I am a big fan of functional clothing: clothes that do something more than just cover you up. My old Joe Rocket jacket, through a bewildering array of reversible zippers, liners and snaps, could be configured into everything from a dual-layer cold weather jacket to a summer mesh jacket - all while retaining its armored protection. I had since moved on to an Olympia Airglide 3 mesh jacket for summer heat. Now I needed something for the cold weather.
I had done a fair bit of research, starting again with Olympia, as they had served me so well with my Airglide mesh jacket and pants, and my Horizon rain gear. I tried quite a few different jacket/pant combinations out, and in the end decided on the Olympia Ranger Jacket - paired with the Ranger 3 Over Pants. Available in a wide variety of colors, I selected a black and neon green color, for high visibility.
Olympia Ranger Vent-Tech Jacket, in Neon Green
Features of this jacket as published by the manufacturer:
- Outer shell constructed in coated 500 and 2000 denier Cordura fabric
- Waterproof/breathable membrane adds double waterproof protection
- Velcro lock down torso straps at chest pocket vents create adjustable airflow
- Double storm placket front closure
- Removable CE Motion Flex armor at elbows and shoulders
- Removable CE approved Motion Flex articulated back protector
- Cool mesh airflow lining
- Custom Fit detailing at collar, cuffs, elbows and waist
- Full circumference neoprene collar insert
- 3M Scotchlite reflective piping at front, sides and back
- Thermo Weld reflective detail at side arms
- Five zippered waterproof storage pockets plus a large zippered waterproof rear storage pocket
I have now had this jacket for a month and a half, having ridden approximately 2,000 miles through weather ranging from 40F (4C) to 85F (29C), bright sunshine and pouring rain. Olympia bills this jacket as waterproof, and it is, in that while wearing it, you will not get wet. The jacket itself beads water off for the most part, however it can get damp - on the exterior. The interior of the jacket stays completely dry. If riding in a cold rain, I would want to have a waterproof shell, such as the Horizon rain gear that I use. Down to about 48F (9C), the jacket alone with a thin, long-sleeved shirt is sufficient. Below that, you want the thermal liner installed, which is good down to below 40F (4C). At the warmer end of the scale, I started feeling uncomfortable at around 75F (24C), even with the venting opened up. I do have limited airflow on my large faired Goldwing however, so the jacket's venting ability might be more efficient on bikes with more airflow. The inside of the jacket feels like a wind and waterproof liner, and is a bit uncomfortable against your bare arms when wearing a T-shirt, particularly when it gets a bit warm. I wish it had a mesh liner, at least in the arms.
The jacket is constructed of a thick and strong Cordura, with much thicker and abrasion-resistant Cordura on the shoulders and elbows. There is highly reflective Scotchlite piping down each arm, across the front, across the back, and a large reflective patch on each shoulder. The jacket is a mid-length jacket, to prevent wind from coming up underneath it - something I really hated about my old Joe Rocket jacket.
The back of the jacket has a vast expanse of high-visibility green (in this color scheme), and two zippers at the bottom which can be unzipped to adjust for an individual's girth. The backs of the sleeves also have velcro-secured straps to adjust the snugness of the elbows. The sleeve cuffs have velcro fasteners to snug them closed against wind and rain intrusion.
There is a belt that goes around the waist which can be adjusted to make sure the jacket fits snugly. The vertical strap in the picture is used to hold the vent open, which can be seen at the top of the picture.
At the bottom of the jacket is a bungee strap which can be tightened and secured to snug the bottom of the jacket to prevent wind intrusion.
There is a massive waterproof (lined) pocket that is located on the back of the jacket, at the very bottom. This is a truly huge pocket, and could be used to store gloves, several maps, or even a small rain suit.
There are also two large pockets on the front, both waterproof (lined) and easily accessible while riding, with gloves on.
The collar of the jacket unsnaps, and a neoprene waterproof hood unfolds. This hood is thin enough to wear under your helmet, and is designed to keep rain off your head and from dripping down your neck.
The hood has a full-coverage neck piece that keeps rain out of the front of the jacket, and works identically to the hood on my Horizon rain jacket, which I can be seen wearing here:
The interior of the jacket is completely windproof, and you can see the material that I complain about being next to my arms. There is decent back armor installed in a pouch on the back, along with air exit vents. There is a zipper to fasten the jacket to compatible pants, or a belt can be hooked to it.
The back protector is articulating. I do wish the pocket was a bit larger and allowed the option of using larger back armor if desired.
There are vents on the chest and down each arm. There are flaps held in place with velcro. Once the flaps are pulled up, they velcro to themselves, forming a ridge to help scoop air into the vent. The vent is then unzipped, and air moves into the mesh, and from there into the jacket. The chest vents have straps below them, which when pulled down, pull the vents open to help admit more air. These are reasonably effective, as long as there is airflow to move into them. Obviously at low speeds, these will not do much.
The zippers on the vents are self-sealing, to prevent the entry of air or water when they are closed up.
The front of the jacket has a decent sized breast pocket, and a beefy main zipper, flanked by weatherproof flaps. Once the zipper is shut, he flap on the right is snapped to the left, then the flap on the left is snapped on top of it to the right. This creates a completely weatherproof seal that neither rain nor wind can get through.
The collar is lined with a very soft fabric that feels great against your neck!
The collar can be left open, or snapped shut as shown. I find that my helmet buckle tends to catch on the collar pull tab at times when I am looking down, but it's not a big annoyance.
The jacket includes a thermal liner which fastens both at the top and at the end of each sleeve. This liner has two hand-warmer pockets as well as another internal breast pocket. A great feature is the fact that the thermal liner is itself an attractive jacket that can easily be worn on its own - so once you arrive at your destination, you can pull this liner out of your jacket, and wear it around until it's time to leave again.
The inside of the liner jacket reveals its true purpose: preservation of heat. It does this very well, and is extremely warm once installed.
As I mentioned, my biggest complaint: the material in the arms. If you are at all perspiring (which can happen when temperatures rise at all, or when stuck in traffic), your arms feel like they are sticking to this material. Of course, this is only a problem if you are wearing a T-shirt. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt (which you would likely be doing in colder weather) negates this problem.
Wearing the jacket along with the matching Olympia Ranger 3 Over Pants and Alpinestars Valparaiso Drystar Gloves, I am ready for moderate to cold weather riding.
The reflective piping on the jacket and the shoulder patch glows quite brightly in the dark when illuminated by headlights (or in this case, a camera flash).
The reflective strips across the back similarly glow very brightly, and the wide expanse of high-visibility green aids in daytime visibility.
- Very warm in cold weather
- Completely windproof
- Zippers and snaps can be worked with gloves on
- Slippery interior material makes it easy to get on and off
- Big pockets allow for lots of easily-accessed storage
- Good back and elbow armor
- Good adjustments to fit individuals
- Strong, reinforced abrasion-resistant Cordura fabric
- Decent venting system
- Waterproof hood
- Soft, comfortable collar
- Quite bulky to store on your bike when not being worn
- Thermal lining jacket bulky to carry when not installed
- Feels sticky in warmer weather if wearing a T-shirt underneath
Overall I'm extremely happy with this jacket as a replacement for my old, worn out jacket. It is now my new favorite piece of clothing! As I mentioned, I've got about 2,000 miles on this jacket in varying weather conditions, and this jacket has shrugged off anything I could throw at it. Highly recommended.