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Pigskin vs cowhide leather jackets

Cowhide vs pigskin leather motorcycle jacketsCowhide vs pigskin leather motorcycle jackets

Hi everyone, hope you all had a good fourth of July weekend. Mine was peaceful,,, another words, boring, haha. Well, I have been noticing on some key words that people type in that a lot of you really want to know just how pigskin leather jackets compare to cowhide leather jackets.

Is pigskin as strong as cowhide? Is pigskin or cowhide tougher? Is cowhide or pigskin thicker or softer? Do pigskin hides have different markings on them than cowhide? Which one is cheaper in price, and which one is just plain cheap? Well let me try to explain all that so you know once and for all!

First, the three most common types of leather animal hides for leather jackets are cowhide, buffalo hide, and pigskin. These three are the most common for tuff motorcycle leather jackets. Leather jackets are also made from goats, sheep and lambs, but they should only be used in fashion or dress leather jackets.

Now many people get and have a leather jacket made from pigskin and don’t even know it. Let me say this, a quality made pigskin leather jacket is just as good as a cowhide leather jacket. The big question, and reason why so many people can have so many different opinions about this, is the QUALITY of the jacket.

A poor quality cowhide leather jacket is worst than a quality made pigskin leather jacket, as is the opposite. See the two pictures above? The one on the left is from cowhide, the other is pigskin. They both look almost the same. The pigskin jacket has more of a shine on it, but that’s just because of the process it was made. If it was made just like the cowhide one it would not have that shine.

Now the number one question, is pigskin as strong and tough as cowhide leather jackets? Lets say we cut both from the sides of the animal, and we use the top grain on both. They are almost the exact same as far as strength and toughness, really. Some will say a cowhide is tougher, others will say pigskin.

Well, if we have that many saying each one is stronger, than that should tell you that they both are about the same, right! So I am at ease to say that both are about the same for strength and toughness. Now, a top grain pigskin does have a very slight different leather grain, or pattern to it.

A pigskin top grain has a more smoother and pebbly grain to it. A cowhide has more deeper, ragged marks, and may have more natural bruise marks from barbwire fences and so on. So what about a split grain leather from both?

Well again they are both about the same as far as strength and toughness. As for the grain, a machine stamps an artificial leather pattern in it, as split leather is smooth. So, you really can’t tell one from the other after it’s been processed. Both are good, but not as good as top grain.

So what about softness and stiffness of cowhide vs pigskin leather jackets? That all depends on how the hide is dyed, tanned and treated. Each one will be as stiff as a 2×4 if not done right. So if a hide from both are treated the same, they should be about the same as far as softness as flexibility.

Some have asked which one is thicker? But that really is not a good question. All cowhides and pigskins are split, so they will be the same. A cheap made jacket will have thinner thickness, no matter what it’s made from. I say that for leather motorcycle jackets, fashion jackets and other items you actually want a thinner leather.

Some people claim they can smell a pigskin leather jacket, making them think of bacon! Well if it’s a poorly treated one than yes, you could very well have a smell to it. But the same is true for cowhide, a poorly treated one smells like beef stew! So again it all goes back to how the hide has been treated.

Last question, which one cost more? Oh man, here we go again. Cowhides and pigskins are both plentiful. So, the cost should be just about the same. Sure, you can buy a $400 buck pigskin leather jacket, and a $50 buck cowhide leather jacket. It all depends on who you buy it from! On average, a pigskin jacket should cost about the same as a cowhide leather jacket.

So to wrap it up, pigskin hides and cowhides are about the same for strength, toughness, softness and flexibility if they are treated the same. They both look almost the same, and both should have no odor except for that classic leather smell. They also should cost about the same if the jacket is the same.

As for care and treatment, including cleaning and waterproofing, use the same steps for each. Leather is leather, you treat it the same no matter what animal it came from. A good quality pigskin leather jacket should be cherished the same as a quality cowhide leather jacket. If you have any questions, feel free to comment.

7 thoughts on “Pigskin vs cowhide leather jackets

  1. Very nice guide. I always preferred Cow hide over pig skin, but now I know. Not much difference as long as you pay top dollar. =D

  2. Good info . How does roo hide rate against these .Roo being a much tougher leather .

  3. Kangaroo hide huh? Well I have to admit I don’t know much about that! You can’t find it very easy, so most don’t have a choice about it. I’ll look into it and make a post about it sometime, thanks for asking.

  4. Thank you–this was very helpful!

  5. Thanks Great Info

  6. I have a problem of treating a “label marked” pigskin jacket. The jacket is stiff and quite hard with a slight shine to it and I feel that I am wearing a softer type of life jacket. I have been looking for answers all over as to how I can soften this jacket. Please, will you give me guidance with this? Thanks

    1. Hi Ben,

      Sorry to hear your jacket is stiff. It may have been treated with something that is making it stiff. Or, if you have used leather conditioner something on it is stopping it from seeping deep down into the leather. If that is the case your leather inside may be bone dry. It also could be the way they tanned it is making it stiff. Lots of possibilities.

      It’s not a patchwork leather is it? The type that has many pieces of leather sewn together? If so those are always stiff. Only suggestion I can give you is to clean it real good and then try to work a good leather conditioner into it. I love Aussie leather conditioner from Tandy Leather myself. Sorry I can’t help more.


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