We spend a lot of time geeking out about the technology and features of a great ski jacket. But designing an adventure motorcycle jacket is a whole other ball game. Not only do these jackets need to keep you dry while riding down highways in rainstorms at high speeds, they also need to put up with flying rocks on dirt roads, protect your body against falls, and keep you comfortable in the cockpit of a bike for hours at a time.
My favorite adventure jacket is the Klim Badlands Pro ($1000). Over the past year, I’ve ridden thousands of miles in this piece and I think it strikes the perfect balance in terms of features and design. To start, it has a generous amount of D3O armor, a shock-absorbent plastic that's also used in ski helmets. D3O will keep you out of the hospital during a hard fall and Klim did a nice job of placing it in the right spots along the arms, shoulders, chest, and back so that it doesn’t limit your mobility while riding.
The outer is wrapped in Gore-Tex Pro, which is waterproof, tough-as-nails, and breathable when things heat up. There are also proprietary abrasion-resistant fabric panels on high-wear spots like the elbows and shoulders. For zippers, Klim chose YKK Aquagards that keep the water out but are large enough that they can still be zipped with riding gloves on.
Some days you’re going to overheat no matter what jacket you wear. Klim tried to keep those days to a minimum, building in 10 different vents to keep you regulated. When it’s exceptionally hot, I pop all the vents open, funneling fresh air to my entire torso and back. When it’s raining and hot, I open the vents on the back of the jacket.
The main features include a water bladder sleeve in the back and route for your water tube, a cable-routing spot for headphones, and a pocket for a SPOT GPS. There are also plenty of other pockets for other everyday carry items.
The Badlands Pro is not cheap. But in addition to being a high-end rain jacket, this piece also packs enough technology to save your life. And it’s built to last forever. Even after months and months of use mine still looks like new and will be around for years to come.