REVIEW: The All-Weather Switchback Jacket

Save space with 3 jackets in 1

By Pamela Collins

Will it be hot? Will it be cold? Chance of showers? Dont worry, the Harley-Davidson Switchback Jacket literally has you covered, while saving valuable saddlebag space.

The 3/4 below waist-length style of the Switchback Jacket has a fitted, slimming shape to it.

The Switchback Jacket brings out the quick-change artist in a rider, letting a rider respond to unpredictable weather within minutes. This Clark Kent/Superman-like feat doesnt even require a telephone booth just the tug of a few zippers (across the back, down the arms and the jacket front) morphs this jacket from a three-quarter length cool weather riding jacket to a hot weather mesh-type riding garment.

The jacket utilizes water-resistant woven polyester/nylon for its black/silver/red exterior shell and when worn as a single unit (zipped to the mesh jacket) makes a good warm weather-riding jacket. Cool mornings might require a lightweight fleece liner for extra warmth and the jacket offers enough room so you can wear one without feeling constricted.

Need a little breeze to cool you off later in the day? The jacket features two vertical zippers on either side of the front and back that, when opened, allow air to flow through the jacket. Has the afternoon turned sultry? Zip off the entire outer shell for more “air conditioning” wearing only the silver and black-colored mesh jacket part of the system.

Unzipping the outer shell takes just seconds.
Here#39;s what the Switchback Jacket looks like with the outer shell zipped off. It becomes a lightweight mesh jacket.

Uh-oh! Storm clouds in the distance. Just unpack the waterproof PVC liner (conveniently stowed in a pouch attached to the rear of the jackets interior) put it on underneath the jacket as your first layer of rain defense and voila youre now a dry rider.

The rain liner is meant to be worn underneath the Switchback jacket, not over it. Although, it could be worn alone if it#39;s warm enough.

Despite the fact that, technically, the rider is wearing two jackets, the system is quite comfortable.The collar has a soft smooth lining with a pliable, stretchy material around its edge that comfortably keeps the wind off the riders neck. Hook and loop closures around the wrist snug the sleeves from flopping in the wind while similar-styled closures cinch both the outer and inner jackets waistline allowing for a customizable fit. Snap-down sleeve tabs also help snug the jacket around the arms. A drawcord around the outer jackets hem can also help keep out chilly air.

Reflective graphics on both jackets increase a riders visibility to other traffic at night. Removable, lightweight body armor defends the elbow and shoulder areas from any unexpected meetings with the pavement. An internal back armor pocket fits FXRG back armor, sold separately. The Switchback has two zippered handwarmer pockets on both the inner and outer jacket as well as two chest pockets to keep small items close at hand.

The back of the jacket has reflective stripes in it that help you be seen at night.

I really appreciate the versatility of the Switchback jacket and found it easy to use once I familiarized myself with all the zippers. Zipping off the outer shell literally takes just seconds. Stow the shell and youre ready to ride. Reattaching the shell takes maybe a minute and becomes quicker with practice.

My biggest gripe comes from the waterproof liner. If it rains you do have to stop riding, take off the jacket, don the liner and put the jacket back on top of it similar to using a regular rain suit. Not a big deal but not nearly as convenient as wearing a waterproof jacket in the first place. I tried riding with the liner folded into its pouch and attached to the inside of the jackets back. Though it didnt hamper my movement it did make the jacket feel bulky, so I opted to toss the pouch in my saddlebags. However, if you dont have a separate way to carry the liner, attaching it inside the jacket, just in case, is the better alternative to a potentially wet ride.

The inside of the jacket with the rain liner pouch attached to the back with a hook and loop (Velcro) system. The speckles you see are the reflective properties of the jacket sparkling from the camera#39;s flash.

For a do-it-all jacket for the spring, summer and fall, the Harley-Davidson Switchback Jacket might be all a rider needs. The jacket comes in several color combinations in womens sizes extra small to 3W, and retails for $295 to $305 depending upon size and color. Men shouldnt feel left out, as H-D offers a version for them as well.

Pam on her Kawasaki ZZR 600 wearing the Switchback jacket.

Pamela Collins is a regular contributor to WRN, as well as a freelance motorcycle journalist for Keystone Motorcycle Press and Roadbike magazine. She began riding 10 years ago and has a Honda 919 and Kawasaki ZZR 600 in her stable. Pam likes nothing better than taking off for a couple days on her bike to explore and learn about new places or to revisit old, favorite ones. She divides her time between Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York, and especially enjoys the riding the scenic country roads around her Pennsylvania home and in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

10 thoughts on REVIEW: The All-Weather Switchback Jacket

  1. I've had the Switchback jacket for several years now, and have just about worn the darn thing out. I love it and it's the first thing I grab (besides my helmet) when I hit the bike. Highly, highly recommended!

  2. If you don't want Harley on it, try looking up the Tour Master Flex 2 jacket. I think it might be the same jacket (rebranded for Harley) although I haven't seen any indication of that rain liner in it. Just another option.

  3. I just purchased the Switchback on a ride through Oregon from Emily at Bend, H-D. I am excited to utilize its potential. I am regretful, however, that now I note it is made in China. I likely would not have purchased it had I noted it in the H-D store. It's important to me — I wish H-D would keep industry local for the good of our economy and for the noble stand in not supporting controversial “made-in-China.” H-D is supposed to be “Made in America.”

    Anyway — thanks Emily. I wore it all the way home — mesh mode — and I can't help but love the “Harley-Davidson” all over it.

  4. I believe H-D should have their clothing MADE IN THE U.S.A. instead of China. I bought my Sportster and was so dissappointed to see that almost all clothing is made in China. I don't know if this 3-in-1 jacket is, but for what you pay for the H-D brand, I'll find something else that is made in the USA.

  5. When it comes to rain gear, you get what you pay for. I have riden in rain many times, and the cheap rain gear will let you down when you really need it most. Get a good set of rain gear that you can depend on whether it's Harley or what. Make it a good set for riding, not Wal-Mart. There is a difference.

  6. I like the jacket. I just have a question. Should you wear a jacket with a name brand logo when you don't ride that kind of bike? I've only been riding a year and have always been curious about this.

    1. Good question. There are no inherent biker rules on this. You can do what you want. That's what motorcycling is all about. Honestly, nobody cares if you're wearing a Harley jacket while riding a Honda. I say buy the best jacket for you.

  7. Nice jacket except for Harley-Davidson all over it.

  8. I have one of these jackets and it is the best thing since Harley-Davidson took back the company from AMF. Riding in Florida is so unpredicable in regards to the weather. It's a girl's best friend…almost.

  9. Figures. You find a great jacket and just because it has the H-D name on it, it costs way too much. That company's prices on clothes is totally ridiculous. I bought rain gear at Wal-Mart and it is equiped with tons of pockets, and a hood that keeps the rain out from running down the backside.

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