Tested: Hood K7 jeans
As mentioned in the ‘Best of British’ article, the new PPE legislation caused Hood to rethink how they made their jeans. This rethink led to an overhaul of their popular and successful K7 and the introduction of the new ‘Infinity’ model. The new jean is rated AA – the second highest level. They would get the highest AAA rating, but Hood deliberately stopped the aramid lining at the ‘boot top’ level to make it easier to put them on, plus if the aramid went to the edge of the jean, they would not be able to offer customised leg lengths (I have short legs, so I find this service so useful).
Hood also tested the new K7 against the previous version, using the Cambridge test machine and the new jean came top in every test. So what are they like to wear?
I have been wearing Hood’s para-aramid lined jeans for 15 years now (they’re the first piece of kit selected for every test ride), wearing various iterations of the K7 over that time. So I was the obvious test dummy.
The new jeans are instantly recognisable as Hood; that classic Western five-pocket style, with the pockets lined with denim – not linen like most jeans as it makes them much more robust. They run multiple stitched seams (with a sixth stitch added where it’s useful thanks to new equipment) Comparing to the old model, I find them less generous in the thigh and crotch areas, but that may be down to the addition of a third airtex mesh layer.
The new airtex mesh lining makes them easier to slip on and the new softer para-aramid (now mid-layer) gives instantly. The new K7s come with the excellent D30 hip and knee armour as part of the price. Fitting the hip armour is simple (open pocket, pop in, close pocket). The knee armour takes a little more work. Top tip though: put the K7s on, sit on your bike and place the armour over your knee where you want it to sit (slightly to the outside). Make a mark with a piece of chalk where the top of the armour touches. Take off the jeans, slide them into the leg pocket (with your hand between the Velcro) until the top of the armour reaches the chalk mark and press. Bingo! Your armour is now positioned in the correct place with very little faff.
Having worn the jeans around the house for 10 hours (as per instructions, this allows the armour to bed in), I went out on the road. The new two-stage waistband makes them even more comfortable that before, especially when leaning into the ride. They’re comfortable, they feel lighter and the airtex liner seems to allow good airflow. As I said, the crotch feels less generous than on the old jean, but I’m sure that will give in time.
One new thing. You can’t help but notice the addition of stirrups. In the post-PPE world, if you’re buying protective legwear, they’re going to be coming with stirrups from now on. Thankfully, Hood has gone for elasticated ones (I once tested some textile jeans with ‘hard’ stirrups… scary moment when said hard stirrup caught on my footpeg when I went to put my foot down stopping at the lights). They’re easy enough to slip over the boots (though wearing with my lightweight summer boots the strap kept catching inside the Velco strap covering their laces). This means the jeans can’t ruck up in a slide, but it does tug at the jeans when walking. When off the bike I’d suggest slipping them off – they’ll just sit behind your boots, being elasticated they don’t drag on the ground.
So… they’re softer, lighter, the new lining makes them easier to slip on and they come with D30 armour as standard… all for the same RRP as the old model. If anything they’re more comfortable than ever (though my big thighs miss the old ones’ dimensions) and have more safety features than ever before.
It’s fair to say the best just got better. I’ve trusted Hood to care for my legs for the last 15 years… on this showing the next 15 (and beyond) will still be in their care.