Summer Jackets and Gilets Buyer's Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Jackets and Gilets

Are you wondering what to wear for horse riding to keep you warm and dry – but without overheating - in the unpredictable UK spring and summer weather?

Outerwear that is light weight, waterproof and easily layered is a wise investment for every horse rider. You will be dressed practically and fashionably on and off your horse.

Summer riding jackets and riding gilets, designed to be worn individually over a light base layer, with a mid layer, or layered together, are the best solution for keeping you comfortable in wind, rain or even cooler temperatures.

The new technical fabrics available on the market today means there is a wide variety of jacket and gilet styles available for all genders and all ages of riders. So, how do you decide what equestrian outerwear is best for you?

Our guide outlines some of the key features to keep in mind and details all you need to know to keep yourself comfortable and well dressed this spring and summer.

Do You Need A Summer Riding Jacket or Gilet?

Whether you are riding for pleasure or competition, taking once a week lessons or a horse owner who feels like the yard is your home from home, looking after and riding horses requires you to be outdoors in all sorts of weather.

It’s important for your comfort and safety to have the right riding clothes in your equestrian wardrobe for every type of weather. You might be tempted to wear a regular jacket or gilet that was not designed for horse riding.

However, equestrian riding garments are generally much more hard wearing than street wear. They are constructed specially to offer the comfort and range of movement needed when horse riding and when working around the yard.

Many riding jackets and gilets have a tailored fit making them fashionable, functional and perfect for everyday use as well as other outdoor activities.

Summer Riding Jackets

Horse riding jackets are a key element of riding apparel for riders of all levels and disciplines and can easily go from yard to riding to town.

So, whether you’re working around the yard, schooling, hacking, walking the course at a horse show, a lightweight riding jacket is a great addition to your riding wardrobe.

Ideal for summer as well as the milder days of spring and autumn, lightweight riding jackets are wind resistant, water repellent, waterproof, and breathable.

This casual style of riding jackets is made from soft shell or fleece materials that can be comfortably worn over a thin base layer or paired up with a gilet for additional warmth.

They are available in variety of colours, patterns and styles giving you classic equestrian style with an attractive, modern look and features.

For a sleek and sporty style, consider the Ariat Epic jacket. This wind and water resistant jacket is perfect for keeping you warm and dry in damp, windy weather.

As you ride and train your horse, your summer riding jacket should allow you to work hard without overheating and also ensure you stay warm, dry and comfortable. If you are surprised by a sudden rain shower when riding out on a hack, schooling or warming up at a horse show, it is a good thing to have a light, waterproof summer jacket with you to quickly slip into.

Casual riding jackets come in longer styles to cover the hips or seat as well as shorter styles that sit above the saddle. In longer styles, the front is often shorter than the back to prevent the jacket from catching on your saddle.

Lightweight, summer riding jackets are designed to allow freedom of movement during all equestrian activities. Special features can include a hood, reflective details, multiple pockets, back vents, front zippers that move up from the bottom let the jacket fall neatly without bunching when riding allowing you to ride in style.

Waterproof riding jackets

There are two levels of water resistance in summer outerwear.

  • Showerproof or water-resistant refers to fabric that have been treated with a water-repellent finish to allow water to roll off the surface.

A showerproof jacket, like the Dublin Sachi jacket, offers protection from light rain showers but may not keep you dry in heavy or prolonged downpours.

  • Waterproof generally refers to material that has a membrane system on the inside of the fabric and the seams are taped. The inner membrane provides protection even in heavy or prolonged downpours.

A waterproof jacket, like the Musto Arena BR2, has a good balance between waterproof and breathability which prevents overheating.

Check the wording on the label of the riding jacket to determine whether the jacket is showerproof or waterproof.

Whatever the level of water resistance, fabric that breathes is highly recommended. Breathable materials keep rain out while allowing internal moisture to escape. That’s what prevents overheating.

Taped seams prevent water penetrating through vulnerable areas particularly around the shoulders and storm flaps ensure water does not enter through the zip. Adjustable cuffs help adjust the fit of the jacket, keeping out moisture and trapping in warmth.

Features like tailored or adjustable waists, thumb hooks on sleeves, and flap or zippered pockets make waterproof riding jackets both functional and stylish.

Summer Riding Gilets

Sometimes also called riding waistcoats or body warmers, gilets are sleeveless outerwear that will keep you comfortably warm when it’s not quite cold enough for a full jacket.

They are an essential piece of clothing for layering during unpredictable weather conditions or on chilly mornings.

Wear your gilet over just a riding polo shirt, base layer, mid layer, or even underneath a riding jacket or coat.

Pair a gilet, like the Ariat Team Softshell, with a polo or turtleneck top for a classic look.  With a riding gilet as an extra layer, you are always well-turned out and in style.

