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Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 Pants Review

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Review
Crash Tested Overpants for Men and Women
by Brandon Jackson for webBikeWorld.com

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Summary

The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 textile riding pants offer versatility, protection and bang for the buck.

In fact, this pair survived a crash that totaled the bike; more on that below.

Also, both men's and women's specific versions of the Ballistic 7.0 pants are available.

A huge size range is available, from XS regular to 5XL and from M to 3XL in both Short and Tall lengths for men and XS-2XL for women.

The pants include a removable waterproof liner and the shell is made from 630 denier Hitena nylon.

Both the shell and the liner include full-length two-way zippers, making them easy to put on and remove while wearing boots.

Also included are height adjustable knee protectors, claimed "CE rated".

The high-density hip padding is removable and Joe Rocket lists "melt resistant" material on the lower legs.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants On Motorcycle
Background

Some people might find the Joe Rocket name a bit silly, but my experience over the years with their apparel has demonstrated that the company is about their products.

Also, Joe Rocket gear is almost always a good value.

Most Joe Rocket products seem to fall in the mid-level price range and the company seems to be pretty successful overall in this highly competitive space.

Looking into Joe Rocket’s history for this review provided a little insight into how they have done so well in this economy.

Joe Rocket was founded in 1992 and had a couple of distributors in the USA.

For a long time they were under the typical motorcycle-related sales model where the overseas manufacturer, the Joe Rocket company (designer), the wholesaler and then the retailer all took a cut of the sale of the products.

One of those distributors, Sullivans, purchased Joe Rocket back in 2009, thus becoming the sole distributor and manufacturer of the Joe Rocket Brand.

This helped reduce both cost and time to market for new designs.

The results can be seen in how the prices for a lot of their products have remained steady over the past several years, and this despite new and improved versions of those products being released.

Joe Rocket primarily caters to the street rider, with only a few products that for off-road or dirt riding.

Perhaps their Ballistic Adventure jacket can crossover a bit into off-road riding, but the focus remains on the street.

The current Joe Rocket lineup of street gear is pretty extensive; I count thirty-three men’s jackets currently available.

The pants selection is a bit more limited however, with only six varieties on hand (seven if the perforated version of the leather sport pants are considered).

Luckily for me though, one of those options was just what I had been looking for...

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Three Views
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The Ballistic 7.0 Pants

To paraphrase Henry Ford, "A customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black." Ditto for the Ballistic 7.0 pants.

But sizing for the Ballistic 7 pants is quite another story and the pants also come in versions for both men and women.

Sizing

This seventh version of the popular Ballistic 7.0 overpants is available in a huge size range. For men, that's from XS all the way up to quintuple XS. That's 5XL, as in XXXXXL!

That is quite a wide range of sizes and it also marks one of the only times in my life I can recall writing the word “quintuple”.

For women, the pants are available in sizes from XS to 2XL in one standard length.

The men's sizes from M to 3XL are also available in either Short or Tall inseam lengths in addition to the regular length.

Dual-Opening Side Zippers

The legs on these pants use zippers that run from the bottom of each leg opening to the top of the thigh on the anterior facing side of each leg.

Opening these zippers fully allows the wearer to slip on the pants over shoes or boots, which means the pants are easy on and off.

The full-length leg zippers are of the “dual” variety, which means they can be zipped open from the top as well as from the bottom.

The included removable waterproof liner has the same dual zipper runners for convenience.

These dual zippers not only make it easier to get into and out of the pants without removing boots, but it's also easy to access items in the pockets of the street pants you may be wearing underneath.

Additionally, the zippers can be used to add some ventilation during warmer rides, which we’ll look at later on.

Branding

There is very little branding on these pants; moving up from the bottom of the right leg are two branding items.

A subtly screened Joe Rocket logo is visible below the front of the knee, while a small red rocket logo is present on the left hip just below the front pocket opening.

Pockets

Speaking of pockets, there are two pockets on the front of the pants that have a slash-cut angled opening with a zippered closure.

