Summary The Speed and Strength
Hell 'N Back jacket is similar in many ways to the Coast is
Clear jacket but it kicks it up a notch with a few more "pro"
Background Rick described
the Coast is Clear jacket in
of this series on Speed and Strength gear, and I'm up next with
the Hell 'N Back jacket. I also reviewed the matching
Speed and Strength textile
pants (review) that can be used with either jacket.
Both of these jackets share quite a few features, so my main
focus here will be to point out the differences. The primary
difference is that the Hell 'N Back jacket has a heftier feel.
It appears to be the "professional" version of the
Coast is Clear jacket, and it is apparently the flagship of
the current Speed and Strength textile jacket lineup.
Weight and Heft If
weight is any indicator, then both of these jackets are tanks.
The Coast is Clear jacket weighs in at 6 lbs. even (2.7 kg)
with all the liners installed, while the Hell 'N Back jacket
adds another half-pound to that -- and it does not have an insulating
The weight and overall persona gives the Hell 'N Back jacket
just has a very strong, sturdy feel. Most of the fabric isn't
that much different from the Coast is Clear jacket, but something
about the Hell 'N Back just gives it a more protective feel.
Looking at the photos, the black material that can be seen
on this very nice orange/silver/black colorway version of the
Hell 'N Back jacket is indeed a much thicker-feeling fabric
than the corresponding sections on the Coast is Clear jacket.
It feels something like a very heavy-duty clone of Cordura,
although Speed and Strength mentions no brand name textiles,
probably to keep the prices low.
The Hell 'N Back jacket liner is breathable and water
resistant. Only the ST version has an insulating liner.
Liner Other differences
include the jacket liner that comes with the Hell 'N Back jacket,
which is listed as breathable in addition to the claimed waterproof
protection it offers. The liner material has a different look
and feel than the plain polyester liner used in the Coast is
Clear version. The Hell 'N Back liner has that semi-shiny surface
finish that marks it as a copy of Gore-Tex or one of the other
brands of breathable liner materials found in the more expensive
This special liner material is also used in the lining of
the Hell 'N Back pants, so apparently the Hell 'N Back series
is the top of the line offering from Speed and Strength.
Version Control: ST, SX or...?
One thing we all agree on -- the names that these jackets and
pants have been saddled with do not help a potential customer
to understand the differences. To make things even more confusing,
there is a Hell 'N Back "ST" version of the jacket
shown here, which has a longer tail, almost 3/4-length, and
includes the insulating liner vest that doesn't really seem
to be needed in this heavy "non-ST" version.
And one more thing: the Coast is Clear jacket that was reviewed
by Rick is actually the Coast is Clear ST, as compared to another
jacket called the Coast is Clear SX, which has the same list
price. I have no idea what the differences between those two
jackets are, and I'm confused enough without becoming even more
so, thus I'll leave that one be.
The Hell 'N Back jacket also has removable sleeves with
Sleeves Both jackets have
the handy removable sleeves feature and both share the same
fit, although the stiffer material used in the Hell 'N Back
jacket gives a more protective feeling -- a good feeling. The
sleeves on the Hell 'N Back jacket feature dual adjusters on
the outside removable section, repeated on the inside mesh section
The Coast is Clear jacket has only the single adjuster that
must be fed through a slot on the removable sleeve section.
This helps keep the water integrity of the jacket shell, but
the arms of the Hell 'N Back jacket do feel a bit tight when
the removable arm section is not removed.
By the way, the sleeves are not marked "Left" and "Right",
which isn't necessary because they will only fit on one side
or the other. It's not difficult to tell which is which by matching
the curvature or the zipper that correctly fits one side only.
Removing the sleeves is fairly easy; replacing them isn't
quite as easy and certainly not something you'd want to do while
riding. It's best to remove the jacket first to replace the
sleeves, but then again, I'm sure they weren't designed with
instant on/off in mind.
The sleeves have three adjustment points on the dual adjusters,
but I think one would have to have pretty thin arms to require
the use of anything but the maximum or perhaps the second adjuster
snap. The elbow armor looks to be the same in both jackets,
but somehow feels much thicker and wider and more protective
in the Hell 'N Back version.
