Alpinestars Copper Out Denim Pants Hands-On Review
Alpinestars Copper Out Denim Pants Hands Review Summary
The Copper Out jeans from Alpinestars are a smart looking pair of riding jeans with a “straight leg” fit. The 13 oz cotton denim is reinforced with aramid fiber material and adjustable height knee armor for impact and abrasion protection.
Aramid reinforcement in impact areas
Proper jeans “fit”
Adjustable knee armor
Easy access to knee armor pocket
Knee armor shape could be better
Hip armor not included
Metal rivets and button are potential paint hazards
For most riders, Alpinestars is a well-known name in the area of motorcycle gear. Starting back in 1963 producing footwear for off-road riding, the company has blossomed into a powerhouse in the technical apparel field. Today they offer products not only for motorcyclists but auto racers and cyclists have products to choose from Alpinestars lineup of gear such as jackets and gloves.
The company didn’t get where they are today by resting on their laurels. They continue to innovate and develop new products such as their Tech-Air® system of airbag protection which is one of the most advanced airbag systems available to street (and racing) riders.
With that in mind, I’m going to take a bit of a left turn and take a look at one of their “lower tech” solutions for motorcycle riders. In this review, I’ll be examining the Copper Out denim pants which look (mostly) like a pair of regular denim jeans but offer protection for motorcycle rider through the use of aramid fabrics and armor bits in the knees.
Along the way, I’ll also be pointing out features/difference of the Copper Denim riding pants on which the Copper Out model is based. These two products are very similar and I was accidentally sent a pair of the regular Copper, not the “Out” version when I was first asked to do the review. So why not add a little extra value while I’m at it, right?
The goal of most riding jeans is to provide reasonable protection for the rider while not looking like protective riding gear. They should be comfortable enough to not be in the way of participating in activities once off the bike at the destination. They also should keep one from not looking like one just stepped off a race track, a ski slope, or just finished fighting a fire.
The Copper Out denim riding pants are a straight leg-cut pair of jeans available in a variety of colors, if by variety ones mean dark indigo only. Like many jeans, I’m sure they’ll fade a bit as they age but no stonewashed or faded blue options are available new, at least here in the USA.
Looking at the Alpinestars website they show a photo of a light blue option but I cannot find a listing for this color at the dealers I’ve searched. The non-“Out” version is available in additional colors which I’ll point out shortly.
The style is the typical five pocket design with the four traditional pockets plus a coin pocket inset in the front right pocket. Coin pockets, by the way, are fine for normal off the bike use but good luck ever getting a gloved digit in one of these.
Above each knee is a diagonal cut zippered opening into which one places the knee armor. This is what the “Out” portion of the name refers in Copper Out. This is really the only obvious tip-off that these are riding jeans. The non-“Out” versions are more “stealth” with no external clues as to their protective features
Features that typical jeans have that I feel Alpinestars could have left behind are the rivets and metal button waist fastener. While these look good and are sort of a denim jeans “staple”, they can be a hazard to the paint on a motorcycle tank. It isn’t only Alpinestars that puts these on their riding jeans but it would nice to see manufacturers be more mindful in this area. I’ve seen other implementations where items like these are rubber coated to prevent paint damage.
Besides the zippers, all the other motorcycle specific features are happening on the inside. An Aramid fiber material is used to reinforce the seat and knees. The knees have pockets for armor and inside the waistband are two hook and loop patches designed to attach hip armor (not included).
With the highlights out of the way, let’s see what these jeans are made of.
The main shell of the Copper Out Denim riding pants is made from a 13oz “comfort” denim. The comfort comes from a 2% elastane mix in the otherwise cotton fabric. This provides a little stretch to the denim and I do mean “little”. There is a very mild stretch in just one direction to the denim but it is better than none.
While the description of this denim claims it offers “excellent abrasion resistance and tear resistance” it’s just cotton denim. Even at a 13oz weight, it can still shred swiftly when sliding on asphalt.
Thankfully, the Aramid material inside is there to help mitigate this. Placed on the inside of the seat and in the knee armor pockets, this yellow-ish fabric has a smoother and softer texture compared to some other similar style reinforcements I’ve encountered in other riding jeans.
The stitching and cut of the jeans are consistent and neat giving the jeans a well finished and quality look. I would like to have seen triple stitching in the main seams for increased crash durability but I don’t believe that ultimate protection is the goal for these jeans.
Looking at the protective features along with Alpinestars own description of the product will help explain why I say that.
The product description page at the Alpinestars website describes the Copper Out Denim riding pants as “an urban commuting jean that fuses class-leading protection and advanced material construction with a uniquely stylish and customized design”. I feel they are at least half correct here. Let’s see why.
Aramid material is used in just the seat and knee armor pockets. In my opinion, something that is called class leading might offer more comprehensive coverage. I would also expect to see more robust stitching as I mentioned earlier in the main seams and impact areas. Then there is the aramid reinforcement.
