LAST UPDATED: October 8, 2019
Best Motorcycle Vests: Ride in Style and Comfort
These top motorcycle vests look and feel good
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 8, 2019
Proper riding gear is essential when you ride a motorcycle. It keeps you warm and safe. A good motorcycle vest adds a layer of protection should you get involved in a collision and also includes multiple pockets for convenience. Plus, it looks quite stylish. Check out our buying guide for the best motorcycle vests on the market.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Motorcycle Vests
- Protection: Leather is one of the most protective materials that you can wear while riding. It’s tough, abrasion-resistant, and durable. A leather vest will provide your core with protection should road debris hit you while riding or in the event of a fall.
- Looks: Motorcycle vests just look cool. They have that quintessential motorcycle badass look about them. If you’re looking to create a traditional motorcycle rider image, a black leather vest is a must.
- Comfort: Let’s face it, a jacket would be more protective, but it’s also hot. A vest gives you the best of both worlds. You can stay comfortable with the increased airflow while also protecting your core body area.
Types of Motorcycle Vests
This is the most popular type of motorcycle vest and is almost always black. The men’s version has a bit of a boxy cut to it. Women’s vests will have some shaping through the waist. Both types will have either snaps or a zipper closure up the front to secure it.
Many leather vests have a liner. This increases their comfort and ease of keeping the vest clean. You’ll find other detailing like pockets and side lacing for adjustment. Low-quality vests will use cheap leather that will feel heavy and stiff. Higher quality vests will have thinner and softer leather that will conform to your body.
These vests are made out of modern materials and lack any kind of leather. They come in a wide range of colors, from basic black to neon yellow and orange. The exact material used can vary, but they tend to be durable and breathable. You’ll find more details in these vests with the use of zippers, Velcro, and buckles.
If you’re looking for a safety vest to increase your visibility, then you’ll want a textile vest. They also tend to have more pockets and adjustability. There are also some textile vests that come with heating or cooling systems wired into them to increase your comfort while riding.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in protection, then consider an exoskeleton vest. These are textile vests that use mainly mesh material. There are pockets in the vest for CE shells or they’re incorporated into the vest’s construction, which the other vests don’t have. These vests are commonly worn by sportbike riders who tend to ride at higher speeds.
These vests will fit right up against your body and are both breathable and highly adjustable. They will typically have a chest plate and a solid or articulated spine protector. There will be Velcro straps that wrap around the side of your rib cage to secure the vest to your body.
While Harley is more well-known for its motorcycle production, they also have an extensive line of apparel and gear. Founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, the Harley-Davidson brand can be found around the world. Check out the Harley-Davidson Men's Iron Distressed Slim Fit Leather Vest and experience the quality materials and construction for yourself.
Since its founding in 1991, Milwaukee Leather has produced high-quality leather gear and clothing for motorcycle enthusiasts. They develop and incorporate innovative technology and features to make their gear stand out. Try out the Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing Company Men's Distressed Leather Lined Vest for a high-quality and comfortable piece.
Named after a road well-known for its twists and curves, the Highway 21 brand embodies craftsmanship and motorcycle passion. Its products are for enthusiasts who appreciate innovative technology paired with timeless style. Check out the Highway 21 Men's Magnum Black Leather Vest that comes with a concealed carry pocket.
Tourmaster produces motorcycle gear, apparel, luggage, and covers. They strive to create products that riders love for their affordability and quality. This is proven by its products getting used by all types of riders, from the adventurer to the commuter. Check out the Tourmaster Nomad Men’s Black Leather Vest for an affordable quality vest that will last.
Motorcycle Vest Pricing
- Under $50: The vests in this category are basic and don’t use the highest quality materials. You’ll find thicker and stiffer leather, no liners, and they might have pockets.
- $50 to $150: Most vests fall into this category. They’ll have a couple of nice features and some additional unique styling. You’ll find decent quality leather, and most vests will have a liner of some kind.
- Over $150: The vests in this category have the highest quality leather and innovative materials. They will also come with several features like adjustability, pockets, liners, and heating elements.
There are two main materials you need to consider when buying your vest. Choose between leather and textile. Leather tends to be hot but is very protective, which is why it’s a traditional material for creating motorcycle apparel and gear. Textiles are the modern approach to vests and come in a wide variety of quality. You’ll want to look for one with a high ballistic strength to ensure it protects you in the event of a fall.
When choosing your material, consider breathability, color, and the overall style. You also need to consider your price point; as a general guideline, it’s better to spend a bit more and get better quality material.
Always measure yourself before buying a motorcycle vest. Each manufacturer has their own size chart that you need to follow to ensure you buy the correct size. You should also check the reviews of other buyers in case the vest runs small or large.