These zippers keep the pocket opening secure but the teeth are of the larger variety and can be “scratchy” when sliding a hand into the pockets, not unlike the same issue we noted in our REV’IT! Enterprise 2 pants review.

Since the Ballistic 7 pants use a removable waterproof liner, these outer pockets may not keep items dry, however.

There are no pockets in the rear of the pants but I don’t like using rear pockets anyway when I'm riding, so I don’t miss their absence.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Front Zipper
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Front Zipper

The main closure in front at the waist uses a dual snap arrangement with a zippered fly.

Behind the fly is a gusset using the same material as the waterproof liner.

There is a also a storm flap using the same material that fits over the front of the zip that is kept in place by the snapped down front flap and a strip of hook-and-loop fastener. The front closure is very secure.

Rear Zipper

Besides the leg, main closure and pocket zippers, there is a short connection zipper at the rear waist of the pants for connecting to Joe Rocket jackets.

I use this often with my older Ballistic Jacket (unknown version) to make a secure two-piece suit.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Front Legs
Construction

The Ballistic 7.0 pants have an outer shell made from a 630 denier weight abrasion-resistant fabric called Hitena.

Hitena is a product from Invista, the makers of Cordura; it's made from a highly twined yarn.

The Hitena used in the Ballistic 7 pants has more of a twill-like appearance than the typical ballistic nylon seen on other textile riding gear.

It is definitely has a different hand, or feel, than Cordura fabric I have seen elsewhere.

According to the Cordura website, Hitena has “improved controlling capacity of human body temperature”, although I’m not entirely sure what this means. Does it insulate better or is it designed to breathe?

I can say from wearing these pants that they don’t flow air through the outer shell in any way I can measure, so maybe they mean insulate.

The texture of the outer shell fabric does not prevent the pants from making a swishing sound when walking around, but the tone isn’t as harsh compared to some other ballistic nylon materials.

The inner facing area of the lower leg sections have a temperature-resistant material said to protect against exhaust pipes damaging the pants.

On the inside, the pants have a soft polyester mesh liner; the pockets for the knee and hip protectors are made from this polyester mesh also.

All of the zippers are branded with the Joe Rocket “Rocket” logo. They work well enough, but I have run into a snag -- literally -- with the right pocket zipper.

Occasionally, the zipper pull will get “crooked” in the slider and for some reason it prevents the zipper from moving up or down.

It also seems to be difficult to get the zipper pull straightened out once it has gone ”wonky” like this.

I have always managed it but I’m still not certain what I have to do and have done to get it to go back into position.

All the other zippers seem to be OK, so maybe I bent this one somehow.

Overall, the Ballistic 7.0 pants seem well put together with tight and even stitching throughout.

I only found a couple of spots where there was loose thread hanging out but these were small and I had to look very close to find them.

The material has a nice feel that is different from most other textile pants I’ve worn.

Also, the deep black color of the material makes the unique texture pretty much unremarkable though unless closely looked at.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Knee Protector
Protection

Knee and hip protectors are included with the Ballistic pants. While knee protection is pretty much a given these days in most textile riding pants, hip protection is not.

The knee protectors are what I would refer to as the “standard issue” CE "rated" items. They are made from a durable rubber (or rubber-like material) and are shaped to fit the knee position.

The have a CE stamp on them and Joe Rocket lists them as “CE Rated”, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have been tested and certified. For more information, read the webBikeWorld report "CE Certified vs. CE Approved".

The pockets for the knee protectors have two different height settings, which allows the wearer to locate the protectors in the best of two positions to match up with the height of their knee.

I like the dual pocket arrangement better than the multiple hook-and-loop fastener strips placed in a single pocket that are used in some other brands, which can be difficult to deal with.

But on the other hand, having only two pockets does not allow for much variability in placement.

The hip protection does not carry a CE rating and is described as “high density hip padding”.

I really appreciate the inclusion of the hip padding in these pants for reasons I’ll get into a bit later, but there is something odd to note about them.

The hip protectors are removable, but not in the way you might think.

When I hear the word “removable”, I imagine a pocket that can be accessed to remove and/or replace the protectors or padding within.

