Best Flight Jackets for Pilots Guide

As a general aviation pilot, I often find myself in cold environments. Not only cold weather but the chill that comes along with gaining altitude. Luckily, when the engine is running, I’ve got some cabin heat to warm me up. However, that doesn’t help much for my pre-flight walk-arounds and fueling stops! Because of this, a great flight jacket is essential. If you are in the market for the best flight jackets for pilots option, you have come to the right place. I have compiled some of my favorites here for you to check out!

Bottom Line Up Front

If you’re in a hurry and want the best of the best, it’s Flight Outfitters Leather MA-1Not only is this jacket made of leather, but it’s also one of the most affordable quality options out there. I love the classic design. Plus, it’s from Flight Outfitters, a company that offers excellent customer service should you need any help with sizing! 

My Top Picks Up Front

These are my favorite picks for everyone in the family!

  1. Best for Men: Flight Outfitters Leather MA-1
  2. Best for Women: Women’s Sage Flight Jacket
  3. Best for Kids: Youth Bomber Jacket
  4. Best for Pets: Flight Jacket for Dogs

Top Tips to Help You Shop

When searching for high-quality and functional flight jackets, I typically turn to pilot shops such as Pilot MallFlight Outfitters, or Sporty’s Pilot Shop. These shops specialize in gear for pilots and have that in mind when they choose their designs. While you do not have to use an aviation-specific jacket as your flight jacket, I have found that they offer more aviation-related pockets and accessories. 

Selection Criteria

Cost

Due to the material composition of most fight jackets being leather, the price can become quite expensive. It is best to find a good balance between cost and quality. In the list below, you will find both high-quality pieces as well as cost-effective options. There are reasonably priced mid-range leather options as well!

Usefulness

As a pilot, we often have many tools to bring with us. For this reason, I tend to choose flight jackets with great pocket options. It’s never going to replace your flight bag, but it may give you a place to throw your fuel stick during pre-flight on a chilly day. Plus, warming up your hands during that walk around is crucial, especially if there’s wind to go along with those dropping temperatures. We all know it’s better for the battery if we just use our pockets instead of really extending that pitot heat test on the walk around.

Product Recommendations Unisex/Men’s

1. Best For General Aviation Pilots

Best for General Aviation Pilots

This sleek rendition of a traditional bomber-style flight jacket is extremely popular with pilots for a reason. It is professional in its design and offers multiple pocket options. The outside of the jacket features two snap closure hand warming pockets, a shoulder-mounted zipper pocket, and a pencil pocket. The inside holds two internal chest pockets. My favorite feature of this jacket is the quilted safety orange lining. This cowhide leather jacket is well thought out and offers pilots multiple advantages for a flight jacket.

Pros

  • The reasonable price point at $299.95.
  • Durable YKK Zippers.
  • A wide size range is available from S-XXL.

Cons

  • Only available in a slim fit.
  • Only available in one color.

2. Best For a Vintage Weathered Leather Look

Cockpit Mustang A-2 Leather Jacket

This Cockpit Mustang A-2 leather flight jacket is a reproduction of an official flight jacket from 1931. It is constructed of 100% vegetable-tanned Goatskin leather. It offers a worn-in look with a silky lining. It features a zipper closure with a snap wind flap over the top. Two snap pockets are located on the front of the jacket with side entries for hand warmth.

Pros

  • Made in the USA.
  • Excellent size range from Small – XXXL.
  • Two interior pockets.
  • Free standard shipping.

Cons

  • The high price point at $515.00.
  • Only one color is available.

3. Best For Bush Pilots

Bush Pilot Jacket

This camel color canvas flight jacket is built specifically for pilots with durability in mind. It is constructed of a water-resistant outer material with a quilted interior and sherpa accents. Bi-swing pleated construction allows for more effortless arm movement, with side snaps to adjust waist circumference. For storage, it offers three interior pockets with a zippered outer pocket for sunglass storage. It also provides two sherpa-lined exterior pockets for hand warmth and one open chest pocket for pencils.

Pros

  • Water-resistant canvas material.
  • Size range from small- XXL.
  • Loose Fit.
  • The excellent price point at $129.95.

Cons

  • Expensive ground shipping starts at $12.33.

4. Best For Commercial Pilots

Modern Flight Jacket

This flight jacket offers a modern and sleek take on the classic bomber jacket. Offered in a dark brown goatskin, this AN-J-3 design offers underarm gussets and a bi-swing back for a greater range of movement. It also features oversized zipper closures for ease when wearing gloves. It is provided in a size range of small-XXL, with an XL Long and XXL Long option.

Pros

  • Oversized zipper closures.
  • Underarm gussets.
  • Excellent size range options of small-XXL, with an XL Long and XXL Long option.

Cons

  • The higher price point of $250.00.
  • Not available in black.

5. Best For Extended Sizes

A-2 Flight Jacket

This goat hide A-2 style leather bomber jacket is offered in an extended size range of XSmall-5X. It offers four outer pockets and two inner pockets. The manufacturer also offers the option for a customized size if your desired size is not listed. Although the design is a classic, the ability to get the sizing explicitly tailored to your measurements makes this leather flight jacket stand out from the rest.

Pros

  • Extended size range of XS-5X.
  • The reasonable price point of $239.99.
  • Customized sizing options are available.

Cons

  • Cotton lining.

