By Jerry Smith
Recent years have been tough on Harley traditionalists, what with counterbalanced Big Twins, liquid-cooled V-Rods and fuel-injected everything muddying up the waters of nostalgia. But for some riders progress is a good thing, and not just in terms of bikes, but riding gear, as well. Black leather is giving way to synthetic fabrics, and the basic biker jacket is having a tough time holding its own against more sophisticated jackets with more features and—gasp!—more colors than just black.
The Kilimanjaro jacket from Firstgear is among the most popular synthetic jackets on the market, suitable for touring, commuting, or just going for a ride. It’s made of waterproof 330-denier Hypertex nylon, and comes with a zip-in full-sleeve fleece liner that doesn’t look half bad when worn all by itself. There’s armor in the shoulders and elbows with heavy-duty abrasion-resistant poly patches over them, and the seams are double-stitched for increased strength in a crash.
Pockets are abundant, with two outside pockets and what Firstgear calls the Cargo Storage System (CSS), consisting of two huge chest pockets that between them contain even more pockets so you can keep all your small necessities separate and handy. Inside the jacket behind the right CSS pocket is a sleeve for a water bladder and a grommet through which you can feed the drinking tube to the outside of the jacket, allowing you to sip on the fly.
In cold weather the fleece liner provides a lot of insulation for its minimal bulk, and it packs away in very little space. Hot-weather riding is no problem in the Kili, either, thanks to a very effective vent system. Open the two zippered vents in the chest, the two on either arm, and the wide rear exhaust vent with its adjustable two-way zipper, and the airflow is sufficient to keep you cool(ish) in temps up into the mid-80s without exposing your skin to the sun for hours on end or sacrificing crash protection.
I’ve worn the Kilimanjaro in conditions ranging from damp and chilly coastal fog to searing inland heat—sometimes encountering both on the same ride—and have yet to find fault with either its cold-weather or hot-weather performance.
The fit is great, too, with hook-and-loop-adjustable cuff, collar, and waist tabs that provide a lot of leeway within a given size of jacket so you can layer up under it or snug it up tight. With relatively lightweight material where you don’t need much crash protection, and thick layers where you do, the Kili doesn’t bind or feel stiff when you twist or bend in it.
The Kilimanjaro has been around since the early 1990s and it’s easy to see why. A lot of thought went into the Kili, and none of it was wasted. It’s a competent and comfortable all-weather jacket for Harley riders who aren’t put off by a little progress in what they wear as well as what they ride.
The Kilimanjaro comes in men’s S-4XL regular, L-2XL tall, and women’s XS-2XL. It comes in all black, or black with red, blue, yellow, or gray. Suggested retail is $299.95 for both men’s and women’s sizes.
For more information, and to find a Firstgear dealer near you, go to www.powersportrider.com.