“Dress for the slide, not the ride” is a phrase that’s been uttered by motorcyclists for decades. But I’d argue no one says it more than motorcycle instructors, the people whose job it is to keep riders like you and me safe. It’s no coincidence that these are also the people I’ve seen wearing some of the most protective jackets on the market. The right motorcycle jacket inspires the confidence to hunt apex after apex, throw a leg over when dark clouds loom, or hit the road when the sun is beating down. Get the best jacket for the occasion, and give yourself the confidence to tackle any adventure.
Best Overall: Klim Latitude Jacket
Best Value: Scorpion EXO Optima Jacket
Honorable Mention: Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air
Best Leather: Scorpion EXO 1909 Leather Jacket
Best Summer: Rev'it! Eclipse Jacket
Best Women's Jacket: Icon Contra 2
Buying your first motorcycle jacket feels like an overwhelming experience as you consider style, size, and features. Once you ride for a while, you develop a much better understanding of what you’re looking for in a motorcycle jacket. I can tell you that from my personal experience, I have developed a collection of jackets to suit the particular types of riding I plan to do.
My broad personal experience with various types of motorcycle jackets helped me to analyze each jacket option for its best qualities. When choosing this list of the best motorcycle jackets, I considered more than just the basics of size. I wanted to create a comprehensive list that addressed beginners and experienced riders, warm and cold weather riders, and riders on a variety of bike styles.
I used the construction material, features, and rider’s reported experiences to narrow down the list to the best motorcycle jackets. That way, I stayed true to The Drive’s methodology of finding the best products for motorcycle enthusiasts.
Best Motorcycle Jacket Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on the Best Motorcycle Jacket
Our top pick for the best motorcycle jacket is the Dainese Super Speed Textile Jacket with its combination of comfort and protective features.
For a more affordable option, the Scorpion EXO Optima Jacket has an impressive amount of waterproofing and armor.
When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place we look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. It also has the benefit of you not having to cut open an Amazon box inside an Amazon box with bubble wrapped around the part.
If those options above don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should absolutely tap. Just Google either and head on down.
To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips for finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner.
- Look for signs of the jacket being in an accident, such as impact fractures, torn textile, and scrape marks.
- Be wary of old jackets. While leather has a long useful life, the stitching grows weak over time. Textiles and armor also degrade over time, making them less protective as they age.
What to Consider When Buying a Motorcycle Jacket
Buying a motorcycle jacket is an investment, so don’t just pick the one that you think looks cool. Measure yourself, consider your bike, and where you live. Then narrow down your options to the best jacket that you can afford that will meet all of these requirements. It helps to try a few different styles and brands before committing to one that you see online. Once you buy your jacket, put it on and sit on your bike in the riding position for a while.
Types of Motorcycle Jacket
The traditional material for motorcycle jackets is leather as it’s durable and protective. However, not all leather is the same, and it’s worth investing in higher-quality leather. You’ll see the jacket described as top grain and with a thickness. This is telling you the quality of the leather. The thicker the leather, the more protective it will be. A thicker leather is also heavier and hotter. Full-grain is the best, then top grain, followed by split and genuine grades. Synthetic, faux, and vegan leather are not the same and are not as durable. The drawback of leather is that it can be really hot. You can combat this by looking for a jacket with perforation.
A textile is by far the most popular jacket material these days. Thanks to modern technology, you can buy a jacket that’s stylish and protective. Look for a textile jacket that has protective materials either layered or woven into the fibers. Kevlar is a popular one. Some jackets will also come with waterproofing, such as a Gore-Tex layer.
Many textile jackets come with multiple layers to make them multi-season. This is a nice feature because you can add or remove layers as needed to always stay comfortable. You’ll find textile jackets for every riding style. They also come in a wide range of colors and designs, making it easier to express your personal style or match your jacket to your other gear.
A mesh jacket will give you the highest level of breathability. As someone who lives in Florida, these jackets are a lifesaver when the average summer temperatures are in the 90s with 80 percent humidity. However, while they are ideal for preventing heat stroke, they aren’t the most protective. While manufacturers have developed abrasion-resistant mesh, it can’t compare to leather and textile. If you decide you want a mesh jacket, look for one with a removable liner and a full set of armor. This will give you better protection at the impact points. It’s also smart to choose one with a waterproof pocket to protect your devices.
Motorcycle Jacket Key Features
Your ride style is about more than just having a jacket that matches the taste and aesthetic. It’s about having a jacket that’s so comfortable you forget about it when you are in a riding position. You shouldn’t be pulling on it and constantly adjusting it at every red light. For example, touring and adventure jackets are longer in the torso because you sit more upright. Sport jackets are short in the front and extra long in the back. This prevents the jacket from bunching up on your tank and lower back exposure. The shoulder on a touring jacket should have accordion or stretch panels to accommodate a more raised arm position. While sport jackets have articulated arms to match the curve of your arm while riding. Both of these reduce body fatigue.
On a basic level, your jacket should come with some armor. Shoulder and elbow armor are pretty standard these days. You may also see back and chest armor included, or at least the pockets for you to add later. The construction material should be abrasion resistant with reinforcement at impact points.
Typically, this will be an extra layer of leather or abrasion-resistant textile material. You’ll also see some high-end jackets with external sliders made of aluminum, which is a lightweight yet incredibly strong metal that can withstand impacts and abrasions from the road. Pay attention to the stitching of the jacket, because without it, the jacket won’t stay together and all of the protective features will be useless. High-quality jackets are double- or triple-stitched.
Where you ride is just as important as what you ride. My summertime breathable jacket for Florida leaves me shivering, damp, and cold when I ride the Blue Ridge. I have to either put in the insulated liner or switch to my warmer jacket. My Florida winter jacket keeps me toasty, but would be no match for climates that experience snow or extremely cold temperatures. I’ve tried multi-season jackets and they are OK, but not great. It’s comparable to an all-season tire; they do the job but don't excel at anything. I much prefer owning multiple jackets that are specifically designed for where and when I ride.
Motorcycle Jacket Pricing
Expect to spend at least $100 for a basic protective jacket. Beginners should buy an entry-level jacket in this price range while they figure out what they like to ride and if they want to keep riding. More experienced riders can upgrade to a $200 to $400 jacket as they settle into their ride style and learn what they want out of their jacket. Experienced and serious riders who rack the miles will want to invest in a jacket that’s $400 and over. These are specialty jackets and high-quality pieces of gear that are built to last and perform.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.