After suffering through triple-digit heat in my armored textile jacket, I was eager to experience the cool flow of a mesh alternative. It took me a bit to get used to the fit and feel of mesh, but the Phoenix Ion Summit proved to be downright comfortable for my daily 50-mile round trip commute on hardtop and gravel byways, and for those occasional 100-plus milers into the Kansas Flint Hills.
Things I Like: The Phoenix has a number of adjustments, but once I figured them out I had a comfortable fit that placed the armor in the right places and minimized the flapping in the breeze you can get with loose-fitting gear. Couple the near custom fit with the hi-viz color scheme and I felt as secure as ever. The 3/4-length is perfect for me as I wear a lot of my 6-foot 4-inch height in my torso, and the waist adjustment accommodates my 60-plus-year-old belly. With the liners out the mesh chest, back and arms flow air beautifully to keep me comfortable in the heat — and still comfortable in temps down into the mid-70s.
Riding in a 30-minute, steady rain the zip-out liner kept my torso dry and the jacket overlapped my rain pants sufficiently to prevent water from seeping up and over my waistband. The armor is accessible from the outside of the jacket, a plus as I didn't have to struggle to figure out which way stuff went back in after removing it to hand wash the jacket — yeah, I like my clothes to be fairly clean. I also love the collar and its zipper arrangement: It's non-chafing, doesn't catch my beard and kept the rain from running down my neck. The pockets are well thought out, but I would prefer some in a different location, and while I was prepared to not like all of the snaps and zippers used in lieu of hook-and-loop, it was nice not to randomly hook stuff, including my beard and glove wrist straps. Sometimes it's the little things.
Things I Don't Like: As much as I liked the snaps, the arm-adjustment and chest pocket snaps were not the easiest to adjust or close with gloves on. The finish on the jacket was good, and while I found a few strings/threads that needed trimming the seams were all intact. I also thought the chest pockets were high. They are deep, but I'd prefer to have them more toward the bottom front of the jacket. The zipper pulls can rattle a little in the wind, and some are difficult to grab with gloves on, but those are all minor quibbles.
Last Thoughts: The Phoenix Ion Summit mesh jacket is an economically priced hot weather jacket with enough air flow to keep you cool, and sufficient and well-located armor to keep you confident. It performs in the rain and should perform in early fall and late spring with the thermal liner installed. The fit is great and the finish is good, and for the price this jacket will serve you well. If you are a warm-weather rider, probably the only reason you'll ever need to replace this jacket will be because your belly grew too much long before you wear it out. $249.99.