First Ride: Fox Racing Defend Collection

It’s no secret that we have been getting along famously with a lot of the recent Fox Racing gear. Both materials and workmanship have been evolving at a rapid pace over the past couple of years, to the point where the whole range is a lot lighter and a lot more technical than it ever was before. But in pursuit of all this lightness, it seemed like a slightly burlier option was now missing, as even the DH-rated Flexair stuff is nowadays more race-oriented than parkrat-optimized. Fox obviously had the same idea, because for 2019 they launched the all-new Defend collection – a line made for those looking for something extra robust. We’ve had it out on the trails already, so read on to find out what we think of it.

Defend Kevlar Short

  • Kevlar fibers have higher cut, tear, and abrasion resistance
  • Ratchet closure provides a secure fit and quick on-the-fly adjustments
  • Secure zip hand pockets
  • TruMotion all-way stretch fabric offers full range of motion
  • Body-mapping laser perforated areas on front and back keep you cool
  • Durable Water Resistant finish sheds moisture, dirt, and debris
  • Inseam: 14.5" size large, men's
  • Body: 93% polyester / 7% spandex
  • Panel: 75% nylon / 10% spandex / 9% Kevlar / 6% polyester stretch Kevlar
  • MSRP: $149.95 USD

Defend Kevlar Pant

  • Kevlar fibers have a high cut, tear and abrasion resistance
  • Ratchet closure provides a secure fit and quick on-the-fly adjustments
  • Secure zip hand pockets
  • Tapered lower leg reduces snag and drag
  • Body-mapping laser perforated on front and back to keep you cool
  • TruMotion all-way stretch fabric for increased mobility
  • Durable Water Resistant finish sheds moisture, dirt, and debris
  • Inseam: 32.5" size large, men's
  • Women's versions available
  • Body: 93% polyester / 7% spandex
  • Lower leg: 88% nylon / 12% spandex
  • Knee: 75% nylon / 10% spandex / 9% Kevlar / 6% poly stretch Kevlar
  • MSRP: $169.95 USD

Defend Jersey

  • Mesh panels for targeted cooling
  • TruDri fabrics move sweat away from the body to keep you dry
  • Strategically placed abrasion-resistant zones
  • Length (HPS): 32" size large, men's
  • Women's versions available
  • 100% polyester
  • MSRP: $64.95 USD (Long Sleeve) / $59.95 USD (Short Sleeve)

Initial Impressions

Do you sometimes wish you were bulletproof? The all-new Defend pants and shorts are about as close as you can get without strapping on a flak jacket, because they are made with Kevlar-reinforced fabrics. This has allowed Fox to build on some of their current products while adding a degree of robustness that had perhaps gone missing from the range, as the riding gear got progressively lighter and more breathable.

As we mentioned in the introduction, we’ve been thoroughly impressed with the evolution Fox’s stuff over the past couple of years. The fabrics have been getting more technical, the cuts and features have been getting better and better, and although looks are always subjective, it’s probably fair to say that most people appreciate the current design direction as well – away from MX and more towards a MTB-specific identity. We were therefore stoked to discover that the new Defend gear builds on everything we like, while cranking durability up by a couple of notches at least.

Starting with the Defend pant, it builds on the cut of last year’s excellent Indicator pant, while adding heavy duty fabrics in several areas. The top part of the pant features heavy duty panels that are thicker than on the Indicator, while the knee area is armored with Kevlar. The lower leg is close to or identical to the Indicator pant, just with a much taller elastic panel in the back to make it easier to get into and out of the pant (a good thing, as the Indicator was very tight in this area and could be hard to get in and out of at times). The fabric is DWR treated to help it shed water and mud, but it is not outright waterproof.

The Defend pant features two smallish, zippered pockets to store your essentials, and there is a snap ratchet closure that also doubles as waist adjustment. Laser cut holes help add ventilation, and a couple of semi-large graphics make sure everybody knows who made your stuff. There are three different color ways to choose from to make sure you can match your new pant to the rest of your outfit.

