Rev'It's Traction Jacket is a great combination of comfort, protection, and style
When I started riding approximately one million years ago, I was very much a black leather and denim kind of guy. Still am, actually, and my style of riding gear can generally be described as "retro"—police-style biker jackets, rally jackets, dark indigo denim with wide cuffs, engineer boots, etc. Now that I'm getting older and have more access to different kinds of modern riding gear though, my opinion on non-leather gear is softening. The Traction Jacket by Rev'It, which I've been wearing all summer and have kind of fallen in love with—is probably the piece of gear most responsible for that softening. What's the Traction Jacket you ask? Let me tell you all about it.
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The Traction Jacket is a lightweight, armored mesh jacket built for hot-weather riding. The jacket's shell is made from Rev'It's proprietary, heavy-duty PWR|Mesh fabric which is designed to stand up to impact and abrasion. Since the PWR|Mesh is so tough, the entire jacket can be made from it, even the impact zones. As for the inside, the Traction has a zip-out hydratex | G-liner for waterproofing and wind reduction. It's pretty easy to get in and out, but it's kind of fiddly to open and close due to the zipper design. Also, if it's super humid outside (which I experienced both in Seattle and on my trip to Mid-Ohio) the liner sticks to your skin and is kind of rubbery and uncomfortable despite the fabric backing. Not a dealbreaker, and that liner kept me warm and dry through a lot of rainstorms and foggy rides, but it feels kind of weird. Oh, and one other thing about the liner, the connections inside the sleeve cuffs are bright red which makes them super easy to find. I thought that was a thoughtful addition by Rev'It. Good job, guys!
So, how's the armor? All the impact zones—elbows, shoulders, back— are protected by additional armor. The jacket comes with integral Seesoft CE level 1 protection at the elbows and shoulders, with additional external armor at the shoulders. The Seesoft armor is super thin, which removes a lot of the bulk usually associated with armored jackets. There's no integrated armor in the back, but the jacket has a pocket for Rev'It's Seesoft CE 2 Type RV back protector. The cuffs and collar are made from dense, rib-knit fabric and a heavy-duty zipper brings the whole thing together. If you're into that sort of thing, the Traction has two ways of attaching to your riding pants—integrated snap loops to connect to belt loops, or a big zipper that connects to Rev'It's Safeway Belt 2.
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You want pockets? The Traction has 'em. There are two deep, vertical slit pockets closed by stout zippers on the outside. Big enough to carry keys, phones, Altoid tins, and tchotchkes, and they can swallow gloved hands easily if they need to. The shell also has two internal pockets—one zippered and one quick access one with a tab and some velcro—that are very get-atable. The liner doesn't have its own pockets, but thanks to the way it attaches to the liner you can still access the shell's internal pockets with the liner in. In all there's a surprising amount of storage in this jacket, and more than once I've lost items in those deep corners. Since I'm kind of a packrat and like to carry a bunch of stuff with me when I ride, this is definitely a pro feature.
What about style and comfort, though? Well, in my opinion, the Traction looks great and wears very well. It comes in three colors—black/black, black/white, and a kind of OD milspec green/black. Mine is a green one—and the Rev'It badging is subtle and subdued with the company's name down the sleeves, a small logo on the chest, and a larger logo on the back. Badging is black or white, and there's a reflective stripe across the shoulders that's also nice and subtle until light hits it. I prefer subdued and understated badging on my gear, since when I'm just out and about running errands or something I don't get paid to advertise products. Thanks to the mesh and some strategically placed expansion patches, the jacket is stretchy and very comfortable despite its snug, racer-style fit. There are also snap adjusters on the biceps if you need a little extra room in the arms. The mesh is super breathable, which keeps you nice and cool, relatively speaking, on a sweltering summer day—especially at speed.
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My only real complaints about the styling are the collar and cuffs. It's a purely subjective thing, but I prefer a tall, rally-style collar and open cuffs. The gathered, rib-knit fabric at the cuffs makes me feel like I'm wearing a sweater or a sweatshirt instead of a sweet, high-tech mesh jacket, and the collar is just too open for me even when zipped all the way up. Again, like the thing with the liner, not a dealbreaker at all and is ultimately just down to my preferred style and not an actual issue with the jacket.
What's my ultimate judgement on the Rev'It Traction Jacket? I'll be honest with you guys, I love it. Little niggling things and my style snob thing aside, this is a great jacket. It looks cool, is really versatile and wearable, stands up to wear and abuse, and makes you feel pretty cool—literally and figuratively—while riding it. Will it make me give up on leather? Absolutely not, 'cause I'm never gonna give up my hides. What it will do is make a fantastic addition to my gear closet and give me a stylish, protective, and rad option on super hot days when the leathers are just a bit too much. I highly recommend the Rev'It Traction Jacket, guys. If you have the means and you're looking for a new textile jacket you should grab yourself one.