Leather jackets are timeless and versatile, a true staple in many wardrobes. Contrary to popular belief, all leather is not created equal. In this article, I will discuss the best leather for jackets with helpful factors and suggestions for an easier choice.
The best leather for jackets is durable, quality, and comfortable leather. This includes cowhide and bison for heavy jackets, deerskin and goatskin for less heavy jackets, and calfskin and lambskin for lightweight jackets. Full grain and top grain are the highest quality for leather jackets.
Are you looking to buy a new leather jacket but are unsure which type would work best? Are you boggled by all the different types of leather? Let’s explore some helpful factors and suggestions for the best leather for jackets.
What Is the Best Leather for Jackets?
The best leather for jackets is a personal preference. It is often a durable and comfortable material with just what the wearer seeks. Each type has unique characteristics that contribute to a high-quality leather jacket with durability, softness, thickness, and resistance to dirt and water. Leather jackets are available in:
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- History of Leather Jackets
- Best Leather For Jackets Overview Table
- Why Is Leather Best for Jackets?
- Best Leather Types for Jackets
- Best Leather Grades for Jackets
- What Is the Best Leather for Bomber Jackets?
- What Is the Best Leather for Biker Jackets?
- What Is the Best Leather for Racer Jackets?
- What Is the Best Leather for Flight Jackets?
- Best Faux Leather for Jackets
- Best Leather Conditioner for Jackets
- Tips For Purchasing the Best Leather for Jackets
- My Personal Research Into Best Leather for Jackets
- Helpful Best Leather for Jackets Insights
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
A common misconception is that all leather jackets are made equal. This is far from the truth because some retailers use the cheapest leather to save money, making a low-quality jacket with a hefty price tag.
Many people also think all leather jackets are made from cowhide, which is false. Several different types of leather are used to make jackets, including deer, goat, and lambskin.
History of Leather Jackets?
Leather material has been around for centuries and has been used for protection from the elements since ancient society. However, leather jackets did not debut until early in the 1900s and were considered part of military uniforms. In 1917 these jackets were modified for World War I pilots to be worn as flight jackets for warmth in the open cockpits.
In the 1950s, with the introduction of motorcycling as a national interest, leather jackets became known as a fashion statement, providing protection from falls and weather while looking cool. Leather jackets remain trendy and popular to this day.
Best Leather for Jackets Overview Table
|Water resistant, durable, thick, and effective for protective gear and jackets
|Durable, thick, and effective for protective gear and jackets
|Similar to cowhide, softer and lighter
|Lightweight, supple, often found in fashion apparel
|Strong and durable, soft and lightweight
|Lightweight, supple, lightweight, often found in fashion apparel
Why Is Leather Best for Jackets?
Jackets come in many styles and weights based on location, weather, use, and weight. Leather is best for jackets because there are several options, depending on whether you want heavy-duty or lightweight.
It is a versatile and durable material that fits many occasions, dressed up or down. Leather jackets are always in style while being practical.
Cowhide and bison are excellent choices for thick, heavy leather jackets.
Best Leather Types for Jackets
- Cowhide: Popular, readily available, and commonly used for making leather jackets. It is resistant to dirt and water while providing great protection from the weather.
- Calfskin: Strong and durable like cowhide, yet lightweight and soft. It offers a smooth and supple feel while providing excellent protection from the elements.
- Deerskin: Offers softness and flexibility with durability and a light feel. It offers a truly comfortable feel that relaxes more with each wear for a truly personalized fit.
- Lambskin: The softest leather available on the market with a smooth and lightweight feel. It is the thinnest of leather and is often used for many things besides leather jackets due to its flattering drape.
- Goatskin: Highly durable, light, and soft like an old favorite, even brand new. It is highly practical and can even be worn year-round in some places.
- Bison: Similar in durability and strength to cowhide but with a pebbled grain that sets it apart and gives it a truly rugged look.
Best Leather Grades for Jackets
The grades of leather refer to the cuts or thickness of the hide and include full grain, top grain, split grain, genuine, and bonded leather. Full and top grain are the highest grade of leather and are best for making jackets. Full grain leaves the hide natural and is minimally processed, and top grain has been stripped of the outermost layer and smoothed for a soft feel.
