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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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.
Firstgear Kilimanjaro Jacket
This model does almost everything you could ask for from a winter jacket. It's waterproof, warm, and sold at a reasonable price.
- Waterproof PTFE laminate exterior
- D30 CE Level-1 elbow, shoulder, and back protector
- Chest protector included
- Designed to work with electronically heated layers
- No removable thermal lining included
Alpinestars Andes v3 Jacket
It's not the cheapest all-weather motorcycle jacket, but in terms of value, it's likely the best. This jacket packs in everything you need to survive the winter, and is built to last.
- Drystar waterproof fixed membrane
- Removable thermal lining
- Nucleon Flex Plus CE Level-1 armor in elbows and shoulders
- Fantastic value for money
- Interior napoleon waterproof pocket
- Exterior shell isn't waterproof
- Drystar membrane isn't waterproof to the same extent as Gore-Tex
Dainese D-Explorer 2 Gore-Tex Jacket
- 2-in-1 removable Gore-Tex insulated destination jacket
- QuickDry exterior fabric
- CE Level-2 in elbows, shoulders, and back
- Exterior fabric isn't waterproof
- Relatively high price point
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.
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Best Winter Motorcycle Jackets Reviews & Recommendations 2021
The Dainese Gran Turismo Gore-Tex Jacket has all the right things in all the right places, and if money isn't an object, it's the best winter motorcycle jacket. Its laminated Gore-Tex membrane exterior will keep you bone dry, even in torrential rain. And, when you put it on the next day, it'll still be dry - that's the beauty of a Gore-Tex exterior rather than a removable liner. Included in the sale is a 2-in-1 removable inner thermal fleece jacket, which is great for keeping you warm once you've reached your destination. The high collar works well to keep rain and wind off your neck, and it'll stay toasty too if you use the removable thermal collar.
Yes, this jacket is sold at a high price point, but you'll get CE Level-2 armor at the elbows, shoulders, and back included in the sale. The high collar is also There's a pocket for a double chest protector (sold separately). This model features Armacor fabric with DuPont Kevlar inserts on high-impact areas, so you know it's built to last. There are 3M reflective inserts on the front, rear, and arms so you'll stay visible at night.
- Brand: Dainese
- Model: Gran Turismo Gore-Tex Jacket
- Removable thermal lining: Yes (removable thermal fleece jacket)
- Gore-Tex membrane exterior
- 2-in-1 removable inner thermal fleece jacket
- Removable thermal collar
- CE Level-2 armor at the elbows, shoulders, and back
- 3M reflective areas spread around the jacket
- On the higher end of the price spectrum
If the rain is your biggest enemy throughout winter, you can't go wrong with the Klim Latitude Hi-Viz Jacket. This model is guaranteed to keep you dry, thanks to its Gore-Tex 2-Layer Performance Shell exterior. Since this material wicks off moisture, instead of absorbing it, it'll be dry every morning, even if you rode through rain the night before. This model comes equipped with D30 T5 EVO XT CE Level-1 armor at the elbows and shoulders, and the back has a D30 Viper Stealth CE Level-1 back pad. Unfortunately, there's no option for a chest insert.
3M Scotchlite reflective materials run through the body and arms and work with a hi-vis color scheme, making this jacket extremely visible in low-light conditions. The lined collar has an adjustable collar clinch, which hangs off the back left-hand side, so you can make it practically air-tight if the heavens suddenly open up. The only thing holding this jacket back from being The Drive's best overall winter motorcycle jacket is that it lacks a thermal lining. Its thickness and anti-microbial wicking material will keep you relatively warm, but if you're facing excessively cold temperatures, you'll need to wear mid and base layers to stay warm.
- Brand: Klim
- Model: Latitude Hi-Viz Jacket
- Removable thermal lining: No
- Gore-Tex 2-Layer Performance Shell exterior
- Good value for a Gore-Tex shell exterior jacket
- D30 T5 EVO XT CE Level-1 armor at the elbows and shoulders
- D30 Viper Stealth CE Level-1 back pad
- No thermal lining
- No waterproof pocket with a grommet for heated gear controller
If a snug fit is your priority, and you spend most of your time on a sports bike, the Alpinestars Stella T-Kira WP Jacket could be just what you're looking for. This model features a fixed waterproof membrane, which is breathable and sits behind a textile shell. Once temperatures drop, you'll be thankful for this jacket's removable thermal lining. Anything important that you're carrying, such as your phone and wallet, will be protected from the elements by the waterproof inner front pocket.
Keeping you safe in the event of a crash are CE Level-1 pads in the elbows and shoulders. Unfortunately, there are no back or protectors included in the sale, but there are pockets should you want to fit aftermarket protection. The sleeves are pre-curved to reduce fatigue while riding in a sporty stance. This jacket doesn't use Alpinestars' Drystar technology, unfortunately, so it's fair to theorize that it won't keep you bone-dry if you're riding through heavy rain for a couple of hours. But, even with that in mind, this model is outstanding value for money.
- Brand: Alpinestars
- Model: Stella T-Kira WP Jacket
- Removable thermal lining: Yes
- Waterproof fixed membrane
- CE Level-1 elbow shoulder armor
- Removable thermal liner
- Pre-curved sleeves
- Waterproof membrane isn't Alpinestars' Drystar technology
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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