There are many upsides to living in warmer climates. You get the sunshine, the barbecues and 365 days of riding weather each year. But there’s a downside to this toasty hedonism: it’s often too hot to wear full protective gear. Many people ride in a T-shirt and a 3/4 helmet as opposed to an armoured leather jacket, in which they’d likely overheat and pass out on the highway.
I currently live in Hong Kong, a sub-tropical city on the western shores of the Pacific Ocean. Summer temperatures regularly surpass 104 °F (39 °C), with humidity hovering between 99% and 100% for months on end. It would be a feat of superhuman endurance to wear full protective leathers in temperatures like this, and there are plenty of stories of new motorcyclists getting carted off to hospital in the back of a taxi after passing out from heatstroke, simply because they spent an hour sweltering in stationary traffic.
But there’s good news for those of us who live in places with summers like the 9th circle of Hades. Here’s a selection of the best textile motorcycle jackets out there, all designed for warmer weather. They’ll reduce the chances of you turning into a squidgy lump of sweat on two wheels.
REV’IT! Tornado This brand has been highly recommended to me by several people I trust, with this jacket in particular being singled out for commendation. The $330 Tornado is built from a mix of rib-weaved polyester, abrasion-proof Polyamide yarns, mesh and cowhide. It’s fitted with Knox Flexiform CE-approved protection at the shoulders and elbows and has a detachable, waterproof liner. The Tornado is available in either silver or black, and comes in both ‘tour fit’ and ‘regular’ cuts. [Buy]
Icon Device Sleek and unfussy, the $190 Icon Device comes with a removable wind-resistant liner, so you can regulate the breeze according to the weather. The fit is distinctly sporting, with stretch panels for comfort. Safety gets a boost from CE-approved elbow and shoulder protectors, and there’s also a dual-density foam pad to watch your back. With eight sizes available from XS to 4XL, fitment is not going to be a problem. You also get five colors to choose from, including a stealthy black, but our favorite is the unusual Canteen Green shown here. [Buy]
Dainese G. Air-Frame The $270 Air-Frame sports a quick-dry fabric and shoulder, elbow and back armour, as well as a double layer of mesh front and back. It’s fitted with press studs above and below the elbow and at the wrist, allowing the wearer to tighten or loosen the fit. You also get subtle reflective panels on the sleeves and a removable ‘Sanitized’ liner. There’s even a zipper along the bottom that allows you to attach it to a matching pair of Dainese motorcycle trousers. Choose from eight colors. [Buy]
Alpinestars Viper Air Alpinestars is trusted by some of the quickest MotoGP riders, so the quality of its gear is hugely respected. And the $200 Viper jacket is no exception. It’s made from 600-denier poly-fabric and has a double-mesh front and back. It also gives you built-in shoulder and elbow armor with pockets for additional armour in the chest and back (sold separately). There’s a removable windproof inner vest should you find yourself in a cold snap, Neoprene edging on the collar and cuffs, and an adjustable waist. Take your pick from nine sizes. [Buy]
Joe Rocket Reactor 3.0 Joe Rocket has a large fan base in the USA: It creates gear that bridges the divide between sportbike and cruiser genres. This $215 jacket is a hybrid of sorts; it’s made from a combination of 1.2mm leather, ‘FreeAir’ poly mesh and a ‘RockTex 660′ outer shell, giving it the benefit of leather with the breathability of a mesh front. It’s fitted with shoulder and elbow armor and has a back pocket for an optional spine protector. You also get a six-point custom adjustment system to ensure a close fit. [Buy]
Aether Apparel Canyon Aether has made a name for itself with high-end technical outdoor clothing, and this is the company’s first foray into motorcycle apparel. The $750 Canyon is classed as a ‘mild weather’ jacket; It’s made from seam-sealed Schoeller-Dynatec, an abrasion-resistant fabric designed for motorcycle use. The fabric is treated with Coldblack, a textile coating that reduces heat absorption. Multiple vents allow cool air to circulate around the mesh liner, and reflective JRC Reflex piping is stitched into the outer shell. It appears matte black in daylight, but reflects brightly when lit by headlights at night. D3O armor provides elbow, shoulder and back protection. [Buy]
If you live in a warmer part of the world, jump into the comments below and let me know what you’re wearing to stay safe without overheating. Feel free to link to the manufacturers’ websites so we can compare your recommendations to the six listed above.—James.