It would not be unfair to suggest that, historically, here at Motolegends we have not necessarily catered for the most serious off-road riders. Yes, we’ve always sold kit for so-called adventure bike riders but, as we know, most adventure bikes don’t tend to get too much mud stuck into the grooves of their Continentals.
We’ve always been in a position to offer an off-road suit or two from the likes of Rukka and Halvarssons, but we don’t really sell proper off-road helmets, MX goggles, big plastic boots, body armour sets, long-sleeve nylon shirts and so on.
You cannot credibly be all things to all people, and we have always been more about the highway than the byway. It’s not that we don’t like riding off road. Indeed, as I write this my right leg is in one of those bootie things to protect the ankle I broke on a recent misadventure in the Sahara.
But so impressed are we with the products produced by our American cousins from Klim that it seems likely that we are going to become a little more involved in what one might call proper, adventure-riding kit.
The suit that is the centre piece of this particular review is called the Baja S4. (S4 stands for 4-way stretch). It is a serious off-road suit. It comes in at a serious price, as do the matching waterproof jacket and pants that are designed to be worn over it.
Now, as ever, our written and video reviews do not set out to be totally comprehensive explorations of the detail of a given product. You can find that elsewhere; on our website perhaps, or even the manufacturer’s. Rather, it is our intention to tell a story, to paint pictures about products. So, here goes.
The Baja S4 jacket and pants are not laminated, as many such garments from Klim are. In fact, they have no membrane at all, which is exactly what one would want in an off-road outfit. If you’re riding somewhere hot, and your work rate is making you feel even hotter, the last thing you want anywhere near you is a waterproof membrane. You want to be able to sweat freely, and you want what is hopefully oncoming cooler air to be able to reach the body. The absence of a membrane makes it much more likely that both these things can happen.
But to further aid this process, many of the panels in the Baja S4 jacket and pants are made from a super-strong yet stretchy Dynatec mesh. This mesh will flow lots and lots of air. In fact, hold it up to the light and you can see right through it, but unlike other loose-knit meshes the Dynatec stuff is insanely strong.
For further breathability and comfort on both the top and bottom halves of the Baja S4 suit you also get large areas of 1000 denier Stretch Cordura. This is the same material that forms the basis of the Marrakesh jacket. The fit on the Baja is clearly not quite so elasticated as it is on the Marrakesh, but make no mistake the Baja is supremely comfortable.
In some areas, such as the pockets, the material is a 750 denier Cordura. Whilst, in the most vulnerable places, such as the elbows, shoulders and knees, you get panels of SuperFabric for the very highest levels of abrasion resistance.
The end result is very simple. Huge volumes of air can pass through both the jacket and pants, but if you do find yourself on the road there’s little if any trade off in terms of protection and abrasion resistance. A conclusion that is confirmed by the fact that both the top and the bottom come fully equipped with D3O, including in the back. The D3O, of course, is the company’s vented armour. The suit, by the way, is rated AA under the latest EN 17092 regulations, which is the highest level achievable by a textile suit.
Now not only does Klim design gear with great thought and care, they also adorn it with crazy levels of detailing. So much so that I’m going to try and list the main features as succinctly as I can.
Here goes. Large amounts of highly reflective, carbon black ribbon banding. More pockets inside and out than you will ever need. YKK zips. A collar fastener to hold the collar open. Volume adjusters on the arms. Adjusters at the hem of the jacket. A pocket for a bladder. A passage for a kidney belt. Adjusters on the calves of the pants. More SuperFabric. A connecting zip to enable the two halves to be connected. An adjuster at the waist. And leather panels inside the legs to get better grip on to the bike, and to prevent burning from the exhaust.
If you want an extremely well vented suit for the most demanding conditions that the trails can throw at you, the Baja S4 May be for you. Yet it will still deliver everything you need for spirited on-road riding, for the miles you have to ride in between the off-road sections.
Only one real flaw in the Baja’s proposition from an all-round usability standpoint, and it’s that the suit is going to be pretty useless in the rain. Which is why the Baja S4 comes with its own dedicated waterproof over suit. Now, we’ll come on to pricing later, but even though the waterproof outer components for this suit are both impressive, they are shockingly expensive. Even to us!
Like the base garments the Enduro S4 waterproofs contain stretch. They come in sizes to match the Baja S4. If you take a Medium in the Baja S4 jacket, you will take a Medium Enduro S4 jacket. If you wear an Extra Large Baja pant, you will need an Extra Large Enduro S4 trouser.
