Updated August 2020

Summer, as in hot weather. So hot it’s tempting to take the car instead of the bike and turn up the AC. Don’t fall into that trap. From there it’s a short trip to sloth and gluttony, followed shortly by despair. It’s always going to be tough to stay cool when you’re stopped, but once rolling, the miracle of convective cooling means you can remain reasonably chill even when the temperature starts climbing into triple digits – if you’ve got the right gear. The key is being able to adjust the airflow around your body, staying hydrated, and using your built-in cooling system to convect heat away from yourself. Here’s a quick sampler of the right stuff.

Beat the Heat: Riding Gear for Hot Weather

Dainese Racing 3 Perforated – $580

Yes you can wear a nice leather jacket when it’s hot; the key word here is perforated, as in shot full of tiny holes. Done correctly, it doesn’t make the leather any weaker, and we can tell you from firsthand experience that jackets like this one flow enough air to be downright chilly when the temperature drops much below about 65 F. Like everything Dainese makes, the Racing 3 is a quality garment, with a sporting bent and CE-certified armor and construction. But the Italian company also has an extensive closet full of less-racy perforated designs for men and women, suitable for more casual riding. 

Bottom Line/Italian style and top-shelf quality

Joe Rocket Phoenix 5.0 – $153

Perhaps something in a mesh? Nothing flows more than mesh to keep you cool, and the JR 5.0 protects you at the same time with CE-rated armor in the elbows and shoulders. This one also comes with a waterproof liner to keep out wind and water when necessary. The downside of mesh is that when temps get above about 100 – especially out west where there’s little humidity – that hot, dry air can suck away too much of your precious bodily fluids and quickly dehydrate you. When the outside air is hotter than your own 98.6 degrees, it’s time to reduce your airflow. But up to about 100 F or so, and particularly in humid climates, mesh is the way to go. JR makes mesh pants that zipper to the jacket, too.

Bottom Line/Mesh is a good call in hot, humid climates

Spidi Summer Net Lady – $200

For the fairer sex, who are now up to 19% of all motorcyclists, most makers produce garments to flatter the female form. Including Spidi, with this mesh number. It comes with CE protection in the arms and shoulders, and an inner pocket for the optional Warrior CE back protector. Also with reflective areas, wide waistline adjustment, and Clip Stop for connecting to pants. It also comes in White, which, as our camel-keeping friends know, is the right color for keeping cool even if it’s a bit harder to keep clean.

Bottom Line/Stylish and cool

Olympia Bradley – $200

Now more stylish than stodgy, Olympia’s Bradley eschews gaudy graphics in favor of a more contemporary, even military look. Its outer shell consists of a combination of 600D poly EVO Thread fabric and ballistic poly mesh panels to deliver maximum airflow with excellent abrasion resistance. There’s also a second layer, a rain jacket that can be worn over or under the main outer shell to deliver multi season, multi weather riding comfort – or even by its stylish self. Other features include a soft Neoprene framed collar, adjustable side waist panel detailing, reflective piping all over, and CE armor as standard equipment at elbows, shoulders and back.

Bottom Line/Zip-in rain liner makes it multi-seasonal

ScorpionExo XDR Yosemite Textile Adventure Touring – $390

If you’re really going places, like in the desert, the problem is often temperature extremes: Africa hot in the daytime and freezing when the sun goes down. All the gear manufactures build all-weather clothing with various removable liners and venting systems to deal with that, and the Scorpion is a good example of a great adventure jacket. It comes with both removable waterproof and thermal liners, as well as big mesh panels on front and back you can unzip for full airflow, as well as full-length vents on the arms and on the torso. A big pocket on the lower back provides storage for the liners when they’re out, as well as plenty of pockets for more items. You’ve got CE certified Sas-Tec armor at the elbows and shoulders, a foam back pad that can be upgraded to a Level 2 SAS-TEC protector, and plenty of NightViz reflective material.

Bottom Line/Ready for anything

Aerostich Darien – $597

It’s light, tough, simple, and practical because that’s what works best, says Aerostich. Tough HT200D Gore-Tex breathable/waterproof outer fabric is far lighter than normal Cordura yet retains most of the abrasion resistance. Removable hard shell TF3 foam elbow and shoulder armor protect from impacts, adjustable anti-flutter sleeve tabs keep it snug, removable magnetic collar clasps let you leave the front open for max airflow, while big underarm and back vents let hot air out. When things cool down, various optional fleece liners are standing by, with vent zippers that line up perfectly and work like they were made for the Darien. Which they were. Available in custom sizes and an array of colors.

Bottom Line/Serious, hard-knock gear for going places

Spidi Multitech Armor EVO – $300

If you’re pretty sure it’s not going to cool off anytime soon and you want maximum protection, Spidi’s tactical-looking mesh jacket could be the hot-weather setup. Abrasion-resistant Polyamide mesh outside, nylon Tactel inserts and Tenax reinforcement in impact areas, with Warrior Back and Chest Protector and CE Level 1 Multitech protectors on shoulders and elbows. Five pockets hold your stuff, and an optional waterproof H2Out liner is available. Very Mad Max, very lightweight, and combined with a large drink bladder, could be just the thing for offroad adventures. It can be worn under an outer shell, too.

Bottom Line/Maximum airflow and protection

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