Although Klim’s primary market is the snowmobile crowd, the Idaho-based company makes what most consider to be the best motorcycling gear out there. With a daring tagline “This Is Hardware, Not Apparel”, Klim provides some of the toughest, most technologically advanced gear for dirt, dual sport, and adventure riders around the world.
What’s Klim’s secret, how is their gear designed and what’s new for Klim in 2018? We talked to their head gear designer, Kelsey Runge, to find out.
Kelsey started designing motorcycle gear for Klim in September of 2016. She has been able to go through two design seasons, so her first was the Spring 2018 line and she is currently in the process of designing the Spring 2019 line.
Kelsey, how is motorcycle gear created, from idea to shelf? What does the process look like?
First, I get briefed on the collection from my Product Line Manager, Jayson, where I am directed on what pieces need to be redesigned and what pieces will be brand new for the season. I then go ahead drawing and getting my ideas on paper. I sketch different design lines and think through new ways of constructing our signature features.
We are always trying to create a better experience for the rider, so I must hit all the minuscule details of how the garment looks, fits, feels, and functions. Once a sketch of the garment is complete and the majority of the details are thought through, I hand the finalized tech pack off to my technical designer, Rhylea, who specializes in the constructions and measurements of the garment. Rhylea then sends it off to the factory.
We get three to four prototypes of each design of which we fit and correct all the details on before the next one is made. We will typically take a trip to the factory before our salesmen samples are made to make any final corrections, see the salesmen samples in our most accurate version of a prototype for any last judgement calls on color, trims, and overall look, and then production is officially started.
How do you test your protective fabrics?
We have a material developer who specializes in ensuring the testing capabilities of all of our fabrics. Whenever a new material is presented for use, he will send it off to a testing facility to retrieve all the basic information necessary to determine a fabric’s quality and how it will withstand to the elements.
In addition, we have a few of our own tests in the office that we perform on all of our fabrics as a small secondary test. We also rely on the wear testing that we have done on all of our garments. Once we deem a fabric usable, we will get garments made and immediately send them out into the field to test for fabric, fit, and function before going to market.
We put these on riders that we can guarantee will do enough mileage necessary to get back telling results. We also use our internal crash report system where we receive crashed garments back that are submitted by riders with a police report, so we can see how the fabrics reacted in real life scenarios. We evaluate these on a regular basis, so we can make good decisions on not only the fabrics used, but the placement of these fabrics for their optimum use.
Klim is one of the most expensive gear out there. Why?
We use the best, and it just doesn’t come cheap! Fabric, fabric, fabric… We specialize in making the most protective and most enjoyable gear out there and we do that by not falling short on the fabrics we use.
There are obviously a lot of other factors that contribute to this, but we want to make sure to provide the best all-weather gear that we can and it starts with our fabric story. There are limited GORE-TEX motorsport-approved qualities of fabric because they have to withstand a certain level of durability and abrasion resistance. Secondly, our overlay fabrics are also held to a certain level of abrasion and durability standard to make sure you are extra protected in the sliding and impact zones. Finally, to make sure we give you ample amount of venting and storage, we start cutting into these fabrics all over the garment to then insert vent and pocket zippers. Every time we do this, we have to seam tape around these openings to ensure you stay waterproof. It is an expensive process!