These stretchy waterproofs are rather superior. The jacket has two front pockets and one on the back. You get adjusters at the neck and the waist whilst, under the arms, there are long vents to increase breathability. All the zips, of course, are by YKK. As with the Baja itself, the Enduro features black reflective banding.
Now in the collar is a concealed hood. And apparently -and this is pure Klim-the whole jacket can be folded into the hood to make a camping pillow!
The Enduro pants are the same as the jacket in terms of fabrics and materials, but they have an extra couple of tricks up their legs. The main one being that they have full-length zips running top to bottom down the outside of the legs. This is going to make them particularly easy to put on or take off, even with heavy off-road boots. You also get protective strips down the inside of the legs.
So that’s a reasonably comprehensive description of the features to be found on this rather special quartet of garments. As we’ve said, if you need to know more detail, visit the website.
The question, I suppose, is what do we think of the suit?
Well, as an off-road outfit, we reckon the Baja S4 is going to be virtually without equal. Often suits like this have large, openable vents to allow air to pass through the garment. But vents are not necessary on the Baja S4, because large areas of both the jacket and pants are going to flow air in their own right. You’ll stay as cool in this suit as you will in any adventure suit you’ll ever ride in. And yet you’ll still be well protected when you hit the black stuff.
Historically, of course, Klim has produced adventure outfits with laminated membranes. Now some of those suits are very well known, like the Badlands and the Kodiak, but for us adventure suits should not have a fixed membrane; they’re just going to be too hot. The Baja S4, by contrast, is exactly what an adventure suit should be. Whether you’re climbing a rocky crag in the Scottish highlands or are stuck in deep sand in the middle of the Sahara, this is a suit that will help you stay cool, calm and collected.
But, of course, it does rain. Now some off-road suits, in particular those we call three-in-one suits, have internal waterproof jackets that can be zipped in, or removed, as required. The problem with such suits is that, if it rains, the outer jacket will become soaking wet before the membrane can even begin to do its job. When it does stop raining, and you remove the zipped-in waterproof, you will find yourself having to continue your ride in a soaking wet jacket and pants. Far better, in such circumstances, to wear your waterproof layer on the outside. It makes much more sense.
Which is why we think the Baja S4 and Enduro S4 make for just about the perfect off-road pairing. Obviously, as with much Klim gear, this combination provides nothing by way of thermal protection, but for us that’s simply not an issue; just use the appropriate level of layers for your particular needs.
So, let’s look at pricing, in the knowledge that Klim’s gear will never be the cheapest. Well, the Baja jacket costs £590; the pants cost £480. So that’s £1070 for a highly breathable suit that has no waterproof or thermal properties. Expensive yes, but probably not out of court given the suit’s capabilities.
But it is potentially a different matter when it comes to the waterproof outer. The jacket is priced at £320. The pant is priced at £300. That is £620 for a waterproof suit. Now, if you’re somebody who has to have everything matching you may be prepared to pay that, but £600 is a lot to pay just to keep dry. (Heck, we do a whole laminated suit for less)! Personally, we would be tempted to go for a set of Scott waterproofs instead. Top and bottom would set you back just £160. Of course, we can accept that, in the margin, the Klim combination is superior. The Klim jacket has vents, the pants will be easier to put on with big boots, and almost certainly the Klim jacket will make for a better pillow!
Buy all four parts to the combination, and you’ll be in for £1700 for the full package but, to be fair, the Kodiak suit comes to nearly £1900, and for serious off roading the Baja and Enduro package is far better and much more useable.
It will, ultimately, come down to the kind of riding you do. This is a suit for the most serious kind of off-road riders. It is almost certainly the very best and most sophisticated suit of its type. If money is no object, then the matching pants are the way to go. If you want to save a few quid, go for the Scotts.
If you ride seriously off road, but can’t stretch to the sum required for the Klim, then Halvarssons’ Oman does a lot that the Baja and Enduro set does, but at half the money.
If, however, you want the adventure look, but rarely go off road then you’ll be better off with the Badlands or Kodiak. The Badlands is a looser and baggier suit that gives you the freedom of movement you need for gentle riding off-road. The Kodiak looks the part, but in truth it is pretty much purely a road suit.
The final choice, of course, is yours.
For more information and to order online, click Klim Baja S4 and Klim Enduro S4.