TESTED: KLIM RAPTOR GTX JACKET AND PANTS
BY: CHAD DE ALVA
KLIM’s design approach to motorcycle apparel focuses on the use of integrated armor. From their top shelf systems like the Badlands Pro A3, to their entry level gear, pads either come integrated into the garment, or there are pockets in the garment to add your own pads down the road if you choose. Yet the Raptor GTX is different – it’s the first motorcycle gear system from KLIM that’s designed to work with separate armor, in what KLIM calls a shell-over system. This means that you can ride in your favorite off-road jersey, armor, and pants when the weather is nice. When things start to get cold, wet, or nasty, you can don the Raptor GTX jacket and pants, and press on in a fully featured Gore-Tex riding shell that’s purpose built for aggressive off-road or adventure riding.
The Raptor GTX jacket and pants have a minimalist design that strikes an ideal balance between features and packable size. Starting with the jacket, you’ll find Super Fabric on the shoulders and elbows, with strong Cordura face fabrics rounding out the rest of the jacket. Bicep, side, and dual exhaust vents, combined with tabs for holding the collar open, allow the jacket to move a respectable amount of air. Two hand pockets and two internal chest pockets provide storage or a warm place to tuck your hands on a cold day. In short, the Raptor GTX jacket is a riding-optimized shell jacket that can tolerate plowing through trees and withstand the occasional off, yet it can easily be rolled up and stashed when it’s not needed.
Moving on to the Raptor GTX pants, you’ll find the same design approach with some of KLIM’s best pant features. Thigh intake and exhaust vents move air whether you’re seated or standing. Two leg pockets can easily be accessed even when you’re sitting on the bike, and they won’t dump their contents should you forget to zip them up when you’re walking around. Ask me how I know. Super Fabric panels protect the knees, and strategic reinforcement to high wear areas (in the knees for knee braces, inside of leg, etc.) are found throughout the pants. The belt buckle uses an awesome magnetic closure system and I love the little details like the KTM style screw for a zipper pull. Like the Raptor GTX jacket, the pants can be rolled up and easily stashed when they’re not needed. Fit is the usual comfortable nonrestrictive fit that you can expect in a pant from KLIM. Our testers have run these pants over off-road pants with pads, and directly over pads without any issues.
Fit on the Raptor GTX jacket is more of a mixed bag. The jacket is cut to fit over separate armor, which can run the spectrum from soft pads like Leatt 3DF to rigid armor like a MX style chest protector. Yet all of our testers independently identified that the jacket was a little tight across the back and shoulders, and loose in the belly even when the waist adjustment straps on the jacket were all the way tight. Our testers were either running Leatt-style armor or no armor at all when they made these observations. KLIM states that the Raptor GTX jacket should be ordered in your normal KLIM jacket size, but it may be worth going up a size to avoid a jacket that’s tight across the back.
Even with a less than perfect fit in the jacket, the Raptor GTX is a really appealing riding gear system. If you haven’t tried riding with separate armor, you really need to. When the weather is nice or when it’s hot out, there isn’t a vented waterproof jacket that can compete with the comfort and thermal performance of a jersey, separate armor, and good pair of off-road pants. When things start to cool off or start to get wet, you simply bust out the Raptor jacket and pants and quickly toss them on over your other riding gear. This way, you’re only dealing with your shell when you need/want it. Even in properly cold conditions, separate armor and proper layering beats trying to shoehorn insulation layers into riding gear with integrated pads. Insulation layers work better when they’re not compressed, so you’ll find that riding gear like the Raptor GTX allows layers to perform to their full potential where other riding gear that’s compressing your insulation will be less warm.
Whether your mission is a cold and wet fall adventure ride, or you just want to have an ace up your sleeve for unexpected weather, the KLIM Raptor GTX is a solid option. It’s great to see KLIM get into the separate armor layering game, and I’m quite eager to see what the future holds for KLIM products that support this approach. The Raptor GTX is a strong first offering. This gear set provides a great balance of features, function, and packable size, making it easy to bring a burly, functional waterproof shell with you on almost any ride. The pants bring the always-great KLIM fit and features to the table, and after battling other brands of pants with skinny jeans super tight fit, or pockets you can’t get into unless you’re standing in the exact right position, it’s great to have a pair of pants that are comfortable, unrestrictive, and that have pockets I can get into whenever I want. The jacket may not have the best fit, but its features and design make it a solid option for a waterproof layer that hits the spot between durability and packable size.
For more information on the RAPTOR GTX, visit www.klim.com.