I’ve been meaning to write a review of the Klim Badlands Pro Suit for a while and now that I’ve found the time to do so I realise a review of the jacket/pants is not enough. Sure I could just tell you how great it is but at the end of the day writing a review dedicated to the Klim Badlands Pro is a bit of a missed opportunity that will inevitably mean feck all once the Badland Pro goes through aninevitable update.
If you’re reading this you’re most likely interested because you’re in the market for a new touring jacket and/or pants but lets cut straight to the chase, this jacket is not only expensive but lives in a market swamped by strong opposition. Or is it? In the modern world of motorbike touring gear you’re in for a right thumping headache making a choice unless you choose your gear by blind brand loyalty. If like me you have no particular brand loyalty and need a protective, comfortable, long lasting, functional suit and value for money the choosing process is becoming immensely complicated due to the sheer amount of choice available. Not to mention the brand marketing departments in full swing selling the idea of adventure and what gear you need to achieve it.
My touring season of 2013 saw me and many others riding through some shocking and unseasonable weather, from freezing temperatures and hail on Ireland’s west coast in April, snow in the Pyrenees in early May through to torrential downpours lasting days compounded with rapidly melting snow in late May and early June. All this saw to a very wet end of more than just my SatNav and camera gear.
Boots, helmet, jacket, pants, gloves all showed signs of imminent failure. All my gear was originally good quality and I spent many happy hours maintaining it all, but after 6 years, countless miles and the bonkers weather of 2013 I was facing the truth – I’d got my moneys worth from my gear and it was time to put my hand in my pocket to start replacing it. And so began my journey into the confusing world of todays motorbike touring gear.
The winter of 2014 saw me spending hours, days, nights sifting through endless options for a touring suit, reading countless review sites before crawling over to YouTube Channels like Revzilla to try and get a better understanding of the options for jackets etc. Rev’it, Dainese, BMW, Alpinestars, AGV, Ruka, Belstaff, Furygan, Held, Klim, Icon, Ixon, IXS, Scott, Sidi, Spyke and 10 others were all firing endless options at me. So much so that I felt like kicking the shite out of a bag of spuds in frustration. A clear case of analysis paralysis and information overload!
Now, back to the review, due to my frustration induced spud sack kicking tendencies this review will not just be about the Klim Badlands Pro but will equally be about why I chose it above the rest and also hopefully explain the key points to consider before you even start looking for a new touring suit. Take note, I am in way going to tell you the Klim Badlands Pro is the best on the market, while I have chosen it as the best “for me” it may or may not necessarily suit you! Read on and lets see how I came about my final choice.
BMW Rallye 3
I’ve clocked up a fair few miles over the last 6 years since I last updated my riding jacket to the BMW Rallye 3. The Rallye 3 jacket quickly became my go to gear both for touring and everyday use as quite frankly it is brilliant kit. At the time of purchase it cost me a ball clenching €550 for the jacket alone and it took some serious convincing for my wife to see the reason for the expense and I have to admit I was worried at the time that the investment would be worth it.
My reasoning for choosing such an expensive jacket was twofold. Firstly the cheaper gear I was usually buying never lasted very long and I ended up replacing such average fair within 2 years. Secondly was for it’s heavily fortified protection which takes a little more explanation. Like many riders in the beginning of their biking life it was all about the bike and my budget for personal protection was barely an after thought. Age, experience and with a few friends and peers in the grave I was starting to re-prioritise what I invested in. On top of that, at the time I’d just bought a BMW F650GS and I wanted to digress my biking experiences off the usual paved roads I’d so far been riding and onto forest trails and thereby increasing my chances of a off, so it was time to get decent protection.
I’ve also found that after 6 years of riding in all seasons the inner removable waterproof liner set-up does not suit me, in fact it’s another complete pain in the arse. I’ve spent countless wasted hours over the years pulling over to put on or remove the blasted liner every time the weather changes. Anyone who’s faced and Irish summer (all four seasons in a day) or toured in the French Pyrenees in early summer will know what I’m on about. In warm wet weather I’d get wet without the liner or sweat soaked with it. Due to the heat I’d not want to wear the inner waterproof layer as it’s not as breathable as you might think so in hot changeable weather I’d end up pulling over 3 or 4 times a day to take it off/on.
I would have thought BMW would have solved some of these issues in the 5th version of the Rallye jacket, however in my research the only things that have been updated (that I could tell) is the armour (now more flexible in colder temps) and the color scheme. Now ignoring the fact that the outer shell / inner water proof system does not suit me it was now a definite sorry Mr. BMW, but I’ll be buggered by a rabid badger before I fork out €500 for a jacket that’s essentially unchanged since the Rallye 2 came out in 2004!
