Kevlar Jeans Reviewed by Stephen Karlan Updated July, 1997
Oh yeah, Kevlar Jeans. I had a couple of pair of Draggin Jeans (Kevlar knees and butt) and absolutely loved them ... but not for riding and not for protection.
The Kevlar patches are large enough to cover the knees and butt of the wearer. The reinforced material is the right size and is placed where it needs to be. There was no defect in the jeans and they were exactly as advertised.
What the Kevlar patches will do is protect the jeans. I've tried Kevlar jeans and, it's true, they stay together under the most hazardous conditions. I do not dispute that, in high-speed get offs and during long-distance blacktop sliding, they hold up. The problem is that the jeans protect themselves (don't disintegrate) better than they protect the rider.
My idea of good riding clothing is clothing that protects me, not itself. The Kevlar offers no hard shell to take the initial impact and offers the minimal padding of a little extra material. If your knee or hip hits the pavement, the Kevlar jeans will offer little more than regular jeans from impact protection. I personally have bandaged and transported riders to the hospital with fractured patellas (knee caps) because of the impact. You need padding.
My conclusion is that Kevlar jeans will prevent road rash on the knees and butt. Ask yourself: Do you want your clothing to protect itself, or to protect you ?
Second, the Kevlar jeans are what Levis' calls "Full Cut", which means both my leg and an elephant's leg will fit in the jean leg at the same time with room to spare. I am ugly enough without this negative fashion statement.
This extra room is good, to a point, because you could add something like an in-line skater's knee pad underneath the jeans without being noticed. These knee pads would protect against impact and against road rash.
There is another alternative. Buy regular jeans and alter them.
I had my dry cleaning folks sew a thick horizontal piece of Velcro(tm) above and below the knee on the inside of my regular Levi (tm) jeans. I also had them sew matching Velcro(tm) on a set of Bike knee pads. Stick the pads to the inside of the knees and, during an unplanned get off, the jeans will tear and the pads will shred, but the knee still has that initial padded protection.
The Kevlar (tm) jeans are about $90, including shipping and handling. You can buy two or three pair of regular jeans AND knee pads for the same outlay. The best type of pad should have a hard shell outside and padding inside.
I bought Bike (tm) pads and they do not have a hard shell. I had the dry cleaner sew Velcro(tm) above and below both knees. They also sewed Velcro (tm) on the top and bottom of the knee pads. The Velcro(tm) matchs and I have funny-looking knees. I like the Velcro (tm) because it eliminates the elastic strap around my leg and does not cut off circulation behind the knee cap. If I go down, I plan on wrecking the jeans.
Judge for yourself if you think that properly positioned knee pads will give you better protection than Kevlar (tm) jeans. Look at in-line skaters knee pads, look at pads used in other sports, look at tile setters pads, etc. Pick what feels good and what will stay in position.
If you buy the Kevlar jeans, buy knee pads to wear under it.
I also wear a Darien Light jacket and matching pants, which is a thinner and lighter material than used in the Darien regular suits by Rider Wear House (the Aerostich people). Because it is their light version, it will tear more easily than the Darien regular, but it also will protect the rider (first hand experience). I had a get-off onto blacktop and I shredded the suit, but the shoulder, knee and hips pads saved my joints and I had no road rash. The suit saved me; it did not save itself nearly as well. That was the price I paid for having a suit that is relatively cool in my super-hot climate (Miami). Yes, I would like some ballistic material on the Darien light pants and jacket, but it doesn't come that way. Until it does, I'll wear the suit and consider it cheaper and less painful than the medical bills I'd have in a get-off.
Copyright(c) 1997, Stephen Karlan (Dali Meeow) <firstname.lastname@example.org> , Miami, Florida.
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