Product Review: Ace Engineering’s Lava Jacket!

Living in rural Oregon has many advantages: beautiful mountains, rainforest streams, and a lot of wildlife.  The downside?  Longer commutes and chilly mornings.

What is a doorless and topless Jeeper to do?

Previously, I would pack layers of clothing and bundle up, slowly removing layers as the temp rose.  I would start my day looking like Randy from A Christmas Story.

Many Jeepers start their summertime morning commutes just like this.
Many Jeepers start their summertime morning commutes just like this.

Enter the ACE Engineering Lava Jacket!

Ever since these hit the market, I was intrigued.  But I didn’t order one as I really wanted to check it out in person.  So, while at Jeep Beach, I visited the ACE booth and under Central Florida’s 95 degree day, tested them out.

I bought 2.

A chilly morning for my first test of the Lava Jacket.

These parkas are actually very well made, and the shell is a simple design with no real surprises.  The secret ingredient is tucked inside the big pocket in the middle – a third sleeve that connects directly to the heat vent in the JK!

My first morning commute was a beautiful clear day, but when I left the house it was a frosty 44 degrees. I quickly and easily fitted the plastic adapter onto the sleeve, and clicked it onto the vent.  I instantly puffed up, filled with the warm, comforting air.

Ready to roll: At first, I plugged it into the center vent.

I unzipped the zipper on front a little to even blow a little warmness onto my face.

And that is it!  The jacket is now controlled via your Jeep’s climate system.  A little warmer outside?  Turn down the heat.  Or, unzip the zipper more to let more heat out the top of the jacket.  It is like your own little personal thermostat.

I swapped to the other side which worked out better.

There are a few small annoying details to be aware of, but they are miniscule when compared to the benefits of the Lava Jacket.

First, it can be hard to determine if the heater sleeve is twisted before you connect it.  If ACE could stitch a red thread along it’s length, it would be a lot easier to visually determine if it is twisted.  Second, the draw strings on the hood like to flap up and smack you in the face, so ensure they are under control when you depart.  Last, I could not find a 100% ideal place for the sleeve.

When connected in the center, I felt the seat belt strap restricted the flow, and it interfered with shifting a little.  When I moved it to the far left vent, it seemed to feel better.

But the negatives stop there.

Fits nicely anywhere in the Jeep for emergencies.

On price, the $30 special at Jeep Beach ($38 retail) was hard to beat for the advantages. The jacket is surprisingly well made and tucks easily into the center console/seat back pouch/whatever.

It will keep you warm in the mornings, dry in the surprise showers, and could theoretically keep you cool by turning on the A/C (not sure though with it being a black jacket).  They also now offer extensions for rear passengers!

Wife approved!

Next week in Moab I am really looking forward to running this jacket and I will update this review with more photos.

In the meantime, pick one of these up!  Rock discount code OFFROADVEGAN at Northridge for a sweet discount!

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FULL DISCLOSURE:  I purchased these jackets at Jeep Beach at the sale price.  They were not provided to me for the purposes of this review.

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