There are numerous different styles of motorcycle clothing for different uses and different bikes; retro, street, sporty and touring. But perhaps one of the most technical is adventure clothing, aimed at riders who travel on the roads but also, venture off-road to get their wanderlust fix - which is where adventure motorcycle jackets come into their own.
While the on-road part of the journey poses the same challenges for an adventure jacket as it does for any other form – protection from the elements as well as potential offs, comfort, breathability and so on – leaving the tarmac behind can create a whole new set of circumstances for the clothing to deal with.
The first to consider when looking at adventure motorcycle jackets is breathability. Unless heading across country quickly, riding on the road tends to be a relatively relaxed affair but off-road, it’s much harder work. A lot of the time, you’re standing up and using your legs to absorb the surface irregularities. Handling an adventure bike off road is much more physically demanding and you need a jacket that has decent vents you can open to get as much cooling airflow in as possible.
You also want to be able to warm up a little if you have an early start to get to your off-road excursion, so a removable thermal liner is pretty much essential. And of course, it can – and probably will – rain on you at some point, so some form of waterproofing is also necessary. This can either be built into the outer layer – a treatment or a membrane but these can get damaged by vegetation, for example, so many use a removable waterproof and breathable lining as well to allow maximum airflow in when it is removed.
Related: Best adventure motorcycle helmets
Low-speed tumbles are a lot more common off-road than on as well, so you need to know that the armour is well located and so, fit and adjustability is key, so that you can tighten the jacket up if you remove the thermal and waterproof linings, for example. And, of course, as you will be falling off more often, then good armour that is not only well-located and comfortable but is also effective, is crucial.
As with any clothing, if you’re going to be using it on the road, then look for CE ratings, for the garment overall (B, A, AA and AAA, the latter the best) and armour ratings (CE Level-2 is better than Level-1). Some adventure jackets are available with built-in airbag technology and the In&motion system now includes an ‘Adventure’ profile that will allow the knocks and jolts that accompany an off-road ride without triggering the airbag deployment.
Read our guide to motorcycle clothing CE ratings here.
The best adventure motorcycle jacket
The RST Pro Series Adventure-X is a serious piece of kit and is available as a non-airbag or an airbag-equipped version (£499), the latter with the In&motion technology built-in. The jacket itself is CE AA rated and uses a MaxTex ballistic nylon outer with a removable thermal/waterproof liner that houses a SinAqua membrane to keep water out and let the body breathe. This can be stored in the rear pocket as required so luggage is not necessary. It comes with CE Level-2 armour in the elbows and shoulder and there are huge vents; two panels on the front, two on the arms and two large exhaust vents on the back. It will also accept RST's water bladder.
Alpinestars Andes Pro
Alpinestars' Andes Pro features an outer made in textile fabric with extra reinforcement over the shoulders and elbows/forearms and has a removable thermal liner to keep you warm on chilly rides. It comes with CE rated shoulder and elbow armour and is also compatible with Alpinestars' Tech Air airbag system, though a separate back protector and chest armour can be fitted if the airbag is not used. The front features zipped air vents as well as roll-away large panels and there are two exhaust vents in the back. It also uses Alpinestars' Drystar waterproof and breathable membrane for excellent weather performance.
If you do your adventure riding in warm or hot climates, then this mesh jacket from T.ur will be right up your trail. It uses an outer formed of a combination of heavyweight Cordura in key impact and abrasion areas with open mesh in non-contact areas to provide exceptional airflow. The outer is CE AA-rated and it comes with a separate thermal, waterproof and windproof inner liner to keep the elements out. It comes with CE Level-2 armour in the shoulders and elbows and there is a pocket for a back protector, as well as a drink bladder.
If the name doesn't give the game away, then the spec and features list of this jacket will. The outer is formed in 600D polyester with reinforcement in key areas and features mesh panels as well as zipped vents and panels. There is a removable thermal liner for cold rides and a separate waterproof and windproof Hydratex version to keep the elements out, the removal of which will allow the maximum airflow through. It comes with CE Level-2 shoulder and elbow armour and there is a pocket for an optional Level-2 back protector while it will also accept chest armour as well.
Weise Onyx Evo
With a 600D nylon outer, the Weise Onyx comes with a removable 150g thermal liner and a separate removable breathable wind and waterproof liner to keep the elements out while allowing the body to breathe. For extra ventilation when the liner is removed, there are zipped flaps on the front, exhaust vents on the rear and arm vents. It comes with well-respected Knox Microlock armour in the shoulders, elbows and back and there is plenty of adjustment to get the fit right, whether the liners are fitted or not. It also includes a storm collar in case of bad weather, to prevent water entering through the neck.
Spidi All Road
The All Road is Spidi's adventure jacket and combines what the manufacturer describes as three separate jackets; a CE AA-rated outer, an H2Out breathable, waterproof and windproof liner and a thermal liner for warmth. The outer has large openable mesh vents in the chest, the back and the arms while it comes with CE Level-2 armour in the shoulders and elbows with optional back protector and chest armour. The waterproof jacket can be worn inside or over the top of the outer and can also be worn on its own as a rainproof layer while the thermal liner can also be worn individually as a lightweight jacket.
Held Hakuna II
The Hakuna II from Held is the company's mid-range adventure jacket and features a 500D Cordura outer paired with a breathable waterproof and windproof liner that is removable to improved cooling. There are zipped vents on the arms and chest as well as removable panels covering mesh sections and it comes with Level-1 SAS Tech shoulder and elbow armour while there is a pocket for a Level-2 back protector. The jacket will also accept Held's In&motion-powered airbag vest insert.
Klim is regarded as one of the leaders when it comes to adventure clothing and uses some of the highest specification materials. The outer is formed in 630D Cordura in the key abrasion areas while the non-key abrasion and impact areas use a lighter material to keep the weight down. It comes with a Gore-tex membrane bonded to the inside of the outer so it doesn't get damaged on the trails and there is CE Level-2 D3O armour at the shoulders, elbows and the back. There are vents at the chest, the arm and the back and the collars can be held open for additional airflow.
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