KLIM Switchback armored riding cargo(?)/work(?) pants review


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Sep 16, 2018
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Turned 59 years old yesterday and my lovely wife gifted me a pair of KLIM Switchback riding pants.

Wore the pants today for a roughly 120 mile ride.

They are a casual pant design that is similar to something you'd find from Carhartt work pants with some features of cargo style pants. So sort of a work pant, sort of a cargo pant. Actually also sort of like an upland bird/quail hunting briar-resistant pant too because of the appearance of the double layer front.

I got size 36. I'm 6' tall, 195 pounds and more handsome than Elvis :cool: I wear a size 36 in my blue jeans and my jeans are typically a bit loose in the butt but fit me reasonably well around the waist without being tight. I could probably wear a size 35 if my brand of choice came in a size 35" waist. The KLIM Switchbacks in size 36 fit just like my normal blue jeans. Loose in the butt and comfortable in the waist without being tight. The legs are cut in a relaxed, perhaps even loose cut. I need a belt to make them feel secure around my waist without slipping down, that said I wear a typical heavy/double layer gun-belt as my daily belt, the belt loops on the KLIM Switchback were very tight with my daily belt. YMMV

The pants come in Black/Grey and also in Brown/Tan. I have the Black/Grey color scheme. I think I'd like to get them in the Brown/Tan variety too.

The pants are unlined. The heavy Cordura is abrasion resistant so no need for a Kevlar, Covex or similar liner. The Cordura also makes a swishing noise when you walk. So not a 'quiet' pair of pants for hiking. The Cordura also is a little slippery so your don't stick to the seat, instead you can slide around. For pure riding pants I'd prefer they be stickier so I am more secured in the saddle of the bike. But they sell these as a pair of pants you can wear all day, on and off the bike. That is their claim. Hmmm...

The 2 back pockets are big and deep and have heavy metal zipper closures. I appreciate the zippers, and the size easily holds your wallet, etc.

On the front are 2 traditionally cut blue jeans style pockets. Again they are deep and generously cut. On the right leg, about mid thigh, is a cargo pocket with a double snap closure. Left leg has another cargo pocket but with a zipper closure.

Beneath both of these 'cargo' pockets are armor pockets for your knees. The armor pockets are accessible from the front of the pants by unsnapping a snap that holds down the corner of each of the cargo pockets. This lets you reach under the cargo pocket into a pocket over your knee that holds the knee armor. The knee armor is held in place by Velco and is adjustable to fit your body. The armor is D3O and is level 1. The armor can be fairly easily removed/replaced if you want to use the pants as casual pants, and you can lock your armor in your Frunk/Panniers/top box while you are away from your bike.

There is similar D3O armor in pockets at your hips that can be removed from the INSIDE of your pants.

On both the right and left side of the pants, at thigh level, along the right/left seams are metal zippers. They are not for pockets but rather are for ventilation. Unzip these and it opens up to a mesh panel that allows some airflow.

At calf level, going down to the cuff are bi-directional metal zippers. At the cuff is a snap adjustment with the ability to adjust the cuff to several diameters making it as loose or tight around your boot as you prefer. The bi-directional zipper/snap cuff and generally relaxed cut of the leg allows you to slip the pants on over a medium size boot but probably not an adventure style or large riding boot. The bi-directional zipper at the cuff also allows you to unzip from the top down to bring in some airflow on hot days.

Temps today ranged from lower 50's and cloudy to mid-60's and sunny and I had the zip vents closed but was comfortable in all conditions, if a bit cool at the lower temps when the sun was obscured.

These are not waterproof pants.

These are not insulated pants but they are cut loose enough to ear an insulation layer under them for cooler weather. Not sure how well they breathe in hot or humid weather. This review is based on 1 day of riding and walking around, 120-ish miles in the saddle in moderate temps.

The pants are very comfortable. The knee armor was easy enough to position perfectly. I walked around with the armor in when we stopped midday to explore a small town's downtown area and did some shopping and never felt the armor banging against me or feeling obtrusive. The Cordura fabric does make a bit of noise while walking around.

Overall I really like these pants. A bit over $200 so not inexpensive, but also not too bad for casual riding pants. These will not replace a pair of touring pants for long journeys but they are very nice pants for daily trips to town, for running errands, they can do double duty as work pants and casual pants, etc.

Front of the leg, showing the detail of the bottom of the cargo pocket snap closure that give exterior access to the knee armor.

Front of waist, showing the hip armor concealed and visible.

Back pockets and cuff detail:

Front pocket detail: