m sure everything would regularly fall out.
The liner can be attached to the outer shell using loops of material that snap closed, but honestly, I never used them. I found the liner fit me fairly snug and didn’t climb up my arms when I put on the outer shell over it thanks to the elastic cuffs on it.
As with all gear claiming to be waterproof, I torture tested the Ballistic 14 for 5 minutes straight by having my wife spray me with the cold water from the backyard garden hose. We aimed it specifically at all the zippers, pockets and seams to see if anything would leak.
This was when I found out the two pockets located in the white area of the upper chest are NOT watertight! I had left the remote garage door opener in one of the pockets and it was wiped out by water leaking inside.
Real Rain Testing
In addition to this water testing, I was absolutely pounded every day on my ride to Tuk for about 80% of the time I spent riding along the coast of British Columbia by heavy and light rain. Through it all, the Ballistic 14 “Dry-Tech” integral waterproof membrane shrugged it off beautifully.
The best part about this outer shell is that it doesn’t absorb the water like some other jackets do and stay wet and cold. The water beads up on the outer shell beautifully and then just blows off. Obviously, this helps keep you warm on the bike.
I began to think it was immune to all rain, until the 6th day of rain when I encountered the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden in mixed with some small hail. Something happened that produced a whimper of shock and discomfort from me when I felt the chill of very cold water soaking through my thermal layer right down to my navel area. Luckily the rain stopped about that time and I was spared from being completely soaked.
I had missed closing one of the snaps on the double flap for sealing the zipper and that’s how the monsoon-like wave of water managed to penetrate what I thought was a perfect water defense. There are overlapping flaps sealed with snaps and velcro along with a folded over water dam of fabric in the zipper area that should stop anything from coming through unless you mess up and forget to close it completely.
Happily, the jacket never leaked again on the trip, so I’m going to accept the blame for the leakage.
The armor included with the jacket is marginal at best in the arms and shoulders being only CE level 1. The pad on the spine area is what I would equate with packing foam found in parcels at the post office.
Yes, it’s all super lightweight which is appreciated but offers little in the way of protection. I opted to replace the packing foam spine protection with a quality Rukka D30 Air Level 2 piece of armor. It fits in the pocket perfectly and gave me peace of mind while I rode on some very treacherous roads up in Canada’s Arctic region where help is far away or unavailable.
Joe Rocket Canada should definitely put better quality protective armor in the spine area of this jacket. It deserves better.
The nylon exterior shell isn’t double thick over the impact areas where the armor is installed underneath, unfortunately. Neither is there any low friction, Superfabric covering those areas, so even though I’m confident the rider would be protected in a slide, I’m not sure the jacket would be serviceable afterward depending on the severity of the slide.
There is 11 pockets total with four located on the inside in the mesh liner.
The large front pockets were the ones I used most of all for my phone and wallet since these are waterproof ones and conveniently located. There aren’t zippers on them, but the velcro worked perfectly for keeping things safe.
There are open pockets behind these two for putting your hands in to keep them warm when you’re not riding too.
One vest pocket has a clip ring on it for keeping a key safely tucked away. I know that’s what it’s for because there is a small symbol of a key beside the zipper opening.
The pocket below it is for housing a spare helmet visor inside while another mesh one on the lower right has a strap equipped with a snap on it for securing something else which I couldn’t sort out.
There are no small pictographs were present to provide any hints either, so use your imagination I suppose.
The large pocket on the exterior situated in the small of the back came in handy for storing my warm weather gloves while I was riding in the cold, and vice versa.
I gush about how well this jacket held up to the amount of punishment it endured on my ride to Tuktoyaktuk and back.
I liked this jacket the moment I first tried it on, but admit I was more charmed initially by the oh-so-sexy Rukka ROR I recently reviewed until I really field tested this Ballistic 14 in the field. Before leaving for Tuk I was sorely tempted to take the Rukka instead, but I had promised to wear the Joe Rocket Canada gear before hand and am a man of my word.
The JRC jacket costs HALF the price of the ROR, comes with armor included and a thermal liner.
The Rukka (nice as it absolutely is) has none of that in its favor.
The Ballistic 14 is not nearly as lightweight and not quite as stylish, but damn… I’m finding it hard to rationalize ever reaching for the Rukka before this Joe Rocket Canada offering if I’m being completely honest.
I did notice some threads sticking out of the seam on the left sleeve of the Ballistic jacket towards the end of my long trip home, but since appearing they haven’t come out any further. After over 6000 miles of wear and tear it’s earned those whiskers I think.
Back in 2007, the late Rick Korchak did a review of the Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 jacket. He loved the “surprise and delight” features of the jacket back then and those are perfect words to describe this latest descendant of that jacket perfectly.
Rick sadly is no longer with us, having just recently passed on to the motorcyclist afterlife, but I certainly echo his appreciation of Joe Rocket innovation which is so evident in this 14th incarnation of a proven, quality riding jacket.
What a bargain! What a great piece of gear! It’s on my personal recommendation list for any kind of riding due to its versatility. It’s a pity this exact jacket is only available in Canada although similar ones are available through Joe Rocket Direct in the US like the Joe Rocket Ballistic Revolution.
- Excellent fit, finish, design and value for the money
- Waterproof exterior using the effective Dry-Tech system
- Easily adjusts at neck/arms/waist to fit snug and keep wind and water out
- Large pockets house everything you need
- Durable Rock Tex 600 Nylon exterior shell
- Stylish and warm inner thermal liner makes a great secondary casual jacket
- Subtle reflective striping on arms and back are effective, not overbearing
- Priced low comparatively at $399 Canadian dollars
- Only available in Canada
- Jacket breathes well but would benefit from zippered arm venting
- Inner layer of microfleece around the wrists tends to sag out sleeves
- Jacket did leak once through the zipper during a monsoon-like rainstorm