leather vs textile vs mesh motorcycle jackets

Leather vs Textile vs Mesh Motorcycle Jackets: The Ultimate Guide (From a Seasoned Rider!)

Hey, is that a troubled rider, searching for the right type of jacket to buy? I hope it is, because this article is going to help you decide which type of jacket is right for you between leather vs textile vs mesh.

TL;DR: here is a complete comparison of leather, mesh and textile jackets with ratings from F (terrible) to A (amazing). If you want more details, scroll down for individual comparisons!

Leather JacketsTextile JacketsMesh Jackets
Water ProofingBCF
Winter ProofingABF
Leather vs Textile vs Mesh Motorcycle Jackets: Comparison Table (F being worst, A being best)

I weared and teared through all three types. Some are great, saving me slide after slide and some are well… Just marketing garbage that feels strange on your body, almost like riding shirtless.

In this combat between leather, textile and mesh jacket for winning a place in your wardrobe I’ll cover:

  • The pros and cons of every type
  • Their performance and longevity
  • Airflow
  • Water and winter endurance
  • Price
  • Secrets from my buying experiences

Accompanied with some stupid, funny stories that I only think are interesting. So, just please ignore them.

By the way, did you know we already have a guide for the BEST motorcycle jackets?

I thought so! Make sure you take a peek at my buddy Jay’s selection. It has the best of the best motorcycle jackets. 

And what about the ladies?

Bree, the pro for motorcycle gear, and I mean “real pro”, has hand-picked some of the TOP motorcycle jackets for female riders

Are you ready? Let’s jump in!

Leather vs Mesh Motorcycle Jacket: Which Is Better (and When)?

motorcycle rider in a black jacket and a helmet

Ahh, leather. Sweet, sweet leather.

Sweet my (curse word)!

The thing with leather jackets is they give no airflow and wearing them in summer is torture. At the end of the day you are soggy, sweaty and smelly.

A literal rolling people repellent. 

Sure, perforated leather might stand a chance but that‘s a super slim chance. 

On the other hand, mesh jackets are SUPER lightweight, perfect for hot weather and the real definition of airflow.

The first time I wore a mesh jacket I felt like not wearing it at all. I thought the sales guy had tricked me and gave me a knock-off jacket instead. It’s simply that light to carry.

Worried about not being seen in traffic?

Buy a mesh jacket and get noticed while commuting, instantly! They are that colorful and bright.

It’s like somebody has poured all shades of the rainbow combined with that fluorescent orange or yellow.

Fun story! I have a mesh jacket with super bright, police-like colors. I even got pulled away on an interstate, because the cops thought I was their colleague Tim. Plot twist – he was patrolling that exact interstate and had the exact same jacket.

Are mesh jackets cheaper than leather ones?

Let’s just say this. For the price of one leather motorcycle jacket, you could buy 3 or even 4 mesh motorcycle jackets.

The main idea behind the mesh jacket is to be an affordable way of cooling yourself down on the piping hot days. With “decent armor”, of course.

How safe are mesh motorcycle jackets?

That key airflow advantage comes at a COST. 

Of course, it’s the most comfortable moto gear out there, but mesh jackets will not survive a long slide. Sure, mesh could be made very durable, but that durability depends on the textile weave tightness. 

After the slide, you could only throw that mesh jacket into the nearest trash can.


It will be ripped into shreds by asphalt and there would be almost nothing left. Except for the zippers. Maybe!

What I don’t like about mesh jackets is they are practically one-time things. You slide or crash with it and that’s it. You’re off to buy the next one. 

Well, damn, there goes my $$$ mesh jacket. Nothing but a pile of shredded textile compounds.

Will mesh motorcycle jackets protect you at all?

motorcycle rider wearing a mesh jacket

Mesh jackets with armor (and I mean good-old CE Rated 1 Armor) will protect you damn great while street riding.

Low-speed crashes are a matter of no importance to these types of jackets. Aim for mesh jackets that have back protectors as well. 

