MC Tested: Pilot Elipsol Air Jacket

A do-it-all jacket that leaves budget left over for actually doing stuff.

Pilot Elipsol Air Jacket
Reaching for my map to figure out where the heck we are during a recent dual-sport ride up the California coast. The Elipsol is a great fit for adventure riders, but the styling and functionality make it a good match for a variety of bikes and riding styles.Spenser Robert

After a helmet, a jacket is likely your most expensive and important piece of riding apparel. A good jacket helps protect your arms and torso if you crash, keeps you comfortable, offers conveniences that make riding more enjoyable, and hopefully doesn’t blast too big a hole in your bank account.

Taking all that into account, Pilot's Elipsol Air jacket is just about as good as it gets. You can cruise over to the Pilot Motosport website if you want to read about the philosophy behind the jacket and its laundry list of features, but what you won't learn from the description and specs is how it works in the real world. That's where I come in.

I first wore the Elipsol on a dual-sport ride up the California coast for a recent episode of On Two Wheels. Knowing how fickle the coastal weather can be and aware that my co-host Zack Courts and I (and camera crew) would be more or less off the grid for a few days, I wanted a versatile, rugged jacket. I wasn't let down. I've since worn the Elipsol for daily commuting and short trips, and it's worked well in all scenarios.

Pilot Elipsol Air Jacket details
Pilot went all-in on the details. Adjustment straps on the arms and waist allow you to tailor the fit to accommodate layers, and man am I a fan of that rolled-neoprene collar. A Velcro strip inside the main zipper is ready to accept either of Pilot’s two accessory chest protectors for added protection.Jeff Allen

A few things stand out about the Elipsol Air. I immediately appreciated the airflow provided by the jacket's large mesh panels (Thermo-Lite and Reissa waterproof liners removed, of course) as we motored north out of Los Angeles in late-summer heat, and the rolled-neoprene collar is a feature every jacket should come with. It's comfortable and prevents neck chafing no matter how bitterly cold or sweaty you may be.

I’m also a big fan of the pockets. I like to keep my wallet, phone, snacks, and other supplies handy, and the Elipsol’s many pockets (10 in total, if I’m counting right) allow you to do just that, and they’re placed so that your cargo doesn’t restrict your movement or jab you in the ribs. I especially like the left-wrist pocket (great for earplugs) and the rear cargo pocket (great for stowing the wind/waterproof liner).

Pilot Elipsol Air Jacket pockets
The removable rain liner may be a bit inconvenient, but the Elipsol has a cargo pocket that’s perfectly sized for the insert. I ditched the quilted Thermo-Lite liner entirely as I prefer to use my own wool base layers.Jeff Allen

Medium-weight fabric and large mesh panels make for a flexible and non-restrictive fit that’s comfortable whether you’re moving around on the bike while navigating single-track or moving around camp setting up your tent, but Pilot layers on heavier, 1,000-denier material over key impact areas. There’s armor at the shoulders and elbows and a foam back pad, but I opted to upgrade to the CE Level 2 back protector insert, a $40 accessory. All in this is a $300 jacket, but it functions like a setup with a much higher price tag.

The only thing that sets this jacket apart from established premium-apparel brands is the lack of a waterproof treatment (laminated Gore-Tex or other) on the chassis itself. Some riders see a removable rain liner as an inconvenient cheap-out, but others see it as a sensible solution that yields a more versatile—and less expensive—garment. After all, you can’t get the kind of airflow the Elipsol offers if you’re relying on zippered vents, and while an internal liner means the jacket itself gets wet if it rains, you can be pretty sure your torso is going to stay dry. That being said, I haven’t worn the Elipsol in anything worse than a sprinkle so I can’t really speak to its performance in the rain. In all other conditions and environments, however, it’s been excellent.

So if you don’t mind zipping separate liners in and out of your jacket—I did it several times a day in order to counter Big Sur’s capricious climate while on my dual-sport adventure—then the Elipsol Air is an excellent option that’s sure to work well no matter where, what, or when you ride.

Pilot Elipsol Air Jacket
MC Tested Grade: A+
Summary: A well-built, extremely versatile jacket at a reasonable price.
Price: $260