The Scorpion Cargo Air is a lightweight, ventilated summer jacket. It includes Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor, exceptional stitching, and flows air via its Rhino-Mesh material better than any mesh jacket I have worn. It also offers good value.
Scorpion Cargo Air Jacket: a Ventilated Summer & Hot Weather Jacket
The ride review for this jacket will admittedly be a torture test, courtesy of 100 degree (38 °C) heat and high humidity here in the southeastern U.S. Is it up to the challenge? Let’s find out!
I took my time with this review, logging about 1000 miles (1609 km) riding in the jacket. It got mixed use during in-town, low speed riding, stop and go, and highway speed running.
The Scorpion Cargo Air is a lightweight, ventilated mesh motorcycle jacket suitable for hot weather use. It is constructed entirely of polyester, in Vietnam, with solid portions in 600 denier material, and most of the exterior made in Scorpion Rhino-Mesh material.
All of these materials offer a soft, and comfortable feel, in contrast to some mesh ventilated jackets, which can have a rough, and abrasive feel. The sheen and softness of the Rhino-Mesh material is first rate. The interior of the jacket features a polyester mesh material that is soft against the skin. All interior pockets are sewn into this material.
First Impressions of the Scorpion Cargo Air Jacket
I found the fit of the Cargo Air on me to be quite good. The piece reviewed here was a Large. Based on the information in Scorpion’s sizing chart, the garment was spot on for being true to size on me.
For reference, I am 6 feet (1.83 m) tall, 180 pounds (81.6 kg), with a 42 inch (107 cm) chest. One thing I found surprising with regard to sizing is that the MSRP for the jacket increases by $15.00 USD for sizes above XL. If you need one of those or larger, it will cost a bit more.
Scorpion Cargo Air Jacket Construction
Stitching in the Cargo Air is a unique feature that deserves special mention. Scorpion refers to it as the Exo-Stitch Safety Seam. It is a hidden double stitch inside folded material in all safety related seams, such as the main zip. This sewing method makes the finished product stronger and more durable.
I really liked this feature, as I feel like it will make the garment go the distance, resisting tearing and fraying in the areas most often handled. All stitching throughout the product I reviewed is flawless, and the thread used appears to be nylon. I admit to being both picky and critical when it comes to this, but the Cargo Air delivers. The construction of the jacket is very good.
Next up is Scorpion’s Rhino-Mesh material. Scorpion claims this proprietary fabric to be 3 times more abrasion resistant than typical large gauge mesh. I have no means of testing this claim, but I have no reason to doubt it, either. It feels quite strong, despite the fact that air easily moves through it. It really appears to be pretty amazing stuff.
The Rhino-Mesh material is definitely where the magic occurs. This material has an amazing ability to flow air. And flow it does. Airflow through this material is better than other mesh jackets I have and is the best I have ever tried. I freely admit to being shocked at just how well it works. Just holding it in your hands, you might get the impression that this is going to be a hot, no air movement ride. Not so! Bravo, Scorpion engineers!
The jacket is said to be water resistant, not watertight. I actually found this to be beneficial, as light rain coming through it was a welcome means of reducing heat. If you need a garment that will keep you dry, this is not it. This is no knock against it, since being protective from wet conditions is not what it was built to do. You can read about waterproof motorcycle jackets here.
The “Cargo” in “Cargo Air” comes by way of a built-in backpack. It is kept in the rabbit pocket on the lower back. Once removed, both the backpack and the back of the jacket itself feature a total of nine metal snaps to attach them to each other.
The backpack itself is 21 inches (53 cm) tall, and 15 inches (38 cm) wide. The fabric it is made of is thin and stretchy on the outside, most similar in feel and thickness to a ladies stocking, very sheer and not particularly indicative of something that would be very strong.
The inside is also thin, but is not stretchy. It is covered in what I believe is a thin layer of polyester, which gives the retention snaps something to gain a sturdy enough surface to be mounted on.
This is where I will step off the reservation for a moment. I don’t love the backpack. Here’s why.
First, I think it compromises the safety of the jacket, especially without a back protector. My concern here is that anything in the backpack potentially injures the rider in an accident.
Second, the backpack itself is not made to the same standard as the jacket. It very much feels like an afterthought, something that likely would not last long with regular use.
This garment stands alone without the need for this. In making a purchase decision, ignore the backpack. It isn’t where the value lies.
Polyester mesh lines the interior throughout for increased airflow and comfort. It does not cause any reduction in noticed airflow. In addition to the storage pockets in the jacket’s interior, there is also a sewn in back protector pocket.
The collar is a Mandarin style, and does not cinch tight around the neck, allowing enhanced airflow in this area. Other than being pulled together by the main zip, it has no additional straps or closures.
Even on a fully-faired bike like a sport or supersport motorcycle, air moving here is noticeable and welcome. It is generously padded, and sewn precurved for a natural and comfortable fit.
The jacket includes six pockets in total, with four on the exterior and two on the interior.
None of the pockets on this jacket are watertight. They are instead designed to not impede airflow. If you need to protect something from ending up wet (a cell phone for example), you’ll need to bring along something for that purpose. I carried a couple of plastic zip top bags, just in case of a deluge. In light rain, I never needed them.
The front of the Cargo Air has two zippered hand warmer pockets. As the interior of the pockets is open mesh, not much hand warming will take place! At 7 inches (18cm) tall, and 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) deep, their size, and secure zippered closures make them quite useful.
On the front exterior, right side, is a zippered breast pocket. It is not very deep at 5 inches (12.7) cm, or wide at 5.5 inches (14 cm). It might be useful, I think, for an electronic toll device, or a credit card.