The term aramid covers a lot of ground and refers to a variety of high strength fibers. As such it’s hard to say exactly how protective this particular variant is. I can say that the material is a 60/40 mix of polyester and aramid yarns according to the labels. This explains why this material has such a nice soft and smooth feel but it does deepen the mystery of how protective the fabric may be.
The included knee armor is of the CE level 1 variety and is accordingly thin and light. The top panel of the armor pocket is where the aramid material is placed so that it sits on top of the armor. The actual protectors are made from a viscoelastic material and should work well in a wide variety of temperatures. The pockets include two positions into which the armor can be placed for the optimal position depending on the rider.
The straight cut of the legs will help keep the knee armor in place during a crash. I prefer the closer fit as otherwise, the knee armor could move around in a crash. Of course, everyone is different so where a straight-leg cut works well on me, others might have a different experience.
Provisions for hip armor are present in the form of two hook patches (as in hook and loop fastener) where Alpinestars’ Nucleon hip armor can be attached. These hip protectors are not included with the jeans so be aware when ordering that these need to be purchased separately. I point this out as it can be inferred from the description on their website that the protectors might come with the jeans.
Urban commuting is a good description and it is exactly where I feel these jeans would be most at home. The part about class-leading protection gives me a bit of pause. They certainly offer more protection than non-motorcycling denim jeans but while the protection offered in the Copper Out Denim riding pants may be good it doesn’t strike me as something I would call a class-leader.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the Alpinestars Copper Out Denim riding pants is exactly as expected. The 36” waist is spot on and the straight fit is just right between slim and relaxed fit. The inseam is just over 35 inches so for my 30” inseam I would need to have them hemmed or roll them up (as shown in the earlier photo). There are no “short” or “long” variants here but as there are no special features (zippers, liners, etc) at the bottom of the leg it should be easy to have these jeans hemmed to fit.
For the purposes of photographs for this review, I rolled them up but for the test riding, I had a basting stitch temporary hem in place that could easily be removed after.
The jeans are very comfortable and are only moderately stiff when first out of the package. They break in easily and quickly and feel great in most areas. The only thing that confronts the overall comfort is the knee armor.
The included knee armor has a flat shape and although it is flexible and cut in a way to make it bend to the bent knee position, it isn’t very supple. As such the knees can feel a little crowded with the armor is inserted.
This could be by design to make the armor easier to remove from the pocket. Armor that is curved to fit closer to the knee might be bulkier when walking around and make it a little more difficult to remove.
On the other hand, since the armor is accessible from the outside via a zipper the armor could still be removed if it got in the way of walking around which I believe is the point of having the external access.
CE Level 1 knee armor included with the Copper Out jeans (also the same as the Copper Jeans)
Unlike regular denim jeans, the Copper Out Denim riding pants do require a little extra care when washing. This is likely for the sake of extending the effective life of the Aramid materials. For instance, they can be machine washed but it is recommended to not tumble dry bat rather let them dry flat and in the shade.
Alpinestars also recommends turning the jeans inside out when washing so as to help reduce fading of the denim color. They can be ironed at lower temperatures if desired but, c’mon, these are jeans, dude. 🙂
When I was first asked to do this review I was sent a pair of the Copper Denim pants (non-”Out”) by mistake. When I followed up I was sent the Copper Out version and was told to hang on to the first pair. This worked out well since I could now compare versions.
At first glance, there’s not too much to tell them apart except for the knee armor zipper, but there are a couple of important things to point out. First, though, let’s look at what is the same.
The cut and fit are nearly identical with sizing in the waist and legs being identical in most areas. The only notable difference is the inseam is about .75 inches (19mm) shorter on the non-Out version. Maybe this comes from the zippered pocket on the Copper Out Denim pants?
Also, the non-Out jeans are available in three colors including black, dark rinse (a dark blue), and “Raw” which in photos look identical to the indigo of the Copper Out’s. I’d say it is the same as this is the color of the jeans I was sent and I can hardly tell the colors apart. The stitching is a giveaway though as the Copper Out jeans use a pale yellow thread while the other has a more neutral blueish-gray thread.
The knee differences start with the external versus internal armor pocket. The regular Copper Denim pants do not have the zippered external pockets of the Copper Out and instead have a mesh pocket on the inside of the leg. This pocket sits underneath a layer of aramid material and contains the same armor and also offers two height positions.
Overall there is not much reason I can come up with not to spend the extra $10.00 (USD) and get the Copper Out jeans over the Copper Jeans. Maybe if one prefers the extra “stealth” of the Copper jeans as they have not zippered knee pocket to give away their protective nature.
The Copper Out Denim riding pants will certainly do the job of looking the part for the commuter and urban riding where speeds aren’t usually going to be that high. The protection offered is very good compared to plain denim jeans but I would say it is just average when compared to similar riding jeans in the price range.
The excellent quality of construction and consistent sizing demonstrates Alpinestars’ commitment to quality control that I’ve come to expect from them. It’s not always that easy to keep these aspects consistent but it goes a long way to assure the customer that what you order will fit and last. I was pleased that both versions these jeans fit exactly as I hoped.