Which Leather is Best for Jackets? The Complete Guide

Whether you’re into fashion, a biker, a pilot, or just looking to furnish your wardrobe with a leather jacket, you might have figured there are countless leather types used for jackets and you may be wondering which is best.

Be rest assured that this article will serve as an informative guide to give you some options on what the best leather for a jacket is.

So, what is the best leather for jackets? The best leather for jackets is fully-grain of either cowhide or bison for strong, thick and durable jackets, Deerskin or Goatskin for softer lighter feel jackets, and lambskin or calfskin for extremely softer and lightweight jackets.

There is more to the above being the best leathers for jackets. So apart from the aforementioned leather strength, durability, weight and feel, there are other details you just don’t want to miss. Continue reading to find out more.

Details on the Best Leather for Jackets

To get the best of cowhide, calf, bison, deerskin, etc aim for the full-grain or top-grain leather or any of the mentioned leather skins and hide types.

So bare in mind that all the leather types we are discussing are in specific reference to full-grain or top-grain leather.

For example, in choosing durable, waterproof, thick leather, you can go for a full-grain cowhide leather.

Full-Grain Leather For Jackets

So, What is Full-grain Leather? Full-grain is the natural state of the skin, with all of its imperfections and layers. Full-grains are quality hides or skins and their value is significantly related to the high cost the jacket will be. Most bikers wear full-grain leather jackets to protect themselves.

Top-Grain Leather For Jackets

What is top-grain leather? This is leather that has its natural grain from the top surface sanded. Top-grain leather is second in rank on the leather quality scale. This is done to create a thinner material that is more flexible and pliable in terms of making good-fitted fashion jackets for both men and women.

Let’s look at the various skins and hides and the characteristics of the leather jacket you will get. Different hides or skins used for the leather jacket will yield different textures, look, softness and, durability.

Once again, remember we are in specific reference to full-grain or top-grain leather of all the skins or hides listed below.

1. Cowhide Leather for Jackets

What is Cowhide leather? Cowhide leather is natural leather, unbleached skin, and hair from the bovine group. Cowhides are by-products of the cattle meat industry. About 65% of all leather comes from the bovine (cattle) group.

Cowhide is the most waterproof natural leather you can find, and the most common widely used. It’s waterproof, strong, thick, and durable nature makes it the material of choice for classic jackets especially motorcycle jackets since the early 1920s.

Apart from being waterproof, Cowhide is also resistant to dirt making its jackets one that offers maximum protection.

2. Deerskin Leather for Jackets

Deerskin Leather is a leather made from the hide of deers. Historically they were used by the native Americans to make moccasins.

Deerskins are today used for a variety of items like clothing, bags, coats, shoes, and jackets.

Deerskin leather is durable like the cowhide leather, however, it has an added touch of softness, lighter feel, and the smoothness you would appreciate on a leather jacket.

Deerskin leathers are not mass-produced and it is considered as an exclusive leather for luxury items. World-renowned companies like Prada make great apparel with deerskin leather.

Deerskin leather is surely one of the best leathers for jackets with its unique character of softness with time.

3. Lambskin Leather for Jackets

Lambskin leather is also good for jackets. It is leather made from the hide of young sheep. Lambskin leather is lightweight with fine grains and most commonly known for its softness in texture.

If you are after a leather jacket that is soft, lightweight, and extremely smooths, you can’t go wrong with lambskin leather.

It is much thinner than cowhide leather and most other leathers in fact. All around the world it is also commonly used for making shoes, and upholstery.

4. Goatskin Leather for Jackets

The pebble-grained goatskin leather is soft and light but as durable as cowhide leather. It has some characteristics of the deerskin, like smoothness, suppleness, and feels softer time after time.

With about 10% worldwide production, goat leather is ranked 3rd after cowhide leather and sheepskin leather. Goatskin leathers are more valuable than sheepskin because it is less greasy and more supple.

Goatskin leather is mostly tanned with combination tanning which entails using both vegetable tanning and chrome tanning.

Goatskin leather makes great leather jackets, gloves, shoes, bags, book covers

5. Bison Leather for Jackets

The bison leather is strong, durable, and excellent for making protective jackets. The grain side of bison leather has a coarse grain.

It can be used to make protective gear for bikers in the form of jackets, boots, shoes, belts, etc.

