There have been a lot of misunderstandings about which type of hide is stronger for a jacket, a buffalo hide or cowhide. Now buffalo hide they use in leather jackets come from water buffalo, not American bison. In it’s natural state, a buffalo hide is thicker than cowhide.
However they don’t use the full thickness of a hide when they make leather jackets. With both a cowhide and buffalo hide they actually split the hide into several layers. The layer that had the hair on it is called the top grain, the other layers are called the split grain. Most quality leather motorcycle jackets use leather that is between 1.5 MM and 2.0 MM in thickness.
When they process each type of hide, they split them down to about the same thickness. So they both are the same thickness! Therefore there is no truth that a buffalo leather jacket is thicker than a cowhide leather jacket. You can find both types in different jackets that are different thicknesses depending on the quality of the brand and if it’s top grain or split grain. But two comparable leather jackets made from buffalo hide and cowhide are the same thickness.
Is a buffalo hide stronger than a cowhide motorcycle jacket, that’s the next question. After they process the hides into leather, a buffalo hide is actually a little bit softer than cowhide. A hide from buffalo and cows are really about the same as far as toughness and the ability to resist cuts and punctures. In it’s natural state on a buffalo the hide is thicker, so it can withstand more abuse.
But as I already explained, once they split the hide and process it into leather, they are the same thickness. So, both a buffalo hide and cowhide are the same in strength and durability. I know a lot of people don’t think so, but that’s the truth. If your getting a leather motorcycle jacket and want the toughest type of hide, both will give you equal protection.
In fact pigskin is also a very tough and strong hide that is almost as durable as the other two. Some even prefer pigskin, as it does seem to be a bit softer and more flexible than others.
What is more important is getting a top, full grain leather jacket rather than a split grain one. A top grain cowhide leather jacket will be thicker than a buffalo hide split grain leather jacket, and the opposite is also true. So if you get a top, full grain buffalo hide or cowhide leather motorcycle jacket, you have chosen the best leather jacket you can find. Both are strong and can take a lot of punishment.