Tag Archives: Klim Overland jacket review

Aerostich Darien Light and Klim Overland reviewed

jako1If you’re serious about a travel jacket, one with a waterproof/breathable membrane laminated directly to a tough outer shell, with taped seams and with some good venting is the way to go. It’s not the cheapest way of making a jacket, but it’s the most effective.I’ve now done a couple of thousand miles on two US-branded shells: Aerostich’s Darien Light (rrp $577; sold US only; 2.27kg) which has been around little
changed for over a quarter of a century. And Klim’s Overland (rrp $430 / £379;  1.97kg) which hasn’t. Some might say Klim’s Latitude might be a fairer comparison with a Darien Light (DL). I looked at a 2015 Latitude but couldn’t see myself owning it, for the reasons explained in the link.

Fyi: these jackets were supplied by Aerostich and Adventure Spec
in exchange for adverts in AMH7

What they say:

klim-logoaspecIf you’re taking your first steps into Adventure and Adventure Touring, the all-new Overland series is a tremendous value.

aerosThe Darien Light really comes into its own for commuting and general riding, especially in atrocious weather where it will flat-out work better than whatever you now wear.


Aerostich Darien Light
jaq1A 25-year old, made-in-the-USA design that’s been refined over the years and comes in four or maybe six colours. A longer version of their equally popular Roadcrafter.

tik• Roomy fit
• Irresistibly practical
• Collar flap magnets
• Ten+ pockets, including massive ones
• Intuitive waist belt cinching
• Customisable plus a range of accessories including heated and thermal liners

cros• Bulky, base-spec TF3 armour
• Only sold at Aerostich, USA
• Plain range of colours

Review
jak-DL_features_1This is my third Darien (fourth it you count the same-styled waxed cotton Falstaff). Didn’t get on with the stiff, full-weight Darien and even less with the mucky and ineffective Falstaff, but a Darien Light – made of 200D rather than 500D Darien fabric (losing 30% abrasion ability in the process) has got to be one of the most under-rated round-the-world travelling shells. Light enough to be bearable in the tropics, roomy and adjustable to take extra layers, vented to keep you cool, plus your obligatory Gore-tex membrane to reduce clamminess while resisting the rain.
The fabric may get bonded by the roll in Vietnam, but one good thing about being cut and assembled in Duluth, MN (afaik) is they can do you any number of custom fittings and enhancements if you have special prefs or a non-conventional physique. Very few motorcycle clothing manufacturers offer this level of customisation; you just get what you get in whatever colours they have between XS and XXL.

Armour
jakk2One all my previous Dariens I ditched the bulky, hard-capped TF3 elbow, shoulder and back armour without thinking. This time I stuck with all except the back pad, but can see why I used to remove it. After experiencing the Klim Overland’s supple slices of orange D3O, the bulky TF3s snag and don’t make slipping on the DL the sartorial delight it should be, especially if you’ve left the arm cinches done up. You feel like a stuntman togging up prior to being catapulted from the battlements.

armors

The TF3 elbow – top – is light at 90g and composed of a soft, open-cell sponge, cut and glued to shape, then partially topped with a hardshell cap which must be key to distributing impacts. The orange D3O T5 equivalent is heavier, slimmer and smaller, a denser rubbery foam moulding that looks more effective. Aero do sell similar, low-profile TF5 armour, which can be adapted with new velcro sleeves for fabric Darien jackets.

My advice: if buying an Aerostich fabric suit, upgrade to TF5 armour and velcro sleeves 1107_knee_1d(left). For elbows and shoulders the cost should be negligible. Aero should make this upgrade option more obvious on the DL page, though as it is, the TF3s warm up quickly and once on the move you’re barely aware of the bulk.
Aero tell us that velcro-ing armour pads to the shell (rather than hanging them in a mesh) is a superior but more time-consuming way of doing it. And the velcro (Americans are constitutionally prohibited from using the v-word) does enable useful fine-tuning with the position. If you want to get picky then the outline of the velcro patches glued into the shell’s inside shows on the exterior and spoils the smooth lines.
I suppose the crux is the stuff staying in position as you tumble down the road and the two velcro cinches either side of the elbow will see to that. Perhaps in the baggier DL cut, arm-joint armour is more prone to getting dislodged than on the closer-fitting Overland with D3O. According to this detailed explanation from 2011, while not CE certified or approved (a European compliance standard), at that time TF3 was as good at impact absorption as anything out there. That’s great to know, but things have moved on and while not being a card-carrying ATGATT type, I feel the DL should come standard with TF5 – see the comments below the above linked explanation. I’ve since inserted in some half-price D3Os into my DL’s arms. The orange stuff is nearly 50% heavier (TF3 90g vs D3O 132g) but slips on better and feels less bulky, while almost certainly impacting as well.

