Ventura County, California, home to Rider’s editorial office and some of our favorite test roads, is the perfect environment for testing Joe Rocket’s Alter Ego jacket/pants ensemble. In the springtime, mornings in Ventura are cold and sometimes blanketed with dense fog. The marine layer usually burns off by midday, revealing the sunny skies and mild temperatures Southern California is known for. But head inland just a few miles, over mountains and into a valley, and the air quickly dries out and the temperature spikes.
The whole idea behind the Alter Ego is versatility. The jacket employs Joe Rocket’s next-generation MetaSport II System, which combines a FreeAir mesh jacket with a waterproof, zip-on outer shell and a zip-in fleece vest liner. In the morning, I wear all three layers. As the fog clears, I remove the fleece vest and occasionally open the outer shell’s chest and lower back vents. And when I head inland where it’s crispy, I remove the shell for maximum ventilation and fold it into its self-contained pouch. The pants have a zip-out waterproof liner and a wrap-around panel that, when removed, reveals a wide swatch of FreeAir mesh on the thighs, hips and backside—perfect for the inland furnace. Since I wear the pant over jeans, the non-breathable waterproof liner traps in too much heat; rain is a rare occurrence here, so I just leave it my backpack or saddlebag.
Both the jacket outer shell and the pants are made of 660-denier RockTex, and the FreeAir inner jacket and pants panel are made of heavy-duty polyamide mesh. The outer/inner jackets and pants use Joe Rocket’s multi-point SureFit custom adjustment system, a fancy name for hook-and-loop tabs and straps that can be tightened or loosened. For prophylactic purposes, the FreeAir mesh jacket has CE armor in the elbows and shoulders and a foam back pad (which can be replaced with a CE spine protector), and the pants have height-adjustable CE knee armor and foam hip pads. Both jackets have two handwarmer pockets and the mesh jacket has two inner pockets, one large enough for a face shield. The pants have long, two-way outer leg zippers, melt-resistant inner leg panels and two front pockets. An eight-inch zipper at the lower back allows the jacket to be connected to the pants.
Having worn the Alter Ego for several months, I haven’t adopted a new, alternate personality or nickname, but the gear’s versatility, practicality and affordability makes me feel more like the affable Dr. Jekyll than the irritable Mr. Hyde. The Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3.0 jacket is available in men’s sizes S-3XL in black/black, black/blue, black/red, black/gunmetal and black/hi-vis for $259.99-$274.99. It’s also available in a ladies cut, in sizes XS-2Diva in black/white, silver/white and purple/black. The Alter Ego 2.0 pants are available in men’s regular (S-3XL), tall (M-3XL) and short (M-3XL) sizes in black only for $199.99.
For more information, see your dealer or visit joerocket.com
(This Gear Lab review was published in the June 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)