The construction of the Defend Kevlar short is similar to the pant, but here the Kevlar panels are bigger and wrap around most of the thigh area. The pockets are still fairly small, but there is an extra one on the left thigh taking the pocket count to three and adding a little more storage space compared to the pant. The thigh pocket also features a weather-sealed zipper. The graphics are rubberized and molded onto the fabric. Note that there is also a non-Kevlar version of the Defend short, should you wish to opt for something slightly less bullet-proof.

The Defend jersey feels stout to the touch, but don’t think back to those heavy, clingy freeride jerseys of years gone by. The fabric here is still very airy, and the jersey is very light when you pick it up. The main panels are made from a tighter weave, while the whole back panel features perforations to really help improve breathability (the same perforated fabric is found in a strip along the front panel as well as the lower arms of the long sleeve version). Note that there is also a "Defend Delta" jersey in the collection, which uses a different fabric made by Polartec said to help regulate the skin temperature, not to be confused with the version reviewed here.

In terms of features, there are no pockets of any kind on the jerseys, and the construction might appear fairly basic at first glance, but closer inspection shows good attention to detail. The neck area is equipped with an elastic strip for extra comfort, while the front of the collar is finished off with a glued fold instead of the classic thread, resulting in a clean look and a soft surface. The graphics are thermo-bonded.

On The Trail

This tester measures 6’0” (1m84) with an inseam of ~33.8”, and weighs in at around 88 kg. He usually wears a size L in pretty much everything, and that turned out to be a perfect fit here too (size 34 for the short and pant). The jerseys run true to size, with a cut that is best described as “athletic” – not too tight, but certainly not too flappy either. The perforated panels are slightly less elastic than the regular ones, which results in a somewhat tight fit around the forearm for the long sleeve version. You can run elbow guards, but probably only of the thinner variety, especially if you have Pop-Eye forearm syndrome.

The cut of the pant is perfectly adapted to riding a bike. The fit is reasonably tight (World Cup racers might want to size down for that full aero effect), and the lower leg is short and close fitting to avoid any potential hang ups with pedals or low-hanging branches. There is enough room to run heavy-duty kneepads, although the Kevlar reinforced fabric used in the knee area is slightly less elastic than the rest of pant, which makes for a somewhat tight fit. It never bothered us while riding, but you need to make sure you position the pant in the right spot over the kneepad to avoid it twisting or pulling. Despite its sturdy nature, the pant doesn’t run overly hot, and there are vents to provide extra airflow as soon as you start moving. As previously mentioned, the pockets are on the small side, big enough to take a normal smartphone but not ideally suited for cargo duty. Perhaps a small oversight given that this pant is likely to see lots of action with bike park riders who will many times not be running a pack.

The short is super comfortable, and once again the fit in action is great. The Kevlar panels feel sturdy but never heavy, and they remain comfortable even directly on the skin. The laser cut holes do a good job of providing extra airflow, and the pockets work better than those of the pant. Much like on the pant, the waist is not elastic but the ratchet closure provides enough range to tailor the fit and ensure your builder’s bum doesn’t run the risk of any unwarranted exposure. 

The jersey is very comfortable to wear, and it breathes really well. At first touch, the fabric doesn’t appear overly robust, but compare it to a Ranger or Flexair jersey and it’s soon obvious that it should be up for more abuse than either of those. The forearms of the long sleeve jersey can feel a little claustrophobic at first (due to the less elastic nature of the perforated fabric used here), but you soon get used to it. Overall heat management is great, and the "TruDri" fabric never feels clingy even when it gets soaked. It also dries out super quickly after washing it, you could pretty much wear it again straight out of the spin cycle of your washing machine (don't try to tumble-dry this stuff...).

What’s The Bottom Line?

With much of Fox’s recent gear going in the lighter and more breathable direction, the line-up was starting to lack a more robust offering for those long park days or for going full bushwack mode in the back country. The all-new Defend collection fills that gap nicely, with a short, a pant, and a couple of jersey options designed to take a beating and come back for more. Reinforced with Kevlar, both the short and the pant will be up for rolling around in the dirt as often as needed, while the jersey will fend off rocks, thorns, and stray branches and still help you keep your cool on the bike. The whole line breathes exceptionally well for such a sturdy collection of gear, and the quality of construction appears to be in it for the long haul as well. Certainly one to put on your short list if you’re on the lookout for abuse-ready apparel without any unnecessary heft.

More information at: www.foxracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

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