There should be enough space in the armholes for you to freely move your arms. It should come down far enough to overlap the top of your jeans. Some vests will come down longer and end at the hips.
Look for a vest that lets you adjust the fit. This could be leather straps with snaps on the side that you can move. It’s also common to find leather lacing on the sides that you can adjust for a looser or tighter fit.
If you’re looking for the most affordable vest on the market, then it won’t have any functional features. If you increase your budget a bit, then you can find a wide variety of features that make your vest more functional. The most common feature you’ll find on motorcycle vests is pockets.
You’ll find vests with hand warmer pockets on the outside. Then some will have interior pockets for greater security. There are also jackets that have an internal concealed carry pocket specifically designed for your firearm. Other features include heating and cooling elements, waterproofing, reflective material, removable liners, and CE shells.
- Safety. The vest you choose should provide some level of increased safety protection. Leather is more abrasion-resistant than textiles, but textile vests tend to be more visible. The vest you choose needs to secure to your body so it doesn’t become dislodged or removed in the event of an accident. For the most protection, look for a vest that protects your spine with CE shells.
- Style. Think about your personal style and the style of your bike. You want the vest you choose to match both of these. While you can wear any vest you want, you’ll look strange on your chopper if you’re wearing an adventure vest with bulky pockets. Cruiser riders tend to choose the black leather vests, while commuter and adventure riders tend to wear the textile vests.
- Comfort. Try the vest on and then sit on your bike. A vest that’s comfortable when standing may no longer be comfortable when sitting on your bike. It needs to have enough space in the armholes for you to move. It needs to be loose enough in the torso to allow you to twist and bend, but not be too loose and flap in the wind.
Best Motorcycle Vest Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This leather vest from Milwaukee Leather features a satin liner for increased style and comfort. There are two concealed gun pockets for carrying your personal protection. On the outside are two hand warming pockets. The back is made from a single piece of leather.
This vest is well-made with a great cut to give it a perfect fit for your body. The stitching is strong and durable. The single back piece makes this vest perfect for attaching your patches.
Unfortunately, this vest feels heavy and will feel hot in the warmer summer months. You may find the zippers to not be as durable and feel weak in comparison to the rest of the jacket. The sizing is also slightly off and might feel big through the shoulders and chest.
This leather vest hides six internal pockets to make it easy to carry all of your belongings. There are also four exterior pockets for quick and easy access. The sides have lacing for a custom fit and adjustment.
The leather on this vest is thick, so it’s going to provide you plenty of protection. A vest with so many pockets is hard to find, which makes this vest a desirable choice. The stitching on this vest is high-quality and will prove to be durable.
Unfortunately, this vest runs small and may be too small for many riders. It’s also quite long through the torso, which can make it too long once you’re on your bike. Couple this with the thickness, and you’ll find it bunching uncomfortably at the bottom.
This 100 percent genuine leather motorcycle vest is made of only premium leather. It features a zipper front and snap closures on the sides. It has a mesh lining. There are two external zippered pockets and one internal pocket. The internal pocket is a concealed carry pocket.
This vest has snaps on the side to help you adjust the fit. The mesh lining provides a barrier between you and the leather of the vest. This increases your comfort while wearing it. You’ll appreciate the feel of the high-quality leather as it’s soft and supple.
Unfortunately, while the snaps let you adjust the fit, they are limited. This can result in the vest still not fitting perfectly. The zipper isn’t the most durable, either. The mesh liner isn’t removable, which makes it harder to keep clean.
- Be sure to look at the length of the vest as well as the width. While you want it to fit comfortably around your middle, you also want it to fall nicely towards your waist without being too long or too short.
- Many motorcycle vests are versatile. You can wear them off the bike as well as on it. If it's cool outside and you don't want to wear a jacket, a vest is a perfect alternative. They're also fashionable for a night out on the town.
- If you want to put patches on the back of the vest, look to see if it has a seam running down the center. Many vests feature one panel, which allows you to seamlessly add patches for a custom look.
Q: What size motorcycle vest do I need?
A: Measure your chest and measure it again while you're wearing layers. Most products include a sizing chart in the description, so be sure to find the right size that matches your measurements.
Q: Do motorcycle vests come with concealed carry pockets?
A: Some do. Read the product’s description to see if it contains pockets that are large enough and can be sealed to carry a firearm.
Q: Can I put an iron-on patch on a leather vest?
A: Most riders sew the patches on their leather vests. An iron-on patch may ruin the leather because it requires heat to be affixed to the vest.
Our pick for the top motorcycle vest is the SOA Men's Basic Leather Motorcycle Vest. It's comfortable, made of good-quality leather, and has several pockets for various items.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the ARD CHAMPS Men's Leather 10 Pockets Motorcycle Biker Vest.