Review: Klim Latitude

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Klim burst on to the adventure-riding scene a few years ago and quickly established itself as one of the preferred brands among the “read maps for fun set”. A quick look over the jacket confirmed that it had all the right features Gore-Tex waterproof shell, multiple vents with waterproof zippers, numerous pockets, appropriate armour etc but the real test would be how well it worked in the cold cruel world.

Just how thoroughly did I test the waterproofness of the Klim Gore-Tex Jacket you ask? Well the following are direct quotes from a CBC news story covering a storm that I rode through on the way back from the MotoGP race in Indianapolis.

Michigan floods: At least 1 dead, 1,000 cars abandoned

Near-record rainfall has caused massive flooding in the Detroit area and is blamed for at least one death, has made roads impassable, swamped vehicles and flooded basements.

The heaviest rain since 1925 engulfed the area on Monday, the second-wettest day on record according to the National Weather Service.

Up to 15 centimeters of rain fell on Monday in a four-hour period and parts of five interstate highways that run through Detroit and many interior roads remained impassable on Tuesday.

This is the best one:

Divers had checked about 70 vehicles left behind by motorists on flooded roadways and have found no one trapped.

Yes – I rode right through it; yes – it was a torrential downpour; no – the Klim jacket did not leak (well, sort of).

Here's what the Latitude looks like in grey and hi-viz options.
Here’s what the Latitude looks like in grey and hi-viz options.

Initial impression

When the package arrived, before I opened it, I thought there must be some mistake. It felt too light to be holding a jacket; indeed, once I removed it from the packet the jacket felt incredibly light.

Klim claims the Latitude provides lighter weight and increased mobility while still providing Klim-worthy durability. They say this is accomplished by adding 840D Cordura in high abrasion zones and then go on to say that it will feel broken in from the get-go.

The jacket is short in the front but long in the back, to better fit you on a motorcycle.
The jacket is short in the front but long in the back, to better fit you on a motorcycle.

I had to admit it was extremely comfortable as soon as I tried it on; while there was beefy reinforcement in the abrasion zones. it still felt incredibly light.

Further inspection revealed no less than 11 pockets – six external and five internal, including a secret internal pocket for stashing valuables. The pockets vary in size and shape. Some are secured with waterproof zippers, others with storm flaps, so there should be a pocket available for whatever you’re squirreling away.

I particularly liked the large, long map pockets in the chest that make map stowage and accessibility ridiculously easy. I don’t know if there was collusion involved, but they happen to fit the excellent series of maps from Butler perfectly.

Two medium-sized shoulder vents and two large armpits zips allow a generous amount of cooling air to flow through the jacket and out an oversized rear exhaust vent. When all the vents are open, the super light-jacket feels so unsubstantial it’s almost unnerving.

D30 T5 EVO XP armor in the shoulders and elbows, complemented by a D30 BP XT back protector give a sense of security as do the industrial grade 3M Scotchlite reflective panels.

Fit/Comfort

The collar has a drawstring to keep out the elements.
The collar has a drawstring to keep out the elements.

The jacket has a loose fit, to accommodate layering for cold weather use and is cut to be comfortable when sitting on the bike.

Zippered expansion panels at the hip, as well as sleeve adjustment straps and waist cinch straps help tailor the fit. The jacket is light enough that it will flutter a bit at speed with the vents and cuffs open, but these adjustments allow you to control it effectively.

The collar is also adjustable and is lined with a soft material to reduce chafing. The jacket is lined with a perforated mesh for comfort and features excellent Velcro adjustable wrist closures. The wrist closures are the best I’ve ever used. The opening is large, (large enough to fit over gauntlet gloves for example) and when open, they provide an additional source of cooling air. When closed, they fold over on themselves easily thanks to the thinner material and seal all the way shut, easily fitting inside gauntlets.

Best of all, the Velcro is in exactly the right place to keep the cuffs open, closed or anywhere in between without excess strapping flapping around in the wind (one of my pet peeves with most jackets). As stated earlier, the light material and generous, shaped cut make this one of the most comfortable jackets I’ve worn.

Protection from the elements

The map pocket fits Butler Maps perfectly, conveniently enough.
The map pocket fits Butler Maps perfectly, conveniently enough.

The jacket is sold as a shell without its own thermal liner, so the owner can add whatever form of insulation they prefer. I used it with the Tourmaster Synergy 2 heated jacket liner and was warm and comfortable in all conditions.

The jacket breathes well and when battened down is draft-free everywhere, if adjusted correctly. The key words here are adjusted correctly; this also applies to its ability to keep out water. I fully admit to making two mistakes when sealing this jacket that I found out in my very first bad rain storm.

The Gore-Tex performance shell is guaranteed to keep you dry and does its job admirably, totally repelling Mother Nature’s most vicious attacks. The problem is that there are two areas where water can seep past the shell if not adjusted correctly.

The first is the collar; like most jackets, rain dripping off the helmet and being blown around will eventually seep down the neck. It took me a while to remember that there is a cinch in the collar that tightens it against the neck, all but eliminating the leakage. The cinch is easy to use, even with a gloved hand; you just have to remember it’s there.

Make sure you arrange the storm flap properly, or you'll end up with some leakage.
Make sure you arrange the storm flap properly, or you’ll end up with some leakage.

The second is the internal storm flap for the main zipper. Under normal conditions, this storm flap folds back on itself and is retained there by Velcro patches. It’s easy to forget it is there when putting the jacket on, especially if you’re not expecting rain. The outer storm flap has limited overlap and water (or wind) can easily find its way past.

The inner storm flap is also not very large, and care must be taken to ensure it is sitting correctly over its entire length before closing the outer flap. The inner flap is easy to close properly when standing in front of a mirror with your helmet off, less so at the side of the road with the wind howling and your helmet and gloves on. When done up correctly, the jacket remained watertight, even in the extreme conditions mentioned at the beginning of this discussion.

Durability

I have ridden about 30,000 km in the jacket so far in varying on-road and off-road conditions with no noticeable sign of deterioration. I have not fallen in it to test Klim’s claim of durability (knock on wood) but have no other concerns to relay.

Conclusion

The Klim keeps out water and wind very well despite its light weight. Warren's a big fan!
The Klim keeps out water and wind very well despite its light weight. Warren’s a big fan!

Although this jacket is at the lower end of Klim’s adventure line it is hard to fault. It is supremely comfortable, watertight and has all the features that matter to most. The storm flap at the front is a bit fiddly, but you quickly get used to it, leaving you with nothing really to complain about.

There are those that will say that at $650 it’s a little on the expensive side, especially since it doesn’t come with a thermal liner. But, when you consider the Klim Latitude eliminates the need for a mesh jacket on warm days or a rain jacket on wet ones and works well as both a street and a dual-sport jacket its value is unquestionable.


GALLERY

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