Vanson Leathers "Strip" Motorcycle Jacket Review

Vanson Leathers' latest is a unique, lightweight, comfortable, flattering American-made motorcycle jacket. By Art Friedman.

** Web Exclusive.** Vanson's new Strip jacket combines the two most popular and protective motorcycle-apparel materials—leather and Cordura—in a single jacket. Starting with a no-collar waist-length 1000-denier Cordura nylon mesh jacket, Vanson sews on vertical strips of leather with small gaps between them. It creates a very lightweight jacket with a unique look that provoked a lot of comments (the large majority quite positive, though some negative too) and provides great ventilation. Although I didn't test my theory by jumping off a bike at speed, it feels and appears likely to offer good abrasion protection as well.

Currently the Strip comes in three designs, the plain-black SS, the S1 with a horizontal orange-and-white stripe running from shoulder to shoulder, or S2 I tried. The S2 design features a vertical black-and-white checkered stripe framed in dark red down the left side of the jacket. Any of the designs is available in the solid-leather strips I sampled (designated BLK) or perforated leather (P150). Inside is a lightweight open-mesh nylon liner. There are no external pockets, but the liner includes a pair zipping pockets inside. The only armor-like material is foam padding in the elbows. Silver YKK zippers with Vanson logos on the pull tabs close the front and both sleeves. Vanson added a leather key fob with a Vanson logo to the front zipper pull on ours. There are yellow-and-black Vanson patches on each shoulder and a red Vanson logo (orange on the S1 design) embroidered on the back just below the neck.

The Strip comes in men's sizes XS to XXXXL. The Large that I tried fit like it was custom-made for me (I normally wear a size 44) and feels much lighter in weight than a solid leather jacket. It was a little stiff at first, as are most Vanson leather garments because of the heavyweight leather, but it broke in more quickly than other Vanson leather jackets, probably because of the strip design. After three or four rides, any sense of stiffness was gone. Southern California in August can be a demanding test of venting, but the Strip (ours does not have the perforated leather) kept me quite comfortable while riding in the heat. I'd estimate that its venting was about 90 percent as effective as the ultra-breezy Vanson Vent Max Shirt (a very similar configuration without the leather) that I frequently use on super-hot rides and about equal to the Vanson Vent Jacket (the top-rated vented jacket in Motorcycle Cruiser's last vented-jacket comparison). However, when the temperature cooled off, I didn't get as cold as I do in the Vent Max. The fit was comfortable—snug enough that it seemed unlikely to move around a lot if you were sliding down the road—with a secure fit at the wrists. Gauntlet gloves meshed comfortably with the sleeves.

Though aesthetics are not at the top of my list of requirement for motorcycle apparel, I do like the looks of the Vanson Strip jacket. The vertical strips (and stripes) seem to have a slimming effect, making me look less, er, bulky. The stripes of color add a lively touch that blunts the badass black-leather-jacket thing a bit too. The quality and detail fully met my high expectations for Vanson products. The only complaint I could muster was one loose thread end, which I addressed with a pair of scissors and never returned.

I do have a couple of quibbles. First, I wish that Vanson included hanging loops in its jackets, which allows the jacket to be hung with having to find a hanger. Second the main zipper is a bit small, making it slightly clumsy to get started, especially in gloves.

Like all Vanson products I have sampled—but unlike almost any other motorcycle apparel—the Strip is made in the USA. That makes its $299 price kind of surprising. Some of its affordability can be attributed to the fact that Vanson can use small pieces of leather left over when it cuts sections for suits and jackets that use larger pieces of leather, but maybe you also save because it doesn't have to shipped across an ocean. You can find a Vanson dealer or order direct from Vanson Leathers at the company's website.

Vanson Leathers, Inc.
951 Broadway
Fall River, MA 02724
(508)677-6773 fax

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Our man looks thinner than usual in the Strip S2.
This is the other Strip pattern, the S2, in perforated leather.