A great set of hot weather gloves that, through the use of non-Newtonian foam armor, are lightweight and perfect for long-distance riding. A few minor foibles prevent them from taking home a superb score, but the features more than make up for what, really, are nitpicks at best.
Materials & Build Quality
Sizing & Fit
Value for Money
Full goat leather perforated palm
Poron XRD non-Newtonian foam armor on knuckles, fingers, palm slider area, and the exterior of thumb
Excellent breathability through the stretch woven backhand
The left thumb features a visor squeegee, which you use more than you think you would
Solid velcro wrist closure backed by goat leather
Very good dexterity with intelligently designed protection
Thumb and index finger on either glove is smartphone touch enabled
Palm is not lined, so the leather can bunch up when very hot
Initially quite stiff in the fingers, does need to be broken in
Would have liked to have seen another Poron XRD pad in the middle of the backhand
With the exceptionally hot temperatures that ravaged the Pacific Northwest of the USA and pretty much all of Western Canada during the month of July 2021, having hot-weather-appropriate riding gear turned from being a nice thing to an absolute necessity. While I do have my Icon Super-Duty II gloves, they seem to perform much better in cooler temperatures and are in my “cool to warm weather” kit.
KLIM seems to have the hot weather part of riding covered, however. I have already reviewed a KLIM Aggressor -1.0 cooling shirt, and at the end of this month, I will be publishing my review of the KLIM Tactical armored base layer, a new product that leverages Poron XRD non-Newtonian foam to provide a pair of cooling pants that also double as armor. So, with those two items already in mind, I decided to see if KLIM had any hot weather gloves that were both affordable and effective.
As Calgary, Alberta, Canada only has one authorized KLIM dealer, I rode down to Blackfoot Motorsports here in town, enjoying the particular sensation of being roasted alive in the nearly 36 C (97 F) temperatures with barely any wind (note: I, in fact, did not enjoy the feeling of being roasted alive). Once there, and after basking in the glory that is the invention of air conditioning for a good three minutes, I went in search of gloves!
I do have to thank Ayden in particular here. On display, they only had a size L and a size 2XL, which were both just too small, and just too big for my hand size. One thing that KLIM does get on the nose is their sizing, it’s always been spot on correct, and after spending about 10 minutes (!!) rummaging around in the boxes and boxes of gloves in their receiving area, Ayden emerged with a pair of XL Dakar Pro gloves. They were perfect, and being the Canadian I am, I thanked her many times for taking the time to get a pair that fit perfectly.
KLIM started out in 2008 as a maker of adventure motorcycle and snowmobile gear in Rigby, Idaho. From 2008 to 2012, it was its own company, gaining popularity and “adventure cred” with the off-road Powersports community. In 2012, Polaris Industries, owners of Indian Motorcycles and a snowmobile and adventure vehicle maker in their own right, bought out KLIM, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Since then, with the investment that Polaris can leverage into research and development, KLIM has been at the forefront of adventure Powersports safety and gear. Through their continued push towards safety and tackling the great outdoors, Poron XRD non-Newtonian foam armor and the KLIM Powersports Airbag have been two of their most recent safety innovations.
About webBikeWorld’s Review Policy
This product was purchased by myself to become part of my hot weather riding kit. Note that we do not allow brands to influence review scores or content. Please see our review policies for more information.
We here at webBikeWorld believe that you can’t just try something out once and give an honest opinion of it. Any product we test is actually used by our testers, and for most of July, during probably the hottest summer we’ve had in a decade or two, these were my daily riding gloves.
KLIM Dakar Pro Features
The first thing that I noticed with the KLIM Dakar Pro gloves was that they were exceptionally light. I have four sets of gloves currently, including the aforementioned ICON Super-Duty II’s, a pair of Five Stunt Evos, a pair of Rev’it Quantum 2 gauntlets (review coming soon!), and these gloves, and they are the lightest of the lot. This can be attributed to probably the single most important feature the Dakar Pro’s have.
