Klim Badlands jacket review
I've spent a lot of time over the years learning, or wasting time, on advrider. Usually a question has been answered a dozen times before I see it so I rarely post. This thread is already pretty long, but since it was a great help to me, I'll throw my opinion in as well.
Some background... I've used an Olympia Bushwacker jacket for the last five or six years for everything from commuting to a month long trip around the country. It's a very versatile jacket and one that I really like and will continue to use in the hottest weather. The main thing I don't like is having to use an inner rain liner. Oh, my main rides are an ST13000 and a DR650.
I got the Badlands for the waterproofness and the great protection I read about. No, I didn't like paying the price, but I generally don't skimp on safety gear. Also, I expect a quality garment to last longer than a cheap one. Since it is now the cold season, having more wind resistant gear also convinced me to pull the trigger.
This should be considered more an initial review than a full-fledged one. I've commuted in it about four days, 80 miles roundtrip, in temps from 60F to 35F at night. Yesterday, I rode about 325 miles and the temp was between 45 and 65F.
Pros... The jacket seems very well made. I like the weight, it seems very heavy duty. I haven't used it in rain yet, but I have high expectations. It blocks the wind very well compared to my Bushwacker, but I haven't used it in truly cold weather yet.
The kidney belt is awesome! It gives me a secure feeling that the jacket will not go anywhere in a get-off. It helps keep my kidneys warmer and keeps wind from blowing up the back of the jacket. It helps carry the weight of the jacket. It will also allow better air circulation in the summer. For me, an integrated belt is absolutely the best feature of this jacket. Why didn't someone do this sooner?
The inner sleeve cuffs... I think they are a positive, at least for colder weather. It's a little more of a pain to put on, but they do a good job of sealing out the wind. The sleeve length seems slightly long off the bike, but they are perfect while riding. Don't have to fiddle around making sure everything is just right to keep the wind out of the glove/jacket junction.
Cons... Sleeves are tight unless there is nothing underneath. I think it's a pretty safe bet that consumers want to use a $900 jacket as much as possible, not just when the weather is perfect, and that means using some type of liner. With a liner underneath, my sleeves are pretty snug and I'm no Popeye. In fact, I wonder if the sizing was based on a pro cyclist with spaghetti arms. :-) The outside sleeve straps could be longer as well to allow as much room as possible.
Surprisingly, the d30 armor is more of a con than a pro for me. Why? I have issues with the armor in two of the three locations. In the arms, it may be part of the reason that the sleeves are tight. The elbow pads seem pretty thick although they seem to have pretty good coverage. I am going to try some other armor I have around to see if something thinner allows more room in the forearms.
Shoulders, I didn't really notice this at first, but they are really small. Yesterday after making some adjustment to one of my elbow pads, I reached up to make sure the shoulder pads were in the proper position. Because of their size, I'm less than impressed with the protection offered. If I adjust it to where I think they should be, either the front or the back of my shoulder is exposed. When the front is covered, the back side is exposed and vice versa. Also, the pocket they sit in doesn't really have any room for adjustment. I'm not a tinkerer, usually I leave things like they were meant to be, but I thought, maybe I'll have to put some different armor in the shoulder as well. Guess what? The shoulder pocket fits precisely around the armor so there isn't room for anything bigger. Major bummer.
In my opinion, the shoulder armor is a major oversight in the design of a very nice jacket. I mountain bike and rode dirt bikes a lot when I was younger and I've learned the hard way that hitting the ground is oftentimes a pretty violent event. You don't know if you are going to hit the front of your shoulder, the rear, or right on the outside, therefore armor generally covers the entire area. Also the cup shape helps keep it in position. As designed, I don't have much confidence that the pad will be in the right place at the right time. The best armor in the world isn't much good if it only covers part of the area. Huge miss...
Last, the armor does stiffen up when cold. Not the end of the world, but I wonder if it still maintains it's protective qualities or if it becomes brittle. I've seen the demos at normal temperature, but not when cold.
The back armor is very good size and I have absolutely no issues with it.
I hope this doesn't sound too negative, but I want to be as honest as possible. I haven't given up on this jacket, but I am pretty disappointed with the shoulder situation. I will continue to use it to get a better idea of how it works for me.
Oh, just remembered another reason I don't post much. It takes a long darn time to be thorough. :-) Hope it helps someone else.