J1Experimental Initial Observations.
There is no TLDR. The J1E-GT is a SS20 item and I do not know if it will get a wider release. There was no coordinated influencer/marketing campaign. I am not cool, just lucky. I have a few pictures on my IG @thatslapz. I had documented some of the new features in stories that are now gone, but I will probably bring them back with additional pictures in a story highlight once I figure out how. This write-up is also focused on the hardware/feature updates from the 2.2 J1A-GT. I have not looked into differences in patterning.
One of the main reasons I bought the J1E was because I love its looks. I know others don't, and that is okay. Since it is white GT pro, the exterior is going to get marked up and dirty from use. Mine came with a mark on the front center panel from the liner access zipper underneath, and it is the first of many. Comparing the J1E's new white GT against my 47's weathered white GT Pro confirmed what everyone already knows - white GT dulls, changes color, and shows wear like no other.
Few features went untouched on the J1E-GT, so the shoulder pocket is as good of a starting point as any. The E's pocket is constructed with a contrasting black matte circular zip, similiar to the J84-S hand pockets (see P35-DS product page). This design gives the pocket structure when empty, uses less material, and maintains the ability to expand with its contents. The 2.2A's shoulder pocket is mostly flat when empty, and expansion comes from a fabric fold over the zipper. The E's zip is a little stiff, and I am hoping it will loosen with time and use. The zipper pull is also much larger and easier to find/grip on the E (same size as the 2.2A's chest/gravity/side pockets). It is still too early to tell if I prefer using the E or A's configuration, but aesthetically I prefer the E.
The J1E keeps the sleeve hitch tabs that returned on the 2.2A. The E's introduction of zipless, top entry "reloadable" gravity pockets also improve the tabs' utility as you don't have to fight the resistance of a zipper when pulling up your sleeves. The top entry of the left gravity pocket is covered by a flap of Goretex 2L stretch laminate, which looks similiar to the material used on the J59-GT cuffs and hem. The top entry of the right gravity pocket is covered by a flap of white GT pro sewn over white elastic (looks/feels similiar to jacket sling material). The stretch laminate has a little more give and may be more useful for larger/bulkier items. I only use the gravity pockets for transit cards, and they slip into the new sleeves easily. You can insert the card under the flap, flip the card downwards to catch the top of the gravity pocket, and drop it in. This is simpler operation than the zipper entry. If you use the gravity pockets for larger items you may prefer the standard zipped set-up. Compared to the 2.2A, the E's button gravity pocket's snap closure sits further from the edge of the sleeve and uses a larger button. This makes it easier to find by feel. I also find the positioning easier to snap open and closed. Additionally, the interior cuff and gravity pocket flap is black GT Pro to prevent staining. My white J47 is white here and pretty stained. All of these updates are relatively small, but are why I will keep buying Acronym.
The 2.2E chest pockets use new "TensionZip" zippers. The end of the pocket near your armpit folds over itself when zipped. When you unzip it, this extra material straightens and expands, widening the pocket opening for easier access. I can operate the TensionZips one handed, and with either hand. The pockets are bigger and while this creates a visible fold, the additional space is worth it to me. While you lose some pocket entry length with the TensionZip, it is taken from the portion of the chest pocket under the armpit on the 2.2A that I rarely need. While the 2.2A provides a cleaner look and a watertight seal (more on that later), I prefer the E's configuration.
The flak pocket opens with the same TensionZip, and provides the same benefits as described for the chest pockets. It also now has a top entry interior pocket for compartmentalization. The mezzanine pocket behind the flak pocket is now accessed from the left side (entry is from right side on the 2.2). Accessing the E's pocket is a slightly more natural motion for me, as it is like using another side pocket rather than reaching across my body. It is still too early to tell if the reversed mezz entry makes a difference, but I definitely prefer the TensionZip setup.
Since the chest and flak pocket zippers fold over themselves, they are not completely sealed at the fold when closed. There is fabric overhanging this small uncovered section, so I expect water leakage will be minimal. For example, the mezzanine pockets on my J25-WS have never really been an issue. If water does get in, it would be nice to see drain holes on the interior of the pocket as found on the 61GTV. If water doesn't get in, great. I won't know until it actually rains, so more to come.
The J1E's bi-lateral side entry pockets are similar to the 2.2A, but now have "rearward mesh catch detail" on the inside of the pocket to help keep items in the rear of the pocket in place. The mesh is sewn near the middle of the bilateral entry pocket to the inside of the exterior fabric. I haven't had a chance to play around with this too much, but it seemed to work with my MP3TS. Again more to come.
Moving front and center, the main zipper is now a QuickFree zip. The base of the zipper is wider and angled to allow easier zipping. Based on a quick search, this feature makes it easier for kids or their parents to zip their jackets. I can confirm it is also easier for adults zipping their own jackets. The other feature of the QuickFree is the ability to rip the zipper open from any position (EscapeZip without having to fully zip). The EscapeZip has been moved to the collar zip. With the 2.2, you would have to unzip the collar to EscapeZip the main closure. Now you can fully "unzip" without unzipping anything. The collar zip is also longer, extending below the center snap closure. This position makes it easier to operate because it is at a more intuitive and natural height for your hands (elbows 90 degrees). However, it is also directly above the center snap, so you have to push it to either side to operate the snap. Not a big deal, but it is a little annoying after becoming so used to unrestricted access. The convertible collar on the E is also lined with black GT Pro instead of white, presumably to protect from staining/dirt and for contrast when folded down. I didn't think I would like it from the pictures, but I've found myself wearing the collar flipped most of the time now. I rarely, if ever, wear the collar down on my 2.2A so I guess that says something.
The CF underflap is also redesigned on the 2.2E. From what I can tell it is thinner as the panel terminates at the (now olive) manubrium height center snap. The 2.2A's CF wider underflap sits under the liner access zip for structure/stability and weather protection. On the 2.2E, this part of the underflap is now on the opposite side under the liner access zip. I am guessing this is for better balance between the two sides, and better dynamics while moving with the jacket unzipped. However, I need to wear both jackets more to confirm. The liner access and hem expansion use larger zippers than on the 2.2A (same zipper size as side entry pockets), making them easier to find and operate. As I mentioned in the beginning, the top liner zipper did contribute to a mark on the fabric covering the zipper. If this kind of thing bothers you, you're SOL because it is just going to get worse.
Interops is still present, though the underflap at the rear of the jacket is now narrower. The first button at the bottom of the interops zipper sits further from the zipper than on the A. The buttons are also spaced closer together, so much so that the second button is actually closer to the zipper on the E's underflap compared to the 2.2A. I haven't quite figured out the reasoning but I am thinking it is related to the redesigned front CF underflap.
The hood is still removable and adjustable, but that is pretty much the only thing it has in common with the 2.2A. It is now "field cover type" convertible (boonie hat) hood as you have probably seen on Errolson's social media. The hood has two configurations - full cover which is with the brim down, and half cover, which is with the sides up. Half cover mode uses a single piece of elastic cord to hold the sides up. Simple, but it works. I do not see myself using half-cover mode because it makes me look like a tool. Your results may vary. While the 2.2A's storm hood provided some of the best wet weather coverage (especially for those that wear glasses) of any Acronym non-snorkel hood, there is no replacement for the brim of a hat. The hood/hat is all GT Pro, and the hat does not separate. Honestly I have barely used the hood, preferring the less bulky 2.2A hood, or no hood at all.
From what I can tell, some of the few things that haven't changed are AuxZip,SpeedLock, articulated Speedlock Hem, and JacketSling. The exterior and interior sling mounts and sling itself are now a fantastic shade of raf. I am very happy with my purchase. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.