Oxford Hinterland review | Waterproof motorcycle textiles

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Date reviewed: June 2021 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £299.99 (jacket), £249.99 (pants) | www.oxfordproducts.com

 

I’m going to cut straight to the chase; the Oxford Hinterland jacket and trousers on review here are without doubt the best value textiles I’ve ever tested. At £550 for the set they’re not cheap, and they’re not perfect, but the overall performance in all weathers is outstanding… to the point that I chose to wear these on a recent guaranteed-to-be-terrible-weather two-day ride through Wales, over my old £2,000 Rukka kit.

I’ve now worn the Hinterland through late winter, spring and summer on a BMW S1000XR, 1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R and a Tracer 9 GT for about 2,000 miles, and I expect to keep wearing it for many more thousands…

 

For and against
  • Outstanding wet-weather performance
  • Excellent straight-to-body ventilation
  • Versatile enough for all-year-round use
  • Pockets a little small
  • Could use straps to tighten arms when lining removed
  • Trouser legs a bit loose

 

Construction and Fit

The Oxford Hinterland jacket and trousers are a ‘Trilaminate’ construction. Costs have been kept down with no big brand names behind that waterproof material, but it works nonetheless and it’s great to see laminated gear becoming more affordable.

Waterproof kit generally has a ‘drop-liner’, which is a waterproof membrane that’s separate to the outer material and hangs behind it. This is fine, but it’s easier for the outer material to ‘wet out’ or get soaked in water, and then it takes longer to dry. The water can also get between the layers, and once the outer is soaked, the membrane can’t breath, so even if rain water isn’t getting in, your own body vapour can’t get out, so you end up getting damp anyway.

In laminated kit the waterproof membrane is bonded directly to the back of the outer shell – it’s traditionally been a more expensive construction process, but more brands have been finding ways to work with it more affordably. While the outer shell of kit with this construction can still wet out, it tends to dry off much more quickly, and though a good Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating is still required on the outer shell (and will wear out over time), performance in heavy rain is generally better with this build.

The problem with laminated gear is that it can feel stiff, and it’s also not always that great in very hot weather; a drop-liner allows vents to be open in the outer and have air blow onto the membrane inside – which isn’t ideal but there’s no worry about them leaking when closed – whereas vents in laminated kit have to use proper waterproof zips in order to not allow rain though (or use a membrane behind them). On the flip-side, get this right and you can have ‘direct to body’ ventilation, which is the best option for the heat.

And Oxford has got it right.

The alternative to all this is a removable waterproof liner, which many adventure-focussed suits use in order to keep you as cool as possible when it’s not raining. These have their benefits, but for a typical UK rider they’re not that practical.

Fit is of course subjective, so do try gear on for yourself, but I’m a portly 5’10” and find the Hinterland to be great. I can also fit my Ixon airbag vest underneath with no problems, and the trousers are available in long, regular and short leg lengths.

 

 

Protection and certification

It’s great to find a CE AA rating for the Oxford Hinterland jacket and trousers. The early production run of jackets were only labelled as the lower ‘A’, but this was due to the Darmstadt machine that’s used to test abrasion under EN17092 that only tests over a predetermined period and speed – so a sample will either pass or fail – rather than testing to destruction in order to find what level could be met. After the first batch was produced, it was realised that the garments could meet an AA rating so were re-tested to the higher level, re-certified and now come with the updated AA label.

CE Level 1 protectors are fitted at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and while they’re not as flexible as some (like D3O), they’re comfortable enough. I’d have liked slightly longer knee armour, though to be fair it’d need to be a more flexible product to fit in there comfortably, so this is a good choice, especially as they have a good width here.

There’s a pocket for a back protector, but none is supplied. You can pick up Oxford’s own Level 1 RB-Pi1 for £17.99, or the higher-performing (and thicker) Level 2 RB-Pi2 for £23.99. As I wear an airbag vest, I would have removed this anyway, but if you don’t have a back protector I strongly recommend you budget for one.

For everything you need to know about the safety labels in your motorcycle kit, click here.

 

 

Pockets

The Hinterland has two main pockets on the front of the jacket, another pair that are hook-and-loop fastened inside (mirrored on the removable thermal liner), and one more behind the main zip on the left breast. The trousers have a pair of pockets on the front.

I carry my bunch of keys in the right jacket pocket, my small wallet in the left trouser and my phone in the right. This is fine, and everything stays dry, but I’d have liked slightly more room. I also prefer pockets with horizontal access on the jacket, so I can be more confident that nothing will fall out as I fish around (or if I forget to close the zip). These also aren’t easy to open when wearing even summer gloves.

While riding in Wales I had my wife on the back of the bike where she’ll often shoot video for me. The Insta 360 One R fitted into my left jacket pocket, but the end of the selfie stick was poking out, and Helen found it really tricky to get the zip undone. I’d have liked to have seen a map pocket fitted to the back of the Hinterland as these are often ideal for your pillion to fish around in.

 

 

Fastening

The main zip is easy to operate as it’s not a waterproof one – but no rain gets past the storm flap behind it – and the collar fastens with a popper on an adjustable slider.

The sleeves and trouser bottoms are cinched up tight with hook-and-loop, which works fine on the jacket, but there could do with being more of it on the trousers as I can’t get a good seal around my boots. Again, no rain got up there, but I’d prefer to have them tight than flapping about, and the odd draft did find its way inside.

There are short and long connecting zips built into the jacket and trousers, and I do find the long one a bit of a faff when I’m wearing my airbag vest. I can’t really blame Oxford for this, though some other gear I have is a bit easier – the stretch material that the zips are attached too is just a bit short to make it easy.