The Hell 'N Back jacket includes two vertical front
vents and a 1.5 liter hydration bladder.
Vents, Pockets and Zippers The Hell 'N Back jacket, appropriate to its top-of-the-line
standing, has waterproof pocket and vent zippers, just like
the Coast is Clear. But on the Hell 'N Back, the zippers are
contained inside a separate border of heat-sealed rubberized
material bonded to the jacket shell, giving them a more business-like
appearance and they should be longer-lasting.
The removable sleeves on the Hell 'N Back jacket also have
short vents, covered with the water-resistant zippers.
The two vertical zippers on the chest of the Hell 'N Back
jacket are vents, not pockets. The Hell 'N Back version also
has the rear horizontal vent, but the two vertical zippers in
the rear are not vents; instead, they uncover a lined pocket
that can be used to store the removable sleeves. The front and
rear vertical zippers are different from the Coast is Clear
jacket due to the cut of the material on the Hell 'N Back version.
The Hell 'N Back jacket includes a hydration bladder, located
on a mesh pocket on the inside of the left chest (more in the
Miscellaneous Features section below).
Wide rear vent with heat-sealed water-resistant zipper.
The Hell 'N Back jacket features hem adjusters rather
than the waist adjusters of the Coast is Clear.
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Armor and Padding The Hell 'N
Back jacket has external plastic sliders on the shoulders in
addition to the internal shoulder armor and also the same thick-feeling
back padding used on the Coast is Clear jacket.
While the back pad isn't CE rated, it does feel thicker than
most of the wimpy foam pads that are stuffed into many other
motorcycle jackets in all price ranges.
Coast is Clear vs. Hell 'N Back
bladder and a pass-through and clip for the
List price is $299.95
($349.95 for the ST with insulating vest and
The Hell 'N Back jacket also has a pass-through on the upper
left for the hydration hose of the included hydration bladder
that is located in a pocket on the inside of the left jacket
chest. The jacket also has a clip on the outside to hold the
The jacket also has reflective piping located vertically
at the rear.
Riding With the Hell 'N Back Jacket
There's not much I can say that is different when riding with
the Hell 'N Back jacket compared to the Coast is Clear version.
The Hell 'N Back is slightly shorter at the rear, but it also
has an attachment zipper for the Hell 'N Back pants, which,
when combined with the jacket, make a good all-around riding
outfit for anything but very hot weather.
The venting on the Hell 'N Back is about the same as the
Coast is Clear, with the bulk of the ventilation coming from
the air flow through the mesh arms (when the sleeves are removed)
and out the back in the same way that air is pulled through
the Coast is Clear jacket. Neither jacket is as cool in very
hot weather as a full mesh jacket, but they are better than
most jackets that don't have the removable arm feature.
The front vents don't open into a scoop, and like the Coast
is Clear jacket, the ventilation felt through the vents somewhat
depends upon riding position, which can (slightly) change the
size of the vent opening. The water-resistant zippers on the
Hell 'N Back vents and pockets are definitely a step up from
the Coast is Clear because they have the additional layer of
bonding at the outer edges.
All comments about the venting assume, of course, that the
wind- and water-resistant liner is removed. With the liner in
place, the jacket blocks the air and I only had a chance to
use it in this configuration once this summer, a few weeks ago
when temperatures unexpectedly dropped overnight. So not a lot
of data on cool weather riding, but I feel confident that the
heavy outer material and the liner will provide good weather
protection in nearly every season except for the extremes.
Flash Slideshow: Speed and Strength Hell 'N Back Jacket
Conclusion The Speed and Strength Hell 'N Back jacket is a very sturdy,
do-it-all jacket with some interesting features, including the
removable sleeves, the stronger zippers, the higher-quality
liner and the hydration bladder.
The styling and the bright orange color,
along with the jacket's sturdy feel, courtesy of the thick-feeling
fabric, make this the Speed and Strength jacket of choice. Pair
it with the Coast is Clear pants for an excellent all-around
outfit that should satisfy just about everyone, all at a reasonably