I have now had the chance to ride in a range of conditions, and over a couple of different road trips, in REV’IT and Klim multi-season ladies gear. What follows are my thoughts on the two companies’ designs, and aspects women may want to consider when looking to purchase adventure touring motorcycle gear.
Disclosures are these. I am a little over 5 foot 6 inches, and last time I weighed in right under 103 pounds; I am skinny and not too curvy. The REV’IT gear I am reviewing I purchased in 2013 when I was just learning to ride: the Indigo jacket and Tornado pants. However, having had the opportunity to ride in other REV’IT gear (Ladies Airwave 2), and the fact that REV’IT follows similar structure within their multi-season gear, I think what I have discovered would still hold true across their lines. My REV’IT gear has survived numerous tip-overs on tarmac when I was extremely novice, landing in the dirt countless times in a RawHyde off-road class, a slide when I went down on ice, and two road trips (five days and twenty-three days). The Klim Altitude gear is the older version (2015), which I purchased when I saw Klim was releasing a new version (2016) and was eliminating the extension on the pants, which was what I was most keen on about their gear. I wore the Klim gear on multiple rides and in drastically different weather conditions, including an eight day road trip. Local shops are not yet carrying the new 2016 version so I have not yet tried it on to compare.
What I look for in gear are: protection, endurance (is it something I can wear all day), function, comfort, and style is always a nice feature.
REV’IT is more of a European fit. It feels more tailored, but it means that bigger boots like motocross boots (when I am riding off-road) can only fit over the pants. Because Klim is more of an American fit, the pants are baggier and even motocross boots can fit underneath them.
Waterproof-wise, the two companies take opposite approaches. It appears all of the REV’IT multi-season gear has a non-waterproof (but breathable) outer shell, and the waterproofness comes by zipping in a layer. That layer has fulfilled its job and kept me dry on many occasions. The benefits are that in the heat, with the waterproof layer removed, the outer shell is quite light and therefore decently cool given the circumstances. The downside is that the waterproof layer does take up space, there has to be room to pack it somewhere that is easily accessible, and when one anticipates impending rain, one has to pull over and stop to change into the waterproof layer. Not the most ideal. I also get cold pretty easily, and like to layer. This past winter, I also decided to get a heated jacket. However, wearing the heated jacket under just the two layers of the REV’IT shell and waterproof layer was almost too tight and bulky, and I felt restriction particularly at the elbows. If the waterproof layer was part of the outer shell, there should be ample space to layer underneath. Which made me turn my attention to Klim. Klim’s outer shell is Gore-tex. With the baggier American fit, there is much room for layering. The trade-off is that, despite the venting zippers, the thickness of the material still makes it quite a warm jacket, especially with a taller windscreen or when moving slowly. This also means, however, it naturally keeps one warmer through the cold weather. The Klim design has kept me dry on all but one extremely heavy rain occasion; I found water on my under layers along the front zip – user or design fault, unknown.
Pants-wise, the REV’IT has the armor in the appropriate places, as tested in my numerous dismounts during my RawHyde off-road class. However, on my twenty-three day motorcycle road trip, it rained for about the first week. At one point I thought one of my boots had lost its waterproofing, but I realized that actually the REV’IT pants pull themselves up so high when I sat that it exposes the top of my boot and the rain can come in through the top. REV’IT does make tall versions, but not in their smallest pant size, which is a problem for me. Swim in them and have the right length, or have them fit properly but short and be at risk for water in the boots. That was what made me really interested in the Klim pants. Klim’s were the only ones I had come across that had built in an extension to the pant leg. Riding with the Klim pants extended nicely covers my boots, and I no longer had the problem of wet feet. However, after a while I realized the knees seemed not quite right design-wise, at least for my body. The knee armor was quite too high, especially when in riding position; I feared if I were to go down, that the area right below my patella would receive nearly unprotected impact, as that area was only somewhat covered by the thinnest tapered portion of the armor. In addition, I was wondering why my knees were hurting and my endurance was not what it used to be. I realized that the knee protection was actually putting pressure on my knees, as if my femurs are too long for Klim’s design. I was having to take more pit stops to walk around to alleviate the pressure on my knees. These experiences continued despite my trying different positions for the knee armor (Klim allows much more variation in knee armor adjustability than any other pants I’ve seen, which is a plus). Sadly, Klim eliminated the leg extension in their latest iteration of the women’s Altitude pant, and a taller inseam is not an option in the smallest size. One retailer told me they suspected the new Klim sizes would reflect the old version, with the extension zipped up to be the shorter length. If this is true, then the knee armor would still likely be in the wrong place for me, and in addition with the shorter length, I’d probably have the rain-in-through-the-top-of-the-boot problem with the new Klim pant.
I mentioned endurance is on my list of how I evaluate gear. Endurance meaning I could wear it all day and it does not wear me out. The REV’IT gear would probably best be described as midweight, and can be worn all day, and even hiked short distances in. The Klim gear is heavy. So heavy that the word that kept coming to mind was “cumbersome”. In the Klim gear I don’t want to hike even a short distance to see a sight. I’ll by pass photo opportunities because in the heavy Klim gear, it just takes too much effort. According to Revzilla’s video review of the new Klim Altitude version, a pound has been shed from the jacket (to be right over three pounds), and three-quarters pound reduced weight for the pants. I am sure the weight difference and thickness of the fabrics can be felt. I am also pretty sure the weight of the gear distributes and is felt quite differently on a woman who weighs 150 or more pounds versus my barely over 100 pounds. Revzilla’s video review states that Klim intended thinner (taller) women to wear the men’s sizes; however, that was an idea I had quite a while ago, and even the small sizes felt like I’d become a sail that takes off on the freeway.
Pockets-wise I am overall pleased with both REV’IT and Klim designs. There are more interior pockets in the Klim than in the REV’IT. My favorite REV’IT pocket is the one on the lower back, because it is large enough I can fit a liter of water in a non-hard plastic Platypus bottle, which means I can have water on my person and it is easily accessible and does not have to take room in my panniers or other packs. This is not possible with any of the Klim pockets. The Klim pocket I really like is the wallet pocket at the wrist – easy access, and forces me to keep a thin wallet. I wish the front pockets on the REV’IT jacket had zippers rather than Velcro, though I do like that the front pockets are designed such that where you slip your hands in to keep them warm is a separate space than the area housed by the Velcro; on the Klim jacket, the front pockets where you put your hands are one and the same where you would probably hold your stuff, so there is more of a chance you could lose something you store there. Klim wisely put in a clip to secure keys, whereas REV’IT does not have this. However, it is easy enough to buy some ribbon and some tiny S-biners to sew in one’s own key hooks. Both my REV’IT and Klim pants have a pair of zipped pockets, though it appears the 2016 Klim Altitude pants design removed pant pockets.
I know it must be a challenge for companies to determine the body type for which to design gear that fits the widest spectrum of women. In addition to that, companies have cost/benefit analyses to run on the available materials’ protective qualities, waterproof and breathability qualities, weight, and whether all of that combined meets CE standards. I’d really like to see companies include a longer inseam/tall option in the smallest sizes so rain does not come in the top of my decently high (8 inch) boots. I also think it would be great if shells could contain the waterproofing and the abrasive protective features, but not be too heavy and cumbersome, as this would allow the option of layering, which, depending on the situation one finds one’s self in, could be critical. But, both REV’IT and Klim deserve much credit in their progress and refinement of women’s gear. Us women certainly appreciate having options out there for full protection in all weather conditions, that are tailored to better fit our bodies.