By Richelle Redekop.
This summer I had the misfortune of discovering just how miserable riding for 10 days in pouring rain could be. It turns out that sitting for hours in a puddle of water because somehow your pants let water in but not out isn’t exactly pleasant (can you say cold prune butt?). After this wretched experience I decided that new GORE-TEX gear would be in my immediate future. I had three non-negotiable criteria (besides the obvious of comfort) for my new pants: they had to be waterproof, provide protection, and have pockets. Brand availability in my area, price, and features led me towards Klim.
In my previous article where I reviewed the Klim Women’s Altitude jacket I mentioned that I had decided to go with the men’s version of the pants over the women’s specific model. The reason for this was very simple, the women’s pants lacked a very important feature (in my opinion) that made it difficult to justify purchasing them over the men’s pants.
When I tried on the Women’s Altitude pants, as well as they fit, something quickly became apparent that was an immediate deal breaker for me. They have no pockets! I don’t know what Klim was thinking, but they certainly can’t call those useless little receptacles that would barely fit a tube of Chapstick in them pockets! When I get off the bike I often stuff my jacket in my saddle bags so I don’t have to carry it around; therefore, not being able to fit my keys or phone in my pants pockets is a big deal breaker for me. I will give up the nicer looking fit to have a more functional pant (and honestly, the fit wasn’t that much better). The women’s pants also seemed to flare out unnecessarily at the bottom of the leg, in a manner reminiscent of 60’s bell bottoms, and it seemed like they were begging to be caught on something.
As I sadly put the Altitudes back on the rack, I noticed the men’s Latitudes hanging next to them and figured I had nothing to lose by giving them a try so I grabbed a pair and trudged back to the changing room. When I put them on I was pleasantly surprised by the fit, they are definitely baggier on me than the Altitude’s but not horribly so and most importantly they had useable pockets! Both the Altitudes and Latitudes are a bit baggy in the butt, an observation commonly noted in other gear reviews that has been endearing referred to as ‘Klim Butt’. Although it may not look amazing off the bike, the slightly baggy butt seems to make for a more comfortable ride.
The Latitudes have a 2-layer GORE-TEX Cordura shell and feature D30 armor at the knees and hips. The knee armor has Velcro backing that allows you to place them in the most comfortable spot for your riding style. Reflective 3M Scotchlite material helps increase your visibility on the road, and 4 vents (2 thigh and 2 rear leg) help keep you cool. The waist has a slightly raised back to ensure coverage while you are in a riding position and side waist adjustment straps help you tailor the fit to your body. The pants have a zippered back panel that allow you to attach them to your jacket and the bottom of the leg has a zippered expansion panel with snap closures. Last, but most definitely not least, are two reasonable sized hand pockets and large external cargo style thigh pocket.
So far I have logged a few miles in the Latitudes on both my adventure bike and my cruiser. The pants are mostly black (although other colours are available) so don’t look out of place on any style of bike. The comfort of these pants has really impressed me, nothing digs in or bunches up when you are on the bike, and off the bike they are comfortable to walk in. I’ve had a few pairs of pants that are so stiff you can’t bend in them at all so having pants you can move in is a big plus. They have kept me nice and dry in wet weather, which will make for much more pleasant road trips in the future when conditions go to crap. The venting seems quite adequate, although I haven’t ridden in enough hot weather to assess that with complete confidence yet. The pants seem very durable, and the leather panels on the inner thighs improve grip when standing on the bike. The pants are a bit long (or my legs are a bit short?), but with riding boots on the length of the pant legs don’t get in the way. As with the Altitude jacket, the Latitude pants are a GORE-TEX shell, so if you tend to be cold or often ride in colder temperatures you may want to ride with a thermal layer underneath.
My first impressions of these pants are very favorable. I am looking forward to using them this season in a variety of different riding situations to see how they perform. Once I have logged a few thousand kilometers on them I will write an in-depth long term review. For now, I can confidently say that my days of ending the ride with a cold clammy prune butt are finally behind me.