What to look for in a Motorcycle Jacket

what to look for in a motorcycle jacket

So you’re wondering what to look for in a motorcycle jacket? I know the feeling, with so many different options available it can feel like a never-ending journey.

The joy of riding your bike down an open road, with no end in sight is a joy that only a motorbike can provide.

For us long time riders we understand the freedom that riding provides us, though we never take for granted the importance of wearing motorcycle protective gear.

You’d be surprised how many riders I talk to that don’t really care a whole lot about what they’re wearing. I still have a couple buddies that think wearing a jacket at all is a joke.

For the rest of us, that do care about our well being, I’m going to cover what to look for in a motorcycle jacket in 2017.

You must think long and hard about what you will be using this jacket for. The proper style choice for a Harley rider, primarily cruising across Country, is going to be different than someone using the bike for weekend track days.


There are three main materials on the market today, some jackets may even include a mix of multiple materials.


What to look for in a leather jacket is probably the simplest choice of all. As leather tends to be priced differently based on the quality of leather the jacket is made with.

Leather jackets tend not to have a lot of features, as they are made for safety and style. When looking for a leather motorbike jacket, make sure to look long and hard at these factors:

  • Type of leather: Is the jacket made from goat leather or calfskin? If so you need a thickness of 1.2 to 1.4 millimeters. The reason this is so important is that the thicker the leather, the more protected you will be in case of an accident.
  • Leather does a fantastic job providing the rider from abrasion resistance


Understanding what to look for in a textile jacket, gets a bit tougher. As these jackets tend to have many more features available. Many modern textile jackets include a breathable polyurethane membrane that allows water vapor to escape from the interior of the jacket.

This is fantastic because it keeps the rider nice and comfortable on the inside while being impervious to the water from the exterior.


Mesh riding jackets are by far the most lightweight and breathable of the main three jacket materials. They don’t always provide the rider with the most protection, but they are perfect for warm weather and summer riding.

Like their textile counterpart, they also provide the rider with many pockets, zippers, and removable protective lining.

How much is too much ventilation?

The main issue we arrive at when deciding on the right motorcycle jacket is, how much ventilation is too much ventilation. This may be different depending on which climate the rider is cruising in.

Perforated leather or textile mesh with a removable zipper lining is a solid option, as I am a big proponent of, the more zippers the better.

Having the ability to remove and replace parts of the jacket is something I place at the top of my list of what to look for in a motorcycle jacket.

The ability to replace and remove parts can come in handy when you’re riding in really hot weather.

Make sure it’s waterproof

A waterproof option may not make sense for everyone because waterproof material tends to be a bit warmer. The great thing about the technology in motorcycle jackets these days is they’ve come out with breathable leather, that is also waterproof.

When I bought my first leather jacket, this wasn’t the case at all. We’ve definitely come along way.

Storm Flaps

A storm flap is another aspect you must keep in mind when purchasing a waterproof jacket. As shell will prevent cold air from blowing through the jackets the main zipper.

The last thing you want int 30-degree weather is for it to feel like the air conditioning just got turned on inside of your jacket.

Comfortable collar

When looking at the collar, make sure that it fits close enough to your neck without cutting off any circulation. If there is too much room available, then cold air can easily flow through, making it an extra chilly ride.

Adjustable cuff closures

Cuffs tend to be closed with a hook and loop tabs, zippers, or snaps. These are great because they prevent the jacket from flapping in the wind, which could become a major distraction.

The more pockets the better

Back in the day when I chose my first leather jacket, it only had two pockets. At the time I thought it was fine because I always had my trusty backpack with me. As time went on, I realized I didn’t want to bring my backpack with me everywhere I went.

So I started looking at some of the more modern riding jackets and found that a lot of the newer ones have a zipper wallet pocket. This is by far one of my favorite features available today. Chest pockets are also an added convenience on many of the newer models.

Make sure it’s CE-Certified

Removable CE-Certified approved impact protectors in the shoulders, elbows, and back turn your riding companion into full force protective gear.

You can go from having a jacket with style to one that will withstand an accident on the highway. So I say, always make sure you choose a jacket with the option to remove the liner.

The majority of Textile and Mesh Jackets have the option of removable armor. This is a great feature if you plan on keeping the jacket for an extended period of time.

The coolest leather jackets have materials that are either built directly into the lining, or they lack the removable padding. Such as padding in the chest, elbows, and shoulders.

Visibility is key

Choosing the right color is a big deal, a black leather jacket isn’t the right choice for every rider in every climate. Reflectors are a feature which tends to be left out of leather jackets but is available in textile and mesh models.

Reflectors are important because it provides increased visibility from cars. As your jacket will brighten up as soon as any lights come in contact with it.


Picking the top motorcycle jacket to fit your specific riding style is very important. As the last thing a motocross rider wants is to have purchased a leather jacket without button down cuffs, now it’s flapping in the wind every time he hits a turn.

After reading this article, you should understand exactly what to look for in a motorcycle jacket.

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