In this case, it is very different. The hip pads in the Ballistic 7.0 pants are sewn into a small pouch that contains the high-density foam material, but the pouch has no opening to allow access to the padding within.

The pouch is then attached to the inside of the pants with hook-and-loop fastener strips at the top and bottom, an arrangement that seems to be a little more complicated than necessary to me.

It also precludes an upgrade to a more substantial or higher rated hip protector type, which would offer increased protection.

The knee protectors can be easily replaced due to the more traditional attachment.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Crash Damage Hip
Crash damage, hip.
Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Crash Damage Knee
Crash damage, knee.
Crash Tested!

Although entirely unplanned -- I promise! -- I had the opportunity earlier in the year to have a crash while I was wearing the Ballistic 7.0 pants.

The pants I’m wearing and reviewing here replace the pair I crashed in earlier this year, but I kept the old pair to show how they held up.

I had a low-side crash on my way home from work while on my Triumph Sprint 1050.

I was making my way through a traffic circle (roundabout) and I was going maybe 35 mph or so as I was proceeding through the circle.

As I made my way around, I felt the rear tire slowly let go. I had enough time to think “Hmmm, I’m too low to the ground. I’m about to crash…”.

I was on the ground sliding in much less time than it takes to read that thought out loud!

I don’t believe I slid more than ten or fifteen feet and I was fortunate there was no traffic or roadside obstacles; I am very grateful for that.

I was able to stand up, lift the bike back up on its wheels (with some assistance from a nice guy in a truck who stopped to help) and proceed on home.

Now I was lucky in the way I crashed; it’s the way you'd “want” to crash if you have to. I was unhurt, no one else was involved, and I was able to get home safely.

Once I got home, I evaluated my gear as I removed it.

I was on my left side when I struck the ground and the Ballistic 7.0 pants were damaged at the left knee. Two holes had been worn away over the protector in the knee.

The protector itself didn’t show much damage at all, so it must not have worn through the fabric until right before I stopped sliding.

The left hip also showed damage to the fabric but it had not worn through to the liner or the padding.

There were a few other abrasions visible on the left leg but the knee and hip took the brunt of the impact and slide.

Even though I felt fine, I was sure I would at least have some bruising on the hip and knee the next day. But I was wrong -- and glad to be wrong.

Despite the “un-rated” nature of the hip padding, it did a great job of mitigating the impact.

Do the Ballistic 7.0 pants offer “race level” protection? I’m sure they don’t. Do they offer as good if not a bit better protection than expected for a typical pair of textile riding pants? I’d say so.

Enough so that I bought an identical pair to replace them a couple of weeks later.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Front Pockets
Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Inside Waist
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Fit and Sizing

The Ballistic 7.0 pants seem to fit very true to their sizing chart. For my 36-inch waist and 30-inch inseam I purchased a pair in size XL Short.

The size chart claims these should fit a 35-38-inch waist and I would say they are correct.

The waist has two adjustment straps that attach at the sides and join at the rear of the pants to a central spot. This arrangement makes it easy to readjust the fit and also reduces the amount of material at the front of the waist.

There is a wide range of adjustment, so I’d say that the waist can go even an inch smaller than advertised but they would get rather bunched up around the waist.

Of course going the other direction there is a rather “hard stop”.

When I ordered a replacement pair for the one that I crashed in, I thought I would try the size L Short, seeing as I thought there was plenty of room in the XL, but this did not work.

The 35-inch waist maximum is indeed the maximum and I could barely get them fastened. Even not using them as overpants, they would be too tight for comfort.

I do want to point out that I usually wear these as overpants but since I am on the lower side of the sizing range for the XL size, they work fine over other clothes.

Keep in mind the size chart appears to be actual size, so plan accordingly when ordering and do not expect to stretch the waist size.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Inside Hip Padding
Interior mesh lining and hip padding.
Short vs. Tall Size Notes

The length for the standard sizes is 34 inches with “Short” coming in a 32 inches and “Tall” is 36 inches.

These inseams run the same across all the various sizes, except the XS, 4XL, and 5XL sizes which are not available in short and tall variants.

