Suiting Up for Road or Trail: Adventure Motorcycle Gear Review

In our October 2013 issue, we introduced you to Paul Beck, an experienced adventure rider whose 2007 BMW R 1200 GS served as a project bike (Über-Adventure Upgrade). In addition to kitting out Paul’s bike, we kitted out his body. Since he’s a big guy (6-foot, 4-inches and 300-plus pounds), we sought out high-quality riding apparel that would fit and serve him well in a variety of conditions, from daily commuting to backcountry exploring.

Variant Helmet
Icon (rideicon.com)
Variant Helmet, $350-$550 (XS-3XL)

First up was a dual-sport lid, and we selected the Icon Variant Helmet because its long-oval interior fit Paul’s head better than his current intermediate-oval lid. It has a fiberglass/Dyneema/carbon fiber shell, a dual-density EPS liner and a removable, washable, moisture-wicking Hydra-Dry comfort lining. Paul says ventilation is excellent, but it comes at the expense of noise. Despite the peak (visor) being touted as “anti-lift,” Paul says it can get caught in the wind at high speeds. The bulbous, anti-fog face shield sheds rain well and the eyeport is compatible with goggles.

We chose the three-quarter-length Klim Latitude Jacket because of its 2-layer Gore-Tex Performance Shell, flexible Misano Cordura in the main body, tough 840D Cordura in impact zones and CE-rated armor. The Latitude has five vents, 10 pockets, a mesh liner, lots of adjustability and 3M Scotchlite reflective trim. Paul says the quality of construction, fit and attention to detail are superior to other jackets he has worn, but the ventilation is limited—a trade-off for a jacket that’s “guaranteed to keep you dry.”

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Kilm Latitude Jacket, Aerostich AD1 Pants
Klim (klim.com) Latitude Jacket, $579.99 (S-2XL), $619.99 (3XL)
Aerostich (aerostich.com) AD1 Pants, $317 (30-46, regular or long)

Made of HT600D nylon with a fully seam-taped, three-layer Gore-Tex membrane, Aerostich AD1 Pants are unlined and have full-length side zippers with inner and outer weather flaps. They have a jeans cut with a low-rise, curved waistband that works well with midsections that are more keg, less six-pack. A diamond gusset in the crotch and a generous knee bend further enhance comfort, though the thick fabric takes a while to break in. AD1 pants have four pockets, removable TF2 knee armor and belt loops; Aerostich’s Money Belt, made of black nylon webbing with a hidden, zippered stash pocket and a double-cam buckle, is included. Paul says they’re durable and fit well, but the heavy fabric and lack of ventilation can be challenging on hot days. The fly zipper broke, but Aerostich quickly repaired it under warranty.

Alpinestars Gore-Tex Toucan Boots have provided Paul with long-overdue relief after years of wearing motocross boots. They provide full CE-certified protection, yet Paul wore his Toucans all day, every day for two weeks without complaint. They allow plenty of movement while sitting in the saddle, standing on the pegs or walking around. The full-leather uppers have numerous protective elements and close securely with two adjustable buckles and hook-and-loop. The Toucans passed the waterproofness test in Oregon’s Malheur River, and the breathable mesh lining and removable, anatomical EVA foam insole kept Paul’s size-13 feet very happy.

Held Namib Gloves
Held (heldusa.com)
Namib Gloves, $149.99 (7-12)

Protecting Paul’s hands is a pair of Held Namib Gloves, which have a highly abrasion-resistant kangaroo leather palm, a specially treated Pittards WR100 leather back, carbon/GRP knuckle protectors and a ceramic/Kevlar thumb protector. They’re unlined, colorfast and sweat resistant, with a hook-and-loop closure at the cuff, a squeegee on the index finger and elasticated leather on the thumbs. Paul says they’re very well made and fit his big hands perfectly. They provide good feel on the grips and levers, and the finger perforations provide ample ventilation.

(This Adventure Gearlab review was published in the February 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)

Toucan Gore-Tex Boots
Alpinestars (alpinestars.com)
Toucan Gore-Tex Boots, $449.95 (7-13)

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