Alpinestars Ray Canvas v2 Jacket Review

Lightweight good looks with more features than meets the eye.

Alpinestars’ Ray Canvas v2 Jacket comes in two colors, black and dark khaki.
Alpinestars’ Ray Canvas v2 Jacket comes in two colors, black and dark khaki.Alpinestars

An easy jaunt on the bike shouldn't have to mean 20 minutes of pre-ride outfitting. Sometimes you just want a slow roll to the coffee shop or a quick zip to the office without going full dork power ranger or vintage-splashed hipster. Keeping it casual isn't always easy though; you still would like some measure of protection (if you know what's good for you, anyway). Methinks Alpinestars has hit the right combo with its Ray Canvas v2 jacket, a wrap that weaves in some hidden armor among the classic lines but keeps things fairly simple.

Astars bills the Ray as a casual urban jacket, and it fits that description pretty well. Note that the fit is snug (especially if you’ve had a couple of beers the night before).
Astars bills the Ray as a casual urban jacket, and it fits that description pretty well. Note that the fit is snug (especially if you’ve had a couple of beers the night before).Jen Muecke

The Ray has been around for nearly three years now but I’m a bit slow with the clothing trends, what can I say. I’ll also fess up it wasn’t love at first sight when the thing arrived on my doorstep—I thought it was a really thick shirt or something. The Ray showed no signs of heavy canvas construction and frankly, cotton—in whatever variety—just doesn’t strike me as ideal moto wear, ye olde Barbour or Belstaff Trialmaster garments be damned. I know the kids are swooning over fashionably retro fiber these days, but to my mind the abrasion-resistance properties of cotton jackets rank right up there with tube socks.

The ill will washed away the moment I put it on—I couldn’t believe how light and form-fitting the jacket felt right out of the box. The Ray was flexy and pliable, and not at all like the “heavy hand-waxed canvas” the promo copy promised. Whatever; that main shell is built from both cotton and poly fabric and claims to be water-repellent, which is good enough for me—I wouldn’t be doing an Iron Butt in this thing anyway. What’s more, the seams in the “shoulders and elbows are triple stitched,” which sounds about a third stronger than double-stitched joints would be. But I hoped there was more to it than that.

The Ray slots in as part of Alpinestars’ Oscar sub-brand, which fuses “classic styles with modern tech.” Triple stitching and interior armor just above the Oscar patch.
The Ray slots in as part of Alpinestars’ Oscar sub-brand, which fuses “classic styles with modern tech.” Triple stitching and interior armor just above the Oscar patch.Andrew Cherney

There was: Impact protection comes in the form of CE-certified Level 1 Bio Light shoulder and elbow armor, which is completely unobtrusive yet somehow feels like level 2 stuff; it’s definitely more robust than some other brands’ casual armor. The Ray didn’t come with a back protector but it has a pocket for one, so I’ll be adding that soon (there’s also a chest compartment that’ll accept an Alpinestars Level 1 CE-certified Nucleon chest insert). That said, the pockets for the inserts are a pain in the butt to find, but once you do, it’s set it and forget it.

I’m happy to say my initial misgivings have worn off. The style and fit is just what I was looking for: casual, nothing splashy, and boasting solid build quality. The inner liner is all-day comfortable, the main metal zipper down the center makes it easy to get on/off and there’s no fussing with multiple buttons and snaps as with more technical jackets. The zippered side pockets have come in handy for usual biker doodads like keys, multi-tools, or handfuls of zip-ties (hey, you asked) and even the two chest pockets have proven useful for earplugs, a Snickers bar, or whatever. But it’s the inside pouches that take the Ray to another level; there’s a zippered inner waterproof pocket to coddle your precious phone or wallet, with a deeper pocket on the opposite side for other goodies. Layered over those are two large mesh pockets to hold god knows what. I would have liked to see at least some token venting, but then the jacket itself is pretty light.

An inner waterproof pocket? An unexpected bonus on a casual textile jacket, and a very welcome one.
An inner waterproof pocket? An unexpected bonus on a casual textile jacket, and a very welcome one.Andrew Cherney

I’ve had the Ray for nearly three months now, have worn it in various climates in different states, for well over 1,000 miles and it has yet to give up the ghost. The only wet conditions it’s experienced was a brief morning mist on a local ride or two, and true to claims, the outer shell’s water-resistant treatment kept me dry and even surprisingly warm. Still, I’d consider this a two-season jacket—no matter how comfortable and well-constructed, cotton is still cotton. Also the fit is on the slim side, so if you’re at all thinking about layering, you might want to order a size up—and that’s another reason I’d tag it as mostly a mild-weather spring and summer garment. That said, I’ll be reaching for this thing well into October if it stays warm enough, say, above 65 degrees.

It’s not gonna hold back a driving monsoon, but the jacket will keep away enough of the wet stuff on a short trip.  Our quick test shows the water-repellent shell lives up to the hype.
It’s not gonna hold back a driving monsoon, but the jacket will keep away enough of the wet stuff on a short trip. Our quick test shows the water-repellent shell lives up to the hype.Andrew Cherney

As an urban riding jacket, the lightweight Ray Canvas v2 brings more to the table than expected. Incorporating the latest generation of CE-certified protection without looking bulky is a neat trick indeed. The armor gives me peace of mind in daily traffic, the fit is great, and the smooth lining feels more comfortable than other Alpinestars jackets in my current rotation. At $299.95 it’s on the pricey side for a textile, but then it does have more features than many of its competitors. A qualified thumbs-up on this one.

Contact: alpinestars.com