3 Approaches to designing a motorbike touring or adventure/touring jacket
Before I move on to the Klim Badlands Pro or anything else this might be a good time to explain the 3 essential and very different approaches to designing a motorbike touring or adv/touring jacket because this is where you really need to make the first big decision before ye even think about looking at what the big bands are offering. Please ignore the price tags on the following examples as I’m only putting these options in to explain the essentials of what you need to take into account before you figure out which approach suits your requirements best.
Like I said before, there are 3 main and differing solutions to the touring or adventure touring suit…
An armoured, highly ventilated (part mesh type) jacket/pants with a separate waterproof detachable outer jacket/pants, essentially a double combo, the Touratech Companero being a good example here. This can be really expensive and comparable with buying a good quality summer jacket/pants plus a set of heavy duty Gore Tex overalls for winter – both at the same time.
See example »
A protective jacket/pants armoured shell with a separate weather/waterproof detachable inner liner. This is the most common setup and typically comes with two inner liners, one thermal and one Gore Tex or similar. This system is generally very economical as each component is relatively easy to manufacture. Each component can also be made separately by the lowest bidder then assembled, branded, packed and shipped by a fourth player. The Rev’it Defender is a good example of this.
See example »
A Pro Shell three-layer laminate textile composite material jacket/pants consisting of tear, friction resistant outer material with a GORE-TEX breathable membrane sandwiched between the outer and a soft inner liner layer. These are just a “shell” and have no inner liners. The Klim Badlands Pro is a tri-laminate Pro Shell, a basic (armour supporting) inner liner with a Gore Tex Pro & Stretch Gore-Tex liner sandwiched between a Kevlar-Ripstop/Cordoba mix of materials. This is inherently expensive due to the time and complexity of production. At first this system may not seem like good value as you get no extras like a thermal layer. In the beginning the Badlands was actually on the bottom of my list because of this which was a bit stupid of me as I have amassed a fine collection of thermal layers over the years.
See example »
The Companero Suit
Jacket £1100 Pants £650 (Are you f%cking serious????)
It’s expensive no doubt but once you have a closer look at it you see where your money is going. In this case and uniquely so, you get two jackets (1 winter, 1 summer) and two sets of pants with this set up. The first jacket/pants is your summer suit. This consists of a highly ventilated and comfortable synthetic fiber that’s state-of-the-art in terms of its tear and wear-resistance properties. The most vulnerable areas are reinforced with a layer of Cordura 2000 and is fully equipped with CE-approved protectors and some flashy reflective safety panels. It’s NOT in any way water resistant, think of it as a top shelf mesh-like jacket/pants perfect for cruising the Mediterranean in the summer months.
The second layer of the Touratech Companero can be used in colder weather or in the rain. Perfectly tailored to match the cut of the summer suit, you simply pull it on over the top and zip up the connectors. The Companero uses the Pro Shell three-layer laminate. In this textile composite material, the inner lining, the top-quality GORE-TEX breathable membrane and the tough outer layer are bonded into one fabric. This means the laminate is not too bulky, doesn’t bulge, and always fits nice and snugly. Of course the most important properties of the oversuit are that it is wind and waterproof. And since Pro Shell is an active material, the suit is fully breathable. (Eh, this is where I start to have a problem with this setup, but I’ll get back to this in a bit after the Touratech spiel).
Whats clever with the Touratech Companero is that the windproof, waterproof membrane forms the outer layer of the clothing system unlike the BMW Rallye 3 where the waterproof/windproof membrane is a removable inner. With the outer Companero jacket in place the airy summer suit now acts as an air cushion inside that functions as a thermal lining. An additional insulating layer such as fleece underwear is only needed in extremely cold weather. In real shitty wintry conditions the additional storm collar is also a nice touch. As you’d expect, the jacket and trousers of the membrane suit can also be zipped together. This is the Touratech marketing dept’s take on it anyway which to be fair is not far off the mark.
In comparison the Companero’s water proof “layer” is a full blown textile bike jacket with a Gore Tex membrane, it does not fold up into a neat little lightweight ball at all. It will take up a very large space (4-5 litres) in your back box or pannier, more so if you include the outer pants, for me it’s simply not practical for summer touring as I like to travel very light using only 35ltr soft panniers. You do get a pouch to stuff the jacket or pants into which does then attach to the back of the jacket, but this will make you look a gigantic ass contestant. It will also interfere with your pillion it’s that big unless you have the real estate of an RT or Goldwing to play with. A pillion will also most likely find it impossible to attach the outer jacket to the back of the inner jacket if rear luggage or top box is fitted to the bike.