Like the goatskin, bison has a distinctive pebbled grain that gives off a rugged effect on the aesthetic appeal of leather jackets you would see on the market.

Bison leather is preferred both for its distinctive appearance and durability.

6. Calfskin Leather for Jackets

Calfskin leather is valuable due to its unique softness and durability. Also known as calf leather, is produced from the hide of a calf or cattle.

It lends its strength by being as durable as cowhide, and lightweight like a lambskin. Making is one of the best leather for leather jackets.

Brief History of Leather Jackets

Just to educate ourselves on a little background on leather jackets, let’s take a trip back in time.

The history of leather dates back to the prehistoric era where men and women covered themselves with leather pieces. The Leather jacket as we call them today became popular in the early 1900s.

Brown leather flight jackets were worn by aviators and members of the military most notably the German airforce in the first world war. It was later called the Bomber jacket by world war 2.

1928 marked the first stylistic look of the motorcycle leather jacket which was design by Irving Schott for Harley Davidson. It was made to protect riders from the elements and accidents.

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, leather jackets were successively worn by movie stars in great movies like “The wild one” and was mainly a sex symbol.

Today, Leather jackets are to a large extent a vital component of people’s wardrobes. It is a great piece of fashion item that will match other clothing items in your closet.

Types of Leather Jacket Styles

The creative of the lovely men and women in the fashion and design industry have always lived up to expectations on their creativity. Due to this creativity, there are numerous leather jacket styles and they are:

  • Bomber Jacket
  • Biker Jacket
  • Flight Jacket
  • Racer Jacket
  • Field Jacket
  • Utility Jacket
  • Duster Jacket
  • Varsity Jacket
  • Fencing Jacket
  • Cattleman Jacket
  • Carcoat Jacket

1. Bomber Leather Jacket

Bomber jackets are traditionally made of leather with an elastic waist and cuff, a front zip-up, a turned-down fleece collar, and a soft inner lining. The bomber jacket is commonly known as a flight jacket. The bomber jacket is a classic style designed to keep the wearer warmer.

The best leather for the bomber jacket is goatskin or lambskin due to their suppleness.

The bomber jacket has become a must-have male and female staple, especially among the young. Today, you will find that the safest way to wear bomber jackets is to wear a plain colored t-shirt on the inside of the leather bomber jacket.

2. Biker Leather Jacket

You would have seen them in most movies. Biker jackets are short, close-fitting leather jackets with asymmetrical zippers and fasteners and studs often worn by motorcyclists.

The style of the biker jacket allows bikers to lean forward freely. It is mostly black.

The goatskin leather, cowhide leather is commonly ideal for this kind of jacket. Riders wear the biker leather jacket primarily for protection in the case of an accident or crash.

During accidents, biker leather jackets do a better job of protecting your skin than fabric clothing.

It can serve as a replacement for a blazer or coat worn over slim-fit trousers or jeans.

3. Flight Leather Jacket

This classic style jacket was originally created for pilots. It’s a short jacket similar to the bomber jacket it is often made of leather with a warm lining or collar and several matching pockets.

Flight jackets are very comfortable due to its bulky and warm lining. Cowhide leather together with the lining is used to get its bulky style. Today, flight leather jackets are not only patronized by airmen but pop stars, rockstars, and ordinary people like you and me.

Wear the flight jacket however you want and however comfortable that makes you but if I am to give you a tip in how to wear it, I will say plain slim-fit pants and a light t-shirt will do the trick for you.

4. Racer Leather Jacket

Sometimes called the cafe racer jackets are streamlined jackets with a small snap collar. They come in a wide array of colors to match the racing sport. It is sometimes with stripes or patterns stitched together.

The racer jacket as part of the racing and protection gear for the rider tough cowhide or calf leather is commonly used to have a protective layer in the case of an accident.

The racer jacket became well known in the 1960s and had a lot of influence from the automotive industry. They lack the warm lining and elastic openings of the bomber jackets.

Sometimes called the cafe racer jackets are streamlined jackets with a small turtle-neck snap collar. They come in a wide array of colors to match the racing sport. The racer jacket has had a lot of influence from the automotive industry.

They look great with a v-neck t-shirt or button-down t-shirts and denim jeans, or any other casual clothes you may have that you feel comfortable in.

