Durable as hell. There’s your three-word review of the Hideout Touring jacket – my go-to leather jacket that has sustained several thousands of miles of use and a 60+mph crash, but still feels like it’s going through its break-in period.
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With a starting price of £600, the Hideout Touring jacket certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s made in the United Kingdom and is available in exactly your size. That’s one of the big selling points of Hideout gear: it’s bespoke.
The most recognizable face of Hideout is that of Kate Jennings, who co-owns the company with her sister, Rachael. Although, the company itself has been around since 1978 – about when Kate would have just been learning to walk. It was established by Peter Hamlet, who Kate describes as having been “a very good craftsman, but not very well organized.”
Having earned her fashion degree, Kate came to work for Hamlet in the mid 1990s. She brought her own flair as well as a sense of order and the business started to move from strength to strength, providing tailor-made racing suits, as well hard-wearing leather gear for a number of police departments’ motorcycle officers. After about a decade, Hamlet stepped down and Kate and her sister took over.
Head to a major motorcycle show in the UK, such as Motorcycle Live, and you’ll more than likely find yourself chatting with Kate. Especially if you decide to be fitted for gear. She’ll be the one with the tape measure, having you contort your body in every way a motorcyclist bends and turns, to ensure the very best fit possible.
I personally did my bending and twisting at Hideout’s headquarters in the middle of nowhere, England, back in the spring of 2016. I had fully committed to this whole moto-journalism thing and had decided I needed to spend the money on some really good gear. I hate spending money, but each time I throw this jacket on I know I made the right call.
My Touring jacket is part of a leather two-piece suit. I chose leather instead of lighter, more breathable textile (Hideout also makes top-end textile stuff) on the basis that leather lasts longer. Bare minimum (assuming I can avoid too many more crashes), I expect the jacket will last 20 years. Think about it that way and it feels downright affordable. With modifications and fitting, my jacket cost about £700; over the space of two decades it’s just £35 a year.
In considering the prospect of wearing the same gear for 20 years, it occurred to me I needed it to be timeless. The Touring jacket is indeed that. Nothing fancy, no weird designs to lock it into a specific time. A plain black leather jacket has always been a safe bet.
As a result, however, it does have a quite utilitarian look. It’s not like my 55 Collection Hard jacket, for example, which I often wear off the bike. In part because the Hideout Touring jacket so damned rugged. This jacket was designed to protect me at extraordinarily high speeds and it looks like it. By and large I am happy with the look, though, I’ll admit to hoping that after a few more years and a few thousand more miles age will start to give it some character. At present it still looks pretty new.
The benefit to bespoke gear is that it fits perfectly. And obviously the benefits to perfect fit are myriad. However, it does take just a little while for that perfect fit to settle in. Leather can stretch quite a bit over time, so Kate and her team deliberately make stuff that’s initially a little tight.
“I want my guys to hate me when they first put their leathers on,” Kate told me.
Kate doesn’t ever talk about her customers, she instead refers to her “guys.” That’s the kind of business she runs. And she got her wish where I was concerned. When I first picked up my two-piece suit I decided I wanted to ride back to Cardiff in it – a trip of about 230 miles. The gear was so tight that after 50 miles I was feeling deeply concerned: Had I made a terribly expensive mistake?
I stuck with it, though, and already by the time I got home things had moved into the realm of tolerable. These days, the thick, heavy leather still has a certain stiffness but movement is easy and the jacket is so comfortable that I am happy to stay in it for very long stretches. For example, once, in riding to Milan for EICMA, I was in the jacket for 16 hours without complaint.
Kate is a stickler for safety. Hideout has always done its primary trade in racing suits, and that quality is transferred to the road-focused gear. But I think the attitude of referring to customers as “my guys” means the Hideout team feel a sense of protectiveness toward everyone who walks through the door. So, the gear is made to be as indestructible as possible. You have very thick, heavy, high-quality leather, with Kevlar reinforcement in high-impact areas like the elbows.
Armor in the shoulders, elbows and back is racing-spec, covers a large area, and, of course, is located exactly where it’s supposed to be. I can attest to the fact it doesn’t move around in a crash; I was wearing my Hideout Touring jacket when I slid and rolled several hundred feet down a Florida highway last year.
Beyond that, my jacket is intentionally pretty barebones: two outside pockets, two internal pockets, and a removable thermal liner. That’s how I wanted it. But the great thing about getting a bespoke jacket is that if you want more features – more pockets, or vents, for example – all you need to do is ask.
Hideout gear is the very best kit you can buy.
It’s basically bulletproof (hell, it’s probably literally bulletproof) and has the potential to outlast many people’s riding careers. It’s worth the money, even before you factor in the value of having a jacket that fits perfectly, a jacket that can be adjusted to your taste, a jacket that’s made in the United Kingdom.
Also, there are the intangibles.
When I was in my 20s, I used to travel a lot in my pickup truck and quite often found myself sleeping in the cab in lieu of a hotel room. I would pull a blanket from behind the bench seat, stretch out and think: “This truck is all I need. This is my home.”
That’s kind of how I feel when wrapped in my Hideout jacket. Out on the road I’ll feel as if I could carry on forever. Plus, I get the personal connection of knowing that I’m one of Hideout’s “guys,” and they put their time and effort into making this jacket specifically for me. There’s something really cool about that.
It’s said that you get what you pay for. Hideout gear is undeniably expensive, but I feel it is worth every penny. In fact, I’d say you get more than your money’s worth.