If there is one disadvantage to being a taller and bigger rider is that many manufacturers don’t seem to think that anyone has a waist bigger than 40 inches, hips that are larger than 44 inches, or an inseam longer than 30 inches or shorter than 34 inches. Seeing as my hips are at about 50 inches and my waist varies between 40 to 42 inches, with a 32-inch inseam, this puts me smack dab in the “there is nothing that will fit you” sizing for riding over-pants or riding jeans.
As I am, personally, a strong proponent of the All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT) way of riding, which is I won’t ride if I am not 100% covered head to toe in protective gear, I had to do something about my hips and tailbone, two very common areas of injury or impact in a crash. I was considering ordering some custom gear, sized perfectly to fit me, with extra armor added, before I found out that not only did KLIM make their excellent Aggressor cooling shirt and superb Dakar Pro gloves, they also made armored base layers which are highly elasticated and hold Poron XRD pads over all the important places.
As soon as I found out, I checked to make sure that the base layer would cover all the important bits, then went ahead and ordered some online. A week later, they arrived, and to my relief, were so stretchy that they fit perfectly, and thus I started my month-long review!
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.
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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 ever since they arrived, these base layer pants have been on my legs every single time I ride.
KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer Features
The biggest feature of the KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer is the use of Poron XRD non-Newtonian foam for armoring. As already discovered when testing the Dakar Pro gloves, what feels at first to be foam that you are skeptical about quickly proves itself to be true-to-form as it hardens to metal-like strength on hard impacts.
Originally designed to be used by off-road or dual-sport riders, the armoring is in areas that are expected to either make contact with the environment or the ground and is at least half an inch (13 mm) thick. Considering that the Poron XRD in the gloves was about 2 to 3 mm thick, this is at least 5 times thicker and still has the same properties.
Sometimes in this job, you need to take unflattering pictures to demonstrate how something fits!
The Tactical Armored Base Layer also covers an important area, both figuratively and literally, in that it has what is labeled as a “seat chamois” which is, in effect, a thicker, padded area that provides ample coverage of your nether regions from front to back. The sacrum and coccyx also get some Poron XRD on the exterior of the base layer for added impact protection.
The hips are covered by two articulated pads of Poron XRD per side, and the thighs, from the front wrapping around to the posterior, are covered with three strips of the armor. All this armor is secured with mesh pad pockets, holding them in place and also allowing for heat and moisture to breathe out.
This is important as while the majority of the base layer chassis is made of compression style fabric, all the major sweat and heat areas are made of the same superb Klimatek fabric that the Aggressor cooling shirt is made of, and keeps your thighs, posterior, and perineal areas cool and comfortable. The armor also only covers the upper leg, as it is expected that knee pads or over-pants with knee armor built-in will be worn over top, and that high off-road or ADV boots will protect the lower legs.
KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer Fit & Comfort
As I mentioned in the introduction, I am 50 inches in the hip, 40 to 42 in the waist, and have a 32 inseam. Based on those measurements, I ordered the 2XL sized base layer. What amazed me about the Tactical Armor is that despite looking a touch small, when it is mentioned in the official literature about the base layer that they will stretch to fit, they mean it.
The lovely padded seat chamois area, adding that little extra layer of comfort and armor.
The first time I put them on, I was afraid that my sizable thighs and larger posterior would pose a problem, as it does with most motorcycle pants. To my surprise, the base layer went on as easily as one puts on a pair of boxers or briefs in the morning, and once in place, it fits perfectly. As the base layer is designed to act as a pair of compression pants as well, it was skin tight but not aggressively so, and I could feel the Klimatek areas heating up rapidly, then cooling, much like when I first put on the Aggressor cooling shirt.
By the time I had my knee pads and regular relaxed-fit jeans on top of the base layer, it would be hard-pressed for me to say that I even felt like I was wearing them. The only area you will really notice you are wearing a base layer is the seat chamois, as it pads your perineal area and tailbone against the often-stiff seat of a dual-sport or off-road bike, and even on my Kawasaki Ninja 650, I could feel my perineal area enjoying the little bit of extra padding.
These base layer pants, in other words, are very comfortable and make even the longest of rides bearable because of some smart placement of extra padding.
KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer Protection
While I have touched on this in the features area, a more in-depth discussion about Poron XRD and its use in this bit of riding gear is warranted.
Even in the contemporary market, non-Newtonian foams are still considered to be among the newer types of armor. Many other base layers will use TPU in high-risk areas, such as Dainese with their “Hard Shorts” base layer. While these do provide protection, they trade-off that protection by being bulky and, in a word, uncomfortable.
This is where the advantages of non-Newtonian foam come into play. As mentioned, this base layer was originally meant for dual-sport and off-road use, and the thigh protection speaks to that. While your knees and hips are more likely to hit the ground first in a crash, trail riders will often come across narrow sections where the lower branches of trees are at the perfect height to whip against the shins, knees, and thighs of the rider.
You can see the hip articulation area that brings the two hip pads together, and the Klimatek fabric that helps cool the upper thigh area
By placing the foam around the area most likely to be struck by these branches, the Tactical Base Layer pants provide protection by taking the impact, dispersing it through the foam, and then returning to shape afterward. This all takes under a second to happen, yet speaks to how the armor keeps the rider protected against the environment.
The other extremely important note about how the thigh armor and hip armor is placed is that it may, although not guaranteed, help prevent tibia fractures during crashes, one of the most common injuries to ADV and cruiser riders in a front-on collision. This is because as the bike stops, the rider continues forward, and their thighs have a high likelihood of impacting the handlebars. With the armor, it may just be enough to absorb and distribute that force to prevent it from passing through to the bone, but there is only so much you can do against the power of physics.
KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer Quality
As I have discovered through using two previous pieces of KLIM gear, they really take pride in putting together solid pieces of kit. The Tactical Armored Base Layer is no different. All of the seams are double sewn for strength, and even the mesh covering the Poron XRD armor pieces feels premium and well made.
The leg cuff, after a couple of months of wearing them, still as stretchy and tight as ever. Please pardon the detergent residue, as you will read in the Real World section, there is one disadvantage to buying the black version!
I have had no issues with feeling seams against my legs, or with the seat padding being overly obtrusive. To be honest, it feels like this set of base layer armor was a custom fit to me, and that’s saying something because I am, as I stated in the introduction, perfectly between sizes.
As these have also seen use with every ride I have taken, not a single thing has gone wrong. No wear spots, no seams coming undone, no reduction in elasticity. They have seen the washing machine a few times, and have air-dried afterward, and even then, they are just ready to be tossed on and do their job of protecting you.
KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer In The Real World
As I have noted in my previous reviews, this past summer has been packed with varying conditions. July saw an extended heatwave hit Western Canada and the NorthWestern USA, which carried through into August. Mix into that the greenhouse effect of smoke from forest fires sitting over Calgary, and the rains and cold days that came as a natural result of a weather inversion, and this set of Tactical Armor has seen pretty much every weather and temperature imaginable.
Throughout it all, no matter how many times I mounted or dismounted my bike, shifted my weight around for cornering, or adjusted my seating position, the Tactical base layer took it all. I took rides that lasted less than an hour, and I also took a few rides that lasted half a day or more on the bike. Speeds also varied on these rides, from in-city cruising between 50 to 80 KPH (30 to 50 MPH), to highway runs as fast as 110 KPH (68 MPH).
During these rides, I also wore a variety of pants, from some Tourmaster over-pants on the colder days to Rev’It Tornado 3 mesh pants and even my regular jeans with knee pads on under them on the hotter days. The only time that they ever came into conflict with what I was wearing was with the Tornado 3 mesh pants, and that was because of those pants being very European in their fit and finish. To wit, the armor on the thighs and the seat chamois padded area made my legs and perineal area thicker than normal, and the Tornado 3 mesh pants fit fine without the base layer on.
While not as important in riding as a helmet or a set of gloves with serious protection or dexterity concerns, what I can say about the KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer in the real world is that they do exactly what they are designed to do. They keep your upper legs, hips, perineal, and tailbone areas protected, and the insides of your thighs, your perineal area, and your posterior cool and comfortable. They support the legs by nature of being compression pants, but don’t feel like they’re squishing your muscles overly hard.
The inverse of the calf closure picture in the Quality section, this is all detergent residue from a particularly dirty wash, as it rained when I was out on my bike and got road grime and mud all over my gear 🙁
One thing that I did find to be mildly annoying, and didn’t notice in my KLIM Aggressor shirt because it is white and light grey, is that the Klimatek cloth bits of the pants love to gather as much water as they can, including in the washing machine. I use Tide Pods for my laundry, so I always do a medium to big load to get the most economy out of those pods. The downside? That Klimatek cloth soaks up the little soap molecules as much as it can, and even if you rinse it twice, there will still be a little bit of residue left over.
Notice the laundry detergent residue on the Klimatek cloth backing the thigh and hip armor? For me, this isn’t a bother, but if you have skin allergies, you might want to get a good silicon laundry brush that will gently scrub out that residue before you wear the base layer.
Now, for me, as I do not have any skin allergies, this is perfectly fine and I just wear them as is, because there is not enough soap there to be irritating. However, if you do have skin allergies, you might want to get a gentle silicone laundry brush and hang-dry the pants, and when you can see the residue, give it a good brushing off. It’s all part of the sweat-wicking properties of the cloth, so it’s a designed feature, just not with the water it is intended to wick away!
Final Thoughts: Comfortable Protection To Fit Under Anything
Before I had the KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer, I was wearing knee pads under my jeans or wearing dedicated over-pants that fit, but never really fit perfectly right. With the base layer, it has become a dedicated part of my riding gear, along with my sweat-wicking wool-and-synthetic riding socks and the KLIM Aggressor cooling shirt. No matter what goes on over top, it is reassuring to have that extra protection right next to my skin.
What impresses me the most is just how often I completely forget I’m wearing them. I’ll come home from a two-hour ride, come inside and start to strip off my gear to either hang it up or toss in the washing machine, and then all of a sudden I remember I have the base layer on by seeing it. It may sound silly, but that is honestly the best type of gear you can have.
By that, I mean that if something fits so well, so naturally, so true to your shape, that it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing something, it helps keep your mind more on the ride and the activity of riding. Instead of having to constantly adjust a strap or zipper on a jacket, or tug back on the heel of a glove to get it perfectly positioned the Tactical base layer is just there, and it is ready to take any impact or hit you need it to, to keep you safe.
My only complaint regarding the Tactical base layer is that I would like to see a set that has both above the knee and below the knee armor. Some street and sport boots are only calf-high, and there are boots that come no higher than a pair of high-top sneakers. In this regard, having that added shin protecting would be beneficial, yet I will admit that it is a very situation-specific complaint.
I have no issues recommending the KLIM Tactical Armored Base Layer, and through both objective and subjective observations, I had no issues of any major note.
- Fits true to the KLIM size chart, and will stretch to fit
- Quality of finish is second to none
- Armor is Poron XRD, allowing for your legs to breathe
- Compression fit is not too tight
- Machine washable
- Does not lose any of its stretch or cooling functionality if washed according to instructions
- Comfortable against the skin, no seams or armor points digging into the skin
- Seat chamois (perineal and coccyx area) padding is perfectly placed to add a touch of comfort
- Must be air-dried after wash
- Protection is only to above the knee