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" level features.
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
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 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 motorcycle
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 dual adjusters.
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
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
The removable sleeves on the Hell 'N Back jacket also
have short vents, covered with the water-resistant
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.
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
Coast is Clear vs. Hell 'N
Back Jacket Differences
hydration bladder and a pass-through and
clip for the hydration hose.
List price is
$299.95 ($349.95 for the ST with
insulating vest and longer length).
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 hose tip.
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
wBW Flash Slideshow:
Speed and Strength Hell 'N Back Jacket Details
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 affordable price.