We review the Klim women's Altitude riding suit.
Klim makes some of the best riding gear for touring, adventure riding, and snow sports you will find. The materials and designs are cutting edge for safety, comfort and even style. Up until now they were focused solely on the male form factor.
The Klim Altitude was introduced this past year as a specific women's fit riding suit, using the same updated material as the Latituide with a Misano Cordura® fabric laminated to a traditional GORE-TEX® shell. It added flexibility to the jacket and a broken-in comfort feeling right off the hanger. The suit still uses Klim’s 840D Cordura® to handle the toughest abrasion areas with additional reinforcement in the knees, shoulders, and elbows.
The zippers are all high quality YKK, while the buttons are rubber coated to protect your motorcycle's paint and plastics.
Industrial grade Scotchlite™ panels and trim are used for visibility. We chose the silver and white color for added visibility and to match the Latitude suit I wear. There is a Hi-Viz and all black option as well.
The Latitude pants use the Gore-Tex® 3 layer construction technique. This means that the Gore-Tex® is bonded not only to the outer layer but to the inner lining as well. This means no movement between the layers, reducing wear and tear on the materials and greater durability.
There are 4 ventilation ports on the legs, two on the front thigh area and two exhaust vents on the back of the leg. They are protected by the waterproof zippers and a flap of material to help keep water out. They are designed for the riding position, flowing maximum air when on the bike and very similar to the Klim Latitude suit.
The pants ride high in the back with an elastic panel that helps with fitment; there is also a 3/4 width zipper to attach it to Klim jackets. The waist adjusts using nicely integrated Velcro straps on both sides and the pants are secured using a double button closure for added security. There is also an extra comfort stitch area in the seat of the pants for abrasion resistance and padding.
The pant legs are adjustable using a snap sizing for the ankle area and a zippered expansion. There is enough adjustment here to make them work with many different sizes of boots, but the legs do not open wide enough to allow you to take the pants on and off without removing your shoes. The inner knee and lower leg add a layer of very smooth leather for protection against wear and heat from exhaust. The Altitude differs from the mens Latitude in a very unique way. Klim designed a circumference zipper that allows for an additional 4 inches of leg length. That ensures that these pants can fit a wide variety of women.
There are two hand pockets, a thigh pocket, and plenty of room for carrying everyday items.
Armor is located in the hips and knees. The knee armor is adjustable in several positions using velcro strips. There is almost too much adjustment and after washing these it takes a few tries to get back to where you had them for comfort.
We rate the pants as "Excellent" for comfort, venting, and durability.
The Altitude jacket uses the same Misano Cordura® outer shell bonded to a Gore-Tex® membrane using their two layer construction. The membrane is bonded to the outer shell only to improve comfort. Like the pants, the jacket uses the sturdier Klim 840D for the abrasion and impact areas.
Ventilation is provided from 6 vents - 2 located in the armpits, 2 on the bicep, and 2 vertical back exhaust vents. The Latitude has only one across the back vent by comparison and the 2 vertical vents seem to flow better.
Main entry is via a YKK 2 way zipper covered by a weather flap. The flap is kept closed using micro-velcro to prevent damage and snags to other materials. It does not feel substantial but it has kept the jacket closed at all times so far. There is a snap at the bottom to assist in keeping things secure and a Velcro closed collar that is fleece lined for comfort. There are Velcro areas on the collar so you can secure the strap open and have the collar exposed for maximum air flow.
There are 5 external pockets giving the wearer plenty of room for stuff. These include two long chest pockets, two cargo pockets and a sleeve ID pocket with universal emergency information symbol stitched beside it. Klim sends you a custom-made emergency information card when you buy the jacket. The long chest pockets are referred to as map pockets by Klim; it’s not inaccurate as a standard folded map would fit in nicely. These 5 external pockets are joined by 5 internal pockets. None of these are very big, but the open stash pockets are very useful for a phone or wallet. They are held closed by a piece of velcro and made of mesh. There is also a hidden passport/money pocket. Sewn into the back of the jacket around the waist, it's handy for hiding things and is rather hard to notice if you aren't looking for it.
Size is adjustable with well-integrated side straps with the option to enlarge the bottom jacket opening for stand up riding with a side zipper and button. This gives almost 2 more inches of flex or hip room. There are velcro adjusters on the inside of the elbows to allow for the sleeve adjustment. There are also Velcro wrist closures with enough adjustment to allow for over or under the cuff gloves.
Armor is located in the elbows, shoulders, and back. The back protector is very large and covers the entire back panel of the jacket and is vented to allow air flow. This is more important with the Latitude than the Altitude with its rear side opening versus across the armor.
We rate the jacket as "Excellent" for comfort, venting, and durability. Venting could be better when riding behind someone on a bike.
How do they perform?
We have about 8000 miles on the suits and they have held up beautifully. They are dirtier than when new and there are some frayed edges, but overall they are brilliant. My wife likes them, apart from putting the pants on and off. They just aren't easy and she prefers a pant that zips up the side to allow for easier removal.
So far the waterproofing has held up well. Gore-Tex works wonderfully and we keep the suits clean and make sure to follow the proper care to reactivate the material when washed.
When the weather is colder the Altitude set lacks a thermal liner, so bring your own base layer. With a simple thermal layer under the jacket and some heavy denim jeans my wife gets cold below 50 degrees. (To be fair, she gets cold at 70 so take that with a grain of salt.) The jacket adjustments make it easy to get a base layer underneath and keep the jacket fitting comfortably tight so you don’t get an unwanted air gap letting cold air build up.
At 85 degrees the Altitude set starts to get hot when you are sitting still. Anytime you are moving the material is light and comfortable enough you are not over heated. There is very good air flow when you loosen the fitment straps and open the vents. At temps above 80 she gets too hot and would prefer more ventilation. The problem with a lot of riding suits is they are designed to catch air as if you are a rider. Many times they are poorly designed for a passenger to get adequate ventilation.
At $630 for the jacket and $500 for the pants, this outfit is not cheap. It is weatherproof, very durable, and flexible. It's the nicest women's riding suit we have found and definitely money well spent. It can be improved, however, with better venting and more adjustment in the jacket. We rate the women's Altitude riding suit as "Excellent" overall. It really is the top of the women's riding apparel.