Whether you’re planning a weekend ride or a round the world motorcycle odyssey, gear is important. But which gear? Off road gear? ADV gear? Which works better, and when?
Gear choices are as individual as bike or route selection, and there’s no one perfect algorithm to fit all. But here’s what worked for me on the Trans America Trail, Back Country Discovery Routes, and round the world so far.
This is true for any gear, not just your riding attire: the lighter, the better. On the other hand, “lighter” can sometimes mean a compromise in safety – and that’s a big no-no, especially if you’re riding off road a lot.
Last summer, my partner and I rode across the States loosely following the Trans America Trail and a few Backcountry Discovery routes. Knowing that we were going to ride as much off road as possible and that most of it would be in hot conditions (Moab in July, anyone?), we chose light off-road gear. My set up included:
- Klim Mojave In-Boot Pants
- TCX X-Desert Goretex Boots
- Abakus body armor
- Sedici motocross jersey
- Klim Powerxcross Pullover jacket (Note: this is a snowmobile, not motorcycle jacket)
- MSR Xpedition Helmet
This way, I was more than satisfied with the protection and durability, but felt light enough to tackle more technical trails, deal with hot weather and attend off-road riding classes in New Mexico and Colorado.
- Klim Mojave pants were seriously awesome: I came off quite a few times during that summer, and crashed on all sorts of surfaces: gravel, rocks, mud, tarmac (thanks, drivers of Bar Harbor!). After six months of intense daily wear on all terrain and in all weather, Mojave held just fine – apart from a few scuff marks on the knees, I’m sure I could have used these pants for at least two-three more years, easily.
- The Abakus body armor was of the cheaper kind, but women just aren’t blessed with a lot of options when it comes to motocross gear so I got what I could – and it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t have any serious accidents, only a few slow-speed off road dismounts, but the armor held well and I got away with nary a bruise.
- Klim Powerxcross Jacket did what it said on the label: stayed 100% waterproof, even in torrential rain. If you’re looking for a lightweight Gore-Tex outer layer, this jacket is the way to go.
What was OK:
- Sedici jersey: it fit, and it did its job, and that’s really all I have to say about it. Apart from the rather uninspired design, I think Sedici worked okay.
- The MSR helmet. Finding a helmet for me is not an easy task, for obvious reasons, so I was grateful that the Xpedition fit. I liked the design and the simplicity of the helmet.
What didn’t work:
- TCX X-Desert Goretex Boots started leaking water after six months of use. Heavy use and abuse, granted, but I expected a little more out of $350 adventure boots. They finally fell apart at the seams on the Trans Labrador Highway in Canada, leaving me with cold wet feet for over a month – needless to say, I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience.
Although most of my lightweight gear worked great for the Trans America Trail, Back Country Discovery routes and the Trans Labrador ride, both Paul and I decided to switch back to ADV gear before leaving the US border.
My set up across Mexico was:
- Klim Altitude jacket
- Klim Badlands pants
- Gaerne SG12 motocross boots
- Klim Krios helmet