If we just see the properties of leather then leather, on its own, is not good enough to keep us warm because it does not have good heat-insulating characteristics.
Though it plays a great role to keep us warm by being a good windbreaker and have some thermal properties to reflect and retain the heat.
How? Because in winter, the wind chill is obvious, and the fabrication of leather itself is such that it does not allow the wind to pass through.
And as you know it is the wind from which a lot of colds befall.
But, leather alone won’t keep you warm, though you can make it pretty warm or it will get warmer by itself if it gets the assistance of certain things.
Read Also: How Warm A Down Jacket Can Go? (Explained)
Let’s see what are those, but first, you need to know the amount of warmth a synthetic or leather jacket can facilitate.
Note: I am going to attain this topic in a technical way to get a better and more scientific picture.
How Warm? Synthetic vs Real Leather Jackets?
As I have been told that leather does not have any insulating properties but there are a few characteristics of real leather and synthetic leather which force them to provide warmth.
First, let’s talk about real leather.
Note: This section will only talk about the role of the leather itself in the warmth of the jacket so don’t get mistaken by what I am going to say because after this section I’ll talk about liners that play a vital role in leather jacket’s warmth.
Real Leather Warmth
The real leather is made out of animal skin which is generally thicker and after some craftmanship, it gets the support of outer polishing which makes it even more windproof.
Apart from this, the real one tends to be heavier and durable which helps them to have some warmth. Think of yourself, it’s a piece of fabric and if it is thicker and heavier then for sure it will give some warmth.
I am not a fan of real leather because it comes from slaughtering the beautiful animals. But I need to write this article because you demanded for it.
But that’s not what I meant by saying that leather is not warm (there I am saying in more technical terms)
However, the other most important factor behind the warmth is its absorption properties and this is what I was supposed to mean in the introduction because leather tends to absorb heat and cold indiscriminately.
Thus, if you’re wearing a leather jacket to say for 30 minutes, you’ll be able to feel that it is getting warmer and warmer because it absorbs your body heat and then retains heat so that your body can absorb it again.
Though real leather does not have good thermal insulation after the tanning process.
The thermal conductivity value of the animal dermis (part of the skin that transformed into leather) which is the thickest layer in animal skin means a thick leather (around 85% thickness) is 0.29 W/mK which after the tanning process gets reduces to 0.14 W/mK [source].
In an overall sense, this amount of thermal insulation is not all you would want to wear on a chilly day but for sure have reflective property which helps your body to get the warmth.
Synthetic Leather Warmth
Synthetic leather is anything made by a human using plastic and then it is treated with dye, wax, polyurethane (PU leather), or polyvinyl chloride (vinyl or PVC) to give it the appearance of real leather.
But to be honest, treating with such hazardous chemicals is bad for both environment and people who work in those factories and even has some effect on those who wear it.
Though the manufacturing of bio-based synthetic leather does not have any harmful effects. These are made with natural fibers such as cotton mixed with palm, soybean, corn, and other plants. Pinatex is one of those synthetic leather that is made from pineapple leaves[source].
In modern terminology, synthetic leather jackets are more commonly referred to as Faux leather.
But no matter what you call it, it still lacks in any area to provide what currently the genuine leather offers. Though there are many pros that you may like to know.
Even though, I hope that synthetic leather should evolve to bio-based synthetics and replace the natural so that the animals can live and die naturally.
First thing first, faux leather does not have the absorption quality and is not heavier like real leather thus it provides little to no warmth.
The major perk of buying synthetic leather is it needs less care and it is waterproof and can handle the moisture and humidity without letting it allow to damp you and it does not fade or crack in the sunlight.
Overall, in terms of warmth synthetic leather is still not as good as natural but it definitely has room to grow because of ongoing development in technology.
Do leather linings really play an role?
In my opinion, it is the lining on the inner side of the leather jacket that determines whether you’ll remain warm in winter or glacial.
This is why previously I said that ‘leather‘ in itself is not good at keeping us warm (it’s lining that is vital)
If you’re in particular selecting a leather jacket for winter then you should always look for inner linings because there are jackets that do not have any linings at all.
The commercially available linings in leather jackets are cotton, wool, quilted insulation (synthetic or down), shearling lining (thin and thick), faux fur, fleece, etc.
Among all the linings the amount of warmth varies like wool is warmer than cotton and is much better in winter because wool is water-resistant and does not lose its insulating abilities when getting wet so practically leather jackets with wool lining are best for the winter month.
If you want a good distribution of heat across the jacket then you should go for the leather jackets with quilted designs that are either filled with synthetic insulation or down insulation.