6. Best For a Lightweight Jacket

Fairbanks Fleece Jacket

Flight Outfitters offers this fleece flight jacket as an alternative to the bulkier leather and canvas flight jacket options. In my personal experience, I get more use out of fleece jackets such as this because I live in a warmer climate. It is the perfect pick for someone who rarely experiences severely cold temperatures. This fleece is offered in both a boxy fit and a women’s defined waistline fit. It features a 100% Polyester fleece with three pockets on the exterior, two for the hands and one heat-sealed pocket on the upper left arm. The inside of this jacket is also equipped with a designated headphones pocket. This fleece jacket would serve as an excellent mid-layer in frigid climates or as a stand-alone flight jacket in more temperate areas.

Pros

  • Offered in both men’s and women’s cuts.
  • Two colors are available.
  • Size range from small- XXL.

Cons

  • The relatively high price for a fleece jacket at $89.95.

7. Best For a Non-Aviation Specific Jacket

Duluth Jacket

This jacket from Duluth is not explicitly designed with pilots in mind, but I have found it a great option. With 11 functional pockets, it is hard to beat for storage. It is constructed of an insulating wool and polyester blend. It features reach gussets across the back and arms to allow for maximum movement. The only drawbacks I can find to this jacket are its limited size and color availability.

Pros

  • A large number of pockets.
  • The excellent price point at $99.99.

Cons

  • Only available in blue.
  • Only available in a size Medium.

8. Best For an Alternative Color Jacket

Best For an Alternative Color Jacket

Finding a flight jacket in a color other than brown can be difficult. This bomber-style jacket comes in either Navy or black. It is composed of a Nylon shell and polyester liner. It also comes with an optional quilted zip-out liner for added warmth when needed. This jacket also features a zipper under each arm for ventilation which would be ideal in a cockpit where it is often difficult to remove a jacket mid-flight.

Pros

  • Equipped with hidden hand-warming pockets.
  • Ventilated underarms and bi-swing back.
  • Two color options.

Cons

  • Available in a wide size range of XS-3X, but not in a Medium. 

Product Recommendations Women

1. Best For Women Who Want a Removable Hood

Women's Sage Flight Jacket

This sage green women’s flight jacket features a removable hood and bomber-style silhouette. It offers three exterior pockets, two for hand warmth and one on the left arm. It also comes with one interior pocket. The removable French Terry hood makes this jacket more versatile than most.

Pros

  • Removable hood.
  • The reasonable price point at $109.

Cons

  • Only available in sage green.
  • Only available in a size Medium.

2. Best for Style

Women's Sherpa Jacket

This sherpa bomber-style jacket is perfect for a woman who wants a little style with functionality. It features three outer pockets- two snap closure pockets for hand warmth and one zipper pocket on the upper left arm. The sherpa exterior and light cream color set this jacket apart from the rest.

Pros

  • Light Cream Color.
  • Arm pocket with zipper closure.

Cons

  • Only available in a Medium or Large.
  • No interior pockets.

3. Best Non-Aviation Related Jacket For Women 

Carhartt Women's Bomber 

While not specifically designed with pilots in mind, this jacket is an excellent option for female pilots. Carhartt makes a durable canvas-based jacket with multiple pocket options. It features three outer pockets, two for hands and one zippered chest pocket. On the inside, it has one large and one small pocket. This jacket is perfect for moderately chilly temperatures and consists of 98% cotton and 2% spandex.

Pros

  • Wide size range of XS-3X.
  • The price starts at $35 and varies by size.
  • Available in 6 color options.

Cons

  • There is no inner lining for added warmth.

Product Recommendations Children

1. Best For Your Favorite Co-Pilot

Youth Bomber Jacket

Pilot Mall offers this adorable youth-sized bomber jacket for your best co-pilot. They may not be a licensed pilot yet, but if your kiddo has caught the aviation bug, this is a great purchase to surprise them! This nylon flight jacket is a reproduction of a flight jacket for the Army and Air Force in the 1950s. It features multiple patches, including one for the B-17 and P-40.

Pros

  • Multiple sizes are available, including T-2, T-3, B-6, B-7, Y-10/12, and Y-14/16.
  • Excellent attention to detail with patches and airplane zipper.

Cons

  • Only available in a sage-green color.
  • The high price point for a child’s jacket at $59.99.

Product Recommendations Pets

1. Best For Your Most Rowdy Passenger

Flight Jacket for Pups

While I know this list is focused on useful flight jackets for pilots, I couldn’t resist including this adorable flight jacket for a pilot’s best friend. I love the bomber style and sherpa collar on this flight jacket for dogs. It is available in sizes small-XL, so it should fit most pups!

Pros

  • Wide size range of small-XL.
  • The reasonable price point of $25.00.

Cons

  • Only available in brown.

FAQs – Best Flight Jackets for Pilots

Question: Why do Pilots wear Bomber Jackets?

Answer: Bomber jackets originated in WWI when pilots needed significant insulating clothing to remain warm with the open-air cockpits of fighter planes such as the Nieuport 11. While Bomber jackets were the original flight jacket, they are no longer the only option for pilots. Any jacket a pilot feels fits their needs within flight operations can be a flight jacket.

Question: Can you machine wash a flight jacket?

Answer: The answer to this question depends upon which flight jacket you choose. If the material make up of your flight jacket includes leather, the answer is no. You should not machine wash a leather jacket. If you choose something more akin to a fleece or soft-shell coat, you may. It is best to consult the manufacturer tag inside the jacket for laundering instructions before washing any flight jacket.

Question: Can you wear a leather flight jacket in the rain?

Answer: Yes, you can! Leather is known for being water-resistant and is able to withstand some precipitation.

Blue Skies and Tailwinds

No matter which aircraft you fly, there are plenty of great options available when it comes to the purchase of a flight jacket. You may choose a traditional bomber style or go with something more modern in design. Either way, you are sure to stay warm and toasty, especially during those chilly pre-flights! I wish you blue skies and tailwinds in your next flying adventure!  

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