When it comes to jackets that epitomize cool, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more effortless, functional, and easy-wearing option than the bomber jacket. With a veritable who’s who of men’s style icons from Brando and McQueen, to Cassavetes and DeNiro having donned the iconic men’s bomber in one form or another, it’s easy to see why the bomber jacket is a perennial hit that never seems to go out of style.
Why Do They Call Them Bomber Jackets?
Long before the aforementioned style icons made it a fashionable accessory, the bomber jacket–aka “the flight jacket”–was just as much function as form.
The bomber jacket, also known as a flight jacket, was first created by the US Army Aviation Clothing Board for military pilots during World War I. It went through some modifications as the military’s needs changed and aircraft improved during World War II. This era’s bomber is the MA-1, which became the standard for the style. Like many menswear items (including the field watch), the bomber jacket became popular among civilians after World War II in the 1950s, due to its association with fighter pilots and the military, as well as its practicality and versatility. Today, the bomber jacket is a popular fashion item, available in a variety of materials and styles.
Bombers have evolved since the MA-1 to incorporate an entire line of bomber, flight, and even letterman (yes, your high school football jacket is based on the same silhouette) jackets that retain the same vintage ideals and functionality while currently being made for style, comfort and to make a statement.
What Is Considered a Bomber Jacket Today?
While the style has morphed over the decades, today, the key characteristics of a bomber jacket include:
The Best Bomber Jackets for Men
Alpha Industries MA-1 Bomber Jacket (Seasonal)
This option is made with as close to classic military specs as you can find: 100 percent flight nylon shell, 100 percent nylon lining, 100 percent poly fill, water-resistant, and reversible. And it has the Alpha Industries signature red “Remove Before Flight” tag on the arm pocket (that makes a great keychain, for the record). Alpha Industries has been the best value bomber for more than half a century.
Everlane Bomber Jacket
The Everlane Bomber doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, the brand focuses on reinventing the classic with more attention to detail, higher-quality materials, and a slimmer-fitting silhouette than what you’d find in the military alternative.
Levi’s Bay Street Bomber Jacket
Does 100 percent cotton, non-stretch denim construction make the best bomber jacket for actual flight maneuvers? Probably not. But when paired with a faux-fur collar and built by Levi’s, it makes one helluva stylish modern denim bomber jacket that pairs with almost everything. And, well, it’s Levi’s. You can’t go wrong with the Red Tab.
Lululemon Switch Over Bomber
When it comes to athletic wear, it’s hard to beat any of the offerings from Lululemon. That’s especially true when it comes to the men’s athletic bomber jacket, also called the Switch Over Bomber. Available in off-white, gray, or black, this sleek and stylish men’s bomber jacket checks all the boxes you’ve come to expect from Lulu, which means it’s stylish enough to wear with damn near everything else.
Barbour Quilted Merchant Jacket
No list of quality men’s outerwear, bomber jackets or otherwise, would be complete without something from Barbour. This take on the classic bomber jacket includes all kinds of updates you’d expect from Barbour: four-inch box quilts, two-way front zip, two lower welt pockets, and a Barbour International Steve McQueen embroidered patch on the left chest.
Alpha Industries x Imogene & Willie Heritage MA-1 Bomber Jacket
Yes, Alpha Industries is on this list twice. As one of the original manufacturers of the bomber/flight jacket, the almost half-century of production the brand has warrants multiple inclusions. This Alpha x Imogene & Willie collaboration bomber jacket is something truly special because it looks, feels, and wears like what you’d expect if you asked the most preeminent bomber jacket manufacturer to build a jacket with one of the most stylish modern brands.
Buck Mason Bruiser Leather Bomber Jacket
Don’t let the fact that the Buck Mason Bruiser Leather Bomber Jacket looks like it got pulled straight from an FX motorcycle show fool you. This is quite possibly the most stylish men’s leather bomber jacket on the market. Buck Mason’s attention to detail, construction, and cut is paired with a veg-tanned lambskin hide that is pre-softened and formed so it fits like a second skin right away.
Mission Workshop “The Mission” Bomber Jacket
“The Mission” Bomber Jacket is designed to be layered with as much or as little as you want. It’s part of Mission Workshop’s Advanced Projects series and combines multiple advanced technologies (like Primaloft insulation, Mectex M.I.S. textiles, and DWR finishing) to create a clean, elevated silhouette with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Schott Classic B-3 Sheepskin Leather Bomber Jacket
Founded more than a century ago in the Lower East Side of NYC, Schott has been a favorite for the likes of Marlon Brando, James Dean, and guys like you since it started. I’ll always consider them the maker of the best men’s leather bomber because we were wearing a Schott Classic B-3 Sheepskin Leather Bomber Jacket the first time we ever kick-started a bike. But the quality, style, and versatility of this jacket speaks for itself. It’s a worthy investment if you plan on riding for the rest of your life.