Old Men in Black
jakk5While I’m whining, it’s shame the DL comes in such a drab selection of colours. It would be great to get away from boring old black – usually the least bad option – without necessarily having to look like this. It’s a safe, conservative and inexpensive option, but I believe there’s a way to make a jacket interesting with shades of jak-stealth_jkt_2dark grey; my ARMR Moto cheapie wasn’t bad-looking. Singularity fans, check out the alluringly noire City Stealth Roadcrafter (right) from Aerostich. Now that’s a black textile jacket I could do business with. Expect to see it in the next Bond movie.

Storage
jakk1One of the best features on all Dariens is the varied array and size of pockets. For me this ability to compartmentalise your valuables and frequently useables (‘V&FUs’, as the adventure clothing industry calls them) is at the heart of the motorcycle overlander’s key garment.
My 2015 DL has ten plus one: a zip-up on the right cuff, two angled and flapped zip-ups at the hem, two vertical zipped chest pockets which’ll swallow a map, gloves or a bundle of border-generated paperwork. Behind them are a couple of spacious hand-warmers which are a tad too high for comfort. All have water-resistant TiZip-like zips which will need lubing once in a while. There’s also a small, velcro-flap-only chest pocket top left which I found handy for a waterproof point-and-shoot and a Sharpie. There’s a mini snap link inside though I’d actually prefer an exterior D-ring (like on the Overlander’s hem) – somewhere to quickly hang the keys while paying for fuel, for example.
Inside the main shell are two smaller, lighter-load-bearing but deluge-secure wallet-and-phone chest pockets: one vertical entry, the other from the side, both velcro’d; take your pick. You can also velcro on a clear, zip-up pocket onto the left forearm; handy for a compass away from metal influences, I find. I use all of them plus a light, bladder-holding daypack so when I get off the bike I know I have all my compact V&FUs with me.

Vents
jakk3The DL’s venting comprises of more water-resistant zips which arc up and round the armpit. With that bend and the stiffer zip action, you can barely work them at a standstill, let along on the move. The exhaust vent is a two-way lateral zip below the big back reflector. Riding with them open while on the piste at say 25°C and 25mph saw a nice cooling sensation on the chest, rather than an all-round coolness, but that will do me. It means you’re not gagging to take the thing off even time you stop. Problem with the horizontal back vent is it will get blocked if you wear a daypack or hydrator – vertical side exhaust vents are better in that respect.
I’d have rather had a dark grey shade, but found in wintertime Morocco the passive heat absorption of the black fabric was just right when combined with the vents. Wearing the Overland in similar conditions was noticeably cooler. Get into the tropics or the Sahara in the warmer seasons and I don’t suppose I’d be quite so comfortable in black.

jakk4Adjustability
I thought using magnets to secure a folded-down collar might be this year’s gimmick; they’re actually quite inspired. The collar simply flaps down and stays there at any speed requiring no unsightly studs, clips or velcro (though it may set your pacemaker into a nosedive). Another plus is the easy-to-use velcro waist belt: grab either forward-facing band and cinch as desired – very handy for keeping the core warm. The Klim Latitude I tried did the same thing but with backward facing tabs – for me a far less intuitive action. Other adjustments on the DL include side tabs for hip girth, a cinch cord down there, velcro tabs above and below the elbow to cinch down armour or heated clothing, plus a zip and velcro cuffs to help air-off or run gloves tucked in or out. There’s a velcro strap on the lined collar which you can just about use one-handed on the move, fighting the magnets.

Rainproof
As for waterproofness, I’ve not yet had the chance to ride in hard rain – just a few hours of dense fog. I’d expect the exterior pockets to eventually leak, but the shell to hang in there unless it’s really hammering down. Watch for an update.

