I’m in for over 10,000 road miles on Klim women’s Altitude jacket and pants so, I feel like I can fairly give my impression of it.
When I was looking for GORE-TEX gear in the summer of 2014, based on how happy everyone I know who owns the brand Klim has been, it seemed like a perfect choice. The introduction of their women-specific Altitude jacket and pants presented itself as perfect timing. The caveat? At the time, gray was the only color available for the Altitude. If you wanted the suit, you bought gray or you bought something else.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you an idiot? It’s a light color, it’s going to get filthy.”
Honestly, I thought the same thing. Aesthetically, I really like light-colored gear and having owned and cared for some in the past I thought I would just continue my efforts of being diligent about keeping it looking tidy. My prior experience had been: when it started looking gross, you throw it in the machine/tub, let it dry and voilà! the suit would look gorgeous once again.
It seemed easy enough, so I bought the suit with dreams of finally being dry without rain gear.
In the beginning: Look at me – clean as a whistle!
My first major outing of the suit was during a ride through the Alps. We had variable weather for 10 days and a couple thousand miles ranging from hot, to cold, to mist, to snowflakes and downpour. The most important thing for me was that I stayed dry. Day in day out, I was feeling like a million bucks in my super-suit never having to stop and don rain gear.
Overall the cut of the jacket works for me. It has enough give and room in my “problem areas” without creating loose flapping fabric in others.
I do miss having a top-opening pocket for ease of use on the jacket. There are side vertical-zippered pockets at the hip level. I never feel secure enough to put anything in them such as a phone because chances are I will not zip the pocket and I’m afraid that whatever is in there will fall out.
The jacket front does have 2 large vertical pockets. My favorite part is the elastic tethers and plastic clips inside of them. I use them for my camera and my SPOT tracker.
The pants? I feel like the rise is too low when I’m in the seated position and that bugs me. The pockets on the hip are too shallow to put much in them. I use them for small items like loose bills, change and a chapstick. You cannot fit any typical smartphone, camera or a wallet in there while you’re trying to free up your hands. There are no pockets on the legs to do that duty either.
Returning from my alpine trip I rode into the autumn again with its variable weather and again I stayed dry. In that regard the Altitude suit has been absolutely terrific.
After a several thousand miles, it became time to wash the suit. Keeping it clean is important to keeping it waterproof. Besides, while it might look good from a distance, the road dirt was really starting to show if you were standing next to me. What’s that saying? Good from far, far from good. That describes the appearance of this suit to a T.
Klim has pretty clear washing instructions which I followed.
My collar before:
My collar after:
I washed the gear per the Klim instructions. The result on my pants?
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My pants after going through the wash. 😐 I have them soaking in the tub with oxyclean powder now. Hope that helps. Yes, buying light colored gear will of course open you up to needing to clean it more often than dark colors would. You know that going in. But, if it can't be cleaned that kinda stinks. At the time I bought this suit, this color was the only choice. You either wanted the light colored ladies specific suit or you didn't.
When the gear didn’t come clean, I soaked it in the tub with some Oxiclean powder. I even used Oxiclean stain stick on certain greasy spots on the backs of my my pant legs. After the Oxiclean soak, I put it through the washer 2 more times.
The washing really didn’t do much of anything, visibly. When it was all washed and dried for the last time, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never get this suit clean. The real slap in the face was to have another chick rider look at me and say “your jacket looks like shit.” Burn! 😆 That sucked to hear because I can’t do anything about it. I spent over a grand on this get-up. But… she’s right.
This is what my “clean” jacket looks like:
- Jacket $550-ish
- Pants: $500
I’m in for over $1000 to look like a perpetual dirtbag. Awesome. If you’re naïve like me and think you’ll be able to wash this suit to keep it visibly clean, think again.
- The construction quality, fit & finish of the suit is great.
- It is waterproof. I have not gotten wet through it.
- The zipper pulls become frayed and fuzzy from snagging on the velcro.
- The rise on the pants is too low for me.
- Love the elastic band clips in the front jacket pockets.
For 2015, Klim introduced the suit in black and I feel, frickin’ bummed. It’s the early adopter blues. If I could trade this suit in for a black one, I’d do it in a heartbeat.