Sure, you might look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a really colorful one. Even Michelangelo couldn’t beat you with those colors. But a back protector is a MUST with mesh jackets.

I’ll also give you a little secret with motorcycle mesh jacket’s armor: Don’t go with a “shell” type of mesh jacket – it’s not going to save you when being t-boned!

They are s**t-worthy when it comes to impact. The ONLY good thing about shell jackets is they’ll protect you when sliding. That’s it!

Are mesh jackets waterproof and winterproof?

To be honest, I still have to find a mesh motorcycle jacket that will save me from raining cats-and-dogs situation.

Another fun story: This summer, when I got hammered by a T-storm, I had nothing but a mesh jacket, jeans and riding shoes. The jacket got so wet I literally, and I mean LITERALLY, half-filled a milk jug with rain water.

And it had a “waterproof label” on it. Waterproof my (curse word)!

But, what about having a mesh jacket in the winter time?

Sure, if you want to become a rolling ice cube with a constant common cold, then feel free to try it.

They are awesome in summertime, but when autumn and winter comes along, it’s a BIG no-no. Simply do not think about riding in a mesh jacket when it starts to be a bit colder. 

However, leather is somewhat waterproof. It won’t perfectly repel water from touching you, but it will do a damn good job putting up a forth.

Are leather motorcycle jackets better?

Heck yes!

The leather is unbeatable when it comes to high-speed slide, protection, and endurance, but it’s a frickin oven experience in the summer.

With leather, it’s about being wind-proof. NOT wind, air-flow friendly. But here is the trade of – Do you dress for the slide or for the ride?

Also, with leather jackets, you’ll feel cozy and warm riding in the winter. It’s like sitting on a super-comfy sofa right next to a fireplace, while drinking a hot cup of tea.

Water ProofingBF
Winter ProofingAF
Leather vs Mesh Jackets Comparison Table (A being best, F being worst)

As a bonus, I’ll give you my buying secret when shopping for mesh motorcycle jackets. Be sure to write it down!

Search for the mesh jackets that have quality LEATHER parts on the sliding areas. On the back, shoulders and under the arms. 

That way you’ll get  a morphed, unicorn-piece of motorcycle jacket. It will withstand good slides and crashes, yet give you that necessary cooling effect in the summer.

Mesh vs Textile — Which Is Better and How?

Should I really make the cons and pros part with textile? 

I mean, textile motorcycle jackets are pretty close to leather in terms of endurance, but not close enough. It’s like a mesh motorcycle jacket on steroids. It becomes all jacked up and tough, while still having the same air-flow features.


What is the difference between mesh and textile jackets?

The thing with textile motorcycle jackets is, they are great when it comes to layering, especially the waterproofing ones. That’s kinda their main feature.

Textile jackets have special zipped, air-flow pockets. They are SUPER cool and convenient in piping-hot summer.

When hot, crack those zippers for max airflow and look like Draco the flying lizard. Well, more like riding than flying lizard, but you know what I mean.


When cold, add a thermal liner, and you’re good to go.

Are textile jackets safer than mesh ones?

Textile jackets offer a waaaay better protection than the mesh ones. You have all that CE rated armor + inner layers to keep you safe.

Textile jackets are also GREAT at moderate + crashes and slides. You won’t get shredded like tissue paper when wearing a mesh jacket, but there will be damage.

Oh, I almost forgot to add that some textile jackets have a ballistic nylon at the impact and slide areas.

Originally, ballistic nylon is used for the protection of aircraft personnel as an anti-fragmentation ballistic jacket for the military. It’s guarding them against bullets, shrapnel, and yes… ballistic impacts.

Yep, that’s why I love textile jackets. I’m just proud to know I’m wearing a SEMI-BULLETPROOF-VEST.

Are textile jackets more expensive than the mesh ones?

Unfortunately, yes. 

With textile jackets, you have all those inner layers to account for. Thermo, windproof, and whatever God-proof layer they put into a textile jacket, that stuff affects the price. 

