Road conditions across Nepal are challenging, with poorly maintained tarmac, miles of roadworks and a good selection of unpaved roads. Add in constant traffic, old lorries and buses belching out thick black smoke, a multitude of small motorcycles coming at you from every direction and you have mind-blowing riding conditions.
You may wonder why this is relevant to a review of a textile motorcycle jacket. Well, Nepal was the main location for my use of Oxford’s Rockland jacket, which coped very well with these demanding requirements.
Oxford describe the Rockland as a three-in-one jacket that’s designed to keep you safe and comfortable in all conditions - hot and humid, cold and wet, and everything in between.
In everything I faced in Nepal, or once back at home in Lincolnshire, this jacket felt comfortable during some very long, challenging days on the bike.
It allowed the freedom of movement I needed to deal with sitting on the seat on short sections of tarmac and standing on the pegs to get a better view and pick a line through potholes and unpaved surfaces.
Let’s talk about some of the jacket’s details.
There are two straps on each side to adjust the fit around the ribs, and these straps became loose during a day's riding. In the end I didn’t bother tightening them again as they settled into a position that was comfortable and the jacket still looked well tailored.
On the outside of the jacket there’s decent pocket provision, with two double pockets on the front and a double pocket on the back. So you could say it has six pockets, or three doubles.
The side pockets are both fastened with Velcro and a press stud. Opening each of these fasteners reveals another section within the pocket. The one on the left is unsecured and the one on the right can be zipped up.
These pockets are a little small in my opinion and the two sections get in the way of sliding things in and out. Having said that, my wallet travelled happily in one pocket for my entire trip.
The pocket on the rear has a large opening at the top and then an additional netting pocket to store wet kit so it can breathe rather than turning mouldy.
The jacket comes with removable thermal and waterproof liners, which can be used together in the jacket or separately.
Take all the liners out and you’re left with one internal net pocket that has an elastic top. I didn’t feel this pocket was secure enough, so I didn’t put anything important in it. Nothing I did put in there disappeared though, so it must be reasonably secure. There are similar pockets in both the thermal and waterproof liner, and I have similar reservations about those.
The jacket has lots of ventilation, in the front there are two openings on each shoulder and two on the chest. The flaps are easy to open and they are held open with press studs and there’s a stowing pocket for the loose flap.
One zipped panel covers a very large exhaust vent on the back. Open the two zips, undo a Velcro strip and fold this large panel down into a stowage pocket to reveal a sizeable mesh section.
A zip on each arm opens a vent, which does the job and also maintains the arm shape better than most adventure suits. Overall, the ventilation is good and even though my suit became completely covered with dust, none got inside to my base layers.
I found the ventilation was easy to use, most days I set off in the cool morning air of Nepal with all the vents closed and, as the day wore on, I progressively opened the vents as the sun warmed things up.
Photography: Joel Blevins
The shoulder and elbow protectors meet CE Level 1 and the overall CE approval rating is AA. The armour doesn’t feel obtrusive and is flexible, so it moves with me as I ride.
The elbow armour is slightly out of position for me, sitting a little too far down my lower arm. A back protector is not supplied with the jacket, though an Oxford Level 1 or 2 back protector can be purchased separately.
A short zip connects the outer jacket to Oxford trousers, and when the waterproof liner is fitted it has a long zip that connects to the trousers. My experience suggests the fact the waterproof liner itself is connected to the trousers makes for a better waterproof seal between the two. I used this jacket with the matching Rockland trousers and a link will appear here once that review is finished.
One thing I was fortunate to experience throughout my time in Nepal was blue sky and dry weather. Not so handy for trying out a jacket’s waterproofing performance, though.
Still, I was confident my December and January shifts for the Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes Service (LEBBS) would provide a chance to try out the thermal and waterproof liners.
I wasn’t disappointed, as three of my shifts were wet… very wet.
In heavy rain with flooded roads I kept dry. Oxford don’t say if the pockets are waterproof or not, so I tested them in the heavy rain and they kept the contents dry as well.
Some manufacturers supply waterproof linings that can also be worn over the main jacket. If Oxford had followed suit this would, in my view improve an already good jacket. Taking off a jacket and fitting liners while it’s raining is no fun, and a wet outer jacket is heavy, cools you down and doesn’t dry overnight. None of those are on my fun list, either.
Overall, though, this jacket gives good options. It’s well ventilated jacket without the liners, and waterproof and warm with the addition of one or both liners. This makes for a versatile jacket that will suit many riders over a variety of riding conditions and weather.
This is a good jacket, which I would happily use on any adventure, as well nipping out to the shops or on a ride around home.