Besides an airline uniform, no other piece of clothing screams “pilot” more than the classic bomber jacket. Bombers 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, bomber jackets are so much more than just another piece of clothing.
Today, let’s talk about where the bomber jacket got its start and showcase the very best men’s bomber jackets for both pilots and aviation enthusiasts. If you're a pilot or simply love aviation, a bomber jacket is a must-have in your wardrobe.
The timeless and rugged appeal of bomber jackets makes them a versatile option for various occasions. Whether you're in the cockpit or exploring the city, the bomber jacket will add a touch of aviation flair to your outfit.
For pilots, wearing a bomber jacket not only enhances their professional look but also pays homage to the aviation heritage.
So, if you want to embrace the spirit of aviation and make a bold statement, get yourself a stylish bomber jacket today!
History of the Bomber Jacket
Bombers are worn mainly as a fashion statement today, but they had a very real 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 rugged horsehide leather exterior lined with silk. Once World War II started and materials were scarce, the A-2 design was adapted 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 new B-3 flight bomber 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 since extreme warmth was less important once cockpits were enclosed.
Fighter pilots in the United States 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 men's bomber jackets introduced bright orange linings paired with sage green or dark blue fabric exteriors. The MA-1 and MA-2 styles are still highly sought after and emulated today.
Now that we’ve covered some aviation history and trivia, let’s look at the bomber jacket models available for today’s pilots.
Best Bomber Flight Jackets
We’ll kick off our list with a vintage version of an original classic bomber jacket – the B-15. This authentic flight bomber 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. Own a piece of history with this vintage black bomber jacket available in sizes small through 2XL.
Since the MA-1 is one of the most well-known and recognized versions of the bomber jacket, 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 warm yet lightweight flight bomber 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 water resistant 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 MA-1.
Another serious bonus is the color range. Other bomber jackets come in classic black and navy, but the Rothco MA-1 nylon is made in six 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.
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. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind take on this classic jacket. The concealed carry black bomber jacket comes in men’s small through 3XL.
If it can keep Air Force pilots warm, it can keep you warm too. This CWU 45-P bomber jacket by Rothco mimics those issued to U.S. Air Force pilots for winter use.
This bomber jacket has a two-layer design. The nylon outer keeps snow and rain off while a quilted lining traps and retains body heat. The CWU 45-P is available in black or sage green in men’s sizes small through 2XL.
Rothco’s nylon flight jacket is a diamond quilted adaptation of the original MA-1. The diamond version has the same fit and shape as the classic MA-1 plus the added visual interest of the diamond stitch pattern. The water resistant 100% washed nylon outer shell protects from drizzle and wind.
Both the solid black and navy-blue color options make the diamond jacket a classic mid-weight neutral outer layer that can easily be worn not just in the cockpit, but for everyday life as well. Available in men’s sizes small through 4XL.
Emulate the look of a 1950’s Air Force pilot or 1980’s Army helicopter crew with Cockpit USA’s authentic nylon bomber jacket. This MA-1 version is sage green on the outside, but fully reversible to the classic vibrant orange survival lining.
The fabric is a nylon satin twill with cozy poly fiber insulation that will keep you warm on chilly days. Slide your pens, flashlights, and other small gear into the interior, size, and sleeve pockets so you have all the essentials right at your fingertips. This bomber is made in the USA and comes in men’s sizes small through 2XL.
Experience the essence of a fighter pilots style during this winter with the iconic Top Gun® Official B-15 nylon bomber jacket. With its classic silhouette dating back to the mid-1940’s, this jacket remains a beloved choice among pilots and aviation enthusiasts seeking the perfect combination of functionality, comfort and fashion.
Crafted with precision and durability, the B-15 bomber jacket not only keeps you warm, but also reflects the adventurous spirit of aviation heritage.
Embrace the thrill of flight and let this legendary jacket become a symbol of your daring and bold persona as you channel the charisma of elite fighter pilots.
We saved the most stunning statement-making bomber jacket for last. If you’re looking for a bomber jacket that will really turn heads and stand out in the crowd, Cockpit USA’s G-1 Top Gun Navy flight jacket is the clear winner.
If you love bomber jackets, look no further. Every elevated detail is there from the copyrighted Escape map lining to the 100% antique lambskin leather exterior, removable mouton shearling collar, and authentically embroidered Top Gun patches.
Under arm grommets offer ventilation, and with two front flap pockets, two inside pockets, and side entry pockets, you have plenty of room for your phone, flashlight, pen, ID, wallet, and more. This is a great bomber jacket for pilots.
This brown leather classic bomber jacket is made in the USA and is available in men’s sizes small through 2XL.
Bonus: Casual Pilot Jackets, Tees, Caps, and More
Bomber jackets are an iconic staple for a reason, and we personally think every pilot should invest in one. That said, you aren’t going to wear your bomber around the house, and its welcome in-flight warmth can be a bit too cozy for balmy spring and fall days.
So, what’s the solution? Red Canoe makes super cool casual, comfortable pieces to relax in after you get back home from flying or for fall and spring days when you don't need the extra warmth of a bomber jacket.
Now that you've taken a look at the best bomber jackets for men, check out our full lineup of Red Canoe aviation clothing and accessories to build your own pilot wardrobe or as gifts for aviator friends.
Keep Building Your Pilot Clothes and Accessories Wardrobe
Things to Consider Before Buying a Bomber Jacket
When shopping for your very own authentic bomber jacket, there are a few key features to keep in mind. Bomber jackets come in a variety of fits, styles, shades and constructions.
- Firstly, the fit is crucial. Ensure that the bomber jacket is not too tight or too loose, allowing for comfortable movement while maintaining a stylish silhouette.
- Secondly, pay attention to the materials used. Genuine leather jackets or high-quality fabrics can ensure longevity and a premium look. Also, consider the bomber jacket's insulation, especially if you live in colder climates. Shearling or quilted lining can provide extra warmth and comfort during chilly weather.
- Lastly, don't forget about the bomber jacket's details. Look for ribbed cuffs and waistbands, as they not only add to the jacket's aesthetic but also help in retaining heat. Moreover, pockets are essential for practicality, so find a bomber jacket with enough pockets to hold your belongings.
It’s Your Turn
In conclusion, a bomber jacket is a timeless and fashionable addition to any wardrobe. Whether you prefer a classic or modern style, investing in a bomber jacket is a smart choice for staying stylish and comfortable year-round.
So, do you own a bomber jacket (or two or three)? Which bomber jacket do you have and why did you choose it? Any favorite features of the bomber jacket you would recommend others look for when shopping for their very own authentic bomber jacket? Let us know!