TESTED: KLIM BADLANDS PRO A3
BY: CHAD DE ALVA
In 2018, CE released an update to standard EN17092-2, which describes the performance that motorcycle garments provide the wearer in the event of a crash. Part of the 2018 standard was the addition of a new highest rating category: Triple-A (AAA). CE described motorcycle garments that would earn the triple-A rating as “heavy duty protective garments with severe ergonomic, weight, and thermal penalties.” In other words, what they were describing was a leather track suit like a Moto-GP rider would wear. KLIM is known for making technical riding gear using state of the art materials. When KLIM’s design team learned of the new CE Triple-A rating, their next move was obvious: develop the world’s first adventure riding jacket and pants that would earn a CE Triple-A rating. What they came up with is the Badlands Pro A3 (BLP A3), and it provides the wearer with CE-certified “heavy duty protection,” without the CE-described penalties.
CE Ratings provide value to consumers as their standardized laboratory tests quantify the performance of motorcycle gear. When it comes to a riding garment like a jacket, the testing is extensive and comprehensive. Each colorway a garment is made in is tested for things like impact absorption, abrasion resistance, seam strength and tear strength which are evaluated across three zones that cover the human body. Zone one represents the areas on the body that are most likely to make contact with something in a crash: knees, elbows, shoulders, and hips – areas that are typically armored with pads to provide impact protection. Zone two comprises areas that can make contact with something, but are less likely do so. Zone two is found on the back, and on the outside of the arms and legs. Zone three represents the areas that are least likely to be hit: the inner legs and arm pits. The key takeaway here is that CE ratings quantify crash performance, and a triple-A garment provides more protection than a double-A or single-A rated garment.
KLIM’s Badlands Pro (not the A3) has a CE double-A rating, and parts of the jacket and pants like the Superfabric panels in the zone one areas exceed the triple-A standard, so KLIM had a proven chassis to work from. Yet simply making a jacket or pants entirely out of Superfabric would make for a garment that would be heavy, stiff, and awful to ride in. To earn the triple-A rating and make gear that riders would want to use, KLIM had to find a textile for zone two that was stronger, more durable, could be incorporated into a GORE-TEX Pro laminate, and not add any weight or be any less pliable than the textile used for zone two in the Badlands Pro.
KLIM found their answer in Vectran – a fiber that’s best described as next generation Kevlar. Vectran has all the properties KLIM was after, and working with W.L. Gore (the makers of GORE-TEX) lead to the creation of a Vectran-faced GORE-TEX Pro laminate. This Vectran textile exceeded the CE requirements for zone two, weighs less than the zone two textile in the Badlands Pro making the A3 weigh 10% less than Badlands Pro kit, and it has a lower coefficient of friction so you’re less likely to get friction burns from sliding across the slab. Incorporating Vectran into the Badland Pro chassis was the key to earning the CE triple-A rating and creating an adventure riding jacket and pants that provides top shelf comfort and protection with none of the CE described drawbacks associated with triple-A rated gear. The Badlands Pro A3 is objectively the world’s most technologically advanced, most protective set of adventure riding gear money can buy.
While we could continue to nerd out on fancy textiles and CE ratings for days, it’s probably best if we start talking about what it’s actually like to ride in this jacket and pants.
Before you don the Badlands Pro A3 jacket and pants, take some time to familiarize yourself with their extensive feature set. The jacket has 12 vents, collar hold-open tabs and a double front zipper. There are 14 pockets ranging from the obvious, to a hydration pocket that can hold a 3L reservoir, and a few secret stash pockets. The pants have two pockets and six vents including the new lower leg side vents that can move some serious airflow. Getting the most out of the BLP A3 requires knowing the garments inside and out – so seriously, take the time to find all the features and functions.
Putting on the Badlands jacket and pants is meant to take a minute – you need to put the gear on and then fit it to yourself by adjusting the kidney belt, arm straps and leg straps to fit your anatomy. Once you’ve done this the Badlands Pro should move with you quite well, and do a great job managing the weight of the garment itself and anything you’ve loaded into the array of pockets. As you start to test your range of motion you’ll notice features like the gussets on the back of the shoulders that help you move your arms freely. I normally kick a leg over my bike to hop on, and that’s still something I can easily do while wearing the Badlands Pro A3. I’ve worn plenty of adventure gear from other manufactures where no matter how I play with the fit, I can’t do my usual high kick to hop on. Well done KLIM, on making the BLP A3 move so well with the wearer.
Riding in the Badlands Pro A3 is where the details that come from KLIM’s years of developing the Badlands Pro chassis become evident and appreciated. It’s these little things that add up to a quality of life experience in any riding condition that I just haven’t found anywhere else. A couple of random examples: a double zipper on the front to allow the wearer to unzip both ends of the jacket for additional venting in hot weather, and a collar hold open system that actually holds the collar wide open for more venting. It’s important to remember that the BLP A3 jacket and pants are fully waterproof, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison to put them (or any fully waterproof gear) up against mesh gear, or off-road gear. That being said, the BLP A3 has arguably the best waterproof laminate made, and its robust venting system combined with a good base layer like KLIM’s aggressor -1.0s makes for the best hot weather experience I’ve ever had in a fully waterproof jacket and pants. You’re still going to get warm and sweat if you’re working hard, but this jacket and pants are the least uncomfortable on a hot day.
In the cold and the wet, the BLP A3 delivers outstanding waterproof protection. A big part of this is due to the GORE-TEX certification process and the extensive testing (notice a theme here?) that is required of any garment with a GORE laminate before it can be sold. Out in the real world, this means that you can close all of the vents, and punch though the gnarliest micro-bursts without getting wet. You can even get your penguin on and slide down snowfields without getting wet if you feel so inclined. The bottom line is not all waterproof laminates are created equally, and not all garments are comprehensively tested for waterproof performance before they’re put on the market. If you want one that is, pick a GORE-TEX product.
There are a couple of nit-picks that I can level at the BLP A3: the bicep cinch straps can be hard to snug down, and reversing the strap’s orientation would make these straps much easier to use. Likewise, the leg cinch straps restrict airflow from the lower leg vents. If you want max airflow from these vents, you need to loosen the leg cinch strap which compromises the fit of the pants somewhat. It will be interesting to see how the lower leg vent evolves in the next generation of Badlands Pro.
KLIM’s Badlands Pro A3 jacket and pants are truly impressive pieces of technical riding gear, and the only adventure riding gear on the market with a CE triple-A rating. There isn’t anything on the market that has the same levels of protection, waterproof performance, features, and comfort in one jacket and pants. The Badlands Pro A3 isn’t for every rider out there. However, for riders who want the best protection, waterproof performance, and feature set all baked into one set of jacket and pants, the Badlands Pro A3 can’t be beat. For more information on KLIM’s Badlands Pro A3, visit www.klim.com