The premium Icon 1000 line brings back a classic textile in the Oildale and the Hella 1000 jackets. His and her versions of vintage-inspired, waxed-canvas motorcycle jackets. If your upper lip is snarling right now, I know what you’re thinking. The 1000-line may be Icon’s premium stuff, but the phrase “waxed canvas” sounds anything but. Until you see it and then ride in it.
I didn’t know much about waxed canvas before writing this article, but I know one thing now...I’ll be wearing this jacket all summer.
After exhausting my Nikon and whatever the web has to offer, I’ve come to the conclusion that no photograph can accurately convey the visceral appeal of this textile. Maybe it’s the the warm shade of cocoa-brown, or the way it’s sort of pre-beat-up, but the Hella 1000, with it’s heavy-duty black oxide hardware and black leather accents has a vintage, almost Hemingway-esque, vibe that begs for a cigar and a mojito (I know, Hemingway was a daiquiri man. Barf.) at the end of a long ride.
I had no experience with this unique fabric before taking the Hella 1000 for a ride, and frankly, didn’t know what to expect from something that was invented by poverty-stricken ancient mariners who’d sew together pieces of discarded sails from clipper ships, messaged them with linseed oil, and wore them as ponchos.
The British navy replaced flaxseed sails with oiled canvas sails the mid 1800s, later replacing linseed oil with wax, and in 1920’s, English companies Belstaff and Barbour started cranking out jackets for motorcyclists made of the stuff. In the ‘30s, Barbour introduced the International, a jacket specifically designed for the International Six Day Trials. You see where I’m going with this...waxed canvas has been proven through nearly a century that it can take a proper beating.
My next pleasant surprise is how comfortable the Hella 1000 is to ride in. It’s extremely light and breathable, and feels more like a long-sleeved shirt in. The removable satin liner (dig that silvery shade of blue) kept me warm in the morning, and zipped out easily to accommodate for the predictable hot Phoenix afternoon commute home. In 90-degree weather with a bumper-to-bumper traffic maze to weave yourself through, the long-sleeve-esque comfort and breathability were a welcomed luxury.
The Hella 1000 comes with a full set of D30 impact protection (shoulders, elbows, spine); light, flexible, and CE-approved. The finish on the canvas is from a proprietary coating that doesn’t drip or come off with age. You’ll see that some manufacturers recommend annual re-finishing, but Icon’s blend is intended to last five or six riding seasons, at which time a do-it-yourself reapplication with any wax coating is recommended.
Other attributes include plenty of pockets with brawny hardware and leather pull-tabs (easy to grasp with gloved hands), ballistic nylon in stretch-needed areas (underarms and side panels), and zippered vents (which I did not need to use).
Don’t even bother to take it off when you get home; your mojito and cigar will just taste better.