 

 

Adjustment

The jacket’s cuffs are a simple design, but I’m able to comfortably get my Held Twin II winter gloves underneath for the best waterproof seal. Equally though, I can cinch them tight and get summer gloves over the top with no bother. This is something many manufacturers seem to struggle with, so I’m very impressed.

As mentioned, the bottoms of the trouser legs could do with a bit more adjustment, but I’d also like to see straps at the biceps as when the thermal liner’s taken out they can flap about a little, despite the clever bonding of wide elastic panels under the shell.

The jacket has an elasticated drawstring at the hem for an even better seal (though I haven’t had the need to use it), and the trousers have a good range of adjustment at the waist, which I’ve found useful as I’ve gained weight over the last few months.

 

 

Ventilation

There are long, water-resistant vent zips on the arms, sides of the torso and the legs, with exhausts on the backs of the legs and across the shoulders on the jacket.

All of these provide venting direct to the body, and even with my airbag vest underneath I’m able to keep cool. If anything, I’d have liked to have had some ventilation on my upper chest, but the incredible airflow that the jacket and trousers give really does get the heat away from your body. It also helps that you can pin the collar open, giving even more chance for air to circulate.

Of course, the fairing on your bike will affect how much air gets to you, but that’s the genius of where Oxford has put these vents – they seem to scoop air in and get it flowing through and out the back. This is the only completely waterproof laminated kit I’ve tried that is this comfortable in hot weather. Of course a mesh jacket will be even better, or an adventure suit with the membrane removed, but the ventilation here does make this a genuine option for all-season riding.

 

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Warmth and thermal liner

As the temperature drops below 10°C, you’ll want some extra layers for anything of an hour or more – or some heated kit – but the supplied thermal liners (which cover the full body including the arms) do a good job and are well made – another reason this is true all-year-round riding kit.

 

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Outer shell liner

With the thermal liner removed the fine mesh liner is comfortable against the skin (even wearing it after falling backwards into a dense crop of fresh stinging nettles… don’t ask) and doesn’t stick to you like budget gear used to.

 

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Waterproofing

I expected those vents to let water through but I’ve stayed utterly dry in the Hinterland kit. I first tested it on my standard one-hour ride in torrential rain, but all I found was a little dampness on the neck lining.

Out of curiosity, I also hosed those zips to see if I could find an angle that would cause them to leak, but still they worked. This convinced me to take the Oxford on the two-day ride in Wales (despite the weather forecast) over my older Rukka kit, which while still okay, is getting tired now after five years.

It didn’t let me down – despite being utterly soaked, the Hinterland dries out quickly meaning you don’t have that horrible feeling of putting cold, damp kit on when you set off again.

At any price I’d be very impressed with the waterproof performance here, but in a £300 jacket and £250 trousers I’m blown away.

 

Three alternatives to the Oxford Hinterland

Of the kit I’ve tested, nothing compares to the Hinterland when it comes to the combination of waterproofing, ventilation and price, but depending what your priorities are, you might want to consider these…

  • The Continental, again from Oxford, doesn’t have the same level of waterproofing, but the ventilation proved very good in our testing, and it’s just £270 for the jacket and trousers, so great value.
  • If you want even more ventilation, you might want to consider an adventure suit, and the RST Pro Series Adventure-X stood out in our review as being good value for money at £720 for the jacket and trousers, with an airbag built in. It’s not great in winter, but it might be right for your needs.
  • If money’s not an issue, you might want to consider some Rukka kit – in this review of the Navigattorr you’ll see why it impressed me so much, but it did cost £1,209.99. For just the jacket. We hope to review some of the newer (CE-approved) Rukka range in the near future, to see if it still offers substantially more than some of the more budget-friendly gear that’s now out there.

These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the textile riding kit we’ve tested here.

 

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Oxford Hinterland review: Verdict

I’ve found things to criticise in this gear because I judge everything on its performance regardless of price. But those small niggles are generally things that can be overcome, or that could be ironed out in an updated design; I always highlight anything I find so you can be the judge of whether it matters to you and your budget.

Regardless of what the Hinterland jacket and trousers cost, they perform exceptionally well, and when you do take into account how much cheaper they are than most other gear that keeps you this dry – and that can still give you such excellent ventilation – this Oxford kit truly excels.

I’d be very happy to recommend the Hinterland to any UK rider looking for kit they can use all year round. You’ll need to layer up a bit in deep winter, but at this price, don’t hesitate.

 

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Second opinion: Graham Mudd, BikeSocial member

“I’ve only owned the Oxford Hinterland jacket for a little over two weeks and 1,000 miles, but in that time I’ve been seriously impressed. Out of the box it felt light, thin and flimsy compared to my previous jackets, but I needn’t have worried… The Hinterland is one of those rare things in the motorcycle apparel world in which all the fancy jargon and textile names actually do what they claim to.

“I’ve ridden in the full spectrum of conditions of late from low single figure temperatures to the mid-twenties, near gale force winds and torrential rain. The Oxford Hinterland has taken it all in its stride with not a single unwanted gust of air or drop of water making it past the outer shell.

“I love that it looks and feels more like a regular jacket; that ‘thin and flimsy feel’ makes it superbly comfy to wear on and off the bike. The vents are exceptional, keeping me cool in the warm and muggy weather of the last couple of days, but the thermal liner has kept me cosy when it was much colder last week. Frankly, Oxford has completely nailed it, and to make such a high-performance jacket in this price bracket makes it an absolute bargain!”

 

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