Draggin’ Jeans are rightly proud to be the leaders in kevlar jean technology and their latest partnership with DuPont (who invented knitted kevlar aramid back in 1965) means they look set to remain so. Nowadays of course, it’s possible to source knitted kevlar of variable quality all over the place and then stitch it inside any pair of jeans, but Draggin’ have been investing in research and development since they started in ’97 and it really shows in the products.
My latest pair aren’t their top of the range, or the most expensive, but the Next Gen(eration) demonstrate that continued drive for product development.
For a start, the aramid/kevlar knitted mix that is concealed behind the denim, seems thicker than in any other pair of protective jeans I’m yet to wear and given that the fibres used are 5 times stronger than steel (on an equal weight basis) that certainly makes me feel safer. However, that isn’t some unfounded perception, as these jeans last almost twice as long as any other brand on the market in the EU’s abrasion resistance tests. Even though time seems to slow down during accidents, 4.4 seconds worth of sliding down a road on the same contact patch of your leg or bum, is a very long time indeed and that’s what these jeans will safely withstand. The kevlar protection is positioned on the bum, hips, thighs and knees, so all the bits that might come into contact with the ground.
This thicker inner material does make the Next Gen jeans feel a little warm when you initially pull them on, but the mesh lining between your skin and the woven potective layer means that they somehow magically don’t become all clammy. I can say this with confidence having ridden in over 40 degree heat in the dry desert of South Africa and the steamy Terai jungle of Nepal. I won’t pretend a pair of shorts wouldn’t have been even more pleasant, but I do value my skin so it wasn’t an option.
There are small hip pockets in the mesh lining to take extra (optional) armour and this can also be fitted at the knee, but in a more convoluted way, actually passing the armour pad up behind the kevlar on the knee and then down in front of it passed a velcro secured opening. This way Draggin’ have avoided creating that particularly annoying scenario where your foot can get caught at the knee when you’re putting the jeans on. It does mean that the lower knee section of woven kevlar is therefore attached more prominently to the liner than to the outer denim, but this mustn’t compromise performance or Draggin’ wouldn’t have been granted the CE level 2 award, meaning they actually offer more protection than the race leathers provided by many brands. The triple stitching must surely contribute to this.
When I travel I do my utmost not to crash though, and I’d like to think one way that I achieve that is by being comfortable. On or off the bike, these are the only trousers I travel with because they are exactly that. The style is classic-jean narrow, so there’s no baggy excess material buffeting in the wind, yet there’s a refrained boot cut at the ankle, just wide enough to comfortably go over my boots ensuring they appear unobtrusive. Even if I look the colour of a lobster, I like to feel that my dress sense lets me blend more easily in my adopted environment.
Pockets are what you’d expect of denim jeans, but the usually useless little extra coin pocket is actually really functional on the Next Gen, as you can get your hand as opposed to just two fingers in to it. The rear pockets seem to be cut just a little bit lower than usual. I know you’ll call me a fool, but I can’t help myself than to travel with my wallet in one bum pocket and my passport in another. Perhaps these jeans have now taught me a lesson, but I lost my passport as I rode in Nepal recently. Thankfully a local teacher on a 100cc bike gave chase and caught me at a mountain viewpoint, but the rest of my trip could have been very different!
As for colour, well if you like anything other than dark blue, you’ll be buying some dye, but I’ve rather grown into them after lots of grey pairs. The stitching is that classic beige/yellow colour so there really is nothing about these jeans that shouts ‘motorcycle’ and I really like that.
After almost 8,000 miles and much of it incredibly dusty, no part of these jeans is starting to show wear.
I’ve now seen these advertised online from £175, but they are more normally £199. You may think that’s alot, but I don’t. These will do every day, on or off the bike when you’re travelling, and all you’ll need besides is light waterproofs. Compared to leather or other ‘textile’ trousers which you can only use on the bike, and which won’t have the same abrasion protection, it’s not expensive at all.
The optional armour is £19.99, but some dealers throw it in for free. You can find a dealer here.