Date reviewed: March 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £379.99 | www.planet-knox.com
The Knox Honister on review here is one of the very few AAA-rated textile jackets available off-the-peg. The Honister is extremely versatile as it can be safely worn entirely on its own, or paired with other kit like waterproofs.
It’s got some excellent design touches, but a few niggles too…
Fit is of course very subjective, but I’m 5’10”, a bit overweight, and I have the Honister in large, which fits me snugly but (mostly) comfortably. Importantly, the elbow armour is well positioned and stays in place.
The overall construction is very solid, with a fairly thick feel to the material, while the areas that aren’t mesh have lots of stretch. The cuffs could be a little more snug on my 18cm (7 inch) wrists, but that could risk being too tight on those with a larger build.
Thumb loops are fitted to the ends of both cuffs to keep the arms from pulling back in a slide, which I found were a bit tight on the web between my thumb and forefinger after half an hour or so. The reason you don’t see these on ‘normal’ textile jackets is that those garments have adjustable cuffs; the point of the Honister is that it can be used under other kit if you want, so straps here would add unwelcome bulk.
Worn under my Oxford Hinterland jacket (with its own protectors removed) I found the Knox shoulder armour digs in a touch at times, but my main disappointment with the Honister is the thick and stiff collar, which feels very uncomfortable against my throat in any riding position or even standing up.
As I find the thumb loops to be uncomfortable for anything more than short rides, I tend to leave them off, but then the arms ride up a little while riding. Not excessively so, but that couple of centimetres is enough to put the armour in slightly the wrong place, and make me feel like I want to keep pulling the arms down. While I’m a fairly average size, this could well be different for other people, so try it on and see for yourself.
It’s a shame the collar is so bulky
The back of the collar is a lovely soft neoprene, but the combination of protective material and the zip in the upper inch of the front means I have to wear it slightly undone. It’s a simple solution to not use the full length of the zip of course, but it’s still not as comfortable as it could be, and it’s the main detail I’d like to see improved; I can’t help thinking that Knox would have been better off not having a collar at all.
My other gripe is that the elbow armour can feel sticky against my skin if I’m not wearing a long-sleeve base-layer. While the protector is carried in a soft lining so shouldn’t be an issue, the overlapped section that keeps it in place pulls back in use, leaving the tip of my elbow pressed against the armour’s glossy foam.
I plan to pop a couple of stitches in the material to keep it closed, which will easily solve this and be quick to unpick to remove the armour for washing. To be fair to Knox, it couldn’t have sealed the armour in with Velcro as that might press against the skin. Still, the bottom layer could perhaps have been longer to stop the armour becoming exposed.
The armour can become exposed against your elbow, which can feel a little clammy
A very real advantage of a product like this is that it keeps the armour close to the body, so it’s less likely to move around in a crash. Knox uses its own ‘Micro-Lock’ protectors, and it’s great to find that not only are they the larger ‘Type B’ at the shoulders and elbows in my jacket, they’re the highest protection Level 2 as well. Plus the supplied Level 2 back protector is full width and height.
It’s a shame that there’s no chest protector included with the Honister, though a Velcro strip is sewn in to accept the optional Level 1 plate that costs an additional £39.99.
It’s excellent to find Level 2 armour throughout the Knox Honister
All credit to Knox for developing an AAA-rated textile jacket. Under the current garment standard of EN17092, AAA is the highest level available, and it’s something that very few non-leather jackets achieve for now. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Honister is as protective as a quality set of leathers though – the test method doesn’t show how far beyond the minimum requirements of AAA a product will go – but it’s a brilliant achievement that Knox should be congratulated for.
It’s also encouraging to think that the Oxford Hinterland jacket I sometimes wear over it, for instance, is rated to AA. Combining that with the AAA-rated Knox doesn’t mean I have the equivalent of AAAAA-rated protection, but it’s a significant step up from either of them alone.
While used sparingly, the small reflective logos on the rear of the jacket are also appreciated.
All motorcycle clothing sold in the UK and Europe is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a good thing for riders as it can help them choose kit that has provable levels of safety because, to meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. To fully understand the labels found in all bike kit, click here.
The Knox Honister is designed to be as much a stand-alone jacket as it is to be worn under other kit, so it’s great to find so many useable pockets.
On each side of the waist is a reasonably-sized vertically-zipped pocket, while at the back is a surprisingly large map pocket, into which you could tuck some lightweight waterproofs.
Inside are two more very deep pockets that also have their own extra compartments; one for earplugs and the other for a phone, which takes my Samsung Galaxy S21 in a case no problem.
I’m impressed – the pockets don’t take up space that restricts this being used under a ‘normal’ jacket, but if you’re wearing just the Honister they do give you loads of really useful room.
The Knox Honister has just a single YKK zip up the front to close it, with an attractive polished puller. Your bike’s paintwork is protected by a silicone flap, and it’s only the height of the zip – which presses against my throat – that lets it down.
There are two double loops on the rear of the jacket that allow you to pass your jeans belt through, keeping it from pulling up in the event of a slide. The loops are a bit awkward to get to, but if you want to ensure the best protection if things go wrong, it’s worth the fiddle passing your belt through as they do work very well indeed. Due to their position, you can have the jacket open while it’s attached to your belt.
These loops allow you to pass your riding jeans’ belt through for extra security
There’s no adjustment built into the Knox Honister as it’s designed to fit as well as possible under other gear, but the large areas of tough yet stretchy material should see plenty of room for festive expansion.
With the studio flash fired behind the jacket, the mesh panels aren’t as open as you might imagine. They still provide a good flow of air though
With no waterproof membrane, the Knox Honister is good in hotter weather as the wind can pass fairly easily through the material.
The large areas of mesh aren’t as effective as you might first think due to the fact that they’re backed with additional material, but this is still cooler to wear than a typical all-season textile riding kit, if not quite as airy as the AA-rated Weise Scout, for instance.
On its own this isn’t a warm jacket, but I had it on with a tee-shirt plus the Oxford Hinterland outer shell and it was lovely at 14°C. That’s not exactly freezing of course, but with a base-layer (like the great Zerofit Heatrub), the Knox will work well with an outer shell, also helping to trap more warm air.
Needless to say, the Knox Honister is not waterproof, but it’s designed to fit under other kit, so whether you’re using one of the brand’s own shells, another riding jacket with the armour removed, or a simple waterproof over-jacket or suit, you’ll stay dry and well protected.
There’s very little off-the-peg textile kit out there that meets the protective performance of the Knox Honister, but you do have some other options…
Another option would be to use an AAA-rated leather jacket that has perforation in the leather to allow venting. You can find all the motorcycle textiles we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through Bikesocial membership.
The Knox Honister has some fantastic design touches, and it’s great to see brands reaching for the higher levels of protection; as an AAA-rated jacket that can be worn under other kit or on its own, this is an excellent bit of gear.
The Honister is bulkier than some of its competition under other garments, but that’s offset by the excellent armour coverage (though lacking a chest protector as standard) and the fact that it can work so well on its own.
The Honister forms part of Knox’s ‘Seasonless’ range, which includes a base-layer, an outer shell with some waterproofing and a dedicated waterproof over-jacket. It’s a good concept in principal, though we’ve not tried any of the other gear so can’t comment on comfort or performance, but there’s of course nothing stopping you using any kit you like with this jacket
I hope that the collar gets redesigned in future, and a tweak to the elbow armour pockets would be appreciated, but this is still a very versatile piece of kit. If it weren’t for the few little niggles in arm length and retention, and the collar, it’d be my summer jacket of choice.