Split grain is often used for suede and nubuck and is processed with an artificial coating. Genuine and bonded leather is made from glued-together scraps and other materials, making them the lowest quality.
What Is the Best Leather for Bomber Jackets?
Bomber jackets are often worn outdoors for rugged activities as they protect from the elements. The best choice of leather for a bomber jacket is cowhide, and popular choices include cowhide, goatskin, and lambskin.
What Is the Best Leather for Biker Jackets?
Cowhide is the most often chosen for biker jackets due to its durability and protection from both falls from the bike and the weather. Other popular choices for biker jackets include goatskin and lambskin.
What Is the Best Leather for Racer Jackets?
Racer jackets are often worn outdoors in fashion as well as street racing, so some protection from elements and abrasions is desirable. The best and most popular choice of leather for racer jackets is cowhide due to its durability and protection level. Other popular choices include stingray and kangaroo leather.
What Is the Best Leather for Flight Jackets?
Flight jackets are worn in cockpits and fashion, so lightweight protection is a must. Goatskin tends to be the best leather for flight jackets due to its lightweight and supple protection from wind. Lambskin and cowhide are also popular choices for flight jackets.
What Is the Best Leather for Duster Jackets?
Duster jackets are worn for lightweight protection as well as fashion. The best leather for duster jackets is lambskin or sheepskin; however, popular choices include deerskin and goatskin, as these are all lightweight and durable.
Best Faux Leather for Jackets
Faux leather for jackets must be durable and flexible to provide protection and stand up to the elements, and the best choice is polyurethane (PU) leather. There are many types of faux leather out there, all with unique qualities that set them apart from others.
According to recent research by Ismail and Khirotdin, faux leather undergoes specific printing and curing to create an appearance similar to real leather. This, along with optimum curing parameters, leads to a better-looking jacket.
Best Leather Conditioner for Jackets
Leather jackets spend much time outdoors with the wearer, which means exposure to potentially damaging conditions. This makes it important to provide regular maintenance and care to keep a leather jacket looking and feeling great.
The best leather conditioner for jackets is not always the cheapest. Look for pH-neutral leather conditioners with a simple ingredient list, including lanolin, beeswax, or fish oil. A UV protectant also protects the leather fibers and prevents drying out and color changes.
Tips for Purchasing the Best Leather for Jackets
- Start with style: bomber, biker, flight, racer, etc.
- Consider the level of protection: outdoor, rugged, heavy, lightweight, etc.
- Look at the leather type: cowhide, bison, deerskin, calfskin, etc., to match the level of protection.
- Choose the fit: sleeve length, shoulder width, torso length, chest, and waist size should be comfortable but not baggy or tight.
- Examine the grain: full grain, top grain, split, genuine, etc.
- Examine stitching: inside and out.
- Choose the level of embellishment: zippers, hardware, colors, etc.
Watch this helpful video from GQ that discusses different leather jacket types for every budget.
My Personal Research Into the Best Leather for Jackets
Many people have leather jackets in their closets, and with so many types and styles, I thought it might be fun to see what everyone has. I challenged people to look at what types of leather their jackets are made from, and below are their responses.
Helpful Best Leather for Jackets Insights
What leather is best for a jacket?
Full grain leather from cow or bison is best for a strong and thick jacket. For a lighter jacket, goatskin or deerskin are the best leather. Calfskin and lambskin are excellent choices for a super soft and lightweight feel.
Is leather a good material for jackets?
Leather is a good material for jackets because there are so many options. Not all leathers are thick and heavy, like cowhide and bison. Some are lightweight, like calfskin and lambskin, and are great for year-round wear. Leather is resistant to dirt and water and provides excellent protection from the elements.
What thickness of leather is used for jackets?
The thickness of leather in leather jackets depends on the grain of leather used. Full grain is commonly used and is up to 2.0 mm thick. Top grain is also often used and ranges from 0.9–1.4 mm in thickness.
- Cowhide and bison are excellent choices for thick, heavy leather jackets.
- Deer hide and goatskin are great choices for less heavy leather jackets.
- Calf hide and lambskin are great choices for lightweight fashion leather jackets.
Leather jackets have been considered fashionable since the 1950s and are a staple in many wardrobes. They are versatile and durable, lending to a lifetime of decades or more, so making the right choice of leather is important. Hopefully, these factors and suggestions will help you choose on that is just right for you.
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