HMK has made quite a name for itself as a cool brand of snowmobile apparel. Look around at a trailside stop, a snowmobile race or maybe even the grocery store. The stuff is everywhere, worn by trail riders, racers and race fans. Why? Because it looks cool, it’s reasonably priced and it’s comfortable for snowmobiling. I tested the Bandit Pullover and Ascent Pant last winter.
Above The Belt
The Bandit Pullover ($199.95) is a ventilated, moisture-wicking shell with a giant-sized front zippered pouch and two side pockets. It’s waterproof, windproof and breathable with a two-pull zipper on each side that runs from the hem-line up to the elbow. These side zippers not only provide a near-infinitely adjustable vent, but they’re necessary in order to pull the coat over the head. Two sturdy snaps above each hip allow wearers to adjust the fit to suit their waist.
My size large coat fit well over my TekVest once it was on, but pulling it on and off was a challenge even when the side zippers were opened. And once I had it over my head, it was difficult to find the zipper pulls and then pull them closed. This is an inherent drawback of pullovers with side zippers. The backside of the coat is slightly longer than the front, offering more protection while I was seated on a speeding snowmobile, and the arms extended appropriately over my wrists to help seal out cold air and snow.
I like the simple, clean-cut styling of the pullover. Crisp, white embroidered logos in an “Old West” type of font on front and back are plain as day, but not obnoxious. Reflective piping on the chest, arms and back of the coat add more style and help improve visibility, but after wearing it for about 2,000 miles last winter, the piping is cracked extensively and worn. Color options are black, white or orange.
Below The Belt
Other HMK pants that I’ve worn were too long and too wide for my waist and thighs, but this size medium Ascent Pant ($209.95) was a good fit for me (5 feet, 9 inches; 155 pounds soaking wet). Its relaxed fit stayed on my waist after I cinched the hook-and-loop belt about a half-inch on each side. The legs hung slightly above the ground when I walked but they stayed low enough to protect my lower legs and feet when I was seated on a sled.
This pant is made from the same waterproof, windproof and breathable Cordura material as the Bandit Pullover. Twelve-inch vents on the side of each thigh were convenient for warm days to pull in cool air. A mesh liner helped prevent snow from coming in, which is a nice feature that other, far more-expensive snowmobile apparel I’ve tested didn’t include with its vents.
Heavy-duty, waterproof zippers at the bottom of each leg are another quality feature of the Ascent pant. After a full season they still zip smoothly to seal out moisture. A few inches of stitching on the wear panels sewn to the inside of each ankle has pulled out, though.
HMK styled the Ascent pant to coordinate with any of its coats. It’s all black, but several types of materials, edgy lines and light-colored stitching throughout add style and break up the lines for a look I like. Color options are black, camouflage, red, orange or white.
In Need Of A Bump
I reserved this coat and pant for when temperatures were more than 10 degrees F. Due to their ability to prevent wind from piercing through, I stayed warm if I put on the right base and mid layers. I received a lot of compliments and inquiries last winter about this HMK gear. The Bandit and Ascent are from two separate lines, but as the company claims, they look like a matched set and work well together. I rode the heck out of this stuff last year and enjoyed testing it. At about $400 for the set, the value is decent when compared to other snowmobile apparel, but it needs a bump up in quality in order to be a home run.
Hood River, Oregon