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 Part 1 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 liner.
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.
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 jackets.
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.
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 also.
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, 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).
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 Jacket Differences
Includes 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.
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.
wBW Flash Slideshow: Speed and Strength Hell ‘N Back Jacket Details
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.