Top waxed cotton motorcycle jackets

For a touch of English country gentleman or retro biker look, then a waxed cotton jacket is hard to beat

Wearing a waxed cotton jacket with a Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

by Jim Blackstock |

There was a time that there were only a couple of ways to keep water out of your riding jacket. One was to make it from leather (cows are, after all, waterproof) and the second was to make it from waxed cotton. Let’s face it – generations of fishermen can’t be wrong.

Nowadays, it’s easy to get a motorcycle jacket that keeps water out – just about every style of jacket, from casual to touring, can be found in a waterproof version, which is great news for motorcyclists. However, for the purists among us, there is still something of a draw when it comes to waxed cotton. And there are still plenty of options available.

Related: Best retro motorcycle gear

Modern waxed cotton is nothing like the sticky, stiff garments of old. They can be as flexible, as supple and as technical as textiles, using modern technology and materials to achieve the same protective qualities as textile clothing, from both the elements and the roads, while maintaining that old-school, charming look and feel.

This short retro-styled jacket from British kit giant Oxford Products is formed in waxed cotton

Oxford Holwell 1.0

The collar has a neoprene edge for comfort and the chest pockets are designed to sit flat when empty but expand when in use. It is CE rated A and comes with Level-1 armour in the shoulders and elbows and has a pocket for a back protector.


Authentic brass fasteners

Shorts, classic design

Modern protection


Only A rated

The Isle of Man TT Classic from RST is just that u2013 a classic that conjures images of TT races


It is CE A rated and comes with approved armour in the shoulders and elbows with a pocket for a back protector.


Authentic long style

Great value

Official IOM product


May be too long for some

Frank Thomas have been manufacturing riding gear for decades and this classic waxed cotton jacket

Frank Thomas TMaster

The four front pockets are all fastened with brass poppers, as are the cuffs and the collar also has a buckled fastening. There is a check lining though it is not removable so it may get warm on hotter rides and you may need a mid-layer on cold ones.


Great value

Well-respected name

Classic styling


No mention of protective abilities

Another jacket using British Millerain waxed cotton, the classic short-cut retro Scrambler from

Richa Scrambler

It uses a fixed waterproof but breathable membrane with a removable thermal liner to allow the rider to stay warm or cool depending on the conditions. It comes with CE-approved armour in the shoulders and elbows with a pocket for a back protector.


Classic short cut

Waterproof and breathable membrane

Available in two colours – black or green


No back protector included

This jacket from emerging bike clothing manufacturers Merlin uses waxed cotton produced by Halley

Merlin Yoxall 2

It’s a ¾-length jacket that doesn’t use a belt for a cleaner look and feel but features a Reissa breathable and waterproof membrane inside the waxed cotton outer and there is a removable thermal liner as well. There are also vents to allow air in for warmer rides and it is A rated with Level-1 D3O armour supplied, with a pocket for a back protector.


Styling 3/4 length cut

Authentic brass fasteners and zips

Reissa membrane for comfort


Only A rated

One for the mods this one u2013 a definite parka design which would look good on a scooter, for

Spada Jimmy Who

It also has a fixed polyester lining with a removable quilted thermal liner and there is also a waterproof and breathable membrane for protection from the elements. It has a storm flap covering the zip and several pockets, as well as a fish-tail on the rear to allow for comfortable use on the bike.


Long classic design

Waterproof membrane

Tektoform body armour including back protector


Style not for all

Belstaff are one of the oldest and most respected brands when it comes to waxed cotton motorcycle

Belstaff Brooklands 2.0

The Brooklands is a short-length jacket formed in all-year cotton, a full waxed cotton outer with the company’s own membrane and a fixed lining. It has two chest pockets and two zipped hand-warmer pockets with brass fittings all round and buckles at the waist and collar. It comes with CE-approved armour in the shoulders and elbows and a pocket for an optional back protector.


Classis style

Well-respected name

Waterproof membrane


Eye-watering price

This jacket from Held is cut specifically for ladies and features an outer in waxed cotton and has

Held Ladies Bailey

There are vents at the front for cooling airflow and plenty of adjustment in the arms, the waist and the neck for a perfect fit. It is compatible with Held’s clip-in In&motion-powered airbag vest and it comes with CE approved armour with an optional back protector and chest armour available.


Stylish cut

Airbag compatible

Vents for cooling airflow


No thermal liner

What to look for in a waxed cotton jacket

Like any other form of motorcycle jacket, you should still consider the overall CE rating, from B to A, AA and AAA, the latter indicating the highest levels of abrasion resistance and construction strength. You should also look at the included armour – at least shoulder and elbow and ideally, a back protector though you may find this is an optional extra.

As with other jackets, Level-2 armour is more impact-absorbent than Level-1 and hence, more protective.

One drawback with waxed cotton jackets is that they may require more in the way of maintenance and cleaning. If you find that one is no longer beading water on the outer surface, it may need re-treating, either using products specified by the manufacturer or something generic, such as Nikwax Wax Cotton Proof. However, when done properly, they should be virtually as water-resistant as decent textiles.

Here are some of our favourite waxed cotton jackets around at the moment.

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