5 Tips to Choose a Leather Jacket

Rugged Man Leather Jacket Red Bike Road
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If you’re someone who rides a motorcycle and especially an iconic Harley Davidson, you may already have an understanding of how important a leather jacket can be. A leather jacket is a style choice, but it’s also something that can keep you safe and protected while you ride.

Not wearing a heavy jacket while you’re on a motorcycle can increase your risk of being seriously hurt, even in a relatively minor accident.

Leather jackets aren’t inexpensive, and since they can be a significant investment, you want to ensure you’re making the right choice.

With that in mind, the following are five things to help you choose the right leather jacket to fit a variety of your needs in your lifestyle, from riding to elsewhere.

Male Model Black Leather Jacket Sunglasses Studio
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1. Know Why You Want Leather in the First Place

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you want a new leather jacket, there are some excellent reasons to go ahead and invest in one.
First, leather is durable. That’s why it’s ideal for people who ride motorcycles. There’s not going to be a sturdier material available for a jacket or coat.

When you choose a high-quality coat, you’re going to see that it’ll last you for decades. Even if it gets an occasional scuff, it may end up being the item of clothing you keep longer than any other. If you’re looking at things from a perspective of longevity, it might help you feel better about spending a little more on a jacket.

There’s the protective element too. It’s like a second skin but tougher. A good leather jacket creates a barrier between your skin and the pavement. Leather jackets can also break the wind and protect you from the elements, making it more comfortable to ride a motorcycle.
There’s also a sense of timelessness that comes with a great leather jacket. It won’t go out of style, and as it ages, it’ll just get more character and look even better.

Some people will go as far as saying that a leather jacket is the one must-have item every man should have in his closet.

Leather Jackets Store Hanging
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2. Type of Leather

There are actually different types of leather, which you might not have initially realized. These include:

  • Cowhide or steer hide may be what you think of first when you envision a leather jacket. This leather is from the skin of an adult cow or steer. It’s durable and tough, but it takes some time to break in, although its toughness can make it good from a perspective of practicality.
  • Deerskin jackets will be lighter-weight, and they often have a yellow or orange tint. This material works well in jackets for warmer weather. If you want a jacket for riding, deerskin isn’t optimal because it doesn’t resist the damage that a thicker leather will.
  • Goatskin is lighter even than deerskin, and it has a pebbled appearance.
  • Lambskin is soft and luxurious but may not be as durable as you’d like. Lambskin jackets are expensive because the skins are smaller, meaning that it takes more to make one jacket.
  • Calfskin is softer than cowhide, but it has some of the same durability.

If you don’t prefer animal skin, you can find faux leather. Faux leather is more affordable, and it can be more versatile. It doesn’t fade easily, and it’s UV-resistant. There are disadvantages, though. First, faux leather materials aren’t great for riding a motorcycle because they’re more vulnerable to tears and punctures. It cracks more easily than real leather, and it’s not breathable.

Man Leather Biker Jacket
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3. The Style

Compare the styles of jackets to see what’s going to give you the versatility you might need.

  • Biker jackets: Chances are, if you ride a motorcycle, you’re going with the biker jacket style. This is a cropped leather jacket that will often have studs and asymmetrical zippers. There’s a reason for the asymmetric cut of a biker jacket—it lets riders lean over their bike without having to worry about fastenings digging into them. The earliest designs featured a snug fit and a D-pocket with lapels that folded over each other. Marlon Brando popularized the style in the 1950s.
  • The racer: A racer jacket is inspired by the automotive world. Many soldiers would ride motorbikes when they got home from World War II, and they wanted a leather jacket that was minimalist and streamlined, which is where the design stems from. These are jackets that can be flattering and easy to wear, and you can find them in thick leather.
  • Flight jackets: These were created for pilots, and they’re bulky with lining that’s often made of shearling. If you ride in the cold weather a lot, you might like the added bulk and warmth of a flight jacket.
Indoors Man Leather Jacket Bike
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4. Safety

If your priority is safety, which it should be if you ride a motorcycle, some of the things you might look for include:

  • You want a form-fitting, heavy jacket that can absorb friction. The only other truly safe alternative might be a synthetic weave with nylon or Kevlar, but these burn easier than leather, and they don’t last as long.
  • Choose a jacket that’s true to fit. Don’t buy your jacket larger to try and accommodate layers. A good, safe motorcycle jacket will already be sized for this.
  • Don’t go cheap. A cheap jacket isn’t going to give you the quality or safety you need.
  • Ideally, look for a jacket that has zippers that are covered with a flap to protect you from wind and water.
  • You can choose a jacket with armoring made of something like carbon fiber or Kevlar, which would be placed at the shoulders, elbows, and forearms. Some jackets will also have armoring at the back and spine.
  • If the seams are inside the jacket, it helps prevent accident abrasion, and the fewer, the better.

5. Comfort

Finally, comfort needs to be a priority, along with style and safety. You want to feel like your jacket fits you well and isn’t too snug or too big because both can put you at risk when you’re riding. Of course, you also want it to be something you enjoy wearing.