I’ve been working on getting the last photos posted from the International Motorcycle Show in Chicago the past few weeks, but I wanted to switch topics and circle back to finish the review on my Firstgear kit.
I’m sure I’ve commented a few times, but I can’t say enough about how reliable my Firstgear Jacket and Pants have been over the past couple months. After I bought my Rainier Jacket from a friend I decided to invest in a matching set of Firstgear pants. The Escape Pants typically run around $399 new, but I found mine on clearance for under $200, which is well worth it for 4-season, armored, waterproof riding pants.
While I recorded the video back around the holidays, I’ve now worn these pants from 14F to ~85F. In the upper 20’s I wouldn’t really be concerned about the need for heated long-johns, but if you’re extreme enough to ride through the teens I would probably entertain heated thermals for long rides. Thus far I’ve been extremely impressed with how well these pants keep out the cold with the thermal liner in place. The only “plug-in” heated gear I use for my morning commute is currently grips and gloves; I’ve never needed anything more for my half-hour ride to the office. On the same note, these pants are extremely flexible, with the liner removed and the two hip/thigh vents open, I wouldn’t shy away from wearing them up into the 80’s. They do tend to get a bit warm while idling in traffic above about 75F, but if you’re planning a long trip and a full day of riding I would wear these pants first vs. mesh gear and a rain suit, but that’s mostly because I don’t like fussing with putting on rain gear yet I hate getting wet. The vents on the pants seem well placed for mid-controls or rear-sets, but I think I get limited airflow with forward controls. I think these pants could potentially use another set of vents, however that invites the threat of leaks, which is currently not a problem. As a side note, once the temperature gets above about 60F the thermal liner starts to get pretty Toasty; if it’s above 55F when I leave in the morning, I typically leave the liner out. The thermal liner is held in by three snaps and a single “round the waist” zipper. I’ve maybe only done it once, but you can feasibly wear the liner around as pants if expect you’re going to spend some time at a destination before riding home. That said, I’m really not a big fan of the ash grey color etc., so they’re not exactly the most stylish pants. With the liner removed the pants also have an interior mesh “comfort” liner. I’m also under the impression that the newest model of the Escape Pants do not have a thermal liner, which in my opinion, raises concerns about true 4-season flexibility . I’d love to hear comments from anyone who has experience with the newer model to see how they stack up to the set that I have.
These pants also come with a ratcheting waist adjustment. Firstgear sizes the Escape Pants as over-pants, but the adjustable waist helps offer flexibility if you decide you don’t want to use them as over-pants. I personally prefer to pack jeans or shorts separately and just change when I get to a destination so I don’t wear these as over-pants. I am 5’10”, about 185 pounds and typically wear a size 34 in Jean (U.S. sizing), so I ordered these pants in a size 32; they fit a bit snug in the winter months (especially after a few editions of Pubs & Street Eats…) but they fit as pants with the armor in correct placement. If you do decide to go back and forth (with or without jeans underneath) you may want to consider fitment of the knee armor if you’re at all concerned with safety. Along with the ratcheting waist, these pants have a really stout hook closure, YKK zipper with rain flap, and Velcro. The pants legs and thermal liner both unzip from the bottom. I also have a set of the Firstgear mesh pants that actually unzip from the top or the bottom, which is a nice feature when you need extra ventilation when sitting in traffic, but for the purposes of keeping you dry I suspect that feature was omitted from the Escape Pants. The pants also come with a connection zipper to attach them to a matching jacket; the zipper is also shipped with both sides in the event you need to sew it to a non-Firstgear Jacket.
Just like my Rainier Jacket, the Escape Pants have the same waterproof “Hypertex” outer shell. The Escape Pants (up to this point) have been no-joke waterproof; unlike my comments about my aging Rainier Jacket, the waterproof zipper seals have never leaked on these pants. My Escape Pants are actually a generation newer than my jacket, so the zippers also have a “garage” that helps keep rain from slithering between the zipper pull and the end of the zipper; something that I believe is becoming more standard on a lot of motorcycle gear. Speaking of rain protection, one of my favorite features to these pants is the ankle gaiters. At the bottom of each leg is a waterproof “skirt” sewn inside each leg that buttons and grips your riding boots to prevent rain and road-spray from working up the pant leg. While probably intended to keep you dry, it also does a phenomenal job of sealing out the cold air in the winter. While I’ve not been in a situation to test it (I have no desire to ride in the rain when it’s 45F…), but I also suspect that the thermal liner has a waterproof outer layer. That certainly offers added piece of mind that you’ll stay dry, but I imagine that is the biggest contributing factor to why these pants stay so warm in the colder months.
The Escape Pants don’t have nearly the expansive amount of storage of the Rainier Jacket, having only the two flip top “dry-pockets” on the thighs and the two “hand warmer” pockets near the waist. Admittedly I avoid using the hand warmer pockets for fear of tearing the waterproof seal, or simply wearing them out from use. The hand warmer pockets aren’t particularly spacious, but I will occasionally use them for small items, but only if I plan on leaving it zipped away for the entire day. That said, the thigh dry-pockets are extremely comfortable and convenient and thus far still waterproof. To my knowledge these pants only come in black, which contributes to the warmer temperature limit; that said, black goes with everything. Considering I’m a proponent of safety gear, I really appreciate the ample reflective panels, while at the same time the subdued nature of the pants; no crazy graphics etc. The reflective panels along the lower legs are designed very similar to the panels on the Rainier Jacket.
The Escape Pants come standard with D3O armor in the knees and hips. D3O hip armor is a nice touch considering that many manufacturers typically include foam pads, if any. Like I mentioned about the Rainier jacket, the D3O armor is contained in its own “pouch” that is held in the pants with large Velcro panels for adjustability. While this offers flexible placement for fitment to each individual rider, I do find that the Velcro can be a bit “scratchy” and irritating against the skin depending on seating position and under-layers. Normally I don’t notice it in the summer months when riding, however it can be a little aggravating when walking around. That said, I wouldn’t trade the D3O armor for the more traditional CE “foam-in-pocket” armor that is more common on other brands. As mentioned in the Rainier Jacket review, I love D3O armor; the flexibility of the material really adds to the comfort without sacrificing safety (Video about D3O).
I would say the most outstanding parts of these pants are the flexibility, solid rain proofing, and D3O armor. More often than not these pants are my “go-to” for almost 11 months of the year; the only time I really grab the mesh gear is in August at its hottest. If the temperatures in September are similar to last year, I suspect I won’t even pack the mesh gear for my annual trip to the Triumph Dragon Raid. At the Raid last year I tested these pants, again, in the rain (without the liner) and stayed dry despite the heavy downpour; which really speaks to these textile pants, despite the zippered vents. Lastly, even if the D3O armor pouches are sometimes “scratchy”, the flexibility of the D3O armor really improves comfort and offers piece of mind.