Conclusion
jak1The Darien is a flexible and versatile do-it-all jacket that, base-level armour apart, doesn’t feel like war-zone-ready clobber. It’s a jacket that, much like the CB500X I’ve been riding, is good for the getting there and the being there.

I’m sure I’m not the first to suggest that Aerostich should capitalise on this adventure biking fad with a snazzier, adventure-style jacket based on the Darien. Something that would appeal to less conservative younger riders whose fathers, I suspect, make up the core of the Darien and Roadcrafter users. The thing is, apart from a bit of flashy detailing here and there, a pouch on the back and bluetooth interconnectivity, it would differ little from what I already have here, the Leatherman of overland-ready jackets.


Klim Overland (discontinued)
jaq2The Overland was an upgrade on Klim’s entry-level Traverse, with armour, better venting and reflectivity, a new look as well other improvements.

tik• Was a great price and widely distributed
• Exudes quality
• Discrete D3O armour
• Easy to use vents
• Fits well if wearing minimal layers

cros• Sizing comes up way small according to the chart
• Small pockets
• Boring black or light grey; you get what you get in your size

Review
klimov-01The Overland has a lightweight body with a boxy cut (not waist belt) and textured overlays in high-wear areas. This makes it as light as it can be – the five sections of D3O armour adds maybe a kilo to the weight. I chose the Large knowing it would be on the tight side, but also knew the XL was a big jump. Read my first impressions of the Overland here.
klim_jacket_size_guideAccording to Klim’s sizing chart (right) I should have been bang on with an L as usually an American L = XL in Europe. Not with Klim, so with an L there’s just enough room underneath of a Powerlet heated jacket which adds up to three fleeces and a pint of hot soup. It does make a nice change to have a close-fitting jacket for a change, instead of the usual and more practical sack.

Armour
klimov-02The soft, pliable (even when cold), CE certified (not ‘approved’) D3O T5 EVO XT armour (made in Croydon, no less!) slips unobtrusively into the mesh liner’s pockets and you forget it’s ever there. Unlike the Aero TF3, it doesn’t bulk out the jacket like an American footballer, all of which helps give the impression of a slim, close fit.

Look
jak3It’s all subjective of course but it sure is nice not to have to wear another black jacket and it seems that Klim have toned down the branding on this one. The Overland’s fabric textures don’t come up so well in photos, but in grey it looks less dull than you might think. It’s a boxy fit they say, but then I have a boxy torso, which would yield little under a waist belt.
klo1The reflective patches are minimal but, we’re told, mimic the form of an oncoming rider not a startled deer. It’s the other extreme from Aero’s broad bands of Scotchlite, and you do hear that France now requires a minimal area of reflectivity on motorcycle clothing which I doubt the Overland’s discrete 3M sipes would cover.

Storage
klimov-09Here is where a jacket daring to klo3call itself ‘Overland’ comes up short. If they’d called it ‘Dayrider’ or ‘Happy Shopper’ or even Traverse II, it would have been fine, but then they probably wouldn’t have been so successful.
I enjoy wearing the Overland for short rides but in Morocco, when it came to sending one back before riding home in December, I knew I’d be keeping the Darien. Having pockets full of stuff may not give you a profile like a David Beckham underwear advert, but it sure is handy.
klo5Having said that, one good thing about the mesh lining is that it’ll be easy to buy a square foot of the stuff and sew on a usefully large ‘drop pocket’ on the inside (see below), because only inside can you be sure that stuff won’t get wet. And yes I’ve looked closely at the Latitude and Badlands which IMO, both come up short on large-capacity pocketure.

Vents
klimov-06The Overland’s vents have a superior arrangement to the DL and even other Klims: simple zip downs along the side but below the armpit; and matching vertical exhaust vents at the back which cunningly won’t get blocked by a daypack as the DL’s transverse back vent does. On any jacket, how all this venting deals with torrential rain remains to be seen, but on a rainy ride back from Amsterdam in 2016 I got home dry.

