Date reviewed: July 2022 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £169.99 | www.hoodjeans.co.uk
Before I start this review of the Hood K7/AAA (S) jeans, I feel I need to point a few things out… I don’t have shares in Hood jeans and I don’t benefit from you buying them. Frankly, I don’t really care what you buy. What I do care about though is that you know what you’re spending your money on; I want you to be an informed purchaser, not an influenced purchaser, which is why I made the video embedded below and ended up ruffling more than a few feathers.
What matters is that I’ve been wearing these lined motorcycle jeans (yes, lined… you know, the ones that are supposedly so heavy that you might as well wear a suit of armour, and that will apparently cook you if you wear them for more than a few seconds), for almost a year now. I’ve worn them on, among others, a BMW S1000XR, an R1250GS, a Honda Grom, a Kawasaki ZX-6R, a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and the new BSA Gold Star to confidently tell you that yes, they are worth the money. Here’s why…
Hood Jeans is a family business, having been started in Norfolk in 1998 by Chris and Julie Easterford. Their roots are very much in denim, with Chris’ dad helping set up Falmer Jeans in the 1950s after working for Lee Cooper, then Motown jeans in the 1960s. Chris and Julie met while working at Motown in the 1980s. You can read more about the company history, and how its products are made here.
Available in stonewash blue, black or dark navy, the Hood K7/AAA jeans are made of quality denim in men’s and women’s sizes, with a relatively lightweight aramid lining behind for optimal abrasion resistance.
It’s some of the details – which are easily missed – that show Chris and Julie’s dedication to quality. Take the front pockets, for instance; rather than being thin linen they’re all denim, so they won’t wear out through repeatedly shoving your keys inside. The rivets are smooth, so they won’t scratch your bike’s tank, and the six belt loops, rather than five, prevent the back of the jeans rucking up.
Leg lengths are altered to suit the rider before being sent out, and there’s a free UK exchange service if you find you want a different size.
The outer denim has a slight stretch to it, but this is still a more easy fit than Hood’s slimmer SK11s, which I reviewed here. They’re fully lined with K-Tech para-aramid (like Kevlar), with a lightweight mesh against your skin to help air flow.
For me, the fit is great, and I’ve no problem spending all day in them. Also, while there have been tweaks, these are very similar to the K7 Infinity jeans that I’d worn for four years in all climates, from the UK to the US, Spain to South Africa.
There are claims by some that these jeans are too hot, but that’s simply not true. Sure, some lined jeans can get very warm, particularly those with thick, flannel-type aramid lining, but I’ve worn the Hood K7s around the world, never feeling uncomfortably warm. A press launch involves spending all day riding and getting on and off the bike, as well as lots of stop-start for photos, so the worst conditions in hot climates. Spending the day walking in these has never been a problem.
Yes, they are warmer than a pair of normal jeans, and indeed single-layer jeans that have their abrasion resistance built into the denim alone, but quality lined-jeans offer, in my experience, better protection than single-layer jeans, while still remaining great for walking around in.
Despite being lined, these jeans aren’t airtight – obviously they’re breathable – so I find them very comfortable when riding, striking a good balance for the majority of British weather. In fact, for some they could be a good year-round choice if paired with a set of waterproof over-trousers for wet days.
No. The Hood K7/AAA jeans weigh 1,880g with the armour fitted, compared to the excellent single-layer Roadskin Taranis jeans – in the same size and also with armour – which come in at 1,360g. Sure, you can feel the difference, but they’re far from being too heavy.
Since 21 April 2018, all motorcycle clothing has had to be certified as personal protective equipment. By law. That means it has to undergo a series of abrasion, tear and burst tests that guarantee a certain level of safety.
Now, if I were to play the marketing game, I’d say that these jeans meet the toughest AAA standard, which is where you’ll find one and two-piece leathers. This would infer that they offer the same protection as leather, but compared to good quality one- and two-piece suits, they don’t.
The new standard of EN 17092 level AAA is easier to achieve than the tougher EN13595 Level 2, or even Level 1 that some leathers could meet (and some textiles from the likes of BKS and Hideout). While it gives buyers a great way to compare products and have confidence in the protection they offer, it’s a relatively low threshold that also gives some the chance to make what might be considered slightly misleading claims.
I can’t tell you that the Hood K7 AAA-rated jeans are more protective than another set of AAA-rated jeans because they’ve all met the minimum requirements of the standard. But I have had them tested by a leading notified body, and I can tell you that they came close to a single-layer of quality leather on the abrasion rig, and performed more than twice as well as an AAA-rated pair of single-layer jeans. That rig was the industry-standard Cambridge machine, which uses a 60 grit belt that’s a very close analogy to the surface-dressing that’s now applied to most of the UK’s back-roads thanks to being so cheap and easy to use.
Most of the more minor roads – which us riders tend to prefer – are now surface dressed because, according to the councils that maintain them, it provides a safer, non-skid road surface, it seals and waterproofs the road, and it extends the life of the road surface.
