Date reviewed: April 2021 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £177.99 | www.hoodjeans.co.uk
Having worn Hood jeans on rides throughout the UK, Europe and USA – on some very fast and unpredictable rides – I can honestly say that I find the double-layer design of family-owned Hood jeans extremely comfortable in all weathers, and very confidence inspiring.
The K7s I’ve worn over many thousands of miles are a relaxed fit, but the new SK11s are a slim design with a more narrow leg, typically intended to be worn with casual-style ankle-height bike boots. I’ve been testing them on a BMW S1000XR, a 1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R and a Honda MSX125 for the past two months…
High-quality stitching and flat rivets are just some of the well-thought-out details that go into Hood jeans
Since Hood jeans was started by Chris and Julie Easterford in 1998 (with family roots in jean-making going back to 1955 at Lee Cooper), the principle has always been to make the safest, most hard-wearing and stylish motorcycle jeans possible.
Like its other jeans, the SK11s have a para-aramid lining sandwiched between a denim outer and airflow mesh inner, but the denim here is a new stretch fabric; still extremely tough (in fact, even more so), but with that extra give that makes them more suited to a slim fit.
The SK11’s hems are 14” (as opposed to the 18” of the K7s), so meant to sit outside an ankle-height boot, though you can of course wear them inside a traditional high motorcycle boot.
Available in stonewash blue, dark navy or black, the SK11s – like all Hood jeans – can be adjusted for length at no extra cost. There’s also a free exchange service if you find the sizing isn’t quite right, but I’m a 34” waist (just) with 32” leg, and I’ve never had a problem with the fit of any Hoods – the sizing seems consistent and in line with other trousers, whether motorcycle-specific or not. You can check the Hood jeans sizing guide here.
Besides being extremely well sewn together with double stitching, the Hoods are also rivetted with flat rivets that won’t scratch your bike.
Hood jeans was one of the first companies to comply with the new personal protective equipment standards that became law in 2018, and the SK11s were also the first motorcycle garments of any brand to be certified to the new UKCA legislation this year. Which is even more impressive when you remember that it’s a small, family-run business.
With the jeans on inside-out, I’ve highlighted in yellow where the para-aramid lining is. Sitting underneath the very high-quality and already tough denim, it’s what helps give these AAA approval, and an abrasion result that exceeds even the original EN 13595 Level 2 standard for zones 1 and 2 of seven seconds.
The new stretch denim used in these jeans has given them increased abrasion resistance: besides passing the top EN 17092-2:2020 AAA standard (the highest possible), they’ve been tested to meet the older EN 13595-2:2002 standard for abrasion resistance. This was a tougher test, and Level 2 was the highest; with a 7.2 second result on the Cambridge abrasion test rig, that’s very impressive.
While available for £139.99 as B-rated jeans under the new EN 17092 standard with no armour, I’d always recommend getting any motorbike kit with it fitted for safety. The SK11s I’m reviewing are the AAAs and come with D3O Ghost armour in the knees and hips, which is rated to Level 1 for impact resistance.
The D3O Ghost armour is really unobtrusive
While Level 2 armour gives more protection, Level 1 is certainly the right compromise in a pair of casual-style jeans, and this new Ghost armour is incredibly thin. Also as these are a relatively snug fit, that armour is held in place extremely well, so it stays where it’s needed.
The Hood jeans are lined with an airflow mesh, which also minimises sheer-force injuries; when the outer lining of any garment is in direct contact with the skin, it can cause serious burns during a high-speed slide as it moves around on the flesh. The mesh lining used here creates a barrier between the moving outer and your body; something Dr Roderick Woods – the man behind the original Cambridge test machine that formed an integral part to the original EN 13595 standard – identified as a real danger many years ago.
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.
There are two front main pockets, a coin pocket on the right, and two rear pockets – they’re all a good size and capable of taking my wallet and Samsung Galaxy S10, but what’s particularly notable with all Hood jeans is that they’re made entirely of denim.
Unlike most jeans, which have a thinner cotton liner inside the pocket, the denim used here means they last for years, even with keys rubbing on the inside.
The Hood SK11s have a YKK metal zip fly, with a solidly-fixed metal button at the waist. There are six belt loops around the waist, which keep the jeans comfortable all the way around. When manufacturers skrimp on little thing like this, the waistline can pull down between the loops, leaving drafty and uncomfortable gaps. Not so here.
The leg length is adjusted to suit you before being sent out
Any waist adjustment is of course made with your own belt but it’s great to be able to have the legs taken up to suit you before you receive the Hoods. And of course, there’s a returns label included for free exchange if you did get your sizing wrong.
The mesh lining is very comfortable, but also an important safety feature
Besides the significant safety benefit mentioned in the protection section, the airflow mesh lining is very comfortable indeed, keeping you warm even down below 10°C, but not getting too hot when temperatures rise.
Having used Hood jeans of the same construction in southern Spain, I’ve no problem spending all day in these, even in high temperatures. The extra lining is the one thing that could count against these when compared to single-layer garments, but I wear bike jeans for safety, so I’d be very reluctant to go without the additional protection. While there are AAA-rated single-layer jeans available, EN 17092 is not as tough a test as the older EN 13595 and also doesn’t give the opportunity to test materials beyond the pass; 17092 is pass or fail, whereas 13595’s abrasion test gave you the opportunity to see how far a material exceeded a pass. I know which I trust most, but I’ll soon be running a test to find out exactly how single and dual-layer jeans really compare.
The fact that Hood jeans are comfortable and easy to wear all day long in everything but winter – whether you’re on the bike or walking around – means they’re perfect for UK riders.
Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design and construction of the Hood SK11s, but combining that with decades of experience in getting such a great fit and style is what so often sets Hood apart.
Hood’s jeans have always been a fantastic fit for me – and in women’s sizes for my wife – but I’ve put on weight over lockdown, and the SK11s aren’t as flattering on me as someone who doesn’t enjoy cake quite as much. At my current size, personally I prefer the more loose-fit K7s, but having the option of a slim fit in the range makes absolute sense for Hood, and I’d expect to see them keeping a lot of riders safer over the coming months.
Outstanding build quality, top-class protection and great value from a family-run business mean the Hood SK11s are thoroughly recommended.