Klim Badlands GTX Long Glove Review
20 December 2019
In January 2016, I bought a pair of Klim Element Long gloves. They kept me warm and dry until one day in autumn this year when the seam burst along the index finger of the left hand. The stitches failed at the point where my finger flexes when I'm working the clutch. When I returned the Elements to Klim, they honoured the warranty and gave me a full refund. I decided to put a bit of cash with the refund and treat myself to a pair of Klim Badlands GTX Long gloves.
I won't bother listing all the specifications of the gloves because they can be found on Klim's website. I'll just write about my own thoughts and impressions on the gloves. Here's my first view of the gloves when I unpacked them:
As you can see, there are knuckle protectors (made from polycarbonate) on the back of each glove. As shown in the photo below, there are smaller protectors along the back of each finger, to protect your hand in case it slaps backwards against a hard surface.
On the other sides of the gloves, there is extra padding on the impact zones at the heel of the palm and the underside of the wrist. There is also a loop on each glove to help pulling them on. The loops are stitched on very securely, although I think pulling on the same part of the glove every time you wear them would eventually cause the fabric around the loops to tear. The Velcro that held the gauntlets closed on my Elements started to come off for this exact reason, so I started pulling on the gloves by tugging at different places around the cuff rather than pulling hard at one point.
I have seen and heard people complaining that the visor wipers on the index fingers of gloves are completely pointless but I totally disagree. I hadn't realised how useful those wipers are until I was caught out in a shower a few months ago while wearing my summer gloves. I tried to wipe my visor but all I managed to do was smear the water and make visability worse. On the Badlands GTX, there is a wiper on each index finger. The left is for wiping water, the right is for scraping ice/frost. There are even little symbols on the fingers to let you know which is for which. The wiper/scraper for ice and frost feels like a hard rubber, rather than plastic, so it should be safe to use without scratching the visor - although I haven't tried it.
Inside the gloves, there's an elasticated cuff which should help to trap warm air inside and prevent cold drafts from entering:
The backhands of the gloves have a thick fleece lining on them and the palms are lined with polar fleece. I read a criticism somewhere online by someone who felt that Klim should have put the thick fleece on the palms too. In my experience, however, any thick glove liner only reduces the heat I get from my heated grips and leaves my hands colder than they are when I have no glove liners. I think it was brilliant thinking by Klim to put fleece on the backhand but not the palm.
The first thing I noticed when putting on the gloves is that the gauntlet is a little narrower than my Elements were. That made it a bit trickier to get the gauntlet over the cuffs of my Badlands jacket which are quite thin because Klim design them to go inside the gloves. When I pulled the flap across to close the gauntlet, only about two centimetres of the Velcro overlapped. It was enough to hold the gauntlet securely closed but it did make me wonder if Klim now intend their gloves to go inside the cuff of the jacket, rather than outside. Maybe, as the gloves break in, they will loosen up and it will be easier to get them over the cuff of the jacket.
Yesterday, I went for a ride wearing the gloves for the first time. It wasn't very cold when I left home - about 8°C - but cool enough that I could tell that the gloves were keeping my hands warm. The gloves were obviously a bit stiff because they're brand new but they are very comfortable and after a kilometre or two, I forgot that I was wearing new gloves.
An hour into the ride, I was starting to feel the cold air on my thighs but my hands were still warm and comfortable. In the past, after riding for an hour or two on cold days like that, the palms of my hands would be hot - even burning - because of the heated grips but the back of my hands would be cold. Yesterday, with the Badlands GTX gloves, my hands were very comfortable. The thick fleece on the backhands made a noticeable difference. The fleece seems to trap warm air in the gloves, so my hands felt uniformly warm inside. The only part of my hands that could feel any impact from the cold air was the tips of my fingers, around my fingernails. They weren't cold but they weren't as warm as the rest of my hands. I think the reason for this is that the fingers are still new and stiff, so they aren't quite bending with the tips of my fingers and therefore the fleece on the back of the fingers wasn't in contact with my skin. I'm hoping that as the gloves break in, this will improve. Even if it doesn't, I'm very happy with how warm they kept my hands.
The fingertips of the gloves are designed to work with smart devices. I tried it yesterday on my phone, just to see how well it worked. You won't be typing any text messages because the fingers are just too think and clumsy for that but they do work to stab at bigger buttons. I rarely use a sat nav when I ride but when I do, I use an app on my phone. The app I use pops a notification up when you arrive at a waypoint. Sometimes I program a waypoint that I only want to ride past. The notification is then annoying because you don't get any more directions until you accept it. I would have to stop, take off a glove, accept the notification, put on my glove and start riding again. The "Mult-E-Touch" fingertips of the Badlands gloves should, hopefully, allow me to just tap the OK button and keep riding.
In the evening, the weather turned and it started to rain. At first, I was delighted that I had a chance to test the gloves in the rain but after half an hour the rain became very heavy and it was just miserable. The first two or three times I used the rain wiper on the glove, it didn't do a very good job. The rubber was too hard and didn't remove much water. I was a bit disappointed at first but after about half an hour it started working well so it obviously just needed to break in.
For anyone that doesn't know: if you use Goretex gloves with heated grips in the rain, the heat from the grips causes the Goretex to work in reverse. It drives the moisture from the warm side (the outside) to the colder side (the inside) and you can get damp hands. Damp, not wet. You therefore have a choice between using the heated grips and having warm, damp hands or not using the heated grips and having cold, dry hands. I prefer the former.
My ride home in the rain was about an hour and a half long; an hour of that in heavy rain. Even with the heated grips on, I didn't notice any damp or moisture inside the gloves and my hands were still cosy. The photos below will give an idea of what a horrible, miserable evening it was to be out on a bike. When I got home, there were literally pools of water on the floor where I hung my gear but my hands stayed warm and dry all day. The Klim Badlands GTX Long gloves performed extremely well and I'm delighted that I invested in them. They're an expensive glove, but worth every bit of it.
If you like the blog and would like to be notified when I post new content, you can subscribe to my mailing list.