Where: 3000km over a month in southern Morocco. Then another 5000 in Morocco and Spain and another 1600km in Algeria in 2018.
UK price: £165 at Adventure Spec.
See also: Klim Dakar ITB.
• Usual Klim quality
• Not plastered in Klim branding
• Exterior knee armour easily removable
• Can nearly pass as normal jeans
• They didn’t go pocket-mad, as many do
• Cotton-Cordura fabric feels tough, but breathes well enough
• Regular size too long in the leg
• Too baggy at the shins for riding bikes
As I wrote last year, I’ve been looking for some riding pants that make me feel protected but don’t weigh a ton like my well-worn leathers, and aren’t sweaty, bulky, membrane overpants. There are these kevlar-impregnated demin jeans, but who actually wears jeans these days?
After a while I decided my Klim Dakar ITBs were just too race-focussed, under-pocketed and too nylony for my tame level of desert touring. At the 2016 NEC Adv Spec put me onto Klim’s forthcoming Outriders – normal looking, jean-like riding pants with well thought out armour. Something you can wear on or off the bike. In other words: ideal do-it-all travelling trousers.
when they arrived my 38″ Regulars weigh 1440g with the armour, or 1090g without. More than half my leathers and a bit less than the chunky Dakar ITBs.
Fyi: I bought these Outriders at a discount from Adventure Spec in return for advertising in my books
What they say:
The Outrider is designed to traverse the environments and demands of the multi-sport enthusiast. Scrambling out to your favorite fishing spot, hiking from the trailhead to the lake at 9,000ft, or cruising the boulevard to the pier at sunset. Wherever your next odyssey takes you, the Outrider is ready for anything. Built with the quality you expect from KLIM®.
I was pretty sure I’d like the Klim Outriders and out of the box I wasn’t disappointed. I’m around 6′ 1″ and 94kg, 37″ waist (when I left), and inside leg of 32″ (unchanged). So ’38 x 32 Regular’ was my size.
But these pants are actually a yard long in the leg and once worn standing up, sag at the heel, like the image right, but more. Once the armour’s in and with some riding up when sat on a bike, they actually look OK. And if you wear them ITB (in-the-boot) to eliminate snagging the baggy ends, it ought not matter (or so I hoped). Better too long than too short, I suppose.
You get two front pockets with a jean-like coin slot inside one; two at the back, one with a flap and stud, and a smartphone slip-in on the left thigh so you can check in without taking your hand off the throttle.
Inside, mesh takes the slim D3O hip armour pads (left; I didn’t use them on my trip), and at the knees you slip the armour in from the top, position with unobtrusive velcro and do up a stud.
Even without the armour these long, double thickness knees will give some extra protection, and feature drain holes at the lower ends for those deep BAM crossings (right).
The 75% Cotton-Cordura fabric is hefty without feeling like a scout tent fabric or being unduly sweaty. The attention to detail and triple-stitching is confidence inspiring, and my shade of dark brown works for me. Maybe it was all part of the grand business plan, but it’s good to see Klim getting away from the sporty race wear and into more mainstream riding gear which will have many more buyers.
Before I even got to Morocco my Outriders got soaked while waiting in the rain to board the ferry at Algeciras. A good test to see if they’d dry on the hour’s crossing – which they did.
Over the next month I rode in temperatures from 35°C in Western Sahara, to close to freezing in the High Atlas (with runner’s leggings underneath). In all that time the Outriders never felt too hot and sweaty, nor chilled my legs out of proportion to the rest of me. On the very hot days, just stopping for a minute in my Overland jacket, with all vents and zips open, saw me start sweating; the Outriders remained stable.
Because they’re so long, tucking the rolled up ends into my boots and then doing the boots up became a chore on some days. And, perhaps because my boots aren’t full knee height and clamped to my leg, over the course of a day getting on and off the bike they’d work their way out and need stuffing back in.
I could have worn them ‘OTB’ but I’m sure they’d have snagged on something and got oily and ripped. As it was they got ripped anyway, while paddling hard through a sandy oued – didn’t notice till later as I was slightly desperate at the time. I suppose they caught the footrest or gear level on a forward lunge.
I got them machine washed once – probably hot and not inside out, contrary to instructions. I can’t say I noticed any shrinkage, if that is the reason (in fact I would have welcomed a bit of shrinking). I didn’t crash in them either, though I dare say something closer-fitting like the Dakar ITBs would keep the keep armour in place better.
I plan to get them shortened by 2 inches (and using the off-cut to patch the tear), and even thought about cutting a wedge out of the lower leg to get a slimmer fit, but that may be too costly to do well. Overall, after one more wash, the Klims have come back from the trip in good shape. Let’s face it, they’re only a pair of trousers, but I’m looking forward to more rides without the weight of leathers or the sweatiness and lesser travel-practicality of the ITBs.