Klim does road suits, and what one might term ‘adventure’ suits. And in both, they have what could be called a standard offering, and a premium offering. For premium, think ‘feature laden’ perhaps. In the adventure category there’s the Badlands and then, one rung below it, the Carlsbad. In the road category, their top jacket is the Kodiak. Below it sits the Latitude.
Now it may just be something to do with our perverse nature, but in both cases we actually prefer the lower model to the one that sits above it. And that, I suspect, may be partly down to our fixation with comfort. The Badlands is a masterpiece, positively festooned with features and technology. But the Carlsbad is simply nicer to wear. The same applies to the Kodiak and the Latitude. The spec. on the Kodiak is impressive, but in comparison with the Latitude it is simply less comfortable to wear.
The fact, however, is that we only discovered the Latitude relatively recently; but we swiftly fell for its charms. It was, in our view, one of the nicest Gore-Tex touring and commuting suits that we offered. It had a lot going for it, but no sooner had we taken it on than we learned that there was going to be a new, improved version coming through.
Well that new version has now arrived. And it is changed, but we’re not sure whether the new Latitude constitutes an upgrade or a downgrade. So let’s talk about the Latitude, and the changes that Klim has made to it.
The old Klim Latitude was a two-layer, laminated Gore-Tex jacket. It was softer and easier to wear than many laminated jackets. The fit was slim and very much designed for road riding. It was pretty well vented, as you might expect from Klim. It was equipped with D3O armour throughout, but did not include a thermal liner, which is never a problem for us because we always prefer jackets where you supply your own.
We had some minor gripes with the original Latitude; the absence of zips at the end of the cuffs was one; but the Latitude was higher rated under EN17092 than the Kodiak; and Klim also offered the jacket in a ‘short’ version, which was a godsend for those who were vertically challenged, or who had a bit of a tummy!
The new Latitude is now here. And whilst we applaud some of the changes that Klim has introduced, there can be no doubt that the new jacket does not represent progress in every department.
The sleeves do now indeed have zips at their ends, which is going to make it easier to put the cuffs of waterproof gloves inside the sleeve. There are now two adjusters on the body of the jacket, and two on the sleeves, as opposed to the one on the old version. There’s now a gusset at the hem to allow the jacket to splay on the bike. The vents are better placed. The leather patches on the elbows are now perforated.
In just about every respect, the new Latitude can be seen as the successor to the old one. It is still a two-layer Gore-Tex laminated jacket. It is in many ways the same jacket; just a bit different. Now Klim has gone to great lengths to make the new Latitude even more comfortable to ride in. This is laudable, but therein potentially lies the problem.
The old Latitude was rated AA under EN17092. The new one is only single A. We understand how this has happened. Klim has used panels of stretch material under the arms and across the shoulders. It is perhaps debatable just how much this affects the protective qualities of the new Latitude, but the Darmstadt abrasion machine used under EN17092 does not like stretch fabrics, and clearly its incorporation into the design was enough to cause the jacket to be downgraded. It is unfortunate that, as a result, some will now pass the Latitude over because it does not meet the AA standard that many people consider desirable in a technical jacket.
Klim should be praised for trying to make the new Latitude even more comfortable than the old one, but we are not convinced that everybody will necessarily see the new version as an improvement over the old one. What confuses us a little about Klim’s changes is that we never thought the old Latitude was uncomfortable; in fact, quite the contrary. So, as a company, we don’t think that what Klim has done here has necessarily made the jacket more desirable.
But where we think Klim has definitely gone too far is in their decision to downgrade the D3O armour from Level 2 to Level 1. The rating level of the armour has nothing to do with a garment’s CE rating, so Klim didn’t have to downgrade the armour. And whilst the move to Level 1 armour will undoubtedly make the jacket a little more comfortable, Level 1 armour is, I’m afraid, not quite what one would expect of a jacket that costs nearly £900.
We have also often pointed out than an A rated suit with Level 2 armour can be more protective than an AA suit with level 1 armour. But, unfortunately, Klim’s downgrade of the armour means that we cannot suggest that here. It’s a shame.
We have another small issue. It does not affect the performance of the jacket. But we are somewhat disappointed that Klim has dropped the short configuration on the Latitude jacket. Not many brands offer this option, but it caused the Latitude to stand out from the crowd. It put the jacket on a slightly higher rung.
It is not difficult to understand what Klim has done, and why.
Here at Motolegends we are big believers in passive safety; creating a situation where the rider is comfortable and relaxed on the bike, such that all one’s energies can be put into the riding itself. We have no issues with this.
Personally, we would have no problems riding in an A-rated Gore-Tex suit. The more expensive Kodiak suit is also A-rated after all, as is the supreme Rukka Nivala, and again the reason is to do with the stretch material in areas where a higher level of abrasion resistance is required as part of the standard.
But we admit that we find Klim’s decision to downgrade the armour to Level 1 a little more confusing; especially as level 2 D3O is still pretty comfortable. On a personal level, we would contemplate upgrading the armour to level 2; maybe even level 2 Ghost D3O.
What is clear is that the new Latitude is going to be lovely to wear. It is well vented, and will keep the rider dry. We would have preferred it to be AA rated. We are a tad disappointed with the downgrade to Level 1 armour. And we will miss not having a ‘short’ version. But it’s still going to be a great jacket to ride in.
There is also, of course, a new Latitude pant. We will review it in due course, but what we have said about the jacket applies equally to the pants. An A rating, level 1 armour, and so on. Although we are happy to report that the new pants still come in three leg lengths!
For more information and to buy online, click Klim Latitude jacket and pant.
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