Another big downside is if you hit warm wet weather you’ll essentially end up wearing two jackets and two pants with the outer layers severely affecting airflow to your body. Remember, with the outer Companero jacket in place the airy summer suit now acts as an air cushion inside that functions as a thermal lining. So if it’s 22C and pissing rain in Italy or Spain you will have a choice of getting rain wet or stinky sweat wet, either way you’re getting very wet! Gore Tex is breathable to a point, but I think this ability is severely restricted in this setup under hot and wet conditions and probably far worse when riding energetically off road. I did not road test this jacket, but I cant help think it’s going to be far too hot for wet weather summer riding. And with the bulky nature of the outer jacket I’d only end up leaving it at home for much of the year and instead take my trusty Lidls waterproof jacket in case of rain. In this case I’d be far better off choosing the BMW Rallye 3 and also save £600 on the jacket. So for me the Touratech setup is a non runner. In short, the Companero does deep winter and high summer very well indeed, but everything else inbetween is questionable at best.
The Companerio is a very well made, long term, all weather suit and I really liked it, but seriously for 2 fecken grand I don’t see why I should have to stop and starting putting on more gear every time it rains so bollox to that! This suit is strictly for the ridiculously rich, the mad and the sponsored. In fact the only positive reviews I found on this suit were heavily sponsored by Touratech, shame on you Charlie lol
Touratech do make a Gore Tex Shell jacket/pants – the Boreal, but at £1000 for the jacket alone I said no thanks as I saw nothing special about it to warrant that price tag.
A closer look – Touratech Companero…
Next on the list of options…
Again loads on offer in this category, but the two that really caught my eye were the Dainese D-Explorer suit and the Rev’it Defender. The Dainese D-Explorer comes in at roughly £500 for the jacket and £350 for the pants. This is another very impressive and well thought out all weather, all season suit and much lighter on the pocket comparing to Touratech’s offering.
A closer look – Dainese D-Explorer Jacket Review…
However I ruled it out for 2 reasons, firstly the removable under Gore Tex falafel and fuss which had come to annoy me. The 2nd and even bigger reason was that this suit is really a 100% road touring suit with not enough free movement (especially the pants) or armour for off road use.
A closer look – Dainese D-Explorer Pants Review…
The Rev’it Defender suit was a serious contender however - even considering the removable Gore Tex / thermal liner system. The Rev’it Defender has been a very popular suit world wide for good reason and costs £320 for the jacket and £260ish for the pants offering very good value. I already had the pants which I’d had to get on short notice for my 2013 biking season after I’d, eh, put on a bit of weight and could no longer fit in my regular touring pants.
A closer look – REV’IT Defender GTX Jacket & Pants Review…
The Ruka Airway jacket (£400) and matching Airvision pants (£310) had also caught my eye. Despite the confusing Airway/Airvision naming Ruka have a far better solution to summer touring in that the outer shell allows air to freely flow through without using mesh which by definition is weak and un-protective in a spill and also greatly aids dehydration. Typicle mesh jackets/pants are a poor choice for long touring days in hot weather and no one has yet to convince me otherwise. I’m not saying mesh gear is bad, it has it’s place in the right situation, short runs about town in mid summer or any situation where you’d be tempted to ride in just a t-shirt. The Airway/Airvision is different by using Cordura AFT (Air Flow Technology) instead of normal mesh, it’s a high-tenacity mesh, basically a breathable abrasion resistant fabric. Cordura AFT is a knit material instead of woven like standard Cordura. The knit structure of the AFT allows for a greater amount of air to flow through the jacket without sacrificing too much abrasion resistance, this is where mesh fails. No big panels of mesh, no vents to open, just a solid outer shell made fully of AFT.
A closer look – Ruka Airway jacket Review…
The evidence was clear though that in any brand, solutions one and two were just not going to cut my mustard. Don’t let me put you off any of the above products as all are excellent and perfectly suitable for anyone in northern cooler climates that only gets a week or two a year to ride in southern Europe. For light, short distance trail riders the Defender is probably the best of the lot as long as you upgrade the armour.
For me the ultimate in bad ass, bullet proof, shrapnel proof, bomb proof and hurricane proof adventure touring riding gear is made by only two companies. The first being the Finnish company Rukka, when it comes to extreme weather and even more extreme motor sports the Finns know how to go all out mental and bonkers with equal gusto. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in Finland and the Rukka gear is in no doubt in my mind at the top of the protective gear food chain. Unfortunately for me though they are still very much cold weather orientated, so nuclear winter proof gear like the Rukka Armas suit would likely see me suffer heat stroke under the Spanish sun.