Armor on gloves used to be entirely based around a hard shell over some form of foam. That is, until the invention of non-Newtonian foam armor, which in KLIM’s case is called Poron XRD. During normal use, the foam is flexible, soft, light, comfortable, so much so that sometimes you even forget that it’s there. Deliver a sharp, sudden impact to the foam, however, and it instantly and momentarily hardens to the point of being equivalent to TPU grade II armor. KLIM has used this armor throughout the glove, on the fingers, knuckles, thumb, and palm slider areas.
Another thing that using Poron XRD allows for with the glove is full dexterity. It also allows for an excellent feel of the controls through the gloves, as the palm is pure goatskin leather at just under 1 mm thick, and the armor placement on the palm is perfectly situated to sit behind the grips without pushing up against your hand, as some palm sliders do.
As well, it may be a minor feature but it does bear mentioning, the index finger on the left-hand glove has a visor squeegee on it. It might seem a little silly at first, but as I will explain in the Real World Experience section at the end of this review, it really isn’t.
KLIM Dakar Pro Fit & Comfort
It is a bit cliche, but these gloves fit, well… like a glove. There is only a tiny bit of extra length in the little finger when I make a fist, and the gloves are not too tight nor too loose around my 9.5-inch circumference hand. Because of the Poron XRD armor, the gloves had no issues forming over my knuckles, and my fingertips, with a splayed hand, were just barely touching the tips of the index, middle, and ring finger leather.
With the palms being leather, a little wearing in was required. Goatskin is already pretty soft from the outset, but there was some initial resistance when making a fist. After just a few hours of wearing them around the house, flexing my hands into fists once in a while, they felt perfectly broken in and comfortable.
Something that I wasn’t expecting to be quite as useful as it was, is that each glove has a small hanging loop sewn into the bottom of the wrist sections. This is also where the tang of the velcro closure is sewn in, so it is structurally quite strong. However, the useful bit about these hanging straps is that they also double as glove pulls. I would wiggle my hand into the gloves, and then give the hanging strap a good tug to really get the glove on. I wish more gloves came with pulls. It would make getting some of the tighter ones on a lot easier.
As these gloves are positioned both as hot weather streetwear and dual-sport capable, the wrist closure only extends to the ulnar bump and is meant to be tucked in under the wrist closure of a jacket. There was no tension or resistance around the wrist, however, another benefit of having flexible foam armor for the palm slider and soft goatskin as the palm material.
The backhand of the glove also fits comfortably tight, being made out of stretch textile. It also breathed amazingly well, allowing for a massive amount of heat to leave my hands without needing full-on venting holes. And, if you drop your clutch hand down to your side to give the biker wave, you can feel just how well flowing air penetrates it as well. I know high-wristing is a bad thing on a bike, but during some of the days during the heatwave, on slower speed limit side streets, I would occasionally tilt my hands forward and wrists up, so that air would flow through the stretch fabric and cool off my hands.
Any glove is only as good as the range of motion it gives you. For this reason, racing gauntlets are often quite stiff, with your ring and little fingers bound together. Stunt gloves are often very stiff in the lower palm and are fairly inflexible when it comes to being able to spread your fingers out. The Dakar Pro’s, however, are quite possibly the best gloves I have worn in terms of dexterity.
You can adjust your throttle slack with a perfect touch, just as easily as you can twist the wrist and go. I was able to use my smartphone, thanks to the smartphone-enabled thumb and index finger pads as if I wasn’t wearing gloves at all. No glove I have worn before has let me type with moderate precision on that tiny iPhone keypad, yet I could do so with the Dakar Pros.
This range of flexibility and motion is perfect for all the intended uses of the glove. In a dual-sport situation, it would allow you to handle tools, lift the bike onto a motocross stand, adjust cables with precision, as well as other such important things. On the street, it lets you feel the controls of a helmet-mounted comms system such as the Sena 3S Plus Boom, or adjust your brake lever tension at a stop, without needing to pull the gloves off.
Thanks to the flexibility of the foam armor, as well as the use of soft leather for the palm and under-finger sections, and this is a gloved-hand-on-heart testimony, I have never worn a glove that is as capable, and as dextrous, in their range of motion as the KLIM Dakar Pros.
