Klim Arsenal Vest
- Great fit.
- Excellent durability.
- Spreads a lot of stuff (and sometimes weight) around you body.
- You can make it really heavy pretty easily.
- Can make your back a hotter on warm days.
What it is
KLIM’s Arsenal Vest is a gear and tool stashing overgarment designed to accommodate any adventure. With its abundance of cargo space--three main large storage areas along with three chest pockets and two large waist pockets built on an adjustable vest chassis.It is fully adjustable with shoulder, side, and waist straps. It houses a three liter hydration bladder with a webbed hydration tube and a hydration mouthpiece retainer. On the back there is a removable tool pack is integrated to carry all the necessary tools to stay on the trails. There is even a small gun holster that fits in one of the front compartments if you are so inclined.The Arsenal vest retails for $189.95 and is available in one color, mostly black or a Digital Night Camo if we were to name it.
How it works
I carry too much stuff when I ride. Weather it be for testing bikes, meaning tools and gauges or parts to switch out on the trail, or things like cameras and now video recording equipment. Or like a smart regular rider to be prepared for anything that might happen on the trail. Carrying all my stuff has been a bit of a challenge from my first fanny pack. I’ve evolved through phases going to backpacks to chest protector mounted things and even running bags on my bikes. Give me extra space and I will fill it.
Enter the Arsenal Vest. I have always been sceptical of the vests, likely since the ones I had tried before were not set up for me and did not function how I had imagined. But from my first time with the Arsenal I was hooked. And maybe it was how I adapted to it that made all the difference, but here is the story.
I wore a nearly empty one for photos and we adjusted it so that it fit perfect. After riding for a few minutes I totally forgot it was there. Next time out I added a full three liters of water and my tool pack (which easily swapped from the Klim Krew backpack I had been carrying.) The weight was so evenly dispersed across my shoulders and around my back and waist through the secure wrapping fit of the vest. The water and tools did not flop around or move loosely like they had on and in my backpack so the weight feeling is lessened when you shake and bounce around.
The fit can be adjusted for a wide range of sizes. I'm pretty bow chested and wear an XL jersey and I seem to be in the middle of all the straps on adjustment. There is light mesh and some padding on the inside of the vest. It is just enough so you don't feel things in the pockets and having the bladder as the thing closest to your back helps. The mesh actually helps the venting of sweat. If there is an issue on fit it is just paying attention to the padding that goes over your shoulder at the strapping point. If it folds back onto your back the vest is not nearly as comfortable when riding--it is easy for those extensions to fold back when you put it on. And putting the vest on is quick and simple with three clips across the front panel. What set this vest apart was that your stuff is positioned higher on the chassis of the vest and it attached to your body's contour better. Compared to a backpack the weight is distributed on both sides of you and the stuff in the front is easily accessible without having to remove the vest. It easily fits over a jacket and even body armour (adjustment is quick to change sizing) but we would not run it on top of chest protectors as the fit would not be snug.
Now there was still a ton of room available on the vest in the multiple pockets I had not even packed yet. Up front I found one of the bigger lower pockets great for snack items. The other side was great for keys, the phone, mobile video cameras and mounts or even some small multi-tools. Both of the lower pockets are lined with softer internal material with the back being the loops of the Velcro. There is an included gun holster that attaches to that Velcro and works perfect for holding a small pistol, if you need to know, but no need to talk about it further. The left breast pocket could also take a smaller phone or for me my tracking beacon and sometime a garage door/gate opener (yes, we ride from the office a lot!) There are second layer (vented) pockets in the shell that are great for a little rest stop paper or maybe a gas card. Across the entire vest there is stitched on banding to attach clips and straps to customize any additional thing that may need attaching. We used clip rings to attach ribbon when marking trail, attached additional bags with small camera equipment, and clip on radios too. Along the side of the vest there are longer compartments that were excellent for carrying a pump and even a selfie stick (we are vain.) Tow straps also fit nicely in here and a very light front tube was stuffed in once, though the back compartment is better for that. On the back there is a Velcro-open pocket and a zippered and slightly larger compartment where the hydration pack resides. Yo can fit a tube and maybe a pack-type jacket in here but when the water is full and the tool bag is attached (also full) there isn’t space like you may be accustomed too with a backpack. You can also run the tool bag loose and it will free up some space. Even attaching the tube externally is possible if you have some stuff you want in the compartment which is about 18 in. tall by 8 in. wide and can be stretched to about 4 in. thick in the middle.
The durability of the Arsenal has been top notch like we expect from Klim gear. Not a stitch has come loose and the clips and buckles all have withstood over a year of abuse, including being left outside for periods of time and in the back of the truck, wet and dry. Especially important is the zippers and they have not failed through mud, sand and constant tugging. It has been thrown in the mud and in the silt and pressure washed a few time too. The material has faded just a bit from all the sun but other than that there is noting to worry or complain about. It is, when new, pretty water resistant but no way waterproof. The coating on the material will keep water out for a while but not in downpours. The balder, has not molded, and is PBA and PVC free, so the water does not taste funny. Plus it hangs in the back compartment so it does not bunch up and the hose stays kink-free.
At $189.95 this is not a cheap piece of gear. But it is in line with pricing on similar packs and vests with similar complexity, just on the higher end. It feels like something made for the military where price isn't an issue. If you want what is the best of the class, the Klim Arsenal has fit and durability nailed with plenty of cargo space for your motorcycle needs.