Plus, all those extra, fancy zippers on a textile jacket, that almost open the doors to Alice’s Wonderland, are of supreme quality. So the price goes up.

Can a mesh jacket be turned into a textile jacket?

To pull it off you have to mix a bit of sugar, spice and everything NI…


Yes, you can wear a thermo vest under your mesh jacket, when it gets colder, but it’s still a mesh jacket.

The fundamental difference with textile compared to mesh jackets is the material and thread used to create the fabric. The textile is thicker and stronger, where the mesh has the main goal of the airflow.

Are textile jackets waterproof and winter proof?

Surprisingly… YES!

I have my old textile jackets in the closet that withstood the toughest storms. Now, it’s only a shrine to the gods that engineered it . 

And what about the winter?

What winter?

The super-hightec, woven-based thermo layer kept me comfy while riding at 45F! On a motorcycle that feels like 25 rather than 45.

Almost the same as leather.

Water ProofingCF
Winter ProofingAF
Textile vs Mesh Motorcycle Jackets Comparison Table (A being best, F being worst)

Here is my buying secret when shopping for textile motorcycle jackets:

It’s important that your textile jacket fits you more than a glove.

Having a fancy, bad-ass textile jacket that doesn’t fit you properly will not save you when push comes to shove.

Oh, and go ALL-IN for ballistic nylon. That stuff is indestructible!

Textile vs Leather — Which Is the Best Type of Jacket, Ever?

a motorcycle rider from behind

Ugh, I’m already sweating while trying to find key differences between these two.

It’s just that tough. On one side, you have a hard-as-nails leather jacket and on the other side… well almost the same, textile jacket.

Are textile jackets safer than leather ones?

(Takes a deep breath)

I have to level with you – asphalt is a nightmare in which textile jackets still lose.

Yes, you have the first grade CE armor and you’ll walk away from it with a simple bruise. But there will be damage to your textile jacket. After a crash, you’re bound to get yourself a new one. 

There is no other way around it. I’ve tried it so many times.

Fun story: For longer trips I still wear my old textile jacket that has a big, hand-stitched hole. It’s a scar from a slide on a twisty mountain side. Believe it or not, it holds to this day!

What about the leather jacket?

With a leather jacket you can slide all day long, and only have a couple of scratches.

That’s why I love leather motorcycle jackets: they are wind-prof, slide-proof, and winter-proof pieces of gear.
You’ll also hear from seasoned riders that the leather jackets are the BEST material for motorcycle jackets. Period!

Do leather motorcycle jackets last longer than the textile ones?

Can you believe that my first leather jacket was my grandpas’ riding jacket?

Neither could I because I found it in a brand new condition!

Makes me think. Every other jack is a wearable gear, but a leather jacket is a wearable legacy. Not only that you’ll wear it, but there is a good chance your grandsons or granddaughters would wear it too!

Of course, if they are riding a motorcycle in the first place.

Water ProofingBC
Winter ProofingAB
Leather vs Textile Motorcycle Jackets Comparison Table (A being best, F being worst)

Here is my buying secret when it comes to shopping for leather jackets:

Aim for the leather jackets that have an accordion stitching. New leather is really stiff. Wearing it like that you’ll struggle. It’s like being enclosed in a coffin. Constraints everywhere.

With accordion stitching at the elbow and under arms, that problem is EXTINCT. You’ll be able to fly, oops I meant move, like a butterfly!

Flitter, flutter!

Leather vs Textile vs Mesh Motorcycle Jacket – Final Takeaway

Which one would I choose?

I’m definitely buying a textile jacket if running on a budget. It has almost everything you would need in a motorcycle jacket.

Have a deeper pocket and going pro?

Get yourself a textile and leather jacket. Now, you’ll be set for life when it comes to motorcycle jackets.

Here is my last buying secret when shopping for any motorcycle jacket:

Print the comparison table from the top of this article and carry it like a Bible. Next time you end up shopping for a moto jacket, you’ll know exactly which one to buy.

Ride smarter and safer!