When I began my eternal passion in the world of motorcycles, I bought a bike and three pieces of gear to start me off: a helmet, jacket, and gloves. I’d be lying if I said I did enough research and picked the best jacket for myself… I was riding high on cloud 9 with my new motorcycle purchase and bought the first jacket I found that filled my needs. From my own experience, I can confidently say this is not the way to go. Shortly after I found tons of options I could have purchased instead that would have been far superior to the jacket I picked on a whim.
To avoid the same demise I had to learn the hard way, I have assembled a list of ten amazing jackets for $500 or less that are backed by great reviews (in some cases hundreds) and have tried my best to cover jacket options for different riding styles and safety levels. Where possible, I leaned into the motorcycle jacket reviews at our sister site webBikeWorld.
To start this list off, I thought it would be smart to begin with a great all-arounder jacket with ample protection and safety features.
This is a very solid option for riders living in warmer climates and those who aren’t afraid to layer up for cooler rides.
The Klim Induction Jacket features Klim’s Karbonite mesh venting with heavy tear resistance and protection against the pavement that can quickly turn into a cheese grater given the right speeds.
You can find high abrasion zones in the shoulders and elbows, with D30 Level 1 armor hiding beneath those zones. The jacket is equipped with many 3m Scotchlite reflective zones in positions designed for ‘maximum biomotion perception’ along the arms and upper back.
Speed and Strength Off The Chain 2.0 Textile Jacket
If you’re in the market for a jacket that ditches the ‘ATGATT look’, the ‘Off The Chain’ could be a great low-cost option for you.
The jacket is one of the highest and most reviewed jackets on the RevZilla website by far, so you can trust the hundreds of individuals who have purchased this jacket in knowing you have made a good purchase.
The S&S OTC 2.0 Textile Jacket is an all-rounder jacket that will trick you into thinking it has far fewer features than it really does.
Despite the appearance, this jacket is constructed from a water-resistant AR-600 frame, has 3 total locations of CE Level 1 armor (shoulder, elbow, and spine), reflective trim and shoulder expansion gussets in the event you need room for an extra layer underneath.
If the hood isn’t you’re thing, it’s completely removable.
The waterproof Drystar membrane on the Alpinestars Andes v3 allows for the exchange of heat and moisture during the colder 3 seasons, while highly efficient direct venting creates ideal conditions in the summer heat. Along with an insulated liner, the Alpinestars Andes v3 Jacket is a true 4 season garment for both adventure and touring riders.
For protection, a durable textile chassis gets the job done both on and off-road. CE Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor are included, but back and optional chest protection will need to be purchased separately. Reflective panels help with the chances of being seen at night with other road users nearby.
One of our favorite features of this jacket is that the Andes v3 is also compatible with the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 airbag system, which is the latest technology in impact protection and provides an unprecedented amount of protection. Keep in mind, this must be purchased separately and significantly adds to the price of the package.
Personally in my arsenal of Sport Touring / Dual Sport jackets, the REV’IT! Offtrack jacket is a great jacket in that it is very adjustable, offers superb protection, and works in a wide range of temperatures. While mainly designed as a warm to hot weather riding jacket, a waterproof insert and a thermal insert (both of which stow inside pockets on the inside of the jacket) allow you to adjust as you go.
In terms of ventilation, there is a permanent mesh venting area that starts below the collarbone, passes up over the shoulders, and joins across the upper back. Should more ventilation be needed, there are two front zippered air vents that can also be unclipped from under the vent flaps and pulled open diagonally down to offer maximum ventilation.
Protection comes in the form of the majority of the shell being 450D polyester, with 600D abrasion-resistant fabric down the outside of the arms and over the shoulders. SeeFlex CE 2 armor is provided in the shoulders and elbows, and optional internal pockets for CE 2 back and split chest armor allow for upgrading.
Ah yes, it was only a matter of time until Dainese popped its Italian head into this list. The Dainese Super Speed jacket is a great textile option for cool, and safe summer riding.
The jacket has all of Dainese’s technology found in their pro-level race suits combined with textile and mesh construction to keep you cool and safe.
The shoulders contain aluminum shoulder sliders in addition to the CE-rated shoulder and elbow armor with room to add Dainese’s back and chest protectors in the event you feel you may need some extra layers for full 360-degree protection.
The neck, wrist, and waist are all fully adjustable and if you happen to purchase a pair of matching pants you can zip the two together (a match made in heaven, literally…) to keep everything in place.
If you really want to turn on the AC you can remove the windproof insert to enjoy 100 mph gusts of wind tear through the jacket to keep you cool.
Kathmandu: the king of Adventure touring jackets. This jacket has been a thing of legend since it first came out, with famous ADV riders bringing it through the harshest of terrains to prove how durable and multi-functional it can be.
The Kathmandu is highly adjustable and features a HYPERTEX waterproof outer shell “constructed of 420 denier ripstop nylon and 300 denier high-density nylon, durable and lightweight for ease of movement”.
This is one of the few jackets on this list that will actually come with back protection included – namely an EVA dense back pad – in addition to the fully adjustable D30 T5 CE Armour in the shoulders and elbows.
This jacket is fully weatherproof and when equipped with it, nothing will be able to stop you. I couldn’t list every feature if I tried (the list looks more like a short story) so for all the details be sure to hit the RevZilla link above and check out the ridiculously long list of features.
The Scorpion Optima textile jacket is designed to be a very weather-friendly textile jacket, meaning that it can handle three seasons, and if you live somewhere temperate, four-season riding. There is a permanent waterproof membrane in the jacket, with a removable inner liner for when the days get hot.
Of note, there is excellent venting via two waterproof zippers on the front of the chest and two zippered exhausts on the mid-back. The venting is designed so that it effectively cools the body core in a sport or three-quarters standard riding position. All zippers are YKK and extremely durable.
Protection comes in the form of CE 1 rated shoulder and elbow armor, and a removable/upgradeable back pad. The textile is 450D abrasion resistant through most of the jacket, but slide points (shoulders, elbows, etc) have 600D abrasion-resistant textile. The jacket also has multiple areas of hi-viz night reflection.
The Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 is one of the newest jackets on this list, meaning that it’s also going to come with the newest tech and development available.
This jacket is the highest quality of all the sport options listed, hence the $500 price tag. The Premium 1.3mm bovine leather construction paired with high resistant stretch fabric in all your mobility zones makes this jacket a safe and comfortable option for hot summer rides.
The jacket includes CE Level 1 armor on the shoulder and elbow areas but unfortunately leaves back protection up to the rider to purchase separately which is disappointing to see from a $500 jacket.
Regardless, this jacket provides amazing airflow to keep you cool and comfortable due to the perforated nature of the construction and even has reflective accents to keep you safe at night.