By Brian Price
Klim Dakar Jacket - Perfect for Dual Sport?
Dual sport riders need a good jacket in their gear selection. However, many riders shopping for a DS jacket make an small yet critical miscalculation in their search: they “over gear”....meaning they choose motorcycle riding gear that is too heavy and too hot for the physical riding that their bikes are capable of.
We have always defined Dual Sport gear, bikes and riding differently. To us, Dual Sport bikes are 650ccs or less, single cylinder, around 350 lbs or less, with off road capable suspension. These bikes can ride more technical terrain, which equals more physical exertion which equals an elevated heart rate, which generates body heat, and big swings in comfort levels. In these situations, waterproof dual sport jackets trap too much heat. Instead, it is better to focus on a jacket that offers flexible options for temperature control. This means airflow, compatibility with layering, and modular construction (removable sleeves).
In the past, we have recommended the Axo Enduro, Axo Stone, and then Axo Glide jacket for this type of use. That company understood the application and hit a bullseye with these models. Sadly though, AXO has shut down globally. But we found one new model that nails the needs of dual sport riding: The 2019 Klim Dakar Jacket.
Klim has had a Dakar Jacket for several years now, but this one improves significantly over the previous model. The 2019 Klim Dakar Jacket is lighter, more flexible, flows more air, and is much more comfortable. It uses a lighter fabric that is much more flexible. The usual Klim level of quality is evident. Sewing is excellent. Fit and shape are well executed. Details, such as only YKK zippers, are typical Klim. This is a well made jacket.
Sleeves are removable, so the jacket can be converted to a vest before or during a ride. This si one of our favorite features on a dual sport jacket. Where we live it can be cold as the breast of a witch in the AM, warm mid-day, and the witch usually returns around 5 PM. The ability to yank the sleeves and wear the jacket as a vest is a great benefit. When removed, the sleeves can be stored in a pocket on the rear of the jacket.
Speaking of pockets, it has plenty….4 front, the large rear pocket, and 2 inner. The front pockets are combo pockets / vents, if they have stuff in them they are a pocket, if they are empty, open them and they act as a vent. To our way of thinking, this is plenty, we commonly wonder who needs so many pockets.
The Dakar has outstanding ventilation. First, the Dakar has an off-road style loose fit. A loose fit allows air to circulate around the body more easily (fitted street jackets impede internal airflow). 10 total vents, 6 design-specific vents (forearm x2, upper arm x2, lower back x2), and 4 pockets that can function as vents, if you do not use them to carry stuff. It also has a system that allows you to zip the collar open, then attach stretch loops to hooks on the front to hold the collar open. This is perhaps the best vent, as it allows air to escape from the upper front of the jacket.
The Dakar Jacket also has pockets to fit optional Klim d3o armor at the elbows, shoulders, and back. The back uses a Viper Pro pad, which is CE Level 2. The elbows and shoulder use new perforated LP1 pads, which are much more flexible and flow a lot of air. Perhaps most importantly, the Dakar jacket is cut so it can also be worn over separate body armor.
If you have not noticed by now, the Dakar is not waterproof. In our opinion, this is a good thing for Dual sport riding. Remember, dual sport riding is more physical than cruising graded dirt roads. Riding a bike on rougher terrain can be physical, especially at slow speeds (or when you drop the bike). In these situations, you control your comfort by moving air through the jacket and letting heat escape. A waterproof jacket simply traps too much heat. The Dakar still blocks most of the elements, wind, rain, etc., and if you have to you can add a rain layer over the top when it is really nasty out. But for 90% of the riding we do, it is the Klim Dakar Jacket nails dual sport riding.
- Brian Price