EVS SOFT BALLISTIC PRO REVIEW
Words By Kris Jaymo Jamieson
One of our key dirt bike riding buds, is a 50-something shredder who makes us jealous with the amount of time he spends riding, and his speed out on the high desert trails we call home. Although Kris Jamieson, better known as Jaymo, our good pal is a family man and puts his priorities on his kids and as such, he’s not always chasing the latest and flashiest gear trends. During a recent ride together we noticed his kit was a bit worn and stinky, sorry Jaymo, so we reached out to EVS for a freshen up and hoped to have him report back on the performance of the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro armor jersey. Here is his report.
Before reviewing the EVS Soft Full Chest Protector Shirt, I feel it is important to set context around the review itself. First and foremost, I will disclose my use of similar products, from similar brands, which helped me reach my conclusions regarding the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro shirt:
- VPD protective shirt from POC.
- Body Armor shirt from Troy Lee Designs.
- Miscellaneous name brand plastic roost guard chest protectors.
- One-off brand Amazon purchased padded Lycra action sports protective shirt.
It is also important to note that I am an exclusive off road, enduro and desert enthusiast. My local terrain is expansive, unforgiving, rocky, sandy and most of all, remote. The closest operating moto track is three hours away. During testing the ambient air temperatures varied from the mid 30’s well into the 80’s. I am also 6’4” tall and weigh 190lbs. I tested an Extra Large.
The biggest issue I have with many of the new “soft pad” technology products is its responsive nature to cold temperatures. When the pads get cold, they get stiff and hard. Different formulas yield different results, and I found the EVS soft pad compound did not get as hard as the POC compound, but did get harder than the Troy Lee Designs compounds. I do not recommend leaving any of the soft pad materials in a vehicle during cold weather as they get ridiculously hard and uncomfortable, until they warm up against your body or if you crank the heater in your car before your ride. Conversely, most brands also suggest you not leave them in super hot vehicles.
While the Troy Lee Designs compounds do not react as much to cold weather, their protective shirt is also ridiculously thin. Here in the Central Oregon lava-strewn desert, it is simply not enough protection for those looking for more protection. After putting on the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro shirt however, I was very excited to have a unit that is desert crash worthy. EVS’s Reactive Memory Foam (RMF) is thick enough to give me confidence, but flexible enough to remain comfortable. The back protector meets CE 1621 Level 1 protection standards while the chest is CE 1621 Level 3 certified.
The ergonomics and the fit of the EVS shirt are spot on. The elbows and the shoulders provide solid coverage and do not shift or move. The chest and back plates feature laser cut ventilation holes, however I felt they could be improved or made larger. Despite my best efforts, and even with wearing a large pack, the pads did not shift or move, which aids in the confidence I felt while wearing this unit. I also really enjoyed the shirt’s length. Even at 6’4”, there is ample torso length to tuck the shirt into your moto pants, even with a jersey providing style and coverage over the Ballistic Pro shirt itself. The silicone print on the back tail to prevent untucking keeps it inside the pants nicely and I enjoyed keeping the jersey tightly tucked. The fit is slim and stealthy too.
After several pretty heavy crashes, I’m happy to report, the pads do work! Given that I am 51 years old, married, and have 3 kids under the age of 18….getting hurt is not an option and every time I geared up with the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro shirt, I felt confident that if I did hit the deck, I would be protected in the vital areas.
I’ve discussed the cold weather tendencies of RMF and other soft foam protectors, but let’s talk about hot weather performance. The unit doesn’t breathe as well as some thinner, lighter weight pads, like my TLD’s, however it was a price I was willing to pay for added protection. EVS uses AirMesh to help with some ventilation however, I still found myself using a thin base layer under the unit to aid in comfort. The most impressive thing about the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro in hot weather is its ability to not get stinky. The moisture wicking material used somehow resists funk and I was quite pleased in how fresh it remained after months of testing.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The long and short of it all is that EVS did a great job. Soft pad technology is not for everyone, but I’m a fan. Old school, plastic and vented roost guard chest protectors, will offer better ventilation and are usually lighter, but they don’t always offer better impact protection and certainly aren’t as comfortable. The EVS Soft Ballistic Pro shirt is far more comfortable and when you are on a 100-mile backcountry shred, comfort is critical.
The protection is there and it is solid. The EVS shirt outperforms the POC version across the board and I feel much safer in it than my Troy Lee Designs 7855 Body Armor shirt too. In hot weather, each rider will need to decide how to manage the lack of breathability under the pads themselves. To gain this type of protection you are going to have to give something up, in this case, it’s the moisture build up under the chest and back pads. I found my way of dealing with it, by using a thin, moisture wicking under shirt.
I will continue to use the EVS Soft Ballistic Pro shirt as my go-to protection layer and am happy to know it’ll have my back when I need it…And arms, and chest, and shoulders too. The fit, comfort and protection have me sold for the foreseeable future.
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Warm Under Back/Chest Pads
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