When a new Klim Valdez non-insulated jacket showed up at our office last year, our first thought was, "What's wrong with the Valdez jacket we have now?"
The quick answer is, "Nothing." The Valdez jacket we had was fine. It works fine and it was "broken in," meaning we were very comfortable in it.
But with the handful of changes Klim made to the new Valdez, the jacket is just that much better.
Klim didn't rock the boat by making any major changes to the Valdez jacket, which we're guessing is one of the Idaho-based company's best sellers (we aren't privy to any sales numbers but are basing that on the number of those jackets we see on the snow on any given ride).
The new Valdez, like the one we already had, features the same Guaranteed to Keep You Dry promise, the same Comfort Mapping Technology, Three Layer Technology and Gore-Tex Pro Shell Technology. To refresh your memory, Comfort Mapping is fairly new technology that creates a garment that meets the specific needs of each region of the body, instead of a garment that covers your body and treats different parts of your body equally. Comfort Mapping goes farther than your traditional pit zips. For the complete story on Comfort Mapping, dig out your old SnoWest Magazines and find the October, 2008 issue. On page 84, you'll find an in-depth story we did on the technology, titled, "Pinpointing Your Body's Needs." You'll also be able to brush up on Three Layer Technology in that article. In a nutshell, a three-layer fabric is made up of three different pieces of material each having a specific function. These three layers are permanently laminated together to form one integrated piece.
The list of features in the new Valdez is, well, as long as one of the jacket's arms. And these features have helped Klim set the standard in snowmobile clothing. The company may not have invented each one of these individual features, but it certainly has refined them to make them more snowmobiler-friendly and useable. Some of our favorites include the snow dust skirt, shoulder pads (which are removable), zipper pulls that you can actually keep your gloves on and still zip up and down, and breathability. We like the shoulder pads because we carry backpacks and the pads certainly help cushion the backpack straps.
So what's different between our old and the new? There are basically five changes:
The pocket configuration in the jacket has changed. The lower pockets are now "cargo" pockets, which simply means they're bigger and you can carry more stuff in the jacket. These are actually two pockets in one. You can use them as handwarmers (slide your hands in from the sides of the pockets) and/or you can use the opening in the top to carry things. They're definitely big pockets. Our other Valdez only had the side-entry option.
The patterning in the shoulders and the sleeves have been "fine-tuned" (Klim's words) to provide a better range of movement. One of the things we've really like about our Valdez-both old and new-is the freedom of movement the jacket offers. There are no "binding" spots where you're fighting to reach for the handlebars or when you're twisting.
The collar has been altered a little to protect the rider (mostly your neck) better and feel less bulky. If there was a complaint-albeit a minor one-we had, it was that the upper part of the front zipper/collar area was a bit stiff and obtrusive. It seemed it was in the way of our helmet or wouldn't quite fit close to the skin/balaclava when our helmet was on. It's not a big deal when you're not wearing a helmet, only when you are. But that's pretty much been fixed with the subtle changes on the new Valdez. One reason it works better on the new jacket is that the zipper doesn't go all the way to the top of the collar like it does on the previous Valdez. The zipper is part of why the old Valdez was so stiff and bulky up around your neck. This change is the most noticeable to us and the most welcome.
The back vent is longer (by about an inch) and now has a mesh liner to prevent snow from getting in through that vent. The mesh liner is a good change as there really wasn't anything in the old Valdez to prevent snow from coming in as it was wide open when unzipped.
The amount of reflective material was increased.
The new Valdez works great, but then so did our old Valdez as we didn't think there was anything really wrong with it. There still isn't, but the new changes do make it that much more comfortable and snowmobiler friendly.
The new Valdez retails for $399.99.
For more information, contact Klim (208) 552-7433 or www.klimusa.com.