Best Winter Motorcycle Jackets: Stay Snug In Colder Temps

If the only thing stopping you from hitting the road is the weather, check out these jackets.

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Best Winter Motorcycle Jackets: Stay Snug In Colder Temps © Best Winter Motorcycle Jackets: Stay Snug In Colder Temps

You arrive to work freezing and leave praying that the heavens won't open up: these are the symptoms of someone without a good winter motorcycle jacket. The right jacket will keep you bone-dry as you ride through the pitter-patter of raindrops and cozy as you pass by motorists defrosting their windshields. A good jacket doesn't need to break the bank, but you need to know what features are worth it relative to the climate you face. Luckily, I've made a buying guide that helps you understand what to look out for when making your purchase. I've also included some of the best winter motorcycle jackets on the market, and you can check them out below.

Summary List

Best Overall: Klim Latitude Hi-Viz Jacket

Best Value: Scorpion EXO Optima Jacket

Honorable Mention: Alpinestars Andes v3 Jacket

Premium: Dainese Gran Turismo Gore-Tex Jacket

Best Sport: Alpinestars Stella T-Kira WP Jacket

Our Methodology 

To choose the best winter motorcycle jackets on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of jackets before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry.

I visited the Motorcycle subreddit and Adventure Rider forum to get a more informed opinion of what motorcyclists felt about the products on the market. I also visited Revzilla to investigate what hands-on testers had to say.

Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were waterproofing, insulation, protection, visibility, durability, and versatility. Jackets were immediately disqualified from consideration if they weren't waterproof or well insulated.

Best Winter Motorcycle Jackets Reviews & Recommendations 2022

Our Verdict on Winter Motorcycle Jackets

I've chosen the Firstgear Kilimanjaro Jacket as the best overall winter jacket. This model offers near Gore-Tex levels of protection for a fraction of the price and includes CE Level-1 armor all-round. And it's particularly well-suited to anyone who wears heated gear. If you're on a tight budget, you simply can't go wrong with my value pick, the Alpinestars Andes V3 Jacket.

What to Consider When Buying A Winter Motorcycle Jacket

Once you begin your search for a winter motorcycle jacket, you'll be blown away by how many are on offer. The only thing you'll see as wide as the selection is the price range. Unless you're keeping abreast of the latest advancements in motorcycle jacket technology, it's tough to know what's worth paying for and what you need. Keep reading to find out what types and features of winter motorcycle jackets to consider before buying.

Types of Winter Motorcycle Jackets

Adventure

For all intents and purposes, an adventure-style jacket is the most likely type to satisfy your winter motorcycling needs. These jackets are the most versatile and rugged, and for people who live in relatively cold climates, could be a year-round option. If you're willing to pay a premium, you can get a Gore-Tex exterior, which guarantees you'll stay bone dry. But there are plenty of affordable models with removable thermal and waterproof linings. Find one that's breathable, waterproof, and has a removable thermal lining, and it might be the only jacket you'll need unless you're into track days.

Sport

Sport jackets can be made suitable for winter conditions, but your options are somewhat limited. There are very few Gore-Tex sport motorcycle jackets, so you'll likely need to find one with a waterproof membrane that sits under the exterior shell and a removable thermal lining. The only benefit of a sport jacket over an adventure jacket is that it's more compact and better suited to the ergonomics of a sports bike riding position. So, if you don't like excess material on your jacket, then check out these models.

Leather

When it comes to winter motorcycle jackets, leather should be your last resort. In every measurable way, a winter textile jacket will outperform a leather jacket in cold and wet conditions. An untreated leather jacket is water-resistant but not waterproof, so if one gets soaked, you'll be waiting for quite a while for it to dry. The only way a leather jacket is subjectively better than a textile jacket is that it's more stylish. But, when your body is soaking wet and freezing cold, style will be the last thing on your mind.

Winter Motorcycle Jacket Key Features

Waterproofing and Windproofing

Above all else, you'll want to ensure that you get a waterproof and windproof jacket for winter. It doesn't matter how warm a jacket is if it gets soaked through. Many of the features that make a jacket waterproof also help stop the wind from getting through. There are a few different ways to make a motorcycle waterproof but none surpass a Gore-Tex laminate exterior. If a jacket's shell has a Gore-Tex exterior or even a Gore-Tex membrane beneath the exterior shell, you're essentially guaranteed to stay bone dry even in torrential rain. There are other options to make a jacket's exterior waterproof, like using PTFE laminate technology, which performs quite well. 

