When I was asked to try the new Klim Valdez parka along with their Togwotee bib, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always thought the Klim gear was “cool”, but I admit that I’ve always thought it was out of reach for my budget. I was really excited to review their gear, but then I thought to myself ‘How do you write an honest article when you have the feeling you will be using the words of overpriced and a lot of hype describing Klim gear?’ Klim probably wouldn’t be using any of my words in too many of their ads, and I probably wouldn’t be on their Christmas card list. But I have to be honest to myself and the readers.
As far as fit, I usually wear an XL jacket and a Large in bibs. The jacket I got was an XL and the pants were also an XL. The jacket fit great and the bibs were a little large but not too bad. Others on the team (different sizes than me) have said that as the jackets get bigger, the sleeves get to be too long, and in the pants, while the legs get bigger, the waist doesn’t. My advice to you is to try on the gear before you buy it, and try on different styles as they all fit differently. But once you find a jacket and bib that fits, it will fit beautifully.
Compared to the older jacket and bibs I’m used to (circa late 1990’s) the materials seem a tad stiff, but on the other hand I think maybe this will hold up better to abuse. I have a tendency of being hard on outer gear like snagging it and creating rips or tears, and it usually happens when it is new. Well, within the first few hours of wearing it I caught an edge of a trailer and thought there was the first hole in the bibs. Wrong! There wasn’t even a mark. That was a relief, chalk one up for durability.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m more into layering. A lot of this comes from me sweating like crazy when being active outdoors. I remember many days of overdressing in heavily insulated jackets and playing in the powder only to end up soaked and then cold from my body and clothing not being able to breathe. Klim has a system called “Comfort Mapping Technology”. I didn’t really understand what this was until I really looked at the inside of the gear. Inside the jacket there are different materials and multiple layers strategically placed to help manage perspiration and temperature. This is the same in the bibs. Klim really did their homework on this as this system works better than I ever imagined. Never before have I stayed this dry which also aids in staying warm. I was also amazed at how much perspiration and condensation it was holding in the jacket at the end of a cold hard ride, although I really didn’t know it was there. Not only does the material breathe, but there are also vents that can be zipped open aiding in even more ventilation. Is it warm? It doesn’t really look warm, but it is. I’ve worn just jeans under the bibs for a 15 degree casual trail ride and my legs did not get cold. And on the upper side, I wore a thin shirt and a thin fleece under the jacket, and never got cold. This gear is also warm because it blocks ALL of the wind, not just some of it like a lot of other gear I’ve tried.
There are also many little things to this gear that makes it even more impressive. First thing that comes to mind is the hand gaiters. When I first saw it had these, I thought about how my wife loves these. I wondered why they have these on this jacket and I considered this to be “something for a woman’s jacket”. But then I actually started to use them when I was taking photos. They kept my hands a little warmer. Ok, maybe this isn’t a women thing, these actually are a very nice feature and now I use them a lot. They are great for riding because you don’t have to use large gauntlet style gloves. You can get by with shorter gauntlets for better hand movement. One other nice feature is a very simple one in the bibs; pads in the knees. Whether it is kneeling on a trailer, on the ground for working on a sled or changing camera equipment, it is great to kneel down and have the pads there for comfort and insulation. I spent many years working on little 120 race sleds on the ice and these pads ended up to be a feature that always put a smile on my face.
Do I have any gripes? Yes, I actually do. I don’t care for the bib leg zippers as they seem to wrap around and are more rearward facing at the bottom of the leg. Although I know it is a good durable material, I still consider it a little stiff, and yes, I wish it were less expensive as the wife thinks she needs this gear now too. But like the old adage states, you get what you pay for. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill department store winter jackets and bibs. These are highly technical, well thought-out gear for snowmobiling with plenty of movement, breathability, comfort features and high-tech materials. You’re not only paying for the materials, but the engineering behind this gear and that does make it worth the extra expense.
The Klim Valdez jacket and Togwotee bib are extremely high quality and it really works, actually, much better than I ever expected. Yes, the gear is a bit costly which retails around $420 for the jacket and $400 for the bibs. If you break it down, this gear can last you many, many years through brand after brand of snowmobile. Divide the cost of these two pieces into ten years of snowmobiling and that’s only $80 a year. You’re worth $80 a year for comfort and warmth, aren’t you? Other than some of the fitment challenges, the initial expense and that I feel the material is a little on the stiff side, I would highly recommend Klim gear for any snowmobiler. Klim has done a great job on this gear and I think if you are considering buying a new jacket or bibs, these really do need to be considered. To see more about Klim gear, visit their website at www.klimusa.com.