Jacket supplied by Adventure Spec Price – £525 Sizes tried – L and XL Colour – Black Weight – 2.4kg (XL)
Klim Latitude is the sort of jacket that’s well suited to travel: lots of pockets, long cut and with state-of-the-art protection against crashing and the weather with your Gore Tex 2-layer Performance Shell laminated** directly to the body and guaranteed for two years.
When Klims first came out here in the UK I was among many who scoffed at the ‘£1500’ riding suits (jacket and trousers) and didn’t unquestioningly buy into the idea that they were the pinnacle of rider wear. As the range of jackets has increased (now over half a dozen) prices seem to have dropped with what I’d consider great value alternatives like the Overland or Traverse. The Latitude falls midway between those and the Badlands (old model on special) before you head towards the near £1300 Adventure Rally.
** Laminated to the shell is the proper but more expensive way of doing it as the roll of material has to be sent to Gore-Tex. These separate- or zip-out membrane liners are just cost cutting dodges that’ll see the outer shell ‘wet out’ in the rain, at which point the membrane will struggle to breathe. In my experience such jackets are more waterproof than breathable. That’s probably the better side of the equation as long as you don’t pay too much for it, or expect it to anything other than a bin bag.
Size and Fit I was initially sent a Large (42-45”) then an XL (46-50”). One thing’s for sure, even though my chest size was at the lower end of ‘Large’ range in Klim’s size chart (below right), the L felt too small on me across the chest and shoulders, especially once I put it on over my heated liner (comparable in bulk with a fleece). A same-sized Klim Overland was included and that felt the same, so warning: Klim Large may feel small even if you measure up as L. The XL sent in replacement was just too big. Even though, as Roosevelt said to Churchill, ‘an inch is an inch’ it’s well know that American sizing can come up too big on us Brits: what’s Large in the corn-fed States can often feel huge in the UK. Well, this Klim seems to contradict that, or maybe I’m just not a Klim-shaped individual.
There are the usual ways of adjusting the fit of course, but I found the velcro hip belt non-intuitive to use in that you’re adjusting it backwards behind you (left). Wearing the bulk of the jacket (or perhaps just my old joints) with the height of it doing that was awkward, even though it’s something you’ll do regularly say, to cinch up warmer or to allow for post-luncheon expansion. Forward adjustment is the way to do it, but I suppose breaks up the plain front. You also have expansion gussets down at each side using a zip and popper (right) though I imagine these are less frequently adjusted. Then you have your velcro tabs at the wrists – nice touch here are the lightweight spandex sealing gaiters tucked inside the cuffs (right), though actually many riders cut these out. Zips are YKKs all round and the chunky main zip is two-way – always handy to avoid clip-on scrunch on your R1. The short and soft-lined collar can be cinched up with an unobtrusive and easy-to-use toggle and the forearms have those velcro straps to pull in and limit high speed flapping and presumably keep the elbow armour in position when you’re sliding down the road. The cut felt and looked boxy but I read that’s the way Klim do it for their ‘off road/active’ jackets.
Armour I’m not a great fan of the bulky armour that’s come with my older Aerostich Dariens and similar, but the D3O T5 stuff they fit in the Latitude (elbows, shoulders, back) is pleasingly low-profile and squidgy. Its advanced properties mean that on impact the foam ‘locks up’ at a molecular level to become rigid and so, protective. Unconvinced? Get a mate to belt you with a cricket bat to feel it at work. I especially liked the spine pad (left) which on other jackets has felt either insubstantial or over the top. This D30 T5 stuff remains unobtrusive and comfortable until you need it – that’s what you want with armour unless you’re a GP racer. The back pad crosses over the exhaust vent and so is itself vented to help air pass through.
Pockets The Latitude comes with six on the outside: two at the hem with vertical side entry zips • two vertical zip chest pockets • another waterproof-lined smartphone-sized zip-up inside the flap but outside the main zip • and another on the left arm with dayglo piping and a card to register the jacket for emergency ID. Can’t be arguing with that. Inside there are four more pockets: two at chest level with a vertical and horizontal zip • and two small stash mesh pockets below with velcro tabs (these could have easily been full depth) There’s Klim’s trademark hidden pocket in there somewhere too, but I’m obliged not to tell you where exactly.
I read that people complained about the previous Misano Latitude’s velcro/no-zip flapped horizontal hand pockets (right – on special at Adv Spec). Must say that wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me – just put valuables elsewhere. I’ve not seen one up close but one thing I liked about the Misano was the huge map chest pocket(s). This is a great feature which I missed on this 2015 Latitude and find maddening on my cheap-as-chips ARMR Kiso (since ditched). Lots of pockets are good but I’d sooner have fewer but big pockets and skip what to me are gimmicks like the hypalon earphone slot (right; just pass it out the zip!). And for big-ass pockets you can’t beat an Aero Darien (left – a Darien Light), afaik the original jacket of this type (though not sold outside the US). None of the new Latitude’s pockets felt big enough to take a paperback and I doubt would swallow a typical OS map, let alone a pair of gloves.
Venting Obviously I didn’t get to test this out but I get the feeling the arrangement of the Latitude’s vents will work better than most. There are two vertical vents on each side of the chest (left) instead of the usual but less-accessible armpit vents – two more on the upper arms and the exhaust vent halfway across the back (below left and right), just above the belt. Being old school I’ve never fully got into this venting business and have merely considered vents a weak point against all that lovingly laminated Gore-Tex, while being easily overwhelmed by arduous effort such as pushing or paddling through desert sand. But then I’ve never ridden right through an Arizona summer. In such situations I’d just open the frontal zip right out and let the jacket billow. The idea with vents I suppose is to keep you cool on Route 66 when it’s 46°C in the shade while ensuring that the zipped-up but venting jacket will hold the armour in place in the event of a prang.
Look I like the fact that they seem to have reduced the branding on current Klims but I’m still not that keen on the 2015 design: too much black in all three colour options, though the previous Misano’s light grey wasn’t such a winner for me either. A pewtery tone would suit me – something that picks up less heat, but won’t soon look like month-old underpants. Even the short time it took to take these shots in the garden got me wilting. It would be good to see a few less-conservative colours besides the black, grey or day-glo (and now blue) in Klim’s range. Ironically I really like the look and cut of my ARMR Kiso (right) – just a shame it’s breathes like a pane of glass and has pockets fit for a 5-year old.
Conclusion All in all, though I don’t doubt it’s as good as anything out there for bad weather and crashing, the look, small pockets and the sizing would put me off spending £500 quid on a Latitude. For that money I’d wait for something else.
There’s a saying in kayaking that goes something like: ‘dress for the swim not the weather‘. In other words just because it’s sunny don’t think you won’t get hypothermia and drown if you capsize. I’ve not always been a loyal disciple of this is ‘all-of-the-gear-all-of-the-time’ philosophy. While I do opt for leather trousers on long rides, I prefer a jacket that feels less like hefty motorcycle clobber, even if it offers reduced protection against rain and prangs and cricket-bat attacks. I modulate my adventuring on land and sea accordingly but I recognise that for long travels on two wheels something like a Latitude is probably the best choice.
More on the Klim Latitude 2015 jacket at Adv Spec.