Riding motorcycles in Seattle presents some extreme weather challenges. I need gear that provides coverage for riding in weather at both ends of the spectrum, waterproof during the wet winter and well-vented in the hot summer. I ride year round, commuting daily on my KTM 950 Adventure. I go on day rides that, at times, reach hundreds of miles, as well as many day-long adventure rides off-road like the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route and plenty of big adventure bike foolishness in the mountains. I went shopping hoping to find a suit that would be adequate for all types of riding. During the last year and a half I have found the Badlands Pro to be much more than just adequate, it is chock full of features, many I didn't even give second glance when buying the jacket that I now look for.
A good fit is the key to riding gear both working properly and being comfortable. Klim is based out of Rigby, Idaho and the American-style fit is a good match for my corn-fed American body. I am 5'10” tall, weigh in at 215lbs, wear a size 46 jacket, and have a 36” waist. While not the perfect physical specimen, not fat, and not the model the European companies use when designing their riding gear. The Badlands Pro is one of Klim's more competition-focused or professional grade suits. As such, the fit it a little more athletic, with the sleeves noticeably rolled forward and contoured into a riding position, much like a sportbike jacket, and unlike some of their more touring focused jackets. The level 2 D3O armor used throughout the suit is adjustable for placement and is so comfortable that I often forget I have armor of such a high rating protecting me. This riding-focused pattern of fit is the same for the pants, with plenty of room in the seat and legs without feeling overly loose. There is enough room in the knees to accommodate knee braces or standalone armor with the standard armor removed.
As would be expected of a suit of this caliber and price-point Klim pulled out all of the stops when selecting materials for the construction. Gore-Tex Three Layer Pro laminate is used for the waterproofing on the outer shell of the jacket and pants. This three-layer membrane is bonded both to the outer material and the liner, providing ultimate durability while maintaining industry leading breathability and waterproofness. This is one of Gore-Tex's premiere systems also used on all of their extreme mountaineering equipment, as well as Klim's flagship Rally Pro Suit. Gore-Tex stretch panels are found on the back, around the shoulders to allow unrestricted movement. All of the impact areas use Armacor material, a kind of super heavy duty ripstop.
I had the unplanned chance to crash test this jacket last year on my way to work when the Genuine Stella scooter I was riding that morning suffered a catastrophic engine failure, inducing a lowside crash. I hit the road at approximately 45mph and slid to a stop. The back of the jacket that I spent most of my time sliding on shows no evidence of such an incident. When I sent the jacket back to Klim for repair to a small tear in the outer most layer of the elbow where I first contacted the ground with the force of both my weight and the scooter, the only failure when waterproofness was checked was on the arm. Klim was able to replace all of the damaged panels for under $250, shipped. Turnaround was also very quick with amazing customer support. All zippers are top quality YKK units, and with the exception of the main zipper and rear game pocket zipper (both covered with storm flaps), have water resistant urethane coverings. The exposed zippers also have garages that the zipper pulls will go into to ensure water does not penetrate when closed. Scotchlite reflective panels are placed on all sides of the suit and are extremely effective. Even in total darkness, the black suit is extremely visible when hit with light.
The pants are constructed of the same materials as the jacket, Armacor is found in both the seat and knees. Leather is used on the inside of the knees to help grip the bike when riding up on the footpegs much like a quality dirtbike pant. Leather also wears extremely well ensuring many years of service in demanding dirty environments without failure.
Since the outer layer of the jacket is waterproof Gore-Tex, there are no waterproof liners to deal with. Klim also does not provide a cold weather liner, undoubtedly due to many riders, myself included, leaving the offered cold weather liner in the closet and using their own mid-layers. There are a total of eight vents on the jacket as well as Velcro tabs that can be used to hold the collar open for more ventilation. The cooling effect and air flow with everything open is nothing short of amazing. Barring a mesh jacket I have never had a jacket vent this well, even next to mesh this is a close second. The forearm and bicep vents draw air into the jacket even when behind a windscreen, like most adventure bikes have. The two vertical rear vents allow the air to escape around the back protector after flowing around the body. Additionally there are two arm pit vents that seem to both draw air in and help it exit. I have worn the Badlands Pro jacket in temperatures over 90 degrees and been comfortable as long as I was moving, stopped in a heavy jacket is always unavoidably hot.