KLIM Dakar Pro Protection
While I have waxed on by this point on the development and use of Poron XRD, it still bears mentioning how it actually feels when it works. I do believe that this section is necessary to demonstrate that these gloves are the real deal, and don’t just have some protective foam tucked in to make it seem like it’s armored.
As this was my first experience of using non-Newtonian foam, I wanted to be fairly scientific about how I went about testing it. Thankfully, and because I bought these gloves with my own money, there is a standard-issue sidewalk out front of my apartment. This sidewalk is made of fairly hard concrete with a little bit of pavement mix to allow for temperature flex. It’s still bloody hard and uncomfortable, however.
So, test 1 was me, after brushing away any pebbles, gravel, or sticky things, slapping my right hand down on the pavement with decent force. As expected, the palm pad of my hand stung, went a tiny bit red, and was kind of asking my brain what the hell it thought it was doing.
Look at the size of that palm pad armor!
Test 2, however, was with the Dakar Pro on. I slapped the same approximate area of the concrete, with the same approximate amount of force, expecting to have the same sting. However, and this is hard to explain in words just how fast this happened, the instant after the foam touched the concrete and started to compress, it felt like someone had suddenly affixed a plate of steel to my palm. There was a little transmission of force into my palm pad, but nowhere near enough to cause it to sting. And the moment after, my palm was resting on a soft piece of foam.
I probably got a few strange looks, because I myself held up my gloved hand with my jaw slightly hanging, and muttered a quiet “well, I’ll be damned.” Of course, being the professional reviewer I am, I remembered to film the experiment…
Ahem. Moving on.
“Feel the intensity of the sport, not the impact.” Truer words about a new type of armor have never been said.
I can safely say that I feel completely protected by the Dakar Pro gloves. As I am a very, very vocal proponent of the All The Gear, All The Time mantra, I will not wear gear that I feel compromises my safety in any way, shape, or form. These KLIM gloves are going to be my primary hot weather gloves from this day forward. That’s the level of trust I have in them.
KLIM Dakar Pro Build Quality
If a glove is going to fall apart three weeks after you buy it (as I have had happen to me with another pair of gloves that thankfully was warrantied), it’s generally a sign that either there was a bad batch that day, or the overall build quality is bad. There are no such issues with KLIM.
Every single piece of their gear I have thus far touched has been manufactured to the highest quality, and the Dakar Pro’s are no exception. The leather-to-textile-fabric interface is tightly double stitched, with the thread ends solidly planted into the leather. All the armor placements are double stitched full depth through all material to give strong anchors.
The palm and index finger is one continuous piece of goatskin leather, and by using one piece instead of multiple stitched together, it feels solid and of high quality. Any stitching at all on the palm side is at least double stitched, with the fingertip pads being single stitched through the already double-stitched base leather.
In other words, these gloves were made to handle dual-sport use, and are expected to be encountering dirt or the trail often. They are built to last, and I suspect I may get quite a few good seasons out of them.
KLIM Dakar Pro In The Real World
Due to the circumstances of the heatwave that rocked the NorthWest of North America in July of 2021, the same month I tested the gloves, they were definitely put through an extreme set of circumstances. While there are areas of the USA that regularly see temperatures in the 90 to 100+ F range, that level of heat is beyond normal for Alberta, Canada.
That is a long way of saying that most days during July, I would arrive home after my rides with an absolute waterfall of sweat coursing down my torso, despite wearing a cooling shirt and mesh gear. Leather, as is quite well known, if not properly treated does not like water or sweat. And believe you me, I sweat a ton into these gloves.
Yet, being designed to be hot weather, literally desert weather gloves, my hands were almost always completely dry when I got home from the rides. The backhand portion of the glove between the wrist closure and the knuckle armor acted almost like my cooling shirt, absorbing the sweat and evaporating it to be able to keep the back of my hand cool.
The surprisingly useful squeegee!
