Air is Divine: 8 Great Summer Jackets
We've listed out our best vented motorcycle jackets.
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room. When it’s 90 degrees with humidity practically dripping out of stagnant air, there are few better feelings in the world than jumping on a motorcycle in a sweaty t-shirt, goosing the throttle, and letting the cooling power of physics do its thing.
[Puts on Captain Safety Hat]
But as we all should know to calculate: with great pleasures comes risk. In this case, we’re talking about the certitude with which you will lose some amount of skin from your shoulders, or forearms, or back, should you happen to lay down a moving motorcycle wearing only a t-shirt…even at relatively slow city speeds.
Solution: Get yourself a quality summer-specific jacket. Something that’ll allow for t-shirt-like airflow, but provide protection for your precious derma. Plus, all of these jackets come with built-in armor to protect from the impact part of the equation.
Caveat: Not all mesh jackets are built alike. And in general, the category has historically made us squeamish. Ventilation is easy to incorporate (see: the T-shirt hypothetical), but at what cost? A cheap summer mesh can do more harm than good if you wind up with poorly placed knock-off Nylon melted into your skin.
Thankfully, this latest crop latest/greatest summer jackets are no slouches. Almost all the jacket on this list are at least AA rated, meaning the material spec in key abrasion areas is going to hold up to at least a 45mph slide.*
Without further ado, here are the best summer-specific jackets available today—all of which will cost you less than your health insurance deductible should you crash wearing only a sweaty t-shirt.
Merlin Chigwell Lite Jacket // AA // $249
The Merlin Chigwell Lite delivers a AA CE rating in a package that will breath as well as any mesh jacket on the market. Unlike most of those jackets, however, the Merlin flies far further under the proverbial radar (eg: It’s not Neon yellow, and doesn’t say JOE ROCKET, or even REVIT!, down the sleeve).
Thanks to its use of natural Haley Stevens waxed cottons and tonal mesh panels, this smart piece provides technical motorcycle jacket performance in civilian-ish clothing.
The Chigwell comes with a full complement of D3O armor. Yes, even the back protector is included, which is impressive at this price.
This jacket hits a unique note with some quilting on the shoulders, a sensible array of pockets, a flattering silhouette, and utterly see-through ventilation panels. Get em while it’s hot!
*The only downside of the Chigwell is that supply is limited. We just took receipt of a decent batch of sizes in both the black and the olive, and can guaranteed within a couple weeks of this late July posting our on-hand inventory will be picked over and sold out for the duration of the season.
REVIT Tornado 3 // AA // $349
The Tornado 3 jacket series is billed as a lightweight summer adventure jacket, with benefits. And that it is. But those benefits extent well beyond piloting a burly ADV bike through the backcountry. In fact, the Tornado 3 is one of the better looking and more functional city summer jackets we’ve come across.
Available in a women’s specific or men’s version, the Tornado 3 comes with substantial molded Level 2 armor at the elbows and shoulders (*the back is extra), and a zip-in/zip-out thermal/waterproof liner that’ll extend the range of this excellent pick from spring through fall.
For best results, layer over the jacket with the excellent Klim Forecast or Stow Away rain shell, or any other quality moto-specific rain jacket, which will keep you doubly waterproof in this case, and save you from needing to dry out the shell of this jacket after you get caught riding through a deluge.
We’ve got this jacket in-store in both mens and womens in a good range of color options, *but with somewhat checkered availability.
REVIT Eclipse // A // $179
The Eclipse series is the closest we’ve ever come to offering candy at the store. When it's summer in the city, these jackets sell like Skittles. Available in a wide range of solid tones, in both men’s and women’s, the Eclipse captures that ever-sweet “riding in a t-shirt” sensation as well as any of our summer jackets.
While it only has a A rating, meaning the material in the high-risk areas, in a lab, is good for 25mph, but not 45mph, this is still an excellent pick for urban riding, or suburban streets, or maybe mellow country roads. As always, extra layers will improve your personal safety rating.
What’s that keloid on the upper arm? That’s a raised plastic “Rev’It!” logo, masquerading as shoulder slider. As with most of Revit’s logo placement, we could do without it, but all in all, the Eclipse's lightweight chassis and well placed Knox Microlock armor make it an eminently easy and well-protective jacket to wear around town on even the hottest days.
Klim Marrakesh // AA // $369
The Marrakesh is comprised of a 4-way stretch 1000D Cordura fabric that achieves a commendable CE AA rating without giving up much in the ventilation department. Stand on the pegs and gas your bike and you’ll feel wind whip through the torso of this unique summer moto jacket, which is so stretchy and comfortable it borders on zippered sweatshirt status.
Available in a few color options in both men’s and women’s (the latter of which has a zippered hip gusset for dialing in the fit), the Marrakesh is an equally great option for city environments or more adventure offroad scenarios.
