The trucker jacket has been an American fashion staple for well over 100 years. What started as a workwear necessity has evolved slowly into a fashion staple that’s defined the look of cowboys, punks, surfers, and all-American attire over the decades. Its long-standing popularity stems from its durable construction, comfortable nature, and ease of styling with pretty much any color palate.
From well-worn soft and distressed cotton to shiny new dark and rigid raw denim, and everything in between, there’s a trucker jacket on the market that suits everyone’s tastes. Regardless of how you define your style, take a look at our list of the 18 best trucker jackets for men to find a retro look that works for you.
A Quick History Lesson
Like the waxed canvas jackets pioneered by sailors aboard clippers and merchant vessels in the early 1800s, “trucker” denim jackets can be traced back to a populace of rugged men in need of tough clothing for the rigors of their occupations.
Technically originating in 1905, a time when, as you can guess, “trucking” wasn’t a thing, the trucker jackets’ moniker is not necessarily a historically accurate title. Still, the denim jackets that spawned the trucker jackets of today were first created by Levi’s for working men (the company’s slogan was “For Men Who Toil”). Though often crafted from other fabrics, the modern trucker jacket is traditionally made of denim. It comes with two breast pockets and stitching that forms a V, stretching from the breast pockets to the jacket’s seam between two waist pockets for your hands. Vertical seams are the hallmark of a trucker jacket, but three key iterations define the evolution of the trucker jacket.
The Type I Levi’s Jacket: Also known by its lot number 506xx, the Type I is extremely rare. If you ever happen upon one hiding on the rack at some backwater vintage store, you would be wise to snap it up in a hurry. The Type I first appeared in the early 1900s, used by working men. It came with no front pocket flap, and a trademark one-piece “cincher” on the back seam, to allow wearer to tighten it to their liking.
The Levi’s Type II Jacket: The second iteration marked a significant aesthetic change, as the fit was shorter and boxier, ending at around the navel. Another key feature on the Type II, also known as lot number 507xx, was dual button adjusters along the back seam to tighten the jacket to the wearer’s whims. This feature replaced the martingale single adjustment bar present on the Type I. Type II’s introduction indicated a shift in mission statement from Levi’s from strictly workwear to a broader appeal to men’s fashion. Then came the Type III trucker jacket, released by Levi’s in 1967.
The Type III Jacket: This is the most common version used as a basis for modern trucker jackets. Lot number 70505 was the first jacket to be referred to as a “Trucker” jacket (a term invented by Japanese denim collectors in the 1980s, oddly enough). Seamless welt pockets reduce the stitching on the jacket, and heavy bar tacks keep all the pockets secure and tight. The tapered look of the Type III is flattering and lends a healthy embellishment to one’s shoulder-to-waist ratio. These three jackets remain the most common approximate styles that we refer to as “trucker jackets,” and have been emulated by innumerable men’s work clothes and fashion companies.
Levi’s Trucker Jacket
An inexpensive example of the classic Type III trucker jacket created by Levi’s in 1967, this dark wash denim jacket is an iconic and cheap addition to your wardrobe, should you choose to purchase it. With button-flap patch pockets on the chest and seamless welt hand pockets, along with side hem adjusters, the jacket design is faithful to the original lot number 70505 jacket.
Carhartt Men’s Berwick Jacket
Unlike Levi’s, Carhartt has remained loyal to its workwear roots since it was founded in 1889. Designed to be durable, the Carhartt Berwick jacket eschews denim in favor of cotton sandstone duck fabric, which you’ll be hard-pressed to puncture. The nylon taffeta lining creates a comfortable fit and keeps you warm for cold weather jobs. The lack of vertical stitching differentiates the Berwick from traditional trucker jackets in styling, but so far as ruggedness goes, triple-stitching and metal rivets located at stress points combine to make the Carhartt Berwick among the toughest of the bunch.
