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Gear Guide: 7 Summer Jackets for 2024

Gear Guide: 7 Summer Jackets for 2024

Ventilation: Get Some. 

Riding in the heat of summer can be a huge drag if you’re not getting proper airflow.

The natural survival instinct is to ditch the jacket altogether, and achieve instant comfort by wicking sweat away with a twist of the throttle. 

But here’s the rub: while nothing beats riding in a t-shirt on a hot day, if things go wrong, you can bet they'll go really, really wrong.

Picking out the right summer riding jacket is a balancing act of minimizing material and maximizing airflow, all without sacrificing protection. And, of course, when it comes to the style quotient, the goal is to not also sacrifice your own self respect.

We've curated a list of class-leading vented summer jackets from some of the best brands in the business—all AA rated, all Union Garrage approved, and all ready to ship.

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If you’re looking to stay as cool as possible, bar none, our coolest-running jacket is probably the KLIM Induction 2.0. Leave for a long adventure on an early summer morning, and this jacket almost lets in *too much* air, so you’ll want to plan to layer accordingly and adjust as you go. It's more technical than a lot of our selection, but it earns a place atop our picks here on pure objective observation—this thing flows air like a sieve.

This space-age screen door of a jacket is constructed with liberal helpings of KLIM’s “Karbonite” mesh paneling, which is a high-tenacity open weave material that the company claims has a far higher melting point than standard Nylon. The Induction comes with a AA CE abrasion rating, giving us confidence in recommending it as a safe and super functional summer option.

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New this season, John Doe's Aero Mesh jacket offers AA protection with the understated style that the brand's become well known for, especially the company's riding jeans.

The Aero Mesh jacket is reinforced with John Doe's XTM material at the critical abrasion points—shoulders and elbows, and the rest is a 3D mesh that flows air like water through a screen.

Big props to John Doe for not over-branding this jacket, and for only offering it in one simple black color-way. Or absence of color-way. Upgrade the jacket with a zip-in Windblock Liner to extend its seasonality.

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A staple for several seasons is the laid-back looking Merlin Chigwell Lite, which is modeled after a classic short-waisted waxed cotton jacket, complete with quilted shoulder detailing, but with mesh paneling in non-essential abrasion zones. It also gets a respectable AA rating.

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On the more technical ADV side of the single-layer summer jacket spectrum, the KLIM Baja S4 offers an unparalleled combination of ventilation and protection. The 4-way shell is made up of Schoeller 4-way stretch fabric, the same class-leading Karbonite mesh used in the Induction jacket, and it’s studded with abrasion resistant Super Fabric at the shoulders and elbows.

This is the Brass Knuckles of summer motorcycle jackets, and even though it has "TECHNICAL RIDING GEAR" tattooed across the back, it is a badass enough jacket to pull off riding as a city commuter any day of the week. This one is AA rated but probably scores higher than most AA jackets we sell.

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The softer, gentler, easier to wear summer option from KLIM: The Marrakesh Jacket is the most unique of the bunch thanks to its 1000D Cordura 4-way stretch construction. It's almost more sweatshirt than jacket, but it still pulls a AA rating of its own.

The Marrakesh delivers outsized ventilation and safety features – each one (as with all KLIM jackets) comes with a full 5-piece D3O armor complement, included. All that comfort and protection, and it's a dark horse in the summer jacket category. Layer underneath and/or overtop to easily extend this utility piece's seasonal range.

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The new-this-year REVIT Tornado 4 brings some nice updates for the 4th iteration of what's become a staple jacket around here. Instead of a dual thermal + waterproof liner, REVIT this year wisely separated the two, and now includes both a full-sleeve thermal liner, and a full-sleeve waterproof liner—the latter of which can ben worn inside OR outside the shell, or even on its own as a destination rain layer. 

The Tornado is more of a summertime Adventure jacket, which by definition doubles well as an urban option. It’ll take you further into the fall than any others in this shootout because its liner also adds the benefit of lofted insulation.

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The Merlin Shenstone is essentially the same spec as its sibling Chigwell lite, above, except it gets a few more pockets, and also gets a full-sleeve Reissa-brand breathable/waterproof membrane, which zips in or out easily to extend its range in the wetter/cooler months.

While putting mesh paneling on a traditional waxed cotton riding jacket is sort of like putting windows on a submarine, we've come to appreciate the compromise of utility and aesthetics that the Shenstone brings. 

And as always, Merlin delivers a lot of jacket for relatively little coin—this one gets an AA rating, comes with a 5-piece D3O armor set, and with the liner zipped in will stretch into spring and fall—not just summer, where it also excels.

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Cheap off-brand mesh jackets can feel close to that "t-shirt-in-August" gold standard, but depending on their material spec, and how well they’re constructed, they could melt (yup) into your skin, or just fall apart in a crash.

We've chosen to skip the plentifully available "A" rated summer mesh jackets, or anything unrated. All the above are rated AA, meaning the material withstands *at least* a 45mph abrasion simulation; versus only 25mph for "A" rated garments.

Still, even with AA ratings, the maximum we see for mesh summer jackets, there is of course some compromise in ultimate safety versus a AAA-rated (75MPH) full leather jacket. 

That said, riding in comfort is a whole lot safer than passing out from dehydration while sweating through said full leather jacket. 

Choose wisely, ride safe, and stay hydrated!