Best Mesh Motorcycle Jackets of 2016

Icon Anthem 2

Number one is Icon’s Anthem 2. Size-wise, it actually feels similar to my Raiden DKR jacket that I use for adventure touring. I’m 6”3, 175lbs with a 39” chest and 33” sleeve and this medium fits great. It’s a little short on the waist, but so is everything else I try on.

Icon calls this a relaxed fit, which basically reads “universal.” I would be happy enough to wear the Anthem 2 on a sportbike, cruiser, tourer … wherever. Mesh jackets are handy accessories that keep me from melting on a +30 day, so I don’t really care if it’s not the most technical fit.

I’ll spare you the full rundown on this jacket and just say the things that matter. It’s a complete mesh construction, so airflow is as high as it can be. Icon calls the material FighterMesh but they didn’t fool me with that one – it’s basically a simple polyester that won’t do shit on a long slide.

But, this jacket tumbles well. D3O viscoelastic padding on the back, shoulders and elbows, with ballistic nylon on the pointy bits.

We have some neoprene on the collar and cuff, with some accordion stretch fabric under the arm so this jacket hugs the body pretty well. No adjusters around the waist though which I was disappointed with. Two zipper pockets on the outside, with two cargo pockets, a device pocket and two useless pouches on the inside.

The main thing I care about is this insulated liner. Icon typically cheaps out by offering vest liners, so I was surprised to find that the 250-dollar Anthem came with a full-sleeve zip-out. A spring or fall jacket, this does not make. But when I’m commuting to work on a midsummer morning, the liner is just enough to take the chill out of the air.

I should say that I was initially torn between this and the River Road Sedona, which is a very similar jacket for 100 dollars less. But the nice thing about working at FortNine is that I got to try both! And trust me, the Sedona has worse armour, a worse fit, no ballistic nylon, inferior armouring and less colour options. So I’d wrassel up the extra hundy and get the Anthem 2.

Dainese Hydra Flux D-Dry

Now – what if I’m a sport rider through-and-through and I don’t want to settle for a standard mesh jacket?

Well, let’s think about that for a minute. If I’m scraping elbows at the track, then I should wear leathers anyway and suffer through the heat. And if I’m commuting in traffic, then an attack-fit mesh jacket is probably tighter and less comfortable than it needs to be.

That’s why I love Dainese’s Hydra Flux D-Dry. It’s sporty without going too far. This is an Italian size 50, which would normally be skin tight on me but the Hydra Flux is more relaxed … there’s enough room to breathe. Which is kinda important for a mesh jacket.

The elbow and shoulder padding is CE-rated. I like that is doesn’t slide around at all and it’s very comfortable against my body. The back is only an empty pocket though, so I’d need to purchase Dainese’s wave back protector to complete the set.

Now there’s an elephant in the room today, and that’s the Alpinestars Viper Air. It’s a very similar jacket for 220 dollars, which is rather embarrassing for the Dainese’s 350. But I noticed two big things that tipped me towards the more-expensive Hydra Flux.

For one, the Viper Air is a textile and mesh composite that lets in a mediocre amount of air, whereas the Dainese feels like it’s made of air. This has way more mesh, and it’s a featherweight compared to the Viper. The other big thing is the liner. Both jackets have a waterproof and windproof removable liner, but the Dainese’s is full-length while the Alpinestars’ is only a vest.

I mean, come on Alpinestars – what good is a waterproof vest in a mesh jacket? You’re only going to get torrents of water leaking in through the porous arms.

So Dainese takes the cake for me. My only annoyance is that the Hydra Flux doesn’t have a waterproof pocket. These zippered hand pouches are above the liner so whatever you put in here better be amphibious.

Klim Induction Jacket

Now, let’s close with another specialty model. This is Klim’s Induction Jacket which specifically targets the touring market. Sport-touring, touring, adventure touring – anywhere in that spectrum.

There’s no easy way to say this – the Induction costs 500 dollars. I never thought I’d spend that much on mesh but honestly, this is the best summer jacket that money can buy. It just costs a lot of it.

The idea is that, because tourers log so many kilometers, it doesn’t make sense to have a mesh jacket that sacrifices on safety. So these big mesh panels – on the front, under the arms and at the back – are made from Karbonite. It’s a type of Nylon that is 750% stronger than the competitors’ polyester. And yes – I’m looking at you Anthem 2 and Hydra Flux.

We also get the legendary Klim safety kit. D3O armor in the back, elbows and shoulders, 840-denier nylon on the high impact zones and a smattering of 3M scotchlite so the car drivers know what to aim for.

If it gets wet, there’s a full waterproof liner to keep me dry. It actually comes all the way up around the neck – with a fleece lining so it’s comfortable against the skin. I love that, because a lot of waterproof inner liners only start around here so I get liquid seeping down through the top.

No pockets in the liner itself, but this chest pocket has a waterproof bag inside where my iPhone would undoubtedly end up. And this ID pouch on the sleeve is closed with a YKK aquaguard zipper and is sewn into the ballistic nylon. Klim doesn’t say anything about this pocket being waterproof, but I can’t imagine that it isn’t.

Now, if it gets cold, you are lacking a thermal liner in this guy but – to me – that’s okay. Klim gear is more about layering. This large is a great fit on me whether I have a billion sweaters underneath or just a t-shirt. I’ve got volume adjusters on the arms, around the cuffs, on the waist, and belt loops at the bottom for hooking up to a standard pant.

I guess there are a few pockets I haven’t mentioned yet – two mesh ones at the lower hand, a device pocket, a standard rectangle and – allegedly – there’s a hidden passport pocket somewhere in this jacket. Koodos to Klim, because it actually took me a long time to find it. If I were a thief, I’d have given up long before I discovered this blacked-out microzipper. But then again, I’d probably have stolen the whole jacket because the Induction is my favorite by far.