The 20 Best Bomber Jackets for Men in 2020
They are some of the most recognizable pieces of outerwear, and these iconic jackets are known not only for their style but also for their history. With distinctive lines and a storied past, they are so much more than just another piece of clothing.
Today, let’s discover where the bomber jacket got its start and showcase the 20 best bomber jackets that men can get their hands on in 2020.
History of the Bomber Jacket
Although bombers are worn mainly as a fashion statement today, they had a very real and practical application when they were first introduced in the late 1920s. At the time, aircraft still had an open cockpit configuration, yet they were increasingly capable of flying at higher altitudes and for longer durations. This meant that pilots needed something to keep them warm and protected from the elements. Cue British pilot and businessman Leslie Irvin who developed the first sheepskin flight jacket – a predecessor to the bomber.
Bomber jackets, or flight jackets, really arrived on the scene when they began to be issued as part of military aviators’ uniforms. The very first official flight jackets were issued between 1927 and 1931. They were dubbed the Type A-1 and they introduced the knitted waistband and cuffs that are still signature elements of bomber jackets to this day. The A-1s had a capeskin outer which was a very soft, and unfortunately non-durable variety of sheepskin.
When the Type A-2 was introduced in 1931, the capeskin was replaced with a more durable horsehide leather exterior lined with silk. Once World War II started, the materials for the A-2 were modified to a goat leather outer lined with cotton. The A-2 was highly publicized during the war and to this day, it remains the most recognizable and popular bomber jacket design.
A B-3 flight jacket was also introduced in the early 1930s and was modeled after Leslie Irvin’s original designs. The initial B-3s were bulky with a wide sheepskin collar and straps. Later models slimmed down once cockpits were enclosed.
Fighter pilots began asking for a lighter, less bulky flight jacket option, and to that end, the B-10 was released in 1943. It had a fabric rather than leather exterior and an alpaca lining. It didn’t offer as much insulative value as earlier models, but it was often preferred due to its streamlined look. The B-15 was another well-known model during the ‘40s.
The original A-1 and A-2 jackets had leather outers, but in 1949, the military re-envisioned them in fabric and called the models MA-1 and MA-2. The distinguishing difference is the knit collar of the MA-1 vs the folded collar of the MA-2. These jackets introduced bright orange linings paired with sage green or dark blue fabric exteriors. These styles are still highly sought after and emulated today.
Now that we know a bit about where the bomber flight jackets came from, let’s take a look at the models that a current aviator can choose to sport today.
Best Bomber Flight Jackets
Let’s kick this list off with a vintage version of an original classic bomber jacket – the B-15. This authentic flight jacket is designed with form, function and nostalgia in mind. A durable nylon shell blocks wind and rain, with an extra storm flap in front for additional protection. Notable historic touches include the signature pencil pocket and button tabs which were used by pilots to connect headset wires and oxygen masks. Own a piece of history with this vintage piece.
Another version of the historic jacket with a vintage flair, Alpha’s take on the B-15 has a classic silhouette. Its rugged nylon shell teams up with a front storm flap, knit cuffs and a knit waistband to protect you from the elements. Add a removable faux mouton collar and you will be plenty warm and cozy. Like any good vintage jacket, this B-15 incorporates historic elements. You will love the oxygen tab on the chest and the utility pocket on the sleeve. Choose from navy, black, sage green or replica blue.
If you appreciate the idea of the standard Alpha B-15 jacket, but you want something a little less roomy, the streamlined Alpha B-15 slim fit may interest you. It is modeled after the traditional version but is more tapered to offer a modern silhouette. Don’t worry about missing out on the vintage detailing though. The slim fit still includes the oxygen tab and left-sleeve utility pocket plus the removable faux mouton collar. The slim fit is available in black.
The MA-1 is one of the most well-known and recognized versions of the bomber jacket, so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of variations to choose from. We’ll start the MA-1 list with Rothco.
Rothco offers a luxe, classically designed flight jacket at a remarkably competitive price. Rothco’s MA-1 is sewn from quality materials and its deceptively simply design is augmented with several neat extras. Yes, you get the rain and wind-resistant nature of the nylon shell and full-length storm flap. But did you expect your jacket to be reversible to the bright orange interior color that can be used for high visibility signaling purposes in an emergency? That’s right – Rothco kept the orange safety liner feature of the original. Bet you also weren’t expecting to get to choose from 6 classic and stylish colors. The Rothco MA-1 is available from size XS-3XL and comes in black, gunmetal gray, navy, sage green, maroon and coyote brown.
For everyday wear, Rothco has designed a comfortable, soft shell version of the MA-1. This version is fashionable and fun, keeping the utility pocket, orange lining, and knit waistband/collar/cuffs. It adds in two bonus interior welt pockets for extra functionality. The soft shell MA-1 is available in black from size x-small to 3XL.
The MA-1 is so well-loved that Alpha Industries has also gotten in on the action and come up with 5 variations on the time-honored classic.
The Alpha version is also reversible to a high-visibility orange liner. Enjoy the standard full-length storm flap plus knit cuffs, collar and waistband to keep out the elements. You have plenty of storage with two interior pockets, two flap pockets and a shoulder utility pocket. Alpha added in a little bonus flair with their “remove before flight” streamer on the shoulder pocket.
