After riding to this year’s national rally in record-setting triple-digit heat, I was especially interested in vendor offerings that might provide more cooling on my return trip. I’ve long been a big fan of Idaho-based Klim (rhymes with “climb”) and, judging from the prevalence of this manufacturer’s gear on fellow rally-goers, I assume there’s little need for me to itemize the marque’s virtues in the areas of build quality, comfort, and protection. On the way out, I’d been switching back and forth between my best two pair of summer gloves. One of these offered superior ventilation and protection but had a mid-sized gauntlet that kept air flow off my wrists (a zone critical for cooling the entire body) and blocked it from entering my jacket cuffs. The other pair was quite minimalist, with decent venting and zero wrist coverage, but also only very light-duty protection. Once I’d examined a large number of gloves available for purchase in the rally’s air-conditioned indoor refuge, I settled on Klim’s Badlands Aero Pro Short Gloves for my ride home.
Several aspects stood out to me during my initial examination. First and foremost, these gloves are extremely comfortable, no break-in required. The articulated fingers are more pre-curved than most, sizing is true, and the lightweight goat leather is soft and supple, with finger seams on the exterior where they have no chance of impinging upon the flesh inside. Low-profile seams in the multi-layered, reinforced palm have the same tactile invisibility. However, the most impressive aspect on the comfort front is the absence of any pressure points beneath the large, single-piece knuckle guard. While I value this type of protection highly, I find it often comes at the cost of one or more tight spots when my hand is curled around a grip—an issue that may be no big deal on short rides, but gradually becomes a source of annoyance and sometimes serious discomfort on longer ones. Klim’s carbon-fiber/polycarbonate knuckle guard has just enough flexibility, and the underlying XRD impact protection foam has just the right density, to completely avoid this (at least on my hands); no sensation of pressure ever emerged during many hours of continuous riding. The guard is covered in an “engineered ceramic print overlay” to further enhance abrasion resistance, as is the much softer XRD-padded section at the heel of the palm. Integrated ceramics increase the tendency of a surface to slide instead of grab, while also absorbing and distributing the heat generated by friction.
Also contributing to these gloves’ comfort in hot weather are the multitude of relatively large diameter perforations found on all sides of the fingers, across the back of the hand, and even on a portion of the palm. I couldn’t fully appreciate their effectiveness until riding home through the heatwave; they flowed impressive amounts of air in general, and really offered relief whenever I deliberately spread my fingers and opened my hand to expose more of them to the wind. Even the TPU finger knuckle pads are ventilated, and tiny air intake scoops are built into the leather reinforcing the first segment of the outer three fingers. Abbreviated cuffs allowed noticeable airflow around my wrists and into my jacket sleeves, while also incorporating a substantial wedge of TPU armor on the outboard side and secure closure (for a gauntletless design), courtesy of robust Velcro straps and a tapered fit. Said taper would have made the Badlands slightly challenging to pull on were it not for the large, sturdy, woven nylon loops built into the cuffs’ undersides; these facilitate quick and easy ingress without sacrificing snugness.
Further noteworthy details include touchscreen activating stitching on forefinger and thumb tips, a rubbery visor wipe on the left index finger, a tiny clip to join the gloves during storage, and a small strip of Scotchlite “carbon black” reflective material you probably wouldn’t notice in daylight, since it’s not the familiar silvery color; it’s positioned along the lower outboard edge of the knuckle guard. These gloves carry a CE Level 1 rating for their protective value.
The current model is available in four color schemes, and represents a significant upgrade to the earlier version, which can still be found at a considerable discount. There’s a heftier, gauntleted iteration, too. Klim’s Badlands series (including jackets and pants) is marketed as top-shelf ADV gear meant to combine the full-spectrum functionality required off-road alongside a high level of impact and abrasion defense on pavement. I have yet to find another pair of hot weather gloves that deliver such a great balance of comfort and protection. MSRP is a somewhat steep $159.99, but not only are these gloves worth that price, they’re also available for as much as $40 less at familiar online outlets.