Klim Element Short Cuff Adventure Touring Glove Test
Before heading to Washington for the Touratech Pacific Northwest Rally last year, my most enduring task was to find the most optimal, all-weather adventure-touring glove.
The demands of the glove were many: comfort in temps ranging from the 20s to the 80s, unrestricted movement, no BS protection, and, most importantly, waterproofing.
After hours of research, I decided on the Klim Element Glove. The Gore-Tex glove arrives in two versions: a long cuff, gauntlet style, and a short cuff style. Since I was donning the Klim Badlands jacket that features a nylon storm-cuff system, I decided on the short-cuff glove.
First, are they truly waterproof? From my first experience with the gloves in the typical rain of the Cascades, to a soaking 12-hour ride through Blue Ridge Parkway, the gloves proved to be 100-percent waterproof, keeping my hands completely dry.
There are two significant factors to this. First, the outer layer is designed of Pittard leather, which is about 25-percent more abrasion resistant than standard leather, helping to amp up protection. But the true genius of the Pittard leather is that it also repels more water than other leather.
The second reason the gloves are waterproof is the obvious – the Gore-Tex construction. Underneath the Pittard outer layer is the Gore-Tex membrane, which features 9 billion pores per square inch. This design keeps water out while allowing breathability, keeping the hands comfortable even while sweating.
To further analyze the repelling factor of the Pittard leather, I conducted a side-by-side comparison of the gloves with my favorite cold-weather riding gloves, the Held Freezer glove. The Held glove is also created with Gore-Tex membrane, but the outer layer is constructed with soft aniline cowhide.
I rode with both gloves (Klim Element on throttle, Held Freezer on clutch) in a soaking rain for a bit over an hour, and the Klim Element glove repelled water much more effectively than the Held Freezer glove. This not only provided a heavier feeling on the Held glove, but also a cooler feeling due to the leather soaking up more water.
For fairness, I kept the heated grips off during the test, which was conducted in the high 40s (F). Though both hands remained warm, my throttle hand with the Klim Element glove was more comfortable.
The Klim Element gloves are marketed as a four-season glove, though they provide optimal comfort in spring and fall weather when temperatures range from the 50s to 70s.
But when the temps get steamy – say 80 and above – the gloves can get stuffy, especially when off-road. I used them all summer for rides in the deep mountains where temps drop drastically, and during the cooler evenings. And during the hottest of summer days, I used them mainly as my rain glove; although they can get stuffy, a clammy hand is still more comfortable than a wet hand.
And contingent on how cold it actually gets in your climate, the Klim Element glove can be used as a winter glove, especially with the correct on-bike accessories such a bark busters and heated grips. This is the setup on my V-Strom DL1000 (Hot Grips, Touratech Hand Guards with Spoilers), and I’ve ridden in the lower 30s with comfort, though when the temps dipped into the lower 20s my fingers began to feel the coldness. For these temps, though, a pair of undergloves will keep your phalanges toasty.
While keeping the hands comfortable in a variety of weather conditions, the Klim Element gloves also provide impressive protection, which is sometimes hard to find paired with comfort and element-busting qualities of most adventure-touring gloves.
Besides the tougher Pittard leather, the first noticeable element is the titanium knuckle protection. This titanium piece is featured on a separate upper panel that allows much more movement than if they piece directly attached to the upper glove itself. It’s as if the titanium protection piece floats above the hand.
Underneath the titanium piece is Poron XRD foam; this high-tech material is thin and light in its normal state, but becomes firm under impact, absorbing the shock. This, combined with the separate-panel design, allows for complete flexibility under sitting and standing riding positions.
This Poron XRD foam is also located near the knuckles for added impact protection, and an area that starts at the lower palm and rolls over the side to the upper part of the glove. The entire palm is also created out of Pittard Armor-Tan ceramic-reinforced leather, which is even stronger than the standard Pittard leather.
For further comfort, the Klim Element glove features a soft, Microfleece inner liner, a boxed-finger construction with outer seams and pre-curved design, and a Neoprene short cuff with an adjustable Velcro closure system.
The gloves are further enhanced with 3M Scotchlite reflective accents on back of fingers and above the knuckle protection, and a goggle/visor squeegee on the non-throttle hand to keep the vision clear.
Regarding wear, I’ve donned these gloves for close to 10,000 miles of off-road and on-road riding, and all seams remained intact, and there are no other signs of wear. And from experience with other Klim products, I expect this durability to sustain.
For the adventure-touring rider seeking the go-to all-weather glove, the Klim Element glove is the optimal choice. The glove provides warmth and dryness, working best in spring/fall temperatures, though with some bark busters and heated grips the glove will work efficiently through temps into the 30s. As for summer, they are perfect at night and when it’s rainy, though they can get stuffy if worn as the main glove.
The Klim Element short-cuff gloves fit true to size, and retail for around $170. Klim also offers a long-cuff, gauntlet-style glove for around $230. For additional information, log onto klim.com.