The Hood jeans have double-stitched seams with a heavy-duty thread, and include D3O knee and hip armour. For £169.99 you get the Level 1 D3O T5 X armour, which isn’t bulky, but you can get the much slimmer Level 1 Ghost armour instead for £177.99. Or go up to £187.99 and you can have the Level 2 Ghost armour, which isn’t much thicker but offers even greater impact protection.
Having armour in your jeans is vital, not just to reduce impact damage to yourself, but because it also absorbs a lot of the energy that can go into tearing and abrading the outer layer that hits the ground.
But that armour has to stay in place, and while Hood’s slim-fit SK11s really work great with the D3O Ghost armour, on my legs at least I find it has a bit too much room to move around in these easier-fit K7s. For that reason, I prefer the cupped design of the D3O T5 X armour, which tend to stay in place much better.
Whatever armour you choose, it’s secured with long strips of tough Velcro for a huge range of adjustment behind the comfort mesh liner, so you won’t get caught up in it or rub your legs. It can take a while to get the amour in just the right place that it sits correctly while riding, yet doesn’t catch your knees when walking around, but it’s worth spending the time.
For everything you need to know about the safety labels in your motorcycle kit, click here.
Note: Some stores and brands claim ‘official CE test slide times’ to promote the abrasion resistance of the jeans they sell. The only CE testing that gives a time is through using the Cambridge machine, which sees samples of the clothing dropped onto a moving 60 grit abrasive belt, and timed to failure. However, this has only ever been considered a ‘relative abrasion time’ to compare products and MUST NOT be confused with a real-world crash protection time.
We’ve also seen times as high as almost seven seconds and beyond claimed, contrary to testing we had carried out by an independent notified body when looking for the best motorcycle jeans.
Our recommendation would be to ignore these claims and focus on the testing required for the current PPE regulations until clear evidence is provided, either through the Bennetts High Performance Award scheme, or through seeing a COMPLETE and verifiable test certificate from a notified body.
With two good-sized front and rear pockets, plus a small coin pocket on the right, there’s plenty of space for my wallet and phone. And thanks to the fact that the front pockets are made entirely of denim, they don’t wear out. Bike keys can soon ruin traditional linin-lined pockets, but my previous four year-old Hood jeans (and indeed the pair I had before those for a similar time) prove that they’re built to last; I’m only wearing this new pair now as I need to review them; the four-year old pair are still absolutely fine.
These Hood jeans are more than four years old now, but there’s nothing wrong with them, despite being used all over the world
A quality YKK zip secures the fly, with a well-secured stud fastener at the waist. Along with the six belt loops, the Hood K7/AAA jeans stay in place well, but also offer easy access for a wee.
Looking like standard jeans, there’s no adjustment anywhere except with a belt, as you’d expect, but I’ve found these jeans have accommodated my lock-down spread of 15kg without any problems.
When ordering, you can select a variety of waist size, then a leg length of 28” to 36” in increments of one inch. These are adjusted by Chris and Julie before despatch, so you can be sure you’ll get the right size.
Along with the abrasion-resistant aramid lining, the Hood K7/AAA jeans have a lightweight mesh liner, which not only helps keep them cool, it also reduces the chance of a skin-sheer injury in a slide.
Skin-sheer is a real issue; while not as severe as direct abrasion injuries, without the fine slip liner the outer material has the potential to grab the skin in even a small tumble and pull it, causing internal delamination of the flesh that can be painful and take several weeks to heal.
There are no problems with washing these jeans. Despite some misleading claims that washing Kevlar and other para-aramids harms them, that’s simple not the case.
D3O says that you should remove the armour before washing, and I’d not recommend otherwise, but this is simply to ensure that, in the unlikely event something got caught up somehow in the machine, you can’t blame anyone if the armour was damaged. I’ve washed kit with the armour in and it’s been fine, but of course you do so at your own risk.
With lined and single-layer jeans now available with AAA ratings at relatively affordable prices, I see no reason to go for anything with a rating of A or AA…
That’s my phone and wallet in the pocket, not the armour
All motorcycle clothing is about compromise. It’s absolutely true that, while you should consider the protective qualities of what you’re spending your money on – and trusting your skin to – it’s no good if it leaves you feeling uncomfortably hot or restricted in your movements.
Despite claims by those who want to sell you something different, I’ve found these Hood K7/AAA jeans offer a very comfortable balance between protection and comfort.
But I also wear single-layer jeans.
If it’s raining I’m in textiles. If I’m on track I wear leathers. Every other hour I spend on the road is in good-quality motorcycle jeans that I trust to protect me. If I’m not riding that hard, or I’m pottering about in the city I wear the Roadskin Taranis jeans (but with D3O Ghost armour). When I’m riding further or harder – especially on press launches where we tend to ride pretty fast on some challenging roads, it’s the Hoods I choose.
Buy what you want based on them being AAA, then go by what you can afford, what you like the look of and what you feel offers the protection you need.