Cortech Vader Jacket Review [Leather and Mesh Hybrid]

Cortech Vader Jacket Review: Price

Summer and leather don’t play well together, especially if you live in the hot, humid, and sunny parts of the world. Leather jackets have gotten perforation and venting to help cool summer riders. However, nothing beats huge mesh panels, and that’s what the Cortech Vader leather motorcycle jacket offers in a tidy package.

Part of Cortech’s Speedway line, the Vader jacket looks great—offering abrasion protection where needed and letting the air flow where it can. Styling is subdued—even the Black/Camo version we tested—and the branding is a tasteful gray-on-black. You don’t look like a billboard.

Rather than a leather jacket with mesh, think of the Cortech Vader jacket as a mesh jacket with 1.1-1.2mm leather reinforcement. The outer arms get leather up to the shoulder, with more leather for the sides of the rider’s body. Accent leather is found at the waist and lower back, and a panel below the back of the neck.

Flexibility is enhanced with stretch panels on the shoulders and under the arms. The sleeves also get a strip of stretchy material from the wrists to the elbows.

Mesh holds sway across the front and back of the body, inside the arms, and underneath the zippers from the wrists.

Put this all together, and you get a jacket that offers the security of leather, plus plenty of airflow for hot days. The jacket was tested in temperatures from the 90s to the 60s, in the canyons and on urban rides, and under the sun and after dark. In that broad range of conditions, the Cortech Vader jacket was always comfortable, though each rider has a different idea about how much heat or cold is tolerable.

The Cortech Vader has a fitted cut, so it looks good on the wearer. With the flexibility offered by the elastic panels and the lightness of the mesh, we never felt constricted by the cut or design of the jacket. While it’s not as light as a pure-mesh jacket, it is much less restricting than a full leather jacket. Sizing can be adjusted via hook-and-loop belts on each side of the waist, plus two-position snaps at the biceps.

The jacket feels good zipped all the way up to the neck, thanks to the neoprene collar, and with the forearm zippers down to the wrists—better for protection in the case of an unexpected slide down the road. Speaking of the front zipper, it is a bit of an odd design, featuring a little magnetic hook at the bottom. Called an Ideal Magzip front closure, it works transparently most of the time, but sometimes it’s fiddly. The other zippers on the jacket are traditional YKK designs.

If you’re in-between sizes, you’ll probably want to go with the larger size, especially if you plan on wearing the included zippered-in quilted vest. We haven’t tested the quilted vest yet, due to summer conditions. We’re also in a drought, so we did not have the opportunity to try out the effectiveness of the Reissa waterproof liner.

As has been the case with recent Cortech jackets we’ve worn, you can wear the waterproof liner without the quilted vest, but the vest zips into the waterproof liner, so the vest cannot be attached directly to the jacket. There’s also an eight-inch zipper inside the lower back that attaches to compatible pants.

In addition to the abrasion protection provided by the leather, the Cortech Vader has CE Level 2 armor in the shoulders and elbows—good stuff. There is no back protection—just a useless pad that we instantly discard.

We tested the Vader with the optional Safe-Tech CE Level 2 back protector sold by Cortech. We consider it a mandatory purchase at just $20. The Safe-Tech back protector has vents and sits snugly in a mesh pouch. It feels good to have legitimate back protection when you ride—comfort is not compromised, and the air flows through it noticeably.

Sporty leather jackets aren’t about carrying cargo, yet the Cortech Vader takes care of the basics. As you’d expect, there are a pair of hand warmer pockets with robust zippers. A pleasant surprise is the exterior Napoleon pocket, making it easy to access the contents at a moment’s notice. Inside the jacket on the right, there’s a waterproof pocket capable of swallowing the largest smartphone, with a reassuring hook-and-loop flap. The interior left side has a large pocket with a hook-and-loop closure. Neither pocket flows air, though that didn’t prove to be a problem, even on the hottest days.

Mesh jackets and full leather jackets are great for the right conditions. When it’s summer and it starts hotting up, the Cortech Vader jacket gives you a stylish hybrid that offers the comfort of mesh with most of the essential protection of leather.

Cortech Vader Jacket Fast Facts

  • Sizes: Small – XX-Large
  • Colors: Black; Black/Camo
  • Armor: CE Level 2 shoulders and elbows (back protection a $20 option)

Cortech Vader Jacket Price: $320 ($340, as tested)

Cortech Vader Jacket Review Photo Gallery