A closer look – Rukka Armas Jacket Review…
I’d been almost 3 weeks researching the perfect touring suit and I’d come to realise something, everything I’d been looking at so far was predominately road biased gear that may be suitable for some off road use. So I started looking for off road gear that might suit traditional road biased touring and finally I hit a company that seemed to be making something that would perfectly suit me. About fecken time too as I was about to start kicking spuds again!
Klim is an american company making advanced component based snowmobile and motorcycle gear. Straight off the bat I zoned in on the Badlands Pro Jacket (£600) and pants (£455) and the Adventure Rally jacket (£1120) and pants (£750)
Price aside I shot the Adventure Rally suit off the list as I figured it might be too hot for Spain and because this is a monster hard core suit and a bit of an overkill for my needs. If I was to ride from Dublin to the Sidney via the Antarctic and every war zone in between then this is what I’d wear, but from the Isle of Man to Alicante via there Alps, naaaaaa
A closer look – KLIM Adventure Rally Jacket Review…
On close inspection of the Badlands Pro jacket however I saw what amounted to be the most practical, protective jacket I’d yet seen. It seemed to tick off all my boxes so I bit the bullet and ordered one from www.Adventure-Spec.com but I held off on the pants so I could first get my hands on the jacket before committing to the pants.
Exactly 3 days from placing my order my package arrived containing what I hoped would be the ultimate all weather, all season, all terrain, all bells, all balls full mental jacket. After the customary and unceremonious tearing open of the box like a rabid dog on a pedigree chum flavored bunny I held in my hand what amounted to be the absolute dogs bollox! For those unfamiliar in Irish slang “the dogs bollox” is a good thing, i.e. it can’t be any better
Putting the jacket on for the first time was a bit of an eye opener for me. While the Badlands Pro has the comparable weight of the BMW Rallye 3 it wears very differently. The Rallye 3 literally hangs it’s full weight off your shoulders but the weight of the Badlands Pro seems magically dispersed and almost unnoticeable. It also has a harness which once in place puts most of the weight on your hips and allows complete freedom of twisting side to side movement, with a big smile I realised the obvious benefits of this for riding tracks while standing. When not needed the belt neatly folds away into dedicated pockets or is completely removable. The shoulders and underarm material is made up with a slightly different material in the form of Stretch Gore Tex and a lighter Cordoba material again to help aid freedom of movement. Nice…
For storage there are 4 dry pockets, another large storage pocket at the back, and more pockets on the inside, i.e. more than enough pockets. There is even a very hard to find hidden zipped pocket in the inside back to store a spare wallet. Perfect for hiding the bit of extra cash I have to carry in Spain for paying off the spot fines so efficiently pursued by the Guardia Civil tax collectors.
Safe to say I jumped back on to the lads at Adventure-Spec.com and ordered up the matching pants. Again these were of comparable weight to the BMW rallye 3 pants and far heavier than my Rev’it Defender pants and made up of the same bomb proof material as the Badlands Jacket with the same armor type in the knees and hips. Unlike the Defender cinching adjusters the Klim one’s work far better, but due to their weight I still required the need of braces to keep the waist from joining the party around my ankles. What I really liked most however was the double venting with big, easy to operate while riding air scoops at the front and vent openings at the back so air flows nicely when on the move. The pants side pockets I was also impressed with as they are also easily accessible while on the bike with nothing likely to fall out due to their smart positioning. The pockets are on the thigh (cargo style) and running vertical when standing, horizontal when sitting so you can access your “pre-opened” power bars while cruising with the same setup for the venting zips front and back.
So, finally, what I have here is a protective, no fussing about all weather suit with an all day comfortable touring cut and strong off road features. If it rains in summer there is no need to stop and pull off my jacket, boots and pants to fit a waterproof liner which quite frankly is bloody ridiculous and completely impractical for me at least. If it gets too hot I just open up the vents and if too cold I put on my wooly knickers before I head out, if I then get too warm – I open the vents. My BMW Cooling Vest (Read Review) works very well in really hot weather with just the back and front vents open without risk of me becoming dehydrated too quickly. Sorted.
Suitably impressed the only thing left for me to do is a real world road test. I’ll keep this short. Got ferry from the Isle of Man to Belfast on the 3rd of Sept 2014 just after the Classic TT and rode down the Wild Atlantic Way to catch the ferry to France at Rosslare. Rode through France then both sides of the Pyrenees and on down to Almeria. I live/work in Spain for much of the year so I had plenty of time riding tracks and trails in Murcia in baking heat. Left Spain in mid November and I’m now back on the Isle of Man enjoying the type of winter only a tiny island in the middle of the northern Irish sea can face with grudging acceptance.