J. Crew Corduroy Trucker Jacket
The stretch corduroy trucker jacket from J. Crew is another piece made from an alternative fabric source: 15-wale stretch corduroy. The term “wale,” which refers to the hilly ridges in corduroy fabric, originates from the Anglo Saxon term for those rows of raised land in a ploughed field. Though corduroy has become a fashionable fabric, corduroy is a tough, durable fabric in its own right that makes it perfect for workwear.
Levi’s Sherpa Denim Jacket
With fall fast approaching, it’s not a bad time to start picking up some insulated, cold-weather wear for the changing season. The classic trucker jacket look is altered slightly by a lower fit which descends past the waist. In the world of garment making, Sherpa lining refers to a fuzzy polyester layer of insulation inside the jacket designed to mimic sheepskin. The Levi’s Sherpa Denim Jacket offers bold style for a bold man. For those in cold-weather climatess, this just might be the jacket for you.
Chrome Industries Blake Cycling Trucker Jacket
The lake jacket from Chrome Industries is a happy hybrid between two awesome styles, the cycling jacket and the trucker jacket. This means a stark difference between the Blake and the more rugged and rigidly constructed trucker jackets to which we’re accustomed. Made with cotton/poly twill that has 2% spandex, the Blake is made to stretch, making it ideal for morning commutes. Two front zip vents and mesh pockets make this the lightest and most cushy garment on the list.
Wrangler Denim Jacket
While the trucker jacket is an iconic American item, it’s true that the Japanese are the ones who coined the cognomen. The history of Japanese denim is in itself rich and fascinating, so it’s only appropriate that we feature a Japanese take on the American classic. This Wrangler denim jacket from the rough cowboy series is produced by the Lee-Japan brand. The Japanese interpretation of American vintage style leads to a beautiful jacket with a muted retro look. Be wary — Japanese sizing means this jacket runs slightly smaller than what you may be used to.
Outerknown x Levi’s Wellthread Jacket
Outerknown is well known for its terrific tactical and outdoor gear. Their collaboration with Levi’s has wrought a jacket of exceptional quality, which they have titled the Wellthread Jacket. The Wellthread is a definitively modern take on the American classic trucker jacket, as it’s made from a proprietary ReFibra Tencel material, a tough fabric forged of reclaimed cellulose from post-industrial cotton waste. The dying process used to color the jacket is equally forward-thinking. It’s called the Waterless method, and requires 50% of the water typically used in the conventional dying process. Ethically sourced and compassionately produced, this jacket is an impressive set of threads.
Taylor Stitch Long Haul Jacket
Cone Mills White Oak in Greensboro, North Carolina was the original producer for the Selvedge denim used by Levi’s until its cessation of operations in 2004. Taylor Stitch dug into their vintage fabric collection to produce the Long Haul trucker jacket, constructed out of authentic 13.5oz. Cone Mills ’68 Custom Selvage Denim. This jacket gets a strong stamp of authenticity.
Iron & Resin Rambler Jacket
Pardon the Alanis Morisette lyric, but Iron & Resin is another maker of men’s clothes that you oughta know — and their Rambler Jacket is a garment you oughta own. This handsome two-tone jacket is made from 100% Oak Brown and Black Martexin cotton waxed canvas, and true Cone Mills Denim featuring a corduroy collar. With tack buttons and a zippered front, the Rambler will keep you warm as you venture into the vicissitudes of the unknown.
Freenote CD2 Broken Twill
Crafted from custom 13 oz broken twill selvedge loomed in Yoshiwa Mills, Japan, the Freenote Outerwear CD2 Broken Twill jacket is one of the unique trucker jackets features on this list. Zig-zag stitching is a popular departure from typical verticle stitching featured on denim jackets that’s especially popular with Japanese versions. A metal reproduction cinch and custom metal snaps keep the fit tight. Details like the Japanese universal zipper and selected leather interior patch set this jacket apart in terms of quality.
