Roll Your Own Gear – Joe Rocket’s Hemp Jacket

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OK, I’m sure we’re all a little tired of the obvious pot references when talking about products manufactured from hemp. If you haven’t been paying attention or have been too stoned to care (again with the funny stuff!) there are increasingly more hemp products available to retailers. To the list that includes paper, clothing, biofuel, concrete and health food you can now add protective motorcycle gear.

No this isn’t that same loose-flowing-hacky-sack-friendly schmatas  you’d see at the Renaissance Faire or a2098_Hemp_Jacket300 Phish concert. This is real, CE-rated armored gear from the good folks at Joe Rocket. Introducing the Hemp Jacket, a piece of gear the company calls “a true rider’s jacket” that’s been tested six ways to Sunday (according to the company).

Why hemp?Steve Blakeney over at Sullivan’s sent me some tech and specs directly from Marc Bay, the creator of the piece. Because I’m not always a hard-working reporter and writer and often very slug-like, I’ll copy some of the bits from Bay regarding the strength, comfort and style and testing background of the Hemp Jacket.

Strength

We concentrated on tensile strength when testing this material because abrasion resistance can be misleading. A weak fabric with a waxy coating can perform well on abrasion testing and yet not be strong. The Hemp fabric was tested in both directions, across warp and across fill. We also tested with a coated material and a non coated material. There is a synthetic windproof coating on this fabric and these coatings often improve strength. The coated fabric performed at 150lb/sq inch across the fill and 251.6lb/sq inch across the warp. Uncoated strength was about 10% less. Leather is just tested one way. There is no fill & warp. A few years ago we tested many hides in an attempt to see how laser burning affected strength. The test was all cowhide typically used in race suits. What we found was that hemp performs as well as cowhide when tested across the warp (length wise).

Interesting, no? Read on more from Bay. (The stuff in bold is theirs.)

Comfort & Style

– The heavy nature of the hemp fabric hides the fact that this garment is armored. Satisfying many riders who say they do not want to look like they are wearing a motorcycle jacket. 

– Unlike many fashion first m/c garments, this one has excellent adjustability. The cuff & waist can firmly cinch down so the garment will not ride up in a crash and wind will be locked out.

– Zipping up the BigAir inside mesh vent panels with the rear vents open will give you the best venting available.

– Pulling the waist band extra tight sinches everything into place to eliminate flapping. You can even fold the collar inside into the small elastic holder.

– The pipe on the back is reflective.

– The fit is generous for extra comfort and style.

And, finally, something on the testing that went into this garment. I find this fascinating. Bay gets into something I didn’t realize was a factor in researching a fabric to be used in a jacket/pant/whatever. In the attempt to find materials that are a bit more environmentally friendly, Joe Rocket decided to check out hemp. Here’s Bay’s take.

Rocket’s Testing Background

We always look at the materials we use in an attempt to deliver a better product. Some areas we look at pertain to health & comfort issues that the consumer is not even aware off. For example, back in early 2007 we did an extensive test for lead, PCP’s and other nasties that find their way into consumer goods. This was just after the Thomas Train set lead problem. We also look at environmental issues. Currently I am trying to eliminate PVC from our gloves. In certain applications it makes the work place very unkind. We also note that we have lead the market as it moved towards polyester or nylon based garments. These garments do not degrade and are better than leather as far as environmental issues go. We set out to find alternatives to the synthetic materials used in most garments and came up with hemp. Hemp is kind on the environment during the farming & finishing process. We are still looking at other alternative materials and the success of the Hemp jacket will be an indicator as to whether we will proceed with other alternative materials.

2101_Hemp_Jacket300

There it is, the first (to my knowledge) riding jacket made of hemp. Kind of cool when you think about it. And a special note: should you ever be dry and all your resin has long been scraped, don’t even think about blazing up a piece of the Hemp jacket. Joe Rocket says this on its website page for the piece, “Hemp THC levels average below 0.3%. Cannabis levels can surpass 20%. Smoking Hemp results in a headache, not a high!”

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37 Responses to “Roll Your Own Gear – Joe Rocket’s Hemp Jacket”

  1. Rob C Says:

    We need to let go of the stigma associated with hemp. Those who are not consumed with what the common media feeds them will understand the potential of hemp.

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    It is always interesting to find alternatives to synthetic materials, but i think nothing can top leather, at least motorcycle-wise.

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