The pants feature the same pattern of vents and pockets as all of Klim's motorcycle pants. Two long YKK zippers with water-resistant urethane coating are found under storm flaps on the top of the thigh to allow controlled venting when needed. On the back of each leg, a smaller zipper of the same type allows air to exit. When standing on the foot pegs, you can feel the air rushing around your body keeping you cool. I really like how this arrangement allows the venting to be opened or closed quickly, no longer did I have to start off cold in the morning with the venting I would need in a few hours, I could keep everything shut until I started to get warm then quickly open the vents.
Internal Hydration System
While the jacket does not include a hydration system, it is ready to accept Klim's 100-oz Hydrapak. There is a pouch behind the back protector for the Hydrapak and a cutout in the right chest pocket for the drinking hose to exit. The Hydrapak hose has a dry-break fitting, so there is no need to remove then reroute the hose when filling the system. I leave the hose in the jacket when I am not using it. While the bladder’s placement does not provide the quickest to access, after just a few uses the bladder proved to be very easy to manage.
I didn’t give much thought to the kidney belt feature before buying this jacket, but I have really grown to love it. Beyond the inherent back support of the kidney belt, it also helps take the weight of the jacket off of your shoulders, this is critical when a full hydration system is in being used. It also pulls the back protector close to the spine and gives the jacket a nice secure feel without feeling tight or bunched up like external adjustment belts can. It can be stowed away inside the liner for shorter trips when it is not needed. I have found myself using the kidney belt surprisingly often for anything beyond short trips to the store or commuting to work.
The pants have suspender loops sewn in, another feature to which I gave little thought before buying them. Alongside the external Velcro waist-adjustment tabs, the suspenders add to the comfort of the pants. I have never used suspenders outside of rain suits and snow pants, but after trying them on these pants I have no intention of removing them. When sliding around on a textured seat the suspenders make a noticeable difference in keeping the pants where they should be, even with the more generous cut to the pants.
I don't normally carry much on my person when riding. The Badlands Pro suit has a really well thought out design to its pockets. The jacket has a pair of hand warmer pockets as well as two chest pockets with an additional satellite transponder pocket on the left side and a large enduro-style game pocket on the back. I find hand-warmer pockets to be a must, plenty of time is spent off the bike talking about routes or waiting for companions to make trail-side repairs. On cold and rainy days, or even in general I find I need a place to stuff my hands, and on the jacket there are two great pockets. Normally the left chest pocket will hold my cell phone, with the right pocket containing the coiled hose for my hydration system. The satellite transponder pocket works well for its intended purpose. For daily use it normally holds either my garage door opener or is a quick place to stash sunglasses when the sun goes away.
The rear game pocket I found to be surprisingly handy, spare gloves normally get stuffed in there and are unnoticed when riding. I have also found that with my size large jacket I can fit five tall boy cans of Rainier in the pocket and still zip it, a really handy feature when heading into the woods with packed panniers to set-up camp after stopping for supplies.
The pants, like all Klim pants, have a pair of pockets just aft of the main vents. Positioned on the side of the leg the contents go unnoticed when riding, but are still easy to access while seated on the bike. Normally, I just use the right side pocket for my wallet to keep the frequent fuel stops that the KTM 950 Adventure requires brief.
After almost two years of constant use I can honestly and without doubt say that this is the best riding suit I have ever owned. It works as advertised, does everything I need it to, and brought features that I didn't even know I wanted. I don't think I could have had it fit better if it was custom tailored. At this point I have sold off all of my other riding gear barring my one-piece leather track suit and dedicated off-road gear. Anyone in the market for a high-end adventure riding suit needs to give a good long look at the Klim Badlands Pro.
About the Author
Eric is an incurable motorcycle nut. He’s owned everything from scooters to vintage motocross bikes and now spends much of his time riding and talking about adventure motorcycles. If you have been to the Touratech store in Seattle or called the offices, chances are you’ve talked to Eric. Eric recently came in second place in the adventure class at the Desert 100 Race. He’s a key part of the Touratech race team and when he’s not at the local Harescramble or Enduro event he can be found roaming the Cascade mountains on his KTM 950 looking for new routes for the Touratech Rally.