Engineering a motorcycle jacket seems easy, but it gets complicated to strike the optimal balance of protection, versatility, and style. It’s almost impossible to beat the abrasion resistance and visual appeal of a leather motorcycle jacket, although it’s often compromised by unsuitability for hot or wet weather.
The Gunner is Highway 21’s top-line jacket and is designed to eliminate the compromises inherent in leather apparel. It’s built from sturdy leather but is endowed with a 12-point ventilation system to keep you cool and a removable Hydraguard liner to keep you warm and dry.
Naturally, the Gunner is available in black (seen above), but I opted for the Vintage Gunmetal version that isn’t so typical. It’s constructed of 1.0-1.1mm cowhide and features removable CE Level 1 armor for shoulders and elbows, with the latter reinforced by leather patches. A foam back pad is included and can be upgraded to CE levels of protection by swapping in optional Fly Racing Barricade armor.
The Gunner’s styling is a cross between cafe-racer panache and a biker aesthetic. It has a low-cut band collar topping a two-way YKK main zipper with a handy leather zip pull. Four snaps on each side help adjust for a non-baggy fit, augmented by a pair of accordion stretch panels at the waist. Shoulder gussets provide arms additional freedom of movement, and reflective piping across the shoulder-blade area aids nightime conspicuity.
Inclement weather is countered by the removable liner, which is quilted on the inner side and backed by a Hydraguard layer claimed to be windproof and waterproof but also breathable.
Hot temperatures are moderated by a healthy array of zippered venting, including intake vents on the chest and biceps, as well as massive armpit vents that stretch from the upper waist area all the way along the arms to the elbows. Zippered exhaust vents stretch 10 inches down the sides to encourage pass-through airflow. Additionally, it features two-way cuff zippers to reveal forearm vents. With all the vents open, the Gunner flows much more air than typical leather jackets.
The Gunner is blessed with pockets for almost everything. The exterior has zippered hand-warmer pockets, and the chest zippers for ventilation double as another pair of stash zones. Internal storage is provided by deep “Napoleon” pockets on each side of the main zipper, and an interior device pocket doubles as a concealed-carry receptacle.
Miles on the road with the Gunner were almost completely satisfying. Cold temps were abated by closing up the vents and zipping in the liner, although the low collar required wearing a neck gaiter to keep that area protected. The jacket kept me dry in a mild rain, but I haven’t yet tested it in a downpour.
Overall, the Gunner offers appealing versatility and cool style for a modest price. If I had a complaint, it’s that the material doesn’t have the suppleness of “top-grain” leather found in some pricier jackets. Its MSRP starts at $399.95 for sizes S-2XL and goes up to $439.95 for sizes 3XL and 4XL.
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