Klim Badlands Pro Technical Riding Gear
Sliding through a downward, left-hand turn covered in loose shale, a branch suddenly appeared, whacking me hard on the chest. The thrust was strong enough to knock me back a bit, but I quickly regained my rhythm and kept the throttle pinned on the Husqvarna TE 511.
As for the incident, it wasn’t worth conversation…not a bruise or welt surfaced on the chest, or pain for that matter. And this was due to one reason, and one reason only – the design of the all-new Klim Badlands Pro jacket, which has many innovative features, such as a chest plate made of hi-tech material called Deflexion.
The Klim Badlands Pro series (jacket, pants) is for serious dual-sport/adventure motorcyclists, and I was already praising the design due to the bruise that I didn’t have after that branch came out of nowhere.
And this praise continued long after Klim invited a few moto-journalist on a three-day trip in April that included a tour of the Gore-Tex facilities in Elkton, Md., some classroom-type education and then off-road riding with personal pickings from an arsenal of Husqvarna TE 511 and TC 449 dual-sports in Frederick, Md.
That initial testing was where most of the advantages/disadvantages of the Klim Badlands gear were learned. This was after more than 100 miles with a few genius dual-sport guides that took us through the best off-roads that crisscrossed the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.
And although the Klim Badlands gear isn’t specific towards the sport-touring crowd, when I left Maryland that weekend, I put the gear through a 200-mile ride that included non-stop rain, temps in the 30s, some snow and 60-mph winds…all on a VFR, looking like a Jedi Storm Trooper. But a very warm and comfortable one…more on that later.
After the Klim and Gore-Tex team educated us on the new line of Fall ADV riding gear, we got our first look at the Badlands combo we’d be testing. The first thing I noticed when peering into the futuristic design of the Badlands Pro Technical Riding Gear is the GORE-TEX logo above the left breast pocket, just as big as the Klim logo on the left pocket. The Gore-Tex factor is of extreme importance to Klim gear; quite simply, the Klim Badlands Pro gear would not be in existence without Gore-Tex.
Technical jargon aside, the Badlands Pro Jacket and Pants are designed from a 3-layer Pro Shell Laminate Gore-Tex technology, the highest level of material that keeps you dry. This 3-layer Gore-Tex system is known for its durability and waterproofness, all without sacrificing breathability.
Although the 3-layer Gore-Tex system is the most serious for abrasion resistance, there’s no bulkiness; the material was immediately light on the body. And besides the lightness, the fit was unique, especially when I jumped aboard the one of the Husky TE 511 dual sports.
The Badlands jacket was designed with the upright, dual-sport/adventure position in mind, and it naturally conformed to the riding position.
And this natural, on-bike comfort was all before I tried the integrated adjustable and removable kidney belt. Again, the Badlands Pro gear was designed for the serious rider, and the kidney belt feature quickly reassured this. Once it’s strapped around the upper waist, you no longer wear the jacket, but sort of sit in it. It makes for additional comfort/flexibility while moving the body in various off-road riding positions, all while providing additional safety.
Besides the durable Gore-Tex and kidney belt, the other safety of the Klim Badlands series comes from the armor/padding in the jacket/pants. As stated previously, the Deflexion chest protector was a main benefit within the first 10 miles of spirited, off-road adventure riding.
What’s particularly appealing about it, though, is the fact it covers you’re entire chest from left to right, even under the zipper enclosure. This extended piece helps protect the sternum in case of those surprising branches, birds or whatever else slams into the chest.
But don’t think the material is bulky and hot; the Deflexion weights practically nothing and allows for ventilation, making for the best kind of protection – the kind that feels like it’s not even there.
The rest of the protection is created from a highly-advanced d3o material. The Viper Pro Level II Back Armor is created from d3o, which is spectacular regarding comfort/protection. When one touches it, the d3o remains soft and agile. But once impact is involved, the material hardens, providing protection. Think sand for a moment…you can touch it lightly and it’s soft, and will spread apart, but if you punch the sand it becomes as hard as a rock. Same concept with d3o, but the innovation is brought to the motorcycle-safety front.
The elbow, shoulder, hip and knee armor uses the same d3o material, providing much safety with that soft, light feel.
The next feature that separates the Badlands Pro Jacket and Pants from the others in its tier is ventilation. And it has plenty of it. The “Max Flow Ventilation” system on the jacket features four arm intakes, two vertical back intakes, and, the most useful, huge pit intakes measuring 12 inches.
