It’s that time of year again – riding season! Of course, there’s always Muriel, who rides her Ural all year ’round even here in Alaska. For her, there is no such thing as “riding season.” Today as we shot the breeze in front of Alaska Leather, we were approached by a male customer who had noticed that everyone who was there actually ON a motorcycle was a woman. Remember, motorcycles in April are normal in most places; in Alaska it’s a little early yet. The studded tires are still on my truck and side streets (and my driveway) are glare ice. Off-trail snow is still up to my hips in places. It’s cold. We can still ski every day. But us ladies? We’re already on our motos. Way to represent, women!
Anyway, with the arrival of “spring” it’s time for the revival of the Moto gear review section. I was fortunate enough to be sent a Firstgear care package chock full of goodies, including these HT Overpants. You recall I loved my Firstgear Kilimanjaro jacket so it was fun to try out some matching pants.
The HT Overpants are popular amongst women riders in large part because they are one of the relatively few enduro-style pants out there specifically for women. It seems that if a retailer starts carrying women’s gear, they start with these pants. They’re a really solid option for women riders.
Basically you’re looking at a heavy-duty overpant with a removable liner and some (?) built-in armor. I say “some” because my research indicates the pants come with knee and hip armor, but mine only have the knee armor. Oh…wait…they DO have the hip armor, it’s just low-profile. You’re hardly likely to notice it until you need it. Nice! My regular moto pants are dude pants with aftermarket hip armor, which is not so flattering so hey, it’s nice to have the low-pro option. Let’s face it, unless you’re a stick insect (which I am not, at this time of year anyway, thanks heaps, long Alaska winter), moto gear isn’t the most flattering.
Let’s continue with the “ooh, squirrel!” nature of this review (sorry, I keep getting distracted by going through the pockets on these pants and finding what I left in there last season) and talk about fit. These are high waisted pants. There’s no other way to say it. They are fine when you’re standing up, kinda weird when you’re seated on your bike. At least for me; I’m kind of a short-waisted person and high waisted pants end up around my rib cage – a secondary shelf bra of sorts, shall we say. Taller ladies might find the fit to be a little better for them, but basic sizes seem to be built for average-height gals. As a matter of fact, I have to order a size up to be sure riding position is comfortable. This is kind of an issue for moto gear because stretch isn’t really a common thing for Cordura. You need roominess to be comfortable, and roominess doesn’t seem to be built into the sizing of any brand. That said, these pants seem to be sized generally true to size.
The legs are cut a little tapered to work well tucked inside boots.They’re a little narrow for out-of-boots but I think it could work. I’m an out-of-boots person personally; I like the Boorman look. I’ve also had to lengthen these pants to make them really work over boots (you can lengthen by having any good heavy-gear sewer attach extra Cordura to the bottom hem. If they’re good, it looks just fine – Alaska Leather does a great job). Without a little extra fabric they end up at mid-calf. That’s why I think taller women might want to go the inside-boot method. You have nearly full-length side zippers on both liner and outer pant, which is nice for donning and doffing without removing footwear.
The liners are good and warm. I’ve worn them on low-thirties days and didn’t even feel the wind. Come to think of it, I’ve never even needed heated inserts with these pants. The specs say the liners can be worn as stand-alone pants but honestly, I don’t see why you would do that unless you didn’t bother to wear actual pants. Which you might not, because the fit of the pants in general doesn’t allow for a lot of clothing underneath unless you get at least a size, maybe two, up. I got a size up, myself, but I think two sizes up would get too “poufy” in the hips and butt. I don’t know why gear designers always default to the mom-jeans look at first, but this is pretty common for manufacturers starting the foray into women’s specific pants and trying to figure out how to solve the “too big in waist, too small in hips” problem. Designers – you can lower that rise by about two and a half inches, solving the problem of how to get the waist small enough while leaving room to slide the pants over our hips. If you lower the rise, the opening is big enough for our hips. And we won’t end up with our pants around our collarbones.
So that’s a long and rambling way of saying that these pants would be great for a tall woman who rides long distances in cold weather. I prefer something a little more relaxed for around-town stuff because I like to wear jeans under, and being a little on the short side I find the fit of these pants a little too long in the rise to comfortably accommodate underlayers. If the fit works for you, you get a lot for your money – a tough, fully featured, very functional and well-equipped pant. And don’t forget WARM! I’d like to see them in a low-rise version, but as this is a battle that it took almost ten years to win with the outdoor industry, I think we’ve got a while to wait.