Adjustability
klimov-05Even with the back of neck cinch cord loosened right off, I found the collar a tight fit against the front of the throat when done right up. Down at the hem you’ve another cinch cord, but that won’t snug up well against the chill as well as a waist belt. That’s not the Overland’s style and anyway, you can use your own belt against the cold or use a daypack’s hip belt. I liked the single arm cinch below the elbow; with a snug fit there’s no need for two as on the DL – less is always better. Cuffs are velcro only, no room to tuck in gloves in, if that’s your thing.

Rainproof?
klimov-12Again, climate change has got to such a state that I’ve been riding near daily across three counties in winter for over a month and have dodged all rain clouds. A jacket, with four apertures and multiple zips isn’t like a submarine, no matter what they all claim. I got hours or rain riding a WR from Holland. There was a  certain clamminess; but I was dry inside.

klo4The Overland in a slick-looking and well-featured jacket that I enjoyed putting on more than the Darien Light, and would be my choice for nipping out on the bike or doing short, fly-in trips. It’s less overkill than the Badlands style as many here think. Overland may be a misleading name but it’s still Klim quality at a great price.

klimpoxOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpdate: A year in I’m liking the lightness and simplicity of my Overland. Just enough jacket to do the job with good vertical vents when it warms up. And with 50p of mesh, I’ve added some drop pockets to the insides (left) to make my Overland even more useful for overland travel where you end up with piles of documents traverseyou want to keep handy.

In 2017 the Klim dropped the Overland. Shame. The new-style Traverse (right) is similar but lacks armour and those arm cinch bands for a snug fit. Read my 2019 Travese review here (soon).

klo2

 

Klim Overland jacket – first impressions

Full Klim Overland review here

klimov-11The cupboard was bare, the fridge was an icy cavern bereft of succulent goodies, and the sun was shining. It was high time for a shopping run to Ullapool. And, finding myself between chapters on the new AMH, it was also high time to saddle up the CB-X for a ride along the lochs and glens to try out some new gear.

Adventure Spec supply me with free or reduced cost
gear in return for advertising in AMH

In need of a decent coat for a winter getting to and from the desert, Adventure Spec recently sent me a Powerlet Rapidfire heated jacket and Klim’s Overland jacket. AS had already sent me a Latitude to look at a couple of months back. But considering the investment in such a key item of gear, I found the Latitude either a little small in L, or klimov-01way too big in XL. And in other ways it didn’t quite compare with an Aerostich Darien Light which I still consider a benchmark in travelling jackets.

Wearing the Powerlet liner (about the bulk of a fleece), the Overland in Large felt tight across klim_jacket_size_guidethe chest and shoulders and yet, according to the chart on the right, I’m (42″ chest, 6’1″, 95kg) at the lower end of their Large range. The Overland was snug on me dressed in full gear – but still useable.

What Klim say
If you’re taking your first steps into Adventure and Adventure Touring, the all new Overland series from KLIM® is a tremendous value [sic].

My first impressions
Good value, solidly built three-season shell that’s well-designed, has some tidy features and an understated look. Warmer than you think too, but could use more- or just bigger pockets in and out. And beware: Klim sizing comes up small.

Klim Overland – a quick look
• The Overland costs £379 with tax from AS and is listed as $429 + tax in the US or another $50 for the huge 3XL size
klimov-03• My Large weighs 2.04kg, less 330g without back armour pad
• It has four pockets: two hand pockets the hem with vertical entry water-resistant zips, a smaller vertical chest pocket and a similarly small one on the mesh inside (right)
klimov-06• There are water-resistant zipped armpit vents down the sides that you might just undo on the move, and two corresponding long vertical back vents (right)
• The front two-way zip lies under a velcro flap with a stud at each end, and the soft, Tricot-lined collar can be cinched for a snug seal. There are also cinch cords on each side of the hem, velcro arm tabs below the elbow and velcro at the wrists
klimov-02• The jacket has ventilated D30 E5 EVO XT armour on elbows, shoulders with a slightly less highly rated slab of non T5 D30 across the back (right)
• Eight discreet 3M Scotchlite reflective flashes front and back
• The cut is boxy and most of the arms and shoulders are over-layered with coarser and darker abrasion-resistant panels of 840D weight Cordura. The light grey body is made of much less stiff regular nylon fabric of about half that weight. The mesh lining is polyester and the membrane is Gore-Tex tw0-layer Performance Shell which is ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry ®’ and the jacket has a lifetime warranty too.

klimov-04Review
A few years ago when Klim first came to the UK, I remember looking at a Badlands or something at the Ace Cafe Adventure Day and thinking: £800 for a jacket – really? Of course Rukka had come to price themselves up there too, incorporating what I considered fussy, over-complicated ‘technical’ designs that seems to be a way of justifying high prices on a lot of stuff these days. But 800 quid for a garment made in Southeast Asia?