The pants also feature copious amounts of ventilation – two, 12-inch mid-thigh intakes, and shorter exhaust openings.
In rides up to 100-degrees the Badlands series provided a coolness unheard of in dual sport/Adventure riding gear, mostly due to those pit vents up top, and those large intake thigh vents below.
As for being waterproof, with the Gore-Tex name behind the Badlands series this goes without saying. The big test came on my ride home from Frederick, Md., when I encountered over 200 miles of consistent rain, one part in 60 mph winds; until this day the final part of that ride with the winds and visibility-impairing April showers was the scariest I ever took.
I remained bone dry except for in the inner thigh region. I was bitching and complaining upon a shaky arrival into my warm garage, but later found out the ventilation zippers have a hood that they need to be secured in for the Klim Badlands series to remain 100-percent waterproof. Since then I’ve double-checked the zippers when inclement conditions were looming in the atmosphere, and have remained dry.
Besides these main features, there are many additional ones that enhance the performance of the jacket. The experienced Klim staff really took their time researching and designing the Badlands series. This experience is easy to understand, considering the small staff at Klim has well over a half-million miles of adventure riding throughout various conditions.
First there’s cargo space. When off-road, the motorcycle’s cargo is usually kept to a minimum for optimal handling. This is made up for tremendously in the Badlands jacket; to give an example, there’s room for more than 20, 16.9-fl.oz. water bottles.
The Badlands jacket features seven external pockets (two chest, one chest fast-access, two hand, one large back and one ingenious sleeve id), four internal pockets (two zippered, two mesh), and even a secret pocket to hide passports, along with other materials one doesn’t want stolen.
This ingenious sleeve id pocket was designed to hold a supplied “Emergency ID” card. The “stat tag” features all contact information, medical condition, current medications, allergies, blood type and emergency contact info in case of a crash in the middle of nowhere. It also features a smart phone reader so you can share your adventure in seconds.
Then there’s the rubber-coated buttons, water-resistant urethane-coated YKK zippers and moisture-wicking comfort lining. But the collar-area features became my favorite. Besides a brushed, Tricot lined collar that feels comfy on the skin, the collar also has a drawstring to tighten when it’s raining or snowing, keeping the neck comfy and dry. And if it’s warm and sunny, the collar easily attaches to the front of the shoulder area via Velcro, allowing additional airflow to the body.
Drawstrings are also used to finely tune waist adjustment of the Badlands jacket, with normal Velcro straps used for proper fit on the upper arms (two each) and pants waist.
The Badlands jacket also features nylon storm-cuff system to further keep out the rain/snow. In warmer temps the non-removable cuffs don’t allow air into the wrist area, but this is quickly addressed by opening the forearm vent zipper.
One must remember that the Klim Badlands series is all-weather riding gear, with comfort in the warmer weather addressed with the use of ventilation. But when the temps get cooler, remember to dress in appropriate base layers, as there are no zip-out liners featured on the Badlands series. And to help seal the warmness in and add to overall on-bike performance, the Badlands Pro Series feature a jacket-to-pant zipper integration system.
With such an innovative product, it was hard to find exact problems. But one did surface; due to the positioning of the Husqvarna TE 511’s exhaust, the lower, inner cuff of the Badlands pants burnt, as if someone took scissors and cut the lower cuff an inch or so. This, and making sure the vent zippers are completely tucked into their perspective “hoods” were my only qualms…and this is after about 2500 miles in the Klim Badlands gear.
But these problems may not be by the time he Klim Badlands jacket and pants reach the market; the ones I tested were early models, with expected improvements by the time the Badlands reaches the public late this fall.
With that said, one doesn’t only have to seek out the Badlands gear for just adventure or dual-sport riding. Besides the off-road scene, I’m huge into sport touring, and have used this gear for some weeklong trips; the Badlands series performed flawlessly throughout, though the pants zipper gets a bit tough when I had to relieve myself. And as for rider awareness while on the streets, the gear is designed with much reflective elements, helping others to see you in the night or day.
But be warned – with the radical look of full-out adventure/dual-sport adventure gear used on the streets, you may be referred to as a Jedi Storm Trooper. But for the comfort and safety, these comments become futile…
The Klim Badlands will be offered in all black or black- and light-grey colors, with the jacket in sizes S-3XL and the pants in 28-42, including tall sizes (30-42). The MSRP is expected to be $899.99 for the Klim Badlands Pro Jacket, and $649.99 for the Klim Badlands Pro Pants.
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