Adapt to The Ever-Changing Elements
9 Gear Essentials for Adventure Motorcycling
Adventure motorcycles are meant for just that: adventures. And, if done right, an adventure-touring trip should put both the rider and the bike through their paces. Big fuel tanks, long travel suspension, engine guards; all hint at the remote, off-road environments the adventure motorcycle was built for. That’s why adventure bikes used solely for city riding and paved roads always seem like a gun at a knife fight. Out of the box, they’re ready for dirt, gravel, snow, high deserts and water crossings — all in one day. For an adventure-touring rider, this is the gear that keeps them ready for the elements and just as adaptable as the bike they’re astride.
Best Lid: Adventure-touring helmets need to have a balance of ventilation, aerodynamics and comfortability in changing elements. The Icon Variant sports a visor that offers fantastic glare protection when trying keep an eye on ever-changing terrain and reduces lift when cruising on the highway between mountain passes. And no matter the altitude or climate, the Hydra-Dry interior lining works with the adjustable ventilation to keep you cool and dry.
REV’IT Sand 2
Best Two-Piece: REV’IT has finally come to US shores, and it’s about time we got the same durable and versatile riding gear as the Europeans. The Sand 2 jacket and pants have easily detachable Hydratex and down liners for when you’re climbing in altitude and crossing peaks, and also crucial chest, arm and back ventilation for when you’re descending into the warm valleys in between. Conveniently, the jacket and pants attach via zipper, which comes in handy when water tries to sneak in during rainy highway stints or stream crossings.
REV’IT Sand Pro
Best Fair-Weather Gloves: For the warmer legs of the adventure, REV’IT Sand Pro gloves are unmatched in their class for ventilation and protection. The flexible injection molding on the knuckles helps maintain natural movement while offering high-quality impact absorption and ventilation. Exterior seams on the fingers and goatskin palms maintain great grip through changing elements, but most of all stay comfortable for the long-haul days.
Alpinestars Jet Road Gore-Tex
Best Cold Weather Gloves: Not all adventure-touring rides can be warm and toasty. Climbing in altitude or just crossing over into a cold-weather cell, the temperature drops and skies can open up. That’s when the nicely ventilated gloves go into the panniers and the insulated gloves come out. The Alpinestars Jet Road Gore-Tex has a dual-layer storm enclosure on the wrist to ensure the best waterproofing and protection from the elements. And just so you don’t have to take your gloves off in the cold, there’s a TPR finger stylus on each index finger to work touch screen navigation, and a visor wipe on the left thumb for quick cleaning while riding.
Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex
Best Adventure-Touring Boots: Whether cruising on asphalt or standing up for dirt and gravel roads, long days in the saddle demand a durable boot that’ll hold its own. The Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex boot has weatherproofing and protection that still allows for flexibility, so it doesn’t feel like a ski boot when you’re off the bike. The buckle fasteners also help shed dirt and mud for when the going really gets tough. And, conveniently enough, the sole construction makes for a decent hiking boot for short walks when searching for campsites.
AltRider Hemisphere Waterproof Soft Panniers
Best Off-Road Saddlebags: Hard panniers may be fine for pure highway riding, but when you head off road, AltRider Hemisphere Waterproof Soft Panniers are the way to go. With hard panniers, fasteners are at risk of breaking, leaving it up to you to MacGyver a way to carry your cargo the rest of the way. AltRider’s Hemisphere soft panniers are waterproof and dust-proof, and offer protection from accidental damage while being strapped on the bike, not attached with fragile fasteners. And the 125-liter total capacity means you’ll be able to bring a few creature comforts along with the essentials.
Neilson-Rigg Adventure Touring Tank Bag
Best Extra Storage: When you’re heading out to the middle of nowhere, you need to take as much essential gear as you can store on your bike. It’s those times that the Neilson-Rigg Adventure Touring Tank Bag makes perfect use of the otherwise wasted space on top of your tank. Soft straps securely attach the ballistic nylon bag to your tank, preventing any marking. There’s room enough for a day or two’s worth of snacks, GPS or cell phone, and an integrated clear top pocket lets you read your trail map (because all the best trails don’t have service) during quick stops without having to unpack.
Most Dependable Thermos: Whether you’re down in a desert or at high altitude, freshwater is a must. Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel, and can keep water cold for up to 24 hours — and it can handle all the knocks and bumps along the journey. Even if the only room you have to store it is in the pannier over your exhaust, you can still count on it keeping cool after a day’s ride.
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Best Lip Protection: Speaking of deserts and high altitudes, dry, cracked lips are bound to happen on your adventure, and pulling over every 10 minutes to reapply lip balm is out of the question. Put on Aquaphor Lip Repair at the beginning of the day to prevent the wind-born lip torture and, at the end of the day, lend some to your buddy who spent the last 250 miles licking his lips, thinking that would help.