Leather and Textile Jackets - Which One to Choose.
With the summer coming up, leather versus textile is on a lot of motorcyclists minds. It might be a hard decision so I've put together a list of a few things you need to consider before buying yours. I'm leaving the looks out of this review since that's a personal decision.
So let's dig in it!
Protection. Leather is a lot better when it comes to protection. First of all, when in contact with the asphalt, leather will slide smoothly, or as smoothly as possible, across the surface. This is a good thing, because when you're sliding at 50 mph after a spill, you want to slide instead of bumping. Secondly, the tear resistance of leather is way better than textiles. This has been tested in hundreds of tests and while textile has been catching up with leather with advanced materials, it's still not quite the same. Finally, leather jackets usually come with a lot more protection than textile ones but you should check the jackets you're interested in and compare. Overall, leather definitely wins here.
Ventilation. This is very dependant on the actual jacket and it varies a lot. Leather is a very thick material and doesn't really breath all too much as is, but most of the leather jackets out there are well ventilated via perforated leather panels and oftentimes with the big backhump. Breathability of textile jackets depends on whether it has a Gore-Tex or similar waterproof membrane in it. Jackets with the membrane are much thicker and won't breath as much. So, as I said, this varies a lot depending on the jacket, but if we're looking at a top of the line perforated leather jacket and a top of the line waterproof textile jacket, the leather would win.
Overall comfort. While the leather jackets have improved a lot recently, they're still a bit stiff to wear. Once they break in they will be much more comfortable, so if you're at a motorcycle store trying one on and it feels stiff, you'll have to consider the break in factor too. This is a double-edged sword though, because leather jackets being stiff, they won't flap around like some textile ones do, especially some loose models. This is why a snug fit is important. Textile jackets are still quite a bit more comfortable because they're not as restrictive as the leather ones and are usually much lighter than the leather ones. You'd be surprised at how much some of the thick leather jackets weigh with all the protection! Overall, I find textile jackets more comfortable.
Consider different riding environments! The important thing before buying is to consider your own riding environment. If you have to ride when it's cold outside, say around 50 F, you probably want a textile jacket. Riding in a warmer state, you're probably better off with a well ventilated leather jacket. Does it rain a lot? Waterproof textile. Also, one thing you need to think about is if you're planning to go to the local racetrack for a ride, some of them won't take in people wearing textiles for safety reasons. To sum it up, there's quite a bit of stuff to consider before making your decision but hopefully this guide shed some light into it!