I like to think I’m the person who thought up the Hybrid leather riding jeans, because when I first bought them they didn’t exist on the Hideout website. Initially, these were a bespoke creation that came as a result of a conversation I had with Hideout co-owner Kate about the varied sort of riding I do as a moto-blogger.
Which tells you how accommodating Kate and her team can be. Hideout is a small company based in Kent, England, that specializes in leather riding gear (although, it also makes some pretty amazing textile gear, as well). The company’s bread and butter is one-piece racing suits, but it also makes the two-piece get-ups that a number of motorcycle police officers wear*.
Hideout’s kit is some of the best stuff I’ve ever encountered, made with particularly heavy, thick leather that – unfortunate experience has taught me – will simply shrug off a 60+ mph crash. The kit is inescapably pricey but, I feel, wholly worth the expense.
I bought the Hybrid pants in conjunction with the Hideout Touring jacket about two years ago. I was newly flush with cash, having just signed on as RideApart’s director (RA’s corporate owner pays its staff far less than they’re worth but it was still more money than I’d ever made), and was eager to get hold of the best gear I could.
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Initially, I had hoped to get my hands on an Aerostich Transit leather two-piece suit because I had seen a picture of a dude who had ridden some insane amount of miles (in excess of 100,000, if memory serves correctly) in his Transit – the suit given an utterly badass patina by the notoriously unwashable mud of the Dalton Highway.
To my dismay, however, the Transit suit had recently been discontinued and none of the remaining stock was in my size (SIDE NOTE: For anyone else who may be pining for the return of the Transit, I asked Aerostich founder Andy Goldfine about it when I interviewed him last year. He says Aerostich wants to bring back the suit but is struggling to find a supplier that can meet its very high demands in terms of quality and price point). So, I turned to Kate and her team. It was a fortunate turn of events, because I ended up getting something that fit exactly.
In chatting with Kate about the sort of riding I do, we decided that the Touring leather jean that was offered on the Hideout website might not be fit for all purposes. I have a fondness for cruisers and big touring machines – the sort of bike for which the Touring jean was designed – but it’s not uncommon in my job to see me hopping onto a sporty naked moto, or even the occasional bonafide sportbike. So, I needed my riding pants to be safe, comfortable, and allow for a good deal of movement. Voila, the Hybrid was born.
Made almost entirely of leather, there are stretch panels at the front of the knees, and a durable elasticated fabric on the back of the knee – allowing a rider to fully flex. The pant cuff sits higher on the boot than on the Touring jean, which results in their looking just a little dorky in my opinion but I’ll concede that the higher cuff means the pant leg never gets caught on gear or brake levers. It’s also easier to tuck into my Alt-Berg Hogg All Weather boots when the weather is extra poopy and I’m wearing my Dainese D-Crust Plus rain pants.
Because of the high cuff and robust knee protection there’s no getting around the fact this is motorcycle gear – you’re a far cry from looking like Lenny Kravitz in his leather pants. Heck, you don’t even look as cool as Undertaker during his American Badass phase (And that wasn’t cool). I’ll admit that I wish these looked more hip or sinister but certainly there’s charm in the pant’s utilitarian styling. They look like the sort of thing you could live in for a while.
And the lack of any weird designs or awkward confined-to-a-specific-era colors means these will wear well for a long time. A really long time. I’ve worn these for thousands upon thousands of miles and they’re still not showing even the slightest signs of wear.
You can buy stuff “off the rack” from Hideout, but I strongly suggest either making a trip to the headquarters in Kent or catching up with Kate and her team at one of the UK motorcycle shows to get properly measured for gear that will fit exactly.
However, be alert to the fact the Hybrid pants will fit exactly to the person you are when you get measured. If you’re the sort of person who struggles to maintain a certain weight, bespoke clothing may not be for you. There are no adjustment straps on the Hybrid pants.
I’ve worn the same pant size for more than 20 years, but I’ll admit I also have some issues with the Hybrid pants due to the fact I wear them year-round. When I was measured I made sure to wear a pair of thermal leggings, to ensure things wouldn’t be too snug in the winter. In the summer, however, the pants are little loose and I’m forced to rock a pair of heavy-duty suspenders.
Beyond that, the pants are indeed all-day comfortable. I mean that genuinely. I’ve had multi-day trips where I’ve been in my riding suit for up to 14 hours a day without any complaints.
The Hybrid makes no claims of being waterproof, as the Transit did, but I have always suspected those claims of weather-beating prowess were exaggerated. If it really is possible to make waterproof leather, why do we not see more of it? Off the top of my head, the only leather jacket I can think of that’s currently on the market and claiming to be waterproof is the Weise Hydra.
Personally, I suspect the only way to actually make a leather jacket waterproof is to wear a waterproof layer over the top of it. Though, having said that, I regularly work Nikwax into the Hybrid pants and Touring jacket and have been able to get away with riding for a full hour in the rain without negative effects.
The Hybrid pants have armor in the hips and knees. The leather of the pants is elephant-hide thick and the seat and knee areas are reinforced with a layer of Kevlar. There is a removable mesh liner, which means it’s washable – useful considering the fact the Hybrid pants do not have any ventilation (though I’ve never been too hot while wearing them).
Beyond that, the pants are pretty no-frills. There are two hip pockets but the perfect-fit nature of the pants means it’s difficult to get your hands into those pockets. Kate told me she deliberately likes to keep the hip area snug to discourage people from keeping too much stuff in their pockets while riding. It’s an area that is likely to hit handlebars in a head-on crash and she’s concerned that having a pocket full of house keys could puncture the femoral artery.
That’s another reason to love Hideout: Kate sits and thinks about all the terrible things that could happen in a crash and tries to come up with gear to mitigate the damage.
This is long-lasting, hard-wearing, really good gear. I’ll admit that when I wear it to press events I’m not usually happy with how the photos turn out – I don’t look as cool as I feel – but that’s not the point. This is gear for riding, not posing. When I’m riding, I love these pants.
I treat them with Connolly Hide Care twice a year and reapply Nikwax each time I return from getting caught in the rain. The end result has been a pair of leather pants that have held up so well they still look new. I find it hard to even guess how long it will take to really wear these in. Heck, they may be the sort of thing that will be passed on after I’ve died of old age and used again by some utilitarian-minded vintage-enthusiast.
To that end, although the pants have a hefty starting price of £405 (expect to pay more for pants that are tailored to fit) they’re incredible value for money. Now that I’m running TMO and having to live more frugally I can’t tell you how happy I am to have them – I don’t have to worry about buying gear anytime soon.
Lastly, the Hybrid pants – like all of Hideout’s stuff – is handmade in the United Kingdom. That’s good not only from a Buy Local standpoint, but also in the sense that you can make changes to the pants further down the line. For example, one of these days I might have some zip-open vents put into the thighs.
The Hideout Hybrid pants aren’t the coolest-looking gear I own, but they – along with the Touring jacket – are probably the best gear I own. I highly recommend them.
*An amusing aspect of Hideout is that there is almost always a police car parked in the front of the company’s HQ – yet another officer in to be fitted for his or her suit. Kate says that as a result she’ll hear the sound of motorcycle engines aggressively downshifting when they come into sight of the shop.