Todd Snyder Made In Los Angeles Jacket
Though “Trucker jacket” might sound rather blue collar, the truth is that the Jacket rose to prominence through its exposure in Hollywood films like Jailhouse Rock, in which Elvis wore a Levi’s Type II jacket. The snug look was the perfect form-fitting garment for the slim superstars of yesteryear. Todd Snyder invokes that Hollywood heritage with his Made in Los Angeles Jacket, a dark wash jacket made from a raised selvedge denim for a pre-worn feel.
John Varvatos Coated Jacket
John Varvatos goes for a muted tone with their coated trucker jacket. Made from premium linen, the jacket might offer a more comfortable wear than the rougher, albeit tougher denim more frequently used in trucker jackets. A boxier look, a la the Type III, slims with a dynamic silhouette that is classically cool.
Filson Tin Cloth Cruiser Jacket
Originally milled in Scotland and slathered in a coat of Filson proprietary oil-finish wax, Filson’s tin cloth jackets were called that because of their capacity to protect loggers in the Pacific Northwest from sparks and saw blades. A dry finish Cover Cloth lining enhances the insulation offered by the Tin Cloth Cruiser jacket, along with the already impressive toughness. This handsome dark tan color and handsome look ensures that guys other than those shouting “timber!” in the Washington wilderness will have use for this rugged jacket.
Levi’s Vintage 1967 Type III Trucker Jacket
Here it is, the holy grail. Not the most expensive jacket on this list, the Levi’s Vintage 1967 Type III Trucker Jacket is unsurpassed in its historical heritage and classic cachet. A virtually identical replication of the vintage 1967 prototype that revolutionized denim-wear — not just in America but in Asia and eventually across the globe — the Levi’s 1967 model is as classic as a bottle of coke and as American as apple pie. You’ll see the same features — chest pockets with button flap closure, dual button waist-adjusters, trademark golden-orange vertical seaming — you can see in historical photos of the Type III worn on the sets of Paul Newman westerns.
Orvis Suede Trucker Jacket
Orvis takes the American classic and makes it their own with this beautiful, tawny trucker jacket made from suede leather. The supple and soft goatskin in which this jacket is swathed is a much softer material than the traditional denim. While this jacket isn’t built for working in harsh environments and precipitous climes like a Carhartt jacket, it’s a sweet fashion item to have in your wardrobe.
Best Made Rough-Out Jacket
Roughnecks rejoice. The Rough-out trucker jacket from Best Made is true to its name, and Best Made based its construction on the trucker jackets worn by authentic American cowboys in the 1970s. Cowboys and Levi’s have always been an iconic duo, and Best Made does no injustice to that heritage with their addition to the collection. By using “roughout” leather — made by using the rougher part of the animal’s hide for the exterior of the jacket and the softer part for the interior — Best Made produces a jacket that’s rugged and comfy, the perfect combo for any wrangler.
Golden Bear The Holden Jacket
Based in construction on the classic Type III denim jacket, The Holden trucker jacket made by Golden bear takes a different approach in its fabric. It’s crafted from a tan calf suede on the body of the jacket and features a beautifully contrasting brown leather collar. Golden Bear has a rich history of creating highly sought after jackets, many of which were worn by the members of legendary bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and The Doobie Bros. This classic jacket offers a rocking retro vibe and a classic vintage appeal.
Visvim Denim Jacket
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Visvim is at the tippy top of the Japanese hierarchy of denim brands. The Visvim Denim jacket is not one you’ll want to hit a skid on your bike wearing. At $1,200, the trucker jacket is meant for the elite 18-wheeler drivers. The quality invested in its production lives up to its price point; it’s crafted from a rare, 12oz. indigo selvedge denim hand-spun in Japan and features chain stitching along with original buttons and rivets. Wide side pockets with zippers ensure that your items remain secure.
Best Leather Jackets For Under $500
Hunting for another cold-weather classic? Don’t want to break the bank? We’ve got you covered. Check out this list of the finest leather jackets under $500, and enhance your closet.
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