Living in the Pacific “Northwet”, waterproof gear is vital for year round riding.
When I started my hunt for a waterproof jacket, the First Gear Kilimanjaro touted three important features: waterproof, women’s sizes, and affordable. Over the past three years, I have put it to the test.
Standing in the dealership, I was genuinely torn between the Olympia Ranger and the First Gear Kilimanjaro. The Olympia spoke to me with various customizable layers, while the Kilimanjaro called to me with its simplicity. I decided to go with the Kilimanjaro and hoped for the best.
The Kilimanjaro 37.5 was named for its 37.5 waterproof breathable layer. This keeps you cooler when it is warm and warmer when it is cold. The jacket has D30 armor throughout. There is no shortage of pockets with five on the outside of the jacket, and three on the inside of the jacket. The jacket has large rear vents, shoulder vents held open with velcro, and zippered vents at the wrist. There is a super convenient wrist pocket great for your license or national parks pass. The front is short and lands at the waist, and the drop tail cut on the rear offers additional protection against the elements. The wrist has Velcro for adjustment, and wrist zippers for daily donning. The front zips closed, and has a flap covering the zipper held closed by multiple snaps.
The first eight months
About eight months into owning the First Gear Kilimanjaro, I was riding through southern Oregon in a downpour, unknowingly being chased by a snowstorm. My heated jacket was barely keeping my core above freezing, and I realized that my elbows were damp. “No way. Not now.” The first few hundred miles of a four thousand mile off road adventure is not where you want to realize your waterproof gear is failing. But failing it was. Luckily, this was the only big storm on the trip, and upon arriving home, my first call was to First Gear.
I was absolutely astonished at the excellent customer service. They sent me a brand new jacket, in the new model where this issue had purportedly been fixed, and a shipping label to return the old one so they could learn from the failure, all at no cost to me.
The next two years
Over the next two riding seasons, I wore the Kilimanjaro almost daily. The Kilimanjaro kept me dry on my long daily commute throughout the fall, winter, and spring. In the summer, it was lightweight and breathable, and besides a daily commute, the Kilimanjaro survived many off road adventures and protected me against many rocky falls. This also led to many washings. The D3O is easy to remove and reinstall and the jacket continues to be completely waterproof into its next winter.
Things I’d change
I struggled with color choice; my ideal jacket is dark with high vis accents; anything fully light or high vis looks dirty quickly for me. I ended up with their grey/black option. I do wish it had more reflective accents for night visibility. I laid have wished for front vents parallel to the rear for better airflow. Besides those two things, I think this jacket is practically perfect in every way!
Would I recommend this to other rides? I would and I have! This is my go to jacked to recommend to new riders. With First Gear’s excellent craftsmanship, superior customer service and five year warranty, I would trust this jacket around town, across the country, and around the world.
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