The right interior area of the jacket features a zippered Napoleon pocket that I found quite useful at 7.5 inches (19 cm) wide and 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) deep—large enough to hold all but the largest cell phones.
The left interior also has a pocket that features a hook and loop closure rather than a zipper. It is the only pocket in the jacket to do so. It is also usefully large at 8 inches (20 cm) wide and 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) deep.
The rabbit pocket, containing the accessory backpack, is the largest at 15.0 inches (38 cm) wide and 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) deep, with a zippered closure. This pocket carries the same caution from me as the backpack accessory about what the rider carries in it. In this case, even with a back protector installed, it is located in the lower lumbar area of the rider’s back, not an area anyone would want an otherwise-preventable injury.
Branding is very subdued, with a 2 inch (5 cm) black sewn on Scorpion “S” on the top center of the back, and a .5 inch (1.3 cm) tall and 3.0 inch (7.6 cm) wide embroidered “Scorpion eXo” script on the left top chest. The same text is embroidered slightly larger on the center of the rabbit pocket, which makes it invisible while seated.
All branding blends in nicely with the areas it’s placed in. Most of the zipper pulls are branded, but you would need to be looking right at them to see this, as they are also black. I really like this approach, where the branding isn’t screaming for attention.
Zippered closures feature a mixture of Scorpion bespoke branded zippers, along with some YKK branded zips. In comparing the Scorpion branded zips and some YKKs I have in other jackets, I believe they are all YKK products. This is a great thing in my mind, as they are the gold standard. All zips closed with a positive and strong feel, and have pulls that are sized for easy use with gloves.
The jacket is available in dark colors exclusively: black and dark grey. These aren’t great choices for managing heat or promoting visibility. White, hi viz, or other lighter heat reflecting colors would be welcomed.
The time when this really became noticeable for me was when sitting in stop and go traffic. Without the benefit of moving to create air flow, it heats up fast. I’m not Marlon Brando. I don’t need black. Perhaps the Rhino-Mesh material can’t be made in lighter colors? If it can, it would make a good jacket even better.
Some adjustments for fit are included. Both sides near the waist feature hook and loop straps, pulled through eyes on sewn-in loops near the bottom of the hand warmer pockets. The loose ends of the straps secure via hook and loop on the ends of the rabbit pocket in the back. It also features two-position metal snap-fastened elastic adjustment straps on the forearms of the sleeves.
Scorpion Cargo Air Jacket Safety & Protection
Although safety considerations built into the jacket are good overall, it isn’t this piece of kit’s primary mission. It absolutely does strike a great balance between safety and ventilation, and these are conflicting goals that are difficult to engineer together.
Scorpion has done a pretty brilliant job of making it work. The jacket itself does not carry any safety certifications, and based on how it is built (and what it is built for), one really wouldn’t expect it to.
However, it does not get a pass from me for the lack of a back protector. With the cargo backpack installed, any items placed in it are subject to potentially end up injuring the rider in the event of a get-off. I would be quite cautious about its use without back protection.
The jacket has a pocket sewn into it for a back protector, and Scorpion offers one as an accessory piece, at a modest additional cost. My thought is that not including it was done as a price point consideration, and I get that—even though I believe this jacket is leagues better than most mesh ventilated types, it still has to compete against them in the marketplace.
Still, this particular jacket really needs one, in my opinion, for use with the backpack. It is unique in that regard.
The Cargo Air includes Safe Tech Level One armor in the shoulders, and on the elbows. The exterior portion of the jacket in both of these areas is reinforced with an additional solid layer of 600 denier material, double stitched, which should offer good resistance to abrasion, helping ensure the armor stays where it is needed if sliding.
I found the armor to be very well placed and completely unobtrusive while riding. This is fortunate, because its position inside the sleeves and shoulders is not adjustable. The pockets the armor pieces are in are large enough to hold them, but not much more, precluding simply moving them inside the jacket the way most textile riding gear does.
It can move a little, which it will when you put it on, as the armor settles on your shoulders and elbows. Again, I found it to be just right, but if it is possible to try before you buy, you may wish to. Zippered sleeve closures on me were loose fitting, at 4.75 inches (12 cm) wide when zipped closed. This can leave your wrists exposed while wearing a short cuff glove, which in the heat of summer, most riders would likely want to wear.
If this is a concern, gauntlet style gloves can be worn, as the jacket’s sleeve cuffs are not so thick as to prevent them from fitting easily inside a glove. Airflow up the sleeves is enhanced by the looser fit, though, and that benefit for me outweighed the potential risk of sticking with summer-appropriate short cuff gloves.
Although the Cargo Air Jacket is said to feature reflective elements, the hard truth is it really doesn’t. Although it has reflective piping on the upper sleeves and a piping strip on the back, it is just too little to really be seen. At night, it will not get the attention of other motorists.
I tested this by having both people in cars behind me and other riders see if any reflection from the jacket caught their attention. In both cases, they reported seeing no reflectivity at all. The dark color doesn’t help in this regard, either.
To increase reflective visibility, you will need to add your own reflective elements. Unfortunately, this has become common in riding apparel. Fortunately, there are good solutions available.
The Wrap-Up: Final Thoughts on the Scorpion Cargo Air Jacket
I like the Cargo Air jacket a lot. I live in a place where summers are typically brutal. This product speaks directly to that challenge, allowing me to remain protected while helping me to manage the heat.
Is it as safe as the gear I customarily wear? Definitely not. However, when the heat is on, this will be the one I reach for. It is the best ventilated jacket I have ever tried. It really moves the air. In the end, it is a compromise of functions.
The built-in backpack accessory? A swing and a miss. Hey Scorpion, instead of spending money on this backpack, how about including a back protector?