Ted Doesn’t Just Test Gear-
He Punishes The Klim Latitude
Jacket & Pants
Klim has come a long way from its origins when founder Justin Summers was making uniforms for ski resort workers. In the 1990s, snowmaking crews at Brighton Ski Resort were going through six uniforms a year as the brutal and metallic nature of their work tore their uniforms to pieces. Justin stepped in and interwove Kevlar fabric with stainless steel, creating uniforms that lasted up to three years instead of just over a month.
This history explains the bullet proof DNA woven into all of Klim’s offerings for snowmobiles, off-road and touring gear, including the Klim Latitude jacket and pant.
“It originally started as a lighter weight adventure/touring jacket,” said Dustin Pancheri, athlete and sponsorship manager for Klim in Rigby, Idaho. “In truth, it had more touring features so when the next redesign came up, we gave it a more distinguished touring look and transferred it into our touring category.”
Being a frequent tourer, I was given a set by Klim (full disclosure: I did not pay for this gear) at the introduction of the redesign in the spring of 2018 when I was writing for Bike Bandit. In that review, I knew that it was so good that I would not wear anything else on any tour.
Now my mesh gear gathers dust in the closet. Rain gear? Gave it away. Other than leathers on the track and kevlar jeans to the cafe, the Klim Latitude is all I wear. In the past year and a half, countless tours and tens of thousands of miles, the list of abuses heaped upon that gear is quite ridiculous and even a bit embarrassing.
It has seen Nevada desert heat and Cascade Mountain snow, unplanned dirt expeditions and Bonneville salt runs, deep triple digit speeds and tortuous urban slogs, sub-freezing temps and unrelenting sun. I have ridden, written, eaten, camped, slept, lived, danced, drank, gotten indescribably sick, spelunked ice caves and done everything but crash in that gear. Conclusion?
Bonneville, Utah & Mount Evans, Colorado in August are two very different environments. Doing both within a few days tests any gear’s versatility.
There is nothing else I will wear. Ever.
The Gore-Tex lining is still waterproof so when others pull over to don their rain gear, I ride on by. When temps drop and it starts to rain or snow, I just put on an extra layer or a heated jacket. When temps rise, I open up vents starting with the vertical shoulder vents, then the forearms and lastly the cavernous vertical chest vents. Although the chest vents can function as pockets, I find they are best left empty and deployed as vents. Each leg of the pants has a vertical vent and an exit port on the hamstring.
The collar pins back against two hooks on the collarbone, opening the chest of the jacket while keeping the collar from flapping. Don an evaporative vest underneath and triple digit temps for multiple hours are easily handled. With all of the vents open it has almost as much airflow as full mesh gear. I can operate most zips with gloves while underway so mid-ride adjustments are a cinch.
As a testament to its versatility, this past June when on assignment writing The Best Of The Upper Left, I went over North Cascades Pass in 43 degree rain followed by 90 degree Columbia Valley heat in the span of about two hours. I wore only a t-shirt underneath and stayed warm (then cool) and dry.
This West Yellowstone thunderstorm turned the campground and its dirt access road into muddy wet slogs. It rained for the next four days until I got home. If I could find the inventors of Gore-Tex, I would hug them.
The Klim Latitude jacket and pant are lined with anti-microbial fabric that never gets stinky (trust me, I have tried) and the colors all still look new. Black is still black, not sun faded grey and 3M reflective patches still reflect. All the velcro still sticks madly, buttons still snap and the leather on the knees and elbows is still supple and free of cracks.
D30 armor is everywhere: the back, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. According to Dustin, “The Latitude now meets or exceeds the CE AA Rating Certified to prEN 17092-3.”
I don’t know what that means, but I did the next best thing. I placed my hand under the back armor, grabbed my 26 oz. framing hammer and banged away. Hard. Many times. Then repeated the whole feat the next day because the person filming it forgot to turn on the sound for the camera (!).
Pockets are everywhere in the Latitude, including hidden pockets for stashing secure documents, a credit card or emergency cash.
Blows that would have broken my fragile metacarpals were just absorbed by the orange goo. But be warned, this non-Newtonian fluid will freeze in temps under 32 degrees. If you moto-camp in sub-freezing weather, the armor will be frozen in whatever shape it was laying in and won’t become flexible until your body heat warms it up. Want to guess how I found that out?
When the jacket and pant look like they have been dipped in bugs and dirt, the flexible D30 armor comes out easily for washing. When out of the washer and soaking wet, spray it with DWR fabric waterproofer (I prefer Nikwax) and exterior waterproofing is refreshed.
The best part about the Klim Latitude jacket and pant? It extends your riding season. You will never opt out of rainy rides, hot weather tours, or any mix of the two. You will never have to wonder what to wear or whether to take up valuable luggage space by packing rain gear because the combination of Gore-Tex and multiple massive vets make the Latitude set so flexible that you simply grab it knowing that you will be prepared for any weather.
But this comes at a price. The Klim Latitude jacket retails for up to $679 and the pant up to $519. Not everyone can invest over a grand in their riding gear.
Or can they? Consider this: once you no longer have to buy rain gear, that is money saved. Also, mesh gear might be able to be skipped if you buy in grey rather than the black shown here. When compared to other gear having Gore-Tex and massive water-resistant zips, the Klim Latitude set is price competitive.
“The price point versus the high number of features makes it a very good value for a Gore-Tex piece,” Dustin says. I couldn’t agree more.
Pants come in waist sizes 30 through 44 with short and tall lengths in the most common waist sizes for the best fit possible. I am 6’ 2” and since my knees are bent at a fairly good angle on my Honda VFR, I wear the 34 long. Leather patches on the inside of the knees are much appreciated since they give a good feel of the tank without worry of scratching.
It doesn’t come with any zip-in liners, so bring your own. Buy a heated jacket and an evaporative cooling vest and there is nothing this gear cannot handle.
If required to find some nitpicks, the thigh vents could be improved. They are in line with the wind flow and too far up on the thigh. I would prefer them farther towards the knee for more vented area and facing the wind to catch more air. Also, the shoulder vents are covered when the fabric bunches up as you reach for the handlebars, blocking much of their venting. The Napoleon pocket for devices is a bit on the small side for today’s larger cell phones and requires a little fiddling to get my iPhone XR to fit.
“We are always playing with new ideas and testing ways to improve each piece,” said Dustin, “so every redesign will see adjustments.”
Female riders, Klim didn’t forget about you. They designed a set contoured specifically for female riders called the Altitude that has all of the same outstanding features.
It’s all about the details. The leather around the collar is good for multiple 12 hour days without chafing and the 3M reflective pieces are strategically placed so you look like a person and not the side of a UPS truck.