Donegal to Almeria Preview – a Road Test for Klim Badlands Pro
Badlands Pro in Winter Season
As a winter suit the Badlands Pro is perfectly wind and waterproof as long as you accept a heated under garment and/or winter base layers are an extra expense which I do. I’ve long since narrowed down my winter gear to wearing two thermal base layers and a tight fitting merino wool jumper for the coldest days, all of which fits snugly under the Badlands Pro Shell. So, as far as a northern winter is concerned I’m warm and dry.
Badlands Pro in Irish/UK Summer Season
For an Irish/UK summer I’m good to go in just a t-shirt with a base layer or light fleece as backup tucked into the back storage pocket adjusting the vents as I go to suit the ever changing weather. This also suited the Pyrenees in September. In Spain I have to admit things got a little hot as there is no getting away from the fact that the material on any gear in this 3 layer laminate shell group is heavy. So if you’re walking or sitting around under the southern sun in this gear you start feeling it’s weight and your world rapidly heats up, but while moving on the bike the venting works very, very well.
Badlands Pro in Over +35C
On days where temperatures got up above +35C I wore my BMW Cooling Vest under the Klim jacket which made life far more comfortable. Between the jackets ample venting allowing wind to swirl around inside the Klim jacket and around the BMW Cooling Vest I was as happy as a pig in shit.
Ideally I’d also like to have a little more adjustment options in the lower leg of the pants, however I still prefer the snap buttons Klim use above the velcro used for adjusting the legs bottoms in most of the competition. I also find the knee armour is a bit of a pain to adjust to it’s highest level. Again the problem stems from the tiny strips of velcro that seem a bit too weak for the task as the armour often falls down the pants internal slot. I’ve since fixed that by slapping a bit more velcro in there to keep the knee armour where I want it. Annoying, but certainly not a deal breaker by any means. I’d generally be a very picky person, and in 7 months of hard wearing use in varying weather conditions and temperatures from Northern Ireland to Southern Spain I honestly have very little in the negative to say about the Badlands Pro jacket or pants. But for me right now I’d go as far as saying it’s 95% perfect and a long way ahead of anything else I’ve used or seen.
Remember though, while the Badlands Pro Suit is a brilliant bit of all round kit it might not necessarily be right for you. This is just my independent review of all the touring suits I closely considered with my choice of the Badlands based entirely on my own personal experiences and requirements. I hope however my rambelings may help you make your own choice the right one that suits you best.
A closer look – Klim Badlands Pro Jacket & Pants Review…
A quick word on sizing
Jacket: I generally take a large, in the BMW Rallye 3 I take a size EU52 and for the Badlands Pro I went for the Medium size which fits like a glove. It does get a little tight when I bulk up for the cold buts it’s still fine. The American sizing runs a little large so the medium size was right for me.
Pants: I’m a 33 inch “variable” waist and 31 inch inseam so I went for the 34 Reg size which also fits fine. The cinching at the waist allows for a fair bit of flexibility for additional base layers/wooly knickers and a gut that tends to expand and contract depending on the frequency of my visits to the pub. Most likely however, like me you might need braces to keep ‘em up when walking about.
Value for money: the jacket/pants were far from cheap, but I definitely got what I’d payed for so in reality I see it as good value and a good investment. I’ve little doubt I’m going to get my monies worth due to the versatility of the design, the lifetime Gore Tex guarantee and the overall quality of all the components and fabrics used in the jacket – with the exception of the joyfully limited amount of velcro on the jacket. Suffice to say, I’m now a big fan of Klim….
Where to buy: I got the Klim gear from www.Adventure-Spec.com who I reguarilly use as a supplier and would not hesitat to recommend them if buying from the UK, Ireland or the Continnent. They are always happy to answer any question on their products be it general or technical and once ordered I have always gotten my goodies within 3 days to the Isle of Man. Being bikers themselves it’s evident they are both proud and knowledgeable of the gear they supply and happy to help with any warranty or return issues. I’ve since realised Klim is the only jacket/pants manufacturer Adventure-Spec choose to sell which might tell you something.
The other items I’ve bought from Adventure-Spec.com and highly recommend are the following:
Adventure-Spec Crashbars BMW F800GS Adventure »
Adventure-Spec Bashplate BMW F800GS Adventure »
(Both of which are also fitted to my standard F800GS – Note: different part number)
Wolfman Expedition Dry Panniers / Saddle Bags »
Adventure Spec Tool Tube »
Sidi Adventure Gore Boots »