5. Field Leather Jacket

Field jacket or field coat is a military-inspired coat with medium length, multiple roomy pockets, belted at the waist, and a standup collar used for outdoor activities like hunting.

They are generally lightweight originally made with cotton drill fabric but has since been upgraded to leather.

You will find cowhide leather or calfskin for the field jacket for maximum durability, soft, suppleness, and warmth.

You will love the rich brown leather Field jackets for how good it looks and how warmer and better shield you will get against the weather. It is a nice winter style jacket.

Tips on Buying The Best High-Quality Leather Jacket

1. How well it Fits

Leather as a material is longlasting apparel and in choosing a jacket made of leather you must ensure it fits well.

Consider your body type, and how fast, stable or slow your body changes. A well-fitting leather jacket must allow you to move freely. To check how well it fits, Look to ensure the:

  • Shoulders fits
  • Length of Sleeves
  • Armholes in the jacket
  • Length of the Jacket

2. Type of Skin or Hide of the Leather Jacket

There are different kinds of animal hides or skin to choose from as discussed above. Just ensure to choose a full-grain skin or hide.

Differents animal skin or hide will result in different leather jackets. The table below shows a few examples of different types of skins or hides.

Skin or Hide Characteristics Best for
Cowhide Tough leather, Biker or racer
leather jackets
Flight Jackets,
Field jackets
Calfskin Soft leather Racer, biker
leather jackets
Horsehide Toughest hide Racer or Biker
Sheepskin Flexible and light High fashion
Goatskin Supple and durable All soft leather
jackets with
some level of
Lambskin extremely light, soft,
and smooth.
Bomber Jackets

3. Metal Hardware on the Leather Jacket

Hardware includes zippers, rivets, eyelets, buttons, buckles, and d-rings. You should check them out on the quality. Zipper brands like RiRi make the highest quality zippers. Other metal hardware should look and feel durable.

Jacket manufacturers who do due diligence on the hardware of the bag definitely did great work on the overall quality of the jacket vise Versa.

It is less likely to find high-quality metal hardware on the leather jacket with low-quality leather material or finishing.

4. Lining and Stitches on The Leather Jacket

Lining in the jacket should be well layered but breathable. Machine-stitching or hand stitching on the jacket is an important factor to consider.

The inner and outer stitches on the jacket should be small, even, with polyester thread, and without any loose strands of thread.

Check for reinforced stitches on the vulnerable areas on the jacket like pockets and flaps. Mostly, some jacket manufacturers will reinforce vulnerable areas with rivets to support the stitches.

5. The function of The Leather Jacket

Determine why you are buying the leather jacket. If it is to keep you warm in the cold winter, Protection if you are a biking fanatic, or for fashion. This will help determine the weight and lining in leather jackets you would want to buy.

If you are buying a leather jacket purposively for a severe winter season, you can get a leather jacket with a woolen lining with a thick cowhide. You can also get a lambskin or goatskin leather if you happen to be in a warmer climate.

For robust protection, if you are a biker, you can go with a leather jacket that has more thicker leather on the outside.

If Just for fashion, get leather jackets with less heavy leather (lambskin) just so you can wear it like a blazer.

6. Style of the Leather Jacket

Leather jackets have been in fashion since the early 1920s and today it is still a sure way to look cool and trendy.

Leather jackets never go out of fashion and so choosing a style you will be happy with is crucial. Leather jackets never seem to go out of style.

In this post, I have shared with you numerous styles you might want to consider. So check it out from the types of leather jacket style in the 4th section of this post above.

Related Questions

How much should I spend on a leather jacket?

For a high-quality leather jacket, you can look between $500 and as high as $2000. If you, however, want to enjoy wearing a leather jacket without paying much in price, you could get good quality at an average price between $300 and $450, and a fairly okay quality at $80 and $200.

Purchasing a high-quality full-grain leather jacket can mean you spending a whole lot of money but if you are able to put in the investment it will be absolutely worth it.

What are the best leather jacket brands?

The best leather jacket brands of all time are:

  • Belstaff
  • Cromford
  • Schott NYC
  • AllSaints
  • H&M
  • Norton
  • Saint Laurent
  • Acne
  • Mango
  • Real McCoy’s
  • Reiss
  • Lewis Leathers

The lists are in no particular order in terms of quality, or any other standards. These are just brands you can look out for in your quest for your cool leather jackets.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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