Sub-editor Nich Brown is currently riding the world and has chosen to use the ‘Logan’ jacket, ‘Action Shirt’ and ‘Jacob’ base layer, all from KNOX. 15,000 miles in, this is how the kit is wearing…
Knox is a British company that has always focussed on high-quality rider protection products. Since they began in 1981 they have expanded their clothing range considerably and adopted a modular approach so that riders can mix and match layers according to their individual preferences for impact absorption, abrasion resistance and temperature control.
This approach suits me well. Until I was tempted by Knox’s ‘Logan’ jacket, my solution had been to use clothing from hiking shops for temperature control, rain and wind protection – the kind of things I could use off the bike as well – combined with a motorcycle-specific armour shirt and unlined textile jacket.
A year on the roads in the Antipodes has so far exposed the Logan to a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. I really like the way my jacket is weathering, the mid-green colour has faded naturally under the strong ultra-violet rays of sunlight that bear down on New Zealand and Australia, protecting me from sunburn and gradually acquiring a patina that reflects our 15,000 miles travelling together.
The most obvious thing about the Logan is its styling. A beautifully understated straight-sided long-cut jacket in black or green. It’s not trying to be a Barbour or a Belstaff but it looks as perfectly at home on any classically styled motorcycle as either of those iconic clothing brands would.
The first thing that’s apparent is the very pliant ‘soft peach-feel’ outer material, which makes the wrist and neck openings comfortable but has also proven to be deceptively tough in daily use.
The jacket has neither a belt nor an elasticated cinch around the waist, but that said, it does a good job of keeping the draughts out and it certainly feels right and looks right when I’m riding my Royal Enfield Bullet. The thing is, the Logan’s outward simplicity hides so many great features and qualities.
Features and Qualities
The lining fabrics – cotton for the body, easy-sliding taffeta for the arms – continue this theme of hardwearing comfort. The neck opening is not adjustable for width and the zip slider on the front closure rubs against my Adam’s apple when fully closed. Also the wrist cuffs, while easily and usefully adjustable with two popper positions to accommodate different styles of glove, do bunch-up a bit on the tightest setting.
There are four pockets on the outside; waterproof, well-positioned and angled, they’re also a good size for carrying the bits and bobs that are best kept handy – a map, visor cleaner, inner gloves, tyre pressure gauge, etc. – and there’s an inner pocket too.
The fabric and stitching seem quite strong enough for my needs (fortunately I haven’t had to test that aspect of the jacket’s performance in its first 15,000 miles of wear). I rarely travel at more than 50mph, preferring to experience my constantly changing surroundings as more than just a blur, but I know how unpleasant the effects of even a low-speed fall can be without decent protection.
The Logan jacket is designed as a tough, windproof and waterproof outer layer that can easily adapt to go over the top of some serious impact protection and varying layers of clothing for temperature control. This is achieved by means of two sturdy zips, each running along the full length of an arm and side. Together they provide a total of 2 inches/5 cm of adjustment to the width of the jacket according to the number and thicknesses of layers needed.
That’s proved to be a really practical and effective feature in real-world use, without creating the tight points and ballooning that some jackets with straps and belts suffer from. Knox say the zips can be adjusted on or off the bike but I’ve found it far easier to do with the jacket off, certainly when reducing the width.
Knox offer a specific insulating layer for the Logan jacket but I’m travelling long-term and living with whatever I carry on my bike every day, so I prefer to save weight and space by layering-up with items of clothing that have other functions.
From the moment I laid eyes on this jacket I knew I’d like it… really like it… and I do. But I’d like it even more if it weren’t for one fairly critical flaw: The Logan is claimed to be 100% waterproof and mine isn’t.
The specification features everything you could hope for. A high performance waterproof breathable membrane and fully sealed seams. A waterproof zip runs down the centre of the jacket and is protected by a poppered outer storm flap, with a second flap between the underside of the zip and the rider (although this has a tendency to roll and fold itself out of position over time). Waterproof zips on each of the outer pockets do a good job too.
There is no storm collar, but that’s fair enough given the apparent design criteria for this jacket. Perhaps a fold-out waterproof neck baffle would make this an even better jacket because I’ve found that without the aid of a necktube to slow down the ingress of water, the non-adjustable collar becomes apparent for all the wrong reasons when the skies open.
All of which is a bit academic in my experience unfortunately, as the jacket I’m using has been known to leak (badly) in heavy rain. The YKK Aquaguard waterproof zip appears to be working well but the inside of each arm gets damp along the seam while some dampness also seeps through the back panel, which suggests a failure of the 7K/7K waterproof membrane.
Given all the thought and technology that’s gone into this disarmingly useful jacket, it’s difficult to see why this one, crucial aspect, hasn’t turned out to be as impressive as the rest of its admirable features. For the time being, I carry a cheap PVC over-jacket for when things get really wet.
Armour and Temperature Control
I’ve combined my Logan jacket with impact protection from a Knox ‘Action Shirt’ and temperature control from a Knox ‘Jacob’ merino base layer. As I’ve already said, this has proven to be quite a comfortable combination during a year spent riding in all seasons including a New Zealand winter (brrrrr…!) and an Australian summer (pass me a cold stubbie!).
I’d previously used one of Knox’s armour shirts extensively, on travels throughout Europe as well as to the Himalayas and South Africa, and liked its versatility – the Lycra fabric provides good protection against cold winds but can also be given a bit of a soak at water-stops to provide evaporative cooling in hotter climes.
For my money though, the main advantage is that the armour is held in the right place, against my back, shoulders and elbows. If the armour was held inside the outer jacket it could easily move around in an impact, especially when wearing the jacket a bit loose for ventilation.
The Knox ‘Action Shirt’ I chose for this trip has their superior Micro Lock armour installed which, although a little bulkier, doesn’t feel uncomfortable or tiring to ride in all day. It conforms well to body shape and gives me a real sense of confidence that my joints are being well looked after. It also has some stretch mesh worked into the design for increased breathability and flat locked seams that won’t dig-in.
Of course, I could have opted for a ballistic mesh armoured shirt that could be worn on its own in hot weather, but I needed a combination that works well in all temperatures and I hadn’t fully appreciated how good the Logan’s wind-proofing works.
The Knox ‘Jacob’ base layer shirt is made of Merino wool from Australia, mixed with cooling and fast drying synthetic fibres. I’ve found it to be perfect for milder and cooler days. It has a comfortable non-cling fit but the yarn is fine enough that the loose body and long sleeves don’t bunch-up under other layers.
This kind of technical Merino has a number of other advantages for the travelling biker; it’s naturally odour resistant, wicks moisture quickly away from the body, is highly breathable, protects skin from UV rays, keeps its shape well, is easy to wash and dries quickly.
The crew neck leaves me free to decide how much to cover up my neck.
In essence I really like this jacket. I love it’s understatement and the fact that it works so well for everyday constant travel. I’m very impressed with its wear characteristics and how all the Knox gear fits so well together, I’m just disappointed with the waterproofing. And so I emphasise ‘the jacket I’m using’ because you can’t always point your finger at design or materials, sometimes you just get a rogue item. I’ve ridden for years in reliably water-proof mid-price equipment and I’ve been soaked through while testing top-of-the-line gear. It’s slippery stuff is water; if it can find a way in it will.
Knox ‘Logan’ Jacket GBP 249.99
(package price including Action Shirt GBP 299.99)
Colours: Black or Green
Available from Knox stockists
NB: this review also refers to the Knox ‘Action Shirt’ GBP 129.99 and Knox ‘Jacob’ base layer GBP 54.99)