If your budget doesn't allow for a jacket with a waterproof exterior, then you can opt for one with a waterproof membrane, which sits under the shell, or a removable waterproof liner. Although these options will keep you dry, they're not ideal for a rider who encounters rain on a daily basis, as the exterior of the jacket will stay damp until given sufficient time to dry. Even if the inside is dry, it's never nice putting on a jacket with a wet shell. Also look out for waterproofing features around zips, as water can get in here if there isn't a cover.

Insulation 

The next most important thing to consider when buying a winter jacket is how well insulated it is. Ideally, you'd get a model with a removable thermal lining. Many manufacturers often state how many grams of insulation are in different parts of the lining. For example, a decent thermal lining could have 100-grams of insulation in the body and 80-grams in the sleeves for maneuverability. Some premium jackets will have destination thermal fleeces, which you can remove and wear once you've reached your destination, so you don't need to wear a bulky jacket for warmth. 

Some jackets will be well-insulated enough without any thermal linings, depending on how cold it is where you ride. Another feature to look out for is a jacket that has a front pocket with a grommet, which allows you to use the temperature controller for heated gear.

Protection

It goes without saying that protection is a key feature of any motorcycle jacket, especially a winter jacket. The best armor you'll find in a motorcycle jacket is CE Level-2, but this high-end armor is usually only included in the sale of a premium jacket. At a minimum, you'll want CE Level-1 armor. Elbow and shoulder armor pads are usually included in the sale of a jacket, but back armor is often an optional extra, and chest protection is rarely ever included. 

When weighing up your options, consider how many pieces of armor are included in the sale and what CE rating it is.

Visibility

Wet and cold weather aren't the only things that make winter riding tough for motorcyclists, reduced visibility is a less spoken about but very real danger. It might not be cool, but a hi-vis jacket is the best way of ensuring you stay visible to other road users. If the jacket you want doesn't have a hi-vis option, or you simply don't want it, make sure there are plenty of reflective sections spread throughout the body and arms.

Pockets

Until you pull out a soaking wet wallet and cellphone that looks like it needs to sit in a bucket of rice, you mightn't fully appreciate the importance of waterproof pockets. Choosing a jacket with an interior napoleon waterproof pocket is a must, as this will keep the aforementioned items safe. Often, the front exterior pockets on motorcycle jackets will only be water-resistant, so if you can find a model with one or more that are waterproof, that's great. Finally, some jackets will a large waterproof rabbit pocket, which is perfect for storing a thermal liner when it's not in use.

Tips

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and winter motorcycle jackets. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Even if you're going to buy a jacket online, go to a motorcycle gear store and try it on, so you know what size fits you best.
  • If you can't try on the jacket you want, measure your chest, waist, and sleeves with a fabric measuring tape and compare them with the jacket's sizing chart.
  • Try to get a jacket with a higher denier or more durable fabric around the forearms, elbows, and shoulders for extra protection. 
  • Even if you fork out for a premium winter motorcycle jacket with a thermal liner, be prepared to wear a base layer if you live in an area that has a particularly cold winter.

FAQs

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: Is a leather motorcycle jacket good for winter?

A: You can use a leather motorcycle jacket during winter, but it's not the best option. Textile jackets, which have waterproof and thermal insulation features, will provide much better protection from the elements.

Q: Will an all-weather motorcycle jacket work in the winter?

A: Yes, a jacket that is created for all-weather conditions should ensure that you stay dry and warm. Just make sure that the jacket has waterproof features and a thermal lining (if temperatures get cold in your area during winter). 

Q: Are textile motorcycle jackets warm?

A: How warm a textile jacket is depends on its thickness. For example, a jacket that uses 1,000D Cordura should be warmer than one that uses 500D Cordura.

Q: What are the most important features to consider when buying a winter motorcycle jacket?

A: Always look for a jacket that has a thermal liner. If your budget stretches to a waterproof laminate shell, such as Gore-Tex, get that. But at the very least, get a jacket with a waterproof liner. 

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