Even though my inseam is 30 inches, I still feel the 32-inch length works fine when riding.

You can see in the photos that the Ballistic 7.0 pants do look baggy and loose on me while standing in the studio photos, but when I'm seated on the bike, the slack is taken up and the legs provide just the right length to keep the lower leg covered without bunching up.

There are also two hook-and-loop adjustment straps around the lower leg areas to cinch the leg openings around boots.

Ventilation

The outer shell material of the pants, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t breathe much and this would lead you to assume these pants are for mildly warm to cooler weather.

Their warm weather use can be extended through the use of the leg zippers, however.

Since the outer shell (and the waterproof liner) has a dual zipper arrangement on the legs, some ventilation can be provided by zipping down from the hip area.

The zipper starts low enough on the thigh/hip area that one can create an opening that won’t create too much “Southern exposure” and let in air when conditions are very warm.

I have done this numerous times on my commute to and from work and an opening of a few inches can let in enough air to allow me to be comfortable in temperatures approaching the 90 degree (F) range and even a bit more if on the highway and not sitting in traffic.

This may not be recommended by the manufacturer though, as it can reduce the protectiveness of the garment but the zipper does sit below the hip padding so that helps.

Motorcycle riding is all about managing risk, so one needs to make their own determination on if this “venting” solution is right for them.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Waterproof Removable Liner
Waterproof removable liner.
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Waterproofing

On the flip side of the equation, the shell seems to do a rather good job of keeping water on the outside all on its own.

Example: I have been caught in the rain twice while wearing these pants and I did not have the liner with me.

I was riding home from work both times which is about 30 minutes or so along secondary roads at the slower “rain” pace I stick to in the wet.

I was wearing these Ballistic 7.0 pants without the liner and I was wearing a Frogg Togg waterproof top over my riding jacket.

The first time I was riding in a “medium” rain shower, my legs stayed dry except for my seat. I neglected to dry the seat off before riding away and it was pretty wet to begin with. After a few minutes my posterior was soaked but that was all.

The second time, I rode home in the rain like this it was raining pretty heavily for about 15 of the 30 minutes, but this time the bike had been in a garage and was dry when I started out.

Even though the Ballistic 7 pants shell is not rated as waterproof, I remained completely dry.

Joe Rocket Ballistic 7 Pants Waterproof Liner Leg Zipper Close-up
Waterproof liner leg zipper.
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Waterproof Liner Notes

The included waterproof liner is very well made for what it is.

In some textile pants I’ve had in the past, a liner like this is a thin layer of waterproof material but the waterproof liner in the Ballistic 7.0 pants is made of two layers of material and feels substantial.

The pants attach with a near full circumference zipper on the inside of the waist and two snap loops located about halfway down inside each leg.

The leg openings have large elastic gathers at the bottom to prevent water from coming up into the leg opening.

The liner has a dual zipper arrangement that runs all the way down the side of each leg just like the outer shell. These zippers have finer teeth than the shell ones and are of the waterproof type of zippers.

Maybe over a longer period I will have the need to resort to the liner but for my commuting purposes I’ve been able to skip it. Longer trips where rain is expected might be a different story.

Conclusion

The Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 pants offer a good value for their $149.99 (USD) list price ($134.24 at RevZilla, the webBikeWorld Affiliate).

The wide range of sizing also means there should be a pair that will fit most riders.

Protection is good for a pair of textile overpants and even though the outer shell wore through during my slide on the street, the inner mesh liner was undamaged, as was my skin.

Like most textile gear, one crash is all it takes to necessitate their replacement but they did their job.

The ability of the outer shell to keep out rain on shorter rides makes them a good option for the commuter and the included waterproof liner seems robust enough for plenty of use.

Finally, the lack of ventilation would seem to limit the Ballistic 7.0 pants to warm to cool environments but opening the leg zippers can extend their usage into hotter months depending on your definition of “hot”.

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wBW Review: Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 Pants
Manufacturer: Joe Rocket
List Price (2016): $149.99
Colors: Black
Made In: China
Sizes: XS-5XL, S&T
Review Date: November 2016
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