Meet Carl. You might easily confuse him for the local barman, but Carl is the founder, president and COO of Claymore Jackets of East Yorkshire, England. Finding him is a challenge. His web site presence has a distinct ‘get off my lawn’ feeling: An welcoming user experience it is not. And locating his little house in the small village of Goole requires persistence. There is no ‘Claymore Jackets’ sign in front and Google Maps has not yet caught up to Goole. But a trip to visit family in the neighboring county of Cheshire gave me the opportunity me to try.
Heritage is a word liberally used when describing British waxed jacket makers like Belstaff and Barbour. But these brands have long ago pivoted to the luxury market and seem to have lost the utility strand in their DNA. Claymore remains true to the original mission: they are made to be worn on the road, not in the club. If you know Bestaff’s Roadmaster jacket, Claymore’s Roadmeister will seem familiar. You could even say the design is more or less the same. But where the $800 Roadmaster feels delicate but practical for every day wearing, the $400 Roadmeister is of heavier gauge fabric that could actually withstand a spill. And with the $120 armor option, it will protect from everything India throws at you.
Visiting Carl in his shed was a journey to the roots of craftsmanship. The 100 square feet of workspace is crammed with five sewing machines, piles of fabrics and boxes of components. There is no showroom to try on one of the eight models. Instead, Carl had one Jacket he had ‘buggered up’ that served as the only tactile proof of the finished product. After selecting a style, I was offered an array of colors to choose from, two different materials (traditional waxed cotton and ‘Ventile’, a non-waxed waterproof material of tightly woven cotton) and a choice of a national flag to be sewn into a front pocket. Next, Carl measured every dimension of my upper body and relayed these to his only other employee, his Thai wife. And that was that. In only three weeks my Claymore Jacket appeared in the mail, ready for action.
Obviously, there are simpler ways to buy an adventure touring jacket and yes, Cordura is a very practical material and is available everywhere. But if you are looking for something different and, in my my opinion, incredibly well suited to the diverse riding conditions of India, give Carl a try.
If you can find him.