Maybe ‘start high – bring in the cheaper stuff later’ is a recognised marketing strategy. That’s how it looks to me with Klim in the UK and now we have more normally priced jackets like the Traverse, and the second take on the Traverse which is known as the Overland.

As I say in the book, setting off on a long trip you’ll be wearing your jacket just about all the time for weeks or months. It’s got to work well, feel right and be up to the task as it’ll become your second skin. One thing that categorises Klim as a serious contender is they only make rugged waterproof shells and eschew what is to me the cheap measure of a zip-out membrane. If you want a serious Gore-tex type jacket, get one where it’s laminated to the outer shell. Yes, it costs more.

klimov-10I set off for what turned out to be a 180-mile ride on an October day with temps peaking at 13° and strong winds forecast. Underneath I was wearing the Powerlet, a thick shirt and a vest, and leather trousers plus thin unlined gloves. I planned to fire up the Powerlet when the chill got to me. As it turned out – perhaps because I was stopping a lot – that never happened. The Overland kept me warm all day right up to sunset which was impressive. It means you can wear less clobber underneath but I suppose may get hot working hard off road in a warmer climate. For that reason I chose the grey version rather than the black. It really can make a difference.

klimov-07Doing it up I noticed that with the Powerlet’s high wire-laden collar and a shirt collar too, there wasn’t really room for my thin neck buff I usually wear. The front collar stud was a two hand squeeze to do up and the collar felt tight at the front while loose at the back where the cinch is. In other words the collar fitting was too upright or – neanderlike many humans in this digital, screen-staring era – my neck and head stick forward like a round-spined Australopithecus. Trying it again now it definitely presses on my Adam’s apple, but not unbearably so. Normally I prefer loose clothing and the Overland is a ‘snug’ fit round the neck and in the arms  and across the shoulders with arms pulled backed which is probably more flattering, cosier and aerodynamic.

klimov-09klimov-08Riding along I thought I felt a chill under the arms through the vent zips, but not enough to plug in the heated jacket. And anyway this could be attributable to my bike / screen /posture / speed. Later on I didn’t even notice it.

P1000435At one point I left the bike perched on a sunlit hillside track and walked on to recce the route. In a black jacket I’d have cooked like a Findus boil-in the-bag cod in parsley sauce, but the Overland was surprisingly cool. By the time I got back to the bike I did have a bit of a glow on, but rode back the few miles to the main road unzipped and flapping by which time normal operating temps had resumed.

klimov-05An hour and lots of lipsmacking pics later I pulled in at a cafe near Poolewe and instinctively went to slot my gloves into a pocket to came up against the Overland’s main flaw: too small pockets. I suppose I could have stuffed then into one of the lower pockets but what I’d like a decent, map-sized chest pocket or some meshy drop pockets low down inside (they could actually be easily tacked on to the mesh. What do other riders do? – cart around a tank bag or backpack – or slip them in a topbox I suppose. A jacket called Overland needs overlandable storage. For the return run I also removed the back armour to free up some room. It made the jacket lighter and more flexible, but I can’t say it felt significantly more roomy. For that the shoulder pads need to come out but I’ll keep those for the moment.

P1130862Riding back with the sun now dipping behind the hills, I expected to resort to the Powerlet, but riding up to 80mph the Klim still hung in there. The wind was up now too, pushing me around on the single track roads and at one point coming over a pass I distinctly felt the wind catch the back vent flaps and pull me around in the seat.

klimov-12So – preliminary findings on the Klim Overland adventure touring jacket. Warmer than you’d think, under pocketed but the plain looks that are growing on me. Great armour and adjustability too. Resistance to pelting rain and ventability to be established. I always wonder if the latter might compromise the former.

Full Klim Overland review here

P1000489