Knox Zephyr textile jacket review

Review
Knox Zephyr textile jacket

Overall SBS Rating 86 /100
Reviewed by: Felix Billington
 SIMON LEE
Review Conditions
Mileage
5000
Seasons
Summer
Motorcycle
BMW R1200GS and Harley-Davidson Street Glide

I am always too hot when I’m riding spent a long time searching for a garment offering the ventilation of a mesh jacket yet providing the abrasion resistance of a textile suit and having the proper impact protection.

I settled on the Knox Zephyr jacket and hoped it would prove the holy grail of hot weather riding. After thousands of miles I think it could be just that, and here’s why…

Knox bill it as combining the features of a mesh jacket and an armoured shirt, giving full venting reinforced with abrasion-resistant fabrics and Knox CE protectors for the shoulders, elbows and back. Good start!

I read all of the spec before I wore it and while I saw it offered abrasion resistance, in the back of mind I was thinking it couldn’t be as good as a proper textile jacket. Having said that, there’s always a compromise to be made when touring, and being too hot can be very dangerous. In the end, the thought of extra airflow meant it was a compromise I was willing to make.

The Knox CE armour is of high quality, providing great cover without feeling restrictive or blocking airflow. When I wore my Helite airbag vest over the top of it while leading a tour in Morocco, I was impressed because the Zephyr still allowed air to flow.

I would suggest ordering a size above what you normally wear as the fit is quite snug. This is great if you’ve got the body for it, but having a looser fit means more airflow and that’s the whole point of this jacket.

The jacket itself is very comfy even when worn against bare skin; the solid material along the upper part of the arms and shoulders gives the garment more structure. The amount of mesh elsewhere was the reason I choose this jacket and I wasn’t disappointed.

There is the option of fitting a chest protector although I never did so. While riding in Cuba I rode with the back protector in, which was comfy. In Morocco I took it out and wore my airbag vest over the top.

The Knox comes in both men’s and women’s versions, my girlfriend has ridden in the ladies version of the Zephyr, which has zipped cuffs and a leather waist belt to make it a bit more stylish – which she loved. Both have outside pockets, although we never used them because they are quite small and seem more decorative than functional.

As with most Knox gear the Zephyr can easily be washed in a machine – it’s the standard technique of taking the armour out, bunging the jacket in the machine and letting it air dry afterwards. The ability to do that is ideal, especially after those sweaty days on a bike.

With this being a mesh jacket, it’s obviously not designed for riding in the rain – but Knox make a waterproof overjacket that’s designed to complement it.

On my three-week tour in Morocco on an R1200GS with textile trousers and adventure boots, riding in temps up in the high 30s it proved more than adequate − at times feeling like I was riding in just a t-shirt. One thing, though − with it being black it heats up quickly when you stop.

As well as the adventure touring, I also wore this on a 10-day trip around Cuba on a Harley-Davidson with jeans and boots, and I didn’t feel too out of place with the rest of the leather-waistcoated gang!

In conclusion, I love this jacket. For me it is indeed the holy grail for hot weather riding gear, with the added bonus of looking cool (even on me!).

As with any piece of kit there are a few compromises to be made. I’m still unsure as to whether the jacket would offer me the protection of a full textile jacket, but I’m very pleased with this one. It’s the best mesh jacket I’ve worn to date.

+ Knox have since released the Knox Zephyr Pro jacket. As well as higher-grade CE Level 2 armour for shoulders, elbows and back, it has a removable chest protector as standard. It is also approved to the middle AA level in the latest CE safety tests, which you can read more about here.

86/100
Vented summer textile jacket scores
  1. Fit & Comfort
  2. Protection
  3. Ventilation
  4. Build Quality
  5. Features

Features

    1. Elbow and shoulder armour
    2. Back protector included
    3. Waist fit adjusters
    4. Front ventilation panels
    5. Rear ventilation panels
    6. Internal pocket
    7. Connection belt loops
    8. Waterproof overjacket option
    1. Light-reflective panels
    2. Sleeve adjusters

Fit & Comfort

18/ 20
I’ve deducted two marks as I think the sizing runs a bit low – it’s just something to be aware of when you are ordering. Even when worn with just a t-shirt underneath its very comfy on the arms.

Protection

14/ 20
While it’s billed as abrasion-resistant my subjective view is that it’s not going to offer the level of abrasion resistance as a ‘proper’ jacket. Having said that it never claims to deliver this and the armour is of high quality.

Ventilation

20/ 20
The airflow that comes through this jacket is amazing and convinced me to accept what felt like a compromise over the protection levels.

Build quality

20/ 20
Build quality is what I expected from a Knox product with no complaints. I subjected the jacket to pretty heavy use in a range of different environments and nothing failed on it.

Features

14/ 20
Practicalities like light-reflective panels and sleeve fit adjusters are missing, but there are a good selection of relevant features on this jacket.