There’s a huge range of bike kit sold as ‘adventure riding gear’. Most of it is high-quality kit, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you – or even necessary.
What’s right for you will depend on where you’re going, the climates you’re facing and what you need the kit for. Based on being on the road for a year in various different climates, here’s our guide to how to choose your kit for a big adventure…
If you’re heading into consistently cold and wet conditions a suit with a laminated waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex Pro may be the way to go because rain runs off the material like water off a duck’s back.
Laminated membranes work in tandem with the outer shell of a garment, making them effective at repelling water while on the move and fast-drying at the end of a wet day’s riding.
There are downsides, however – extra expense, less flexibility and reduced ventilation, so if you also expect warm weather on your travels then you may end up sweating buckets.
The cheaper, more flexible alternative to laminate is a waterproof membrane that’s inside the jacket – but these allow the outer layer to become sodden, heavy when wet and take longer to dry.
The membranes can be either fixed in place or removable. A removable lining gives you the flexibility to avoid sweltering on hot days, but if you’re caught out in rain your jacket and trousers must come off and the liners put inside in order to stay dry. This sort of kit is ideal if you’re travelling through places where temperatures and weather are regular.
If you’re riding through multiple climates where the weather can flit between downpours and baking sun, our recommendation would be non-waterproof kit as your everyday riding gear and carry a pair of waterproofs to put over the top if it rains.
This method is less hassle than zipping liners inside your gear, and takes up less space.
We’d recommend an electric heated jacket or light down jacket as a thermal for colder conditions. We’ve found this method to be the best compromise on our long-term travels.
There are road-going touring lids, adventure helmets, off-road helmets, flipfronts and adventure-styled flip fronts. There’s a lot to consider when protecting your noggin’, so have a read of our guide to choosing your helmet for an adventure.
Go for adventure boots, or proper off-road motocross boots if you’re going hardcore. Road-going boots are fine for primarily tarmac trips and lightweight short boots are great for those who want to save space and also walk around a lot in their bike boots. Consider the following points when picking your footwear…
Is there support on both the inside and outside of the boot? Your ankle is one of the hardest bones to fix – make sure it’s protected.
Nobody likes wet feet, but waterproof boots can get soggy with sweat when worn in high temperatures. Combining rain-resistant boots with a pair of waterproof socks is another alternative. Again, it depends where you’re travelling when deciding what’s most suitable.
Adventure and off-road boots have tougher shin protection because they’re far more likely to get a smack when off-roading. The more protection you go for, the less flexibility you have and the harder it will be to walk around in them. It’s a compromise based on what you will be doing as you travel.
This is a very important factor for different reasons. Some motorcycle travellers care more about all-day comfort and ability to walk in the boots than what they’re like to ride in. If so, there are lighter boots with less coverage that still protect the foot and ankle.
Always carry two pairs of gloves: one for hot weather and one for cold. We carry a winter glove with a plush thermal lining and Gore-Tex membrane for cold weather because it’s less likely to get sodden and will keep us warm. And we have a pair of lightweight and breathable gloves for summer riding with no waterproofing.
Since April 2018 new models of gloves must carry a CE safety label. Level 1 is the basic standard and 2 is for more protection, while the ‘KP’ mark denotes knuckle protection. Read our detailed guide to the CE glove markings here.
If you use a sat-nav or GPS go for a glove that has a touch-sensitive fingerprint so you don’t need to constantly take your glove off.
Don’t leave home without one! Neckwarmers keep the wind chill off your neck and chest in the winter and prevent sunburn in summer. They’re also handy to wear as sleeping caps on cold nights in the tent.
A water bladder inside a backpack is particularly useful for adventure riders who love to off-road. Stopping every five minutes to open a bottle of water is a pain and you’ll likely just skip doing it, potentially leading to dehydration.
Your call, but you’ll be thanking those little plugs in the future if you wear them now.
Waterproofs are a great idea if you’re not taking waterproof-lined kit with you. They’re available as one-piece suits or separate jackets and trousers.
Andy Davidson and his wife Alissa are in the middle of a round-the-world bike odyssey. Andy is a former MCN journalist and travel writer and the pair run the blog site www.madornomad.com. You can also follow their progress on social media as Mad or Nomad.