Another thing that the heat brought out was bugs. Lots, and lots, and lots of bugs. There were days you couldn’t ride more than a hundred meters before something smacked into your helmet or splattered itself against your visor. This, however, is where that little visor squeegee on the left-hand index finger comes into play. As long as I squeegee’d right after impact, it cleared off 95% of the splatter, allowing me enough visibility to get off the main road I am on to a parking lot, get out my visor spray, and clean off the other 5% of the unfortunate remains of whatever insect decided I looked like a windshield.
Also, during the one small sprinkle of rain I was caught out in, the squeegee also proved to be trip-saving, because instead of having to pull over under a bridge or overpass, I could just clear the visor every minute or so. Of course, if it had been an actual rain shower, I would have pulled off the road anyways, but as the pavement was not getting wet, it was still safe to ride. It’s a useful little thing, that squeegee, and I can see how it would be beneficial if you were to get mud splattered into your goggles or on your ADV helmet visor when going dual-sport style.
However, in the heat, the only real hiccup with the gloves became evident. When the temperatures were touching 100 F, I found that after about half an hour, the palm leather started to “bunch up.” I don’t know how to better describe it than that, so I will attempt to use an analogy. When you first go to bed, your sheets are often tight and smooth because you made your bed earlier. However, when you wake up, the sheets are all tugged and wrinkled from your body heat and moving in your sleep. It felt like that, except in the palm of my hand.
I suspect that this is because there was so much humidity and heat inside the chassis of the glove that it caused the leather to slacken ever so slightly. As we are a species that uses touch a lot to explore and communicate, our hands are designed to be super sensitive to even the smallest changes. It may have been that the feeling of bunching up was only a millimeter or two of slack in the leather, but it was enough to cause a momentary distraction in the sense of “why is my palm feeling that?”
Being a bit of a nitpicker as well, despite the usefulness of having the large backhand area between the wrist and knuckles open for heat management, I did catch a bit of gravel off the tire of a truck ahead of me coming down out of the air in that exact spot. It hurt, put simply. With the ability of Poron XRD to be soft and breathable when not being impacted, I would have liked to maybe see a secondary bit of padding there. I do admit, it is very rare to have any impacts there, but it is just an experience that I went through and thought that if I really had to nitpick, that was the one thing I would add to the gloves.
Final Thoughts: Bring On The Poron XRD Revolution
The KLIM Dakar Pro’s are, in my opinion, the finest gloves I have had the pleasure to wear on my hands to date. They fit true to the size charts, they are built to take on rough and tumble use, perform admirably in extreme (for Canada) hot weather, and are the most dextrous motorcycle gloves I’ve put my hands into.
To elaborate on the point, I wasn’t a believer in non-Newtonian foam at first. I knew about non-Newtonian liquid, where it hardens when you step on it or squeeze it, and returns to liquid when you stop applying pressure. Taking that concept and translating it to protective armor, especially considering that it’s only about 3-5mm thick at best on the gloves, made my quite science-believing brain go “Hmmmmm…”
So, that’s why I conducted my sidewalk-slapping experiment. As they say in the military, if it looks stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid. As I described, I did have a moment of looking at the palm of the glove, which suffered no marking in the leather at all, by the way, and my suspicion about non-Newtonian foam being good enough for motorcycle armor shattered into a million fragments on the spot.
This is, frankly, a revolutionary technology that many companies have now developed their own versions of. ICON started the first wary steps into the waters with D3O armor, using rubberized plastic instead of foam. Now, Rev’It, KLIM, Alpinestars, Scorpion, Dainese, and all the other big names have developed, or are developing their own version of this foam.
In fact, I now trust Poron XRD so much that I bought a KLIM Tactical Armored leg base layer. It makes extensive use of Poron XRD over the thighs, hips, and tailbone, mounted on a cooling fabric stretch layer, and a review of that will be coming later this month!
On the subject of the Dakar Pro’s, I can only state that they are going to be my primary summer gloves, and the gloves that I compare all other hot weather gloves I may review in the future against. They’re that good. With only the bunching up of the palm leather and leaving the backhand exposed knocking (very minor) points off, I happily give the Dakar Pro’s 4.5 out of 5, and will heartily recommend anyone on the fence about buying them to snatch a pair up before they’re out of stock at your local KLIM dealer.