Though I recommend the synthetic because it is an ethical and major plus is, it does not lose the insulation like down in moisture or when wet.
The quilted design is constructed in such a way that the down or synthetic fibers are filled puffier in the stitches which gives them a unique ability to trap air in all stitched diamond structures to enhance the overall insulation of the leather jacket to the next level.
When not to wear leather jacket?
You should not wear a real leather jacket in an atmosphere where there is humidity and moisture.
On the other hand, a synthetic leather jacket can be wear in some humidity and moisture because they are water-resistant.
However, a real leather jacket can be worn in the rainy cold winters after applying the waterproofing which can be purchased from any shoe or leather shop.
But, with faux leather, you’re fine with just an umbrella if it is heavy rain.
Now, you may ask why can’t use an umbrella with a real jacket :)? The answer is they can absorb the surrounding moisture and water very quickly.
Which will make you feel damn cold, so better don’t do that mistake (at least on cold days and nights).
Best way to layer the leather jackets for incredible warmth?
Now, this is my favorite section because while allowing you to style your leather attire it also leaves the room to transform it into ultimate warmth.
But foremost, you should buy a roomier and bigger leather jacket so that all the needed layers can be accommodated comfortably.
Now, here we follow the 3-layer-rule. It goes as:
- Base layer: A thin layer that gives a next-to-skin comfort it either can be a shirt or t-shirt but the best will be layer made of merino wool because it does not irritate the skin.
- Mid-layer: Here will comes the main insulating layer. It can either be of synthetic insulated jackets like Thermoball, Thinsulate, PrimaLoft Gold or CoreLoft (each have it’s own uses). The brands that make best insulated jackets are Patagonia, North Face, Arc’teryx etc.
- Outer layer: In this case it will be an big sleeves, oversized leather jacket. Now either you can go with natural leather or synthetic (with or without lining) and that won’t be a problem. Because now, leather jacket is just for style and fashion and have no such important role.
What if I don’t layer the leather jacket?
Hmm, so you asked it belatedly. What if you don’t layer a leather jacket?
Let me see!
If it is a very mild cold day then just a leather jacket (lining one) with a shirt or something like that would be fine.
But, if you don’t wear layers with a leather jacket in cold temperatures then melancholy you’ll die freezing.
Yup, the layer is mandatory even if the jacket has the wool or quilted lining.
However, there is a special case, you need not any insulating mid-layers when you have a body that constantly generates heat and doesn’t turn cold because the leather will absorb that heat to keep the inside warm.
But Michael, I don’t like layers? Then, you should leave your fashion and craze toward leather jackets because there are lots of nonleather jackets that will do the task of keeping you in the warm darn freezing temperature.
Is leather jacket good for snow?
Before writing this article, I’ve seen so many people stating that you can wear leather jackets in snow. And obviously, no one is blocking your way (you’re free).
But IMO, you should not wear a real leather jacket in the snow because investing in such a jacket only to wear in winter can be the worst mistake you do because at the same price you can get the jackets that do not have the vulnerabilities which a leather one has.
Although you can wear a faux leather jacket in snow only because it does not get damaged by the impact of snow and water. This does not mean they are optimal for it.
Yes, I agree with other people that if real leather has been taken care of properly and pretreated with waterproofing can make it withstand snow for some time.
But that would not last long unless you polish it again.
Overall, you need to take care a lot if heading to snow and after all this care the jacket will be damaged if it counters the snowstorm.
Are leather jackets warm?
Leather by itself is not capable enough to keep you warm in winter but you may argue with its wind resisting capabilities which will cut down most of the coolness to touch as it will block the wind chill to penetrate the fabric.
But, if you go for a jacket with lining then you can experience a good amount of warmth on a dry cold day or night because now it has the insulating power of lining fabrics such as wool, cotton, polyester, etc or quilted insulation.
But no matter how expensive a leather jacket is, it will disappoint you in below-freezing temperatures if you don’t accompany it with thick insulating layers.
Also, they perform worst in moisture and rain so don’t buy them if that’s where you live because it gets really cool.
I hope, I helped a bit to give you a clearer picture of whether to invest in a leather jacket in terms of warmth you’re getting for the value.
Michael is heavily inclined towards traveling to natural places and documenting cultures/people from different parts of the world. He also loves hiking and camping and is spirited toward all outdoor activities. He will share his passion for outdoor life and brands or products we use outside our homes. He has good research skills, and that’s why you can see why his articles are packed with info that is factual and not readily available. He also has the vision to travel the whole world and share it with all readers of Outdoor Favor.