Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it’s dissatisfaction that drives design. Frustrated with the lack of sophistication on display at their local bike shop, Los Angeles-based Vaktare MG set about creating their own line of motorcycle jackets. Unlike the major players in the category, Vaktare wasn’t looking to simply add another interpretation of the ubiquitous Perfecto or Roadmaster jacket silhouettes to the landscape. Instead the Draugr demonstrates that moto style and rider protection can coexist in a sartorially stealthy package.
Fashioned from melton wool and made in Los Angeles, the Draugr is a tailored peacoat that easily meets high standards. Thinner than the traditional sailor’s jacket from which it draws inspiration, the Draugr wears light and slips on easy thanks to its silky, cobalt Bemberg lining. On the outside, a slate gray finish blends in seamlessly with casual or dressy attire. Only its contrast-stitched accents attract special attention: aside from two small metallic placards the Draugr is absent of branding. In truth, only those in the know would be able to discern that the Draugr is a motorcycle jacket, and even then it wouldn’t be a guarantee.
That’s why it surprised me to learn that Vaktare designed the VKTRE Collection as “motorcycle jackets with style” and not the other way around. Most similarly termed products, no matter how well executed, wear their riding intentions on their sleeve, so to speak, with technical fabrics or full-grain leather construction overtly betraying abrasion-resistant qualities. The Draugr (along with Vaktare’s other jackets) instead employs a thin layer of 1,000-denier Cordura nylon, sandwiched between the wool and bemberg, to deliver its protective qualities — qualities further supplemented by pockets at the shoulder and elbows that accept armor. (While Vaktare recommends using Forcefield Net armor, I found its flat and floppy nature disrupted the lines of the coat. I swapped mine out for fitted pieces from D3O and was immediately happier.)
On the road and at speed you’ll want to fasten the traditionally large peacoat lapels using the Kevlar buttons in order to avoid a wool lashing. Aside from the occasional unfettered lapel, the Draugr’s design functions well in the saddle. There’s plenty of length in the arms; even with armor installed the jacket stays put. My only real complaint lies with the jacket’s exterior pockets. The unit I’ve been wearing has no closure system whatsoever, so anything stashed within — keys, wallet, insurance — could easily work its way out into the wilds, potentially rendering the pockets useless. Vaktare assured me this problem has already been addressed by installing interior snaps, although zippers would be preferable.
It’s doubtful that the Draugr (or the other jackets in the VKTRE Collection) could replace the dedicated gear I rely on most, but that is not its intent. The Draugr is a complimentary item — a second or third riding jacket — that can be donned confidently for more formal events when protected riding would usually be out of the question or otherwise unnecessary. And when looks trump extreme protection, there’s nothing better.