The Blood Chit version of Alpha’s MA-1 goes an extra step on the interior lining. It’s the same high-visibility orange color, but it also includes a printed blood chit replica of the original chits pilots wore in case they were shot down stranded in an area where they did not speak the language. This chit version of the MA-1 jacket will be a fun talking piece. Don’t want to walk around with the florescent orange and blood chit displayed? No problem – just reverse the jacket to display its black, commander red, patrol green or sage green exterior.
Alpha’s Flex MA-1 is comfortable, roomy and lightweight – the perfect spring and summer jacket. Dial up the tactical vibe by adding your own military-style patches on the two included Velcro fields. The American flag is displayed on the left side of your chest. Like other MA-1’s, the flex version reverses to a bright orange interior. The Alpha MA-1 Flex is available from sizes XXS-3XL in either sage green or black.
The Natus version of the MA-1 is Alpha’s take on blending the historic look of the MA-1 with a fashionable twist. The Natus keeps the water-resistant nylon exterior along with the knit cuffs and waistband. Its utility shoulder pocket features a “Remove Before Flight” streamer.
Here’s where the fashion comes in: instead of the standard orange interior, the Natus opts for a zip-out, dual layered French terry hood. It adds some cozy warmth and style to the streamlined standard MA-1 function.
Try on the Natus in patrol green, sage with a rust lining, Replica Blue with a blue lining, Commander Red with a Vintage Olive lining or black with a new silver lining.
Alpha’s final MA-1 variation is the Skymaster. This version also forgoes the orange interior and reversible style. It does maintain the traditional knit waistband, collar and cuffs plus the two external flap pockets and the trademark left sleeve utility pocket. As a nod to tradition, the Skymaster retains the nylon-web tab historically used for the oxygen mask. Incidentally, it is also in a perfect position for a radio mic if you are so inclined. Take home your own Skymaster in either black or sage.
The Flying is Freedom version of the MA-1 also plays with elements of the original and some unique variations. The collar, cuffs and waistband are ribbed, although the neck ribbing is short for comfort. It also has the orange lining and is reversible. If you like extra exterior pockets and a nice roomy cut, this is the MA-1 for you. Enjoy 4 exterior slash pockets and a full, relaxed fit that doesn’t get in the way of movement.
Take your MA-1 bomber jacket up a notch with adding in some unexpected concealed carry elements. This unique jacket has all your standard MA-1 features like the front storm flap, nylon construction, knit collar/cuffs/waistband, and utility pocket. It also is reversible to the orange liner.
Now for the goodies – the concealed carry MA-1 includes an interior padded concealment pocket on the left and the right side of the jacket plus four mag pouches. Definitely a one-of-a-kind take on this classic jacket.
The Scout L-2B is a sturdy yet lightweight nylon jacket designed to be a perfect layering piece in warmer weather. The rib knit collar, cuffs and waistband emulate historic flight jackets as does the Emergency Orange lining. The Scout is fully reversible for high-visibility situations. Choose from Replica Blue, Sage Green or Black.
To honor the legacy of the Apollo space program, Alpha designed a dedicated version of the L-2B jacket. Check out the Apollo 11 and NASA patches on the front, the American flag on the left sleeve, plus even more of the Apollo mission patches on the back. The Apollo L-2B is available in either New Silver or Black and both choices are reversable to a red lining.
If you find yourself drawn to the historical interest of the blood chits, you will like Alpha’s L-2B Dragonfly. This lightweight jacket is very streamlined and low profile on the outside. Reverse it to display the blood chit artwork on the back. You also get Alpha’s signature “Remove Before Flight” flag.
From lightweight warm-weather jackets to a heavy-duty arctic winter version, there is a bomber-inspired flight jacket for every pilot. This particular parka flight jacket is inspired by the Air Force N-2B and will keep you warm whatever winter throws at you. Cozy up with the faux fur lined hood and pass-through front pockets. No cold air is going up your wrists or waist – they are protected by the rib-knit design. Moisture stays out and warmth stays in thanks to the nylon shell paired with polyester interwoven lining.
If it can keep Air Force pilots warm, it can keep you warm too. This CWU 45-P flight jacket by Rothco mimics those issued to U.S. Air Force pilots for winter use. The nylon outer keeps snow and rain off while a quilted lining traps and retains body heat. Try one on in black or sage green.
Alpha has also designed a version of the CWU 45-P. Like the Rothco jacket, the Alpha has a water-resistant outer nylon shell and a quilted liner. This version comes with the Alpha Industries patch on the left chest and is available in Replica Blue, Sage Green or Black.
If you are looking for a lightweight military grade summer flight jacket, your search is over. Alpha’s CWU 36/P shares the design of the current U.S. Air Force summer flight jacket. Its classic casual style meets Nomex fiber construction for a very wearable yet functional and flame-resistant jacket that will be part of your clothing rotation for years to come.
We saved one of the coziest and warmest signature bomber jackets for last. The B-3 men’s Sherpa bomber has made its way from the B-17 and B-24 cockpits all the way to your closet. This investment piece is constructed with great attention to detail. The outer is a sheepskin leather and it is lined with wonderfully insulative Sherpa wool fleece. Elegant leather trim detailing adds a luxurious touch.
The bomber is a classic flight jacket that has been around since the late 1920s. It was originally developed for military aviators and has become well-loved by pilots and aviation fans alike. There are plenty of options to choose from, and you are sure to find the perfect blend of history, fashion and function with any of the best bomber jackets on this list.
- PilotMall.com Editor