With the surprising amount of ventilation this jacket delivers, for longer hauls it would be wise to consider packing along some sort of moto-specific rain shell, like the vented Gore-Tex Klim Stowaway.
As with all Klim jackets, a full 5-piece D3O armor complement is included.
KLIM Induction Jacket 2.0 // AA // $349
The secret to the Induction jacket sauce is Klim’s Karbonite mesh paneling, which is a high-tenacity open weave that the company claims has a far higher melting point than Nylon. And while this space-age hi-flow ventilation material begs for a Hans Solo joke, we won’t fall for it.
The Induction Jacket presents a great combination of lightweight, breathable materials, and real protection for the road.
Where it’s not lined in Karbonite, the jacket’s high-wear and likely-impact points are clad in 500D Cordura for extra durability.
The entire inside of the jacket is lined with moisture-wicking mesh for added comfort. And the jacket features an adjustable forearm strap and Velcro waist tabs to cinch in the fit for comfort at speed.
Add it all up and this is a vented summer option with a higher speed limit than most in its class.
Knox Urbane MKII // AA // $299
This abrasion –resistant armored shirt from Knox boasts both a certified 5-piece armor complement and certified AA rated slide protection, all in a single garment.
The Urban Pro MKII can be worn either as a liner under a civilian jacket of your choice, or on its own, as a way to beat the heat without sacrificing safety.
The “Mark II” designation is a welcome upgrade over last year’s Urbane Pro, which is very much the same except it now meets AA Certification, and so we feel a lot better about selling it without reservations. We’ve got mens and women’s in stock now ready to go.
Klim Baja S4 Jacket // AA // $549
Take the Cordura stretch fabric of the Klim Marrakesh and combine it with the Karbonite mesh of the Klim Induction—and then overlay that with SuperFabric ceramic abrasion-resistant coating on the shoulders and elbows, and you get this full-fledged summer-specific Adventure jacket.
This thing flows air beautifully, protects with a “AA+” abrasion rating, and would be our first choice for, say, tackling a summertime NEBDR mission.
Aether Draft Jacket // Unrated* // $695
The fully armored Aether Draft offers a fresh take on the classic mesh summer riding jacket—with strategically placed leather reinforcements at the elbows and forearms, heavy-duty mesh paneling in between, and a bevy of thoughtful pockets.
One of those pockets, a double-sided rabbit pocket at the lower back, houses the jacket’s best feature—a brilliant seam-sealed rain shell that goes overtop to extend its range. The rain shell features extra 3M reflective bits for safety in inclement weather, plus protected false pass-through pockets with waterproof zippers, to access the real pockets in the leather/mesh main jacket underneath.
Like all our Aether jackets this one comes with a full 5-piece D3O armor complement, and a lifetime guarantee on workmanship, all included with the purchase price.
*The REVIT Eclipse is the only one on this list that’s A rated only—meaning the shell material at the critical abrasion zones must pass the lab test at 25mph, but not at 45mph.
Also to note: the only jacket on this list w/out a CE rating at all is the Aether Draft. As an American company doing business mainly here in the States, Aether isn't required to meet CE certifications in order to have their jackets sold specifically as motorcycle protective equipment, as EU companies selling into the EU are.
That said, we feel the Draft seems to be on par with any of the A or even AA rated jackets on this list.
The new A, AA, and AAA ratings correspond to a revised CE standard governing protective motorcycle apparel that aims to better replicate real-world conditions by dropping spinning material samples onto a regulated concrete slab. The samples then come to a rest under their own (rider simulated) weight. If a sample passes the 25mph slide test without a hole (or a hole smaller than 5mm), it's in line for A certification. It'll have to pass 45mph to get AA; and 75mph to achieve AAA.
But not all parts of a jacket are treated equally. The new standard breaks down jackets into three zones, with certain abrasion standards required for different zones. For a simple single-A rating, only the high-risk shoulders and elbows must pass the 25mph spec. For AAA, by comparison, those high-wear zones must sustain 75mph in testing, and even the relatively low-risk areas, like inside the elbows, are tested to 25mph.
Moreover, the new standard is wholistic, and doesn't' account for just abrasion, or just simple armor ratings. And that's a good thing. Even if it gets wonky, fast.
Is it perfect? No. Because all "AA" jackets are not equal. They just get through the same 45mph gate. But the standards do elevate the game - no longer can you toss CE-rated armor into a flimsy fishnet jacket and call it good.
Beyond rote abrasion, this multi-faceted test also includes seam-burst strength testing, material tear resistance, and strict requirements for armor placement. Geek out on this diagram that helps visually explain the zone map and some of the metrics behind the ratings.
**The latest version of European CE lab test standard 17092 (yada-yada) notwithstanding, as always, your results may vary.