Adventure Rally Air - The Ultimate Dakar Rally Jacket
It has literally taken years for me to test different gear to arrive at the best combination for me that I could ride for hours with maximum safety and comfort.
For the 2014 Dakar I had planned on using an Under Armour compression shirt, Zero 7 chest protector, Fox elbow pads and an Alpinestars jacket with a CamelBack on the outside.
A couple of months before my departure to Dakar Ned Suesse(2012 Dakar Vet) recommended Klim gear and put me in contact with the guys at Klim. They hooked me up with their new Adventure Rally Air Jacket, Gore-Tex Overshell and Adventure Rally Pants(Adventure Air pants weren't available yet). Both the Jacket and shell are neck brace compatible.
The Rally Air is a version of their Rally Jacket that is made of a Kevlar open weave fabric that allows for maximum air flow while providing excellent tear and abrasion resistance. The Gore-Tex Overshell is a waterproof shell that can be added when the weather gets cold or wet. The Klim Rally jacket concept is that everything is contained in the jacket and supported by an internal harness similar to a backpack.
The Rally Air Jacket has integral shoulder, elbow back and chest protection. It has several pockets and an integral hydration pack and large tool pocket. At first the system feels heavy but considering that everything is in the jacket, I am sure that it doesn't weigh any more than the individual gear that I normally wear.
I received the Jacket just before I was to leave for the Baja 1000 so I took it with me to run through the rigors of Baja pre-running. When I loaded all of my tools, water bladder, snacks and other things it did fell heavy but after I got the jacket on I felt very safe, secure and comfortable. I wore the jacket for all of my pre-running and it worked so well that I used it in the race as well.
After successful testing of the Rally Air at the Baja 1000 the decision was easy to go with it for the 2014 Dakar.
For the Dakar the All-In-One concept is a great advantage. At the Dakar It is crazy trying to keep everything together and there is so little to get ready in the morning. Having everything in one place is great - you just put your jacket on and you have everything you need.
One great feature of the Rally Air jacket is the top quality double zippers that allow the jacket to be zipped from the bottom up for temperature regulation. With temperatures topping out a 116 F even the open weave of the Rally Air was not enough cooling. At times I would run the lower zipper all the way up and then as I got into cooler weather I could easily lower the zipper while riding. On the cold days I added the outer shell and when I got into warmer weather I would raise the lower zipper on the outer shell as well . Overall I couldn't imagine a better choice for an Adventure Jacket.
Klim also set me up with a pair of their Adventure Rally Pants. I always get my riding pants one size larger so that they are not tight and there is plenty of room for my knee braces. This is not so with the Klim pants. They are true to size and have plenty of room for knee braces. Consequently when I requested oversize pants from Klim I was swimming in them and had to have them send me a pair that were my actual size. This meant no time to test the pants prior to Dakar.
I brought the pants with me but wasn't sure if I would use them without testing. The first two stages I used my normal pants. On day 3 I decided to try the Klim pants and they worked so well I used them the rest of the Dakar . They are the most comfortable pants I have worn and they have zippers running the entire length of the thighs that can be opened for temperature regulation. The flaps from the zippers act as air scoops when the zippers are open. A typical day in Dakar starts in the morning at 35-45F and within a few hours raises to 90-116F so temperature regulation is very important. The pockets on the thighs are also a big plus.
My sincere thanks go out to Klim for their support.
Mike Johnson #92