A gilet is great addition to your riding outerwear when you are hacking out on fresh spring or autumn days or working around the yard.  Because it is easy to take off quickly if it gets too warm, you can adapt to sudden changes of temperature without breaking into a sweat even when you are riding.

For the warmer seasons, a riding gilet made from thin, breathable material is ideal. Popular materials include fleece or nylon.  Quilted gilets like the Musto Action Gilet are an elegant option.

Gilets include practical features such as seam sealed zippered hand pockets, collars, and larger arm holes to allow freedom of movement. For women, they offer a flattering tailored fit.

Colour coordinate your riding gilet with your riding legwear and top to have a trendy outfit for the stables.

What lining is best?

For warmer seasons of summer, late spring and early autumn, a simple mesh lining will be sufficient. It keeps the shell away from your skin and enhances the breathability of your riding outerwear. For cooler days, an insulating inner layer may be needed to keep you warm.

Lining options include fleece or micro-fleece (softer and thinner than regular fleece), cotton or Prima Loft.  A riding jacket with removable inner layers that can changed with the seasons gives you the most flexibility.

Two features determine how warm a jacket or gilet will be:

  • The level of insulation
  • Wind resistance

Although, it is not always the heaviest jacket that is the warmest. With modern, lightweight materials some of the warmest and most effective fabrics are the lightest.

Your need for warmth will largely be determined by your level of physical activity and the weather conditions you will be outside in. Without a doubt, being dry and protected from wind are the keys to comfort.

Special design features

  • Zips are generally hard wearing and easy to use. Ideally, they should be sealed, covered or water -resistant. Two way zips are a handy feature when you are riding as they allow you to open your jacket from the bottom. Check that the zip won’t scratch your saddle’s pommel.
  • Hook and loop fastenings are a fuss-free option. But, be forewarned that they can lose their stickiness unless kept clean of hay and horse hair.
  • Design extras that enhance comfort include high collar to block draughts, wrist and waist adjusters for snug fit, and a drip strip at the hem to direct water away from the lining.
  • Imagine the worst weather scenario when choosing your riding jacket. For example, knitted cuffs may look and feel nice, but they will soak up water like a sponge in a downpour.
  • A hood can be a lovely feature when working or riding in the rain or wind. Hoods may be permanently attached, detachable or roll away into the collar. If your jacket or gilet has a hood, ensure that it fits over your riding hat.
  • Pockets can be deep and spacious or fleece lined to warm hands. But check that outer pockets are protected from rain with either zips or flaps while allowing easy access. Securely fastened pockets are handy for keeping phones and keys safely contained where you need them.
  • Reflective strips are a good safety feature for increased visibility when hacking out or walking on darker days or at night.

Finally, consider the noise factor of the riding jacket. Materials that crackle or rustle might unsettle a nervous horse.

Fitting: How to measure yourself

When you try to on a jacket or gilet, make sure it has enough room to allow for the layers you may wear beneath it. Check carefully that it does not restrict your movement in anyway, particularly around your shoulders, arms, back and chest.

Measurement guide for women:

Waist: Measure around the narrowest part of your waist. Keep the tape measure horizontal.

Chest: Stand straight and look ahead so you keep your normal posture. Keep the tape measure flat and horizontal. Measure around the fullest part of your bust.

Hips: Measure around the widest part of your hips at the top of your legs.

Measurement guide for men:

Chest: Stand straight and look ahead so you keep your normal posture. Keep the tape measure flat and horizontal. Measure around the fullest part of your chest.

Waist: Measure around the narrowest part of your waist. Keep the tape measure horizontal.

How to care for your summer riding jacket and gilet

Your riding jacket and riding gilet are manufactured with a variety of materials and fabrics to the create the best freedom of movement, breathability, wind proofing, waterproofing and warmth. Each type of outerwear will therefore have its own care requirements. Be sure that you read the labels inside your clothes carefully as this will provide specific information for their care.

Here are some general pointers:


  • Before cleaning, remove any detachable accessories and close all fasteners
  • Wash with similar colours
  • Avoid biological detergents, fabric softeners and bleaching agents (or detergents that contain them) as they may damage the breathability, waterproofness and colour fastness of fabrics

Drying and ironing:

  • Check the care label inside your garments for specific information


  • Wear and tear, salt, dirt or repeated washing can wear off waterproofing treatments
  • Re-proof or wax your garment according to the manufacturer’s care label
  • Follow the instructions on the recommended re-proofing product


  • Hang your garment to dry naturally
  • Ensure all moisture has left the garment especially when storing it at the end of the season





















Still Not Sure? Just Ask – We’re Here To Help

If you require any more help on choosing the right equestrian attire for your needs, one of our expertly trained members of staff will be more than happy to assist. For online enquiries, please contact our customer service team on 01702 597833


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