Guys. I am very excited to share this review with you. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to writing this review for months.
I’m hardly the first person to note how difficult it is to find women’s motorcycle gear that fits, protects, and also looks good. (I know, we ask so much.) So when I found Black Arrow Label last September, I immediately fell in love.
Yeah, totally girl crushing right there.
Black Arrow Label is an independent Australian brand that makes women’s motorcycle gear. And, as I said in my comment, their pieces are everything I want in gear: quality materials, modern fit, protected with Kevlar and CE-rated armor, and definitely stylish.
Aw. Hell. Yeah.
Now, all of their jackets are gorgeous, but one caught my eye: the Wild & Free jacket in tan. I’d been wearing a fashion leather jacket for awhile (do as I say, not as I do!), and the Wild & Free was its better-looking, more protective twin. Suffice to say, I needed it.
It took me awhile to scrape together the funds for the jacket (not to mention the shipping). But one day, I mentioned the jacket to the crew at my favorite local gear shop, MotoLiberty, and they offered to order one for me, so they could check it out. Of course, I agreed, finances be damned. Safety is worth the cost! Wait, what, all those other armored jackets in my closet? I have no idea what you’re talking about 😉
The day the jacket arrived, I got this message from MotoLiberty: “THE BEAUTIFUL JACKET HAS ARRIVED!!!” And oh man, is that the truth. This jacket, my friends, is gorgeous. And well-made. It’s comparable to a Dainese or Roland Sands jacket, but half the cost. The leather is extremely soft, and it fit. The armor on the elbows doesn’t even budge (yay!).
What I wasn’t expecting (because I didn’t read the description close enough) was the fully-mesh lining, but it was a welcome surprise for this Texas chick. The mesh combined with the perforation under the arms and around the chest gives this jacket excellent airflow.
During my first ride with this jacket, in a sunny 85 degrees, I felt as if I were wearing a textile mesh jacket. It’s that good. My back did get a bit sweaty under the protector, but I found that by stretching my chest forward a bit, I could get some air down the back of the jacket whenever the heat got too uncomfortable. Leave it to the Australians to know how to keep cool!
As far as storage goes (which is always an issue for me), the Wild & Free jacket is quite spacious. All three of the exterior pockets have zippers, thank goodness. The one on the chest is fairly small, but would be great for earbuds, chapstick or a small set of keys. The ones near your hands, though, are quite roomy. I put sunglasses and sunscreen in one and my cellphone in the other with room to spare.
If that’s not enough space for you, there’s also an interior pouch, with plenty of room to stretch to fit your bulky wallet. This jacket was cleary designed to be useful. It’s amazing how often storage gets overlooked in women’s motorcycle jackets. Recently I tried on a jacket from [name redacted] that didn’t have a single pocket I could fit my phone into. Uhmm… no 😉
Now, I will say that I don’t love the armor. I found the shoulder pads to be a bit bulky, and I also prefer a more rounded elbow pad. These elbow pads are more elongated; you can see for yourself in the product images. However, I’m pleased to report that it was easy to swap out the shoulder and elbow armor for a set I’m more used to. And they still fit the jacket, without sliding around at all.
I couldn’t switch out the back pad because of the pocket shape, but I don’t mind the one the jacket came with ⎯ it’s not uncomfortable or bulky at all. If you’re not used to back pads, it might feel a bit like a turtle shell at first (as one of my moto friends said). But I promise, once you get used to it, you won’t notice a thing 🙂
Even if you do choose to swap out the armor, I can’t say enough about the value of this jacket. Comparable jackets cost more than $500, and most don’t include half the thoughtful features that the Wild & Free does.
Plus, few other jackets can give you the satisfaction of supporting an independent, female-owned company 😉
I don’t know if you can tell, but I can’t recommend this jacket enough. I’m so thrilled to have found Black Arrow Label, and I’m looking forward to trying out more of their gear (the Nowhere Bound is next on my list!). They recently came out with bamboo base layers (how cool!), and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
P.S. If you also live in the states and would like some Black Arrow Label gear, I suggest you check out Ratchet Label, another female-owned company. And they offer free shipping. Score!