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  • Writer's pictureThe Traveling Tortoises

Adventure Rider Gear

So you have your amazing adventure bike, all your camping gear is packed and you are ready to hit the road. But are you really? Did you look at yourself and what you need as the rider to protect yourself and in the same time be comfortable?

We as Adventure riders sit with so many options in riding gear these days, long gone are the days of combat boots, jeans and leather jacket. The technology has come extremely far in protecting us for that time when talent runs out and we come crashing down. But protection is not everything, we also need to be comfortable while riding. If your gear is restricting your movement or you are constantly uncomfortable, this leads to fatigue and can result in meeting the ground much faster.

Now we will share our thoughts on the gear we have used for a year on the road, what we like and what we don't. This is our viewpoints and our experience.

So let's start.

  1. Boots.

So where do you start? With so many options out there, Street, Adventure, Enduro, MX boots. How do you decide? For us it was very easy but you will see there are two opinions here. First off, let's look where we ride. As Adventure riders we go everywhere, at least that is the idea we all have in our heads, from tar to single track, we want to explore where ever we want to. Our boots needs to help us in all of the environments or at least the compromise should not be too much.

We use Enduro or MX boots, for the simple reason it gives us the best protection when off road and also provides us with a larger platform to stand on. The stiff soles helping to spread the weight and pressure of standing for long periods of time. But this also has its draw backs, walking when we are off the bikes is a little more work and not as comfortable, and sitting down while riding on the tar takes more effort when changing gears, you also don't have as much "feel" on the brake lever. But this was all worth it for us, we also got so used to this it did not bother us at all after a while.

So lets see what we have been using.

Werner - FLY Maverick MX

These are entry level boots with a very nice price tag, I had these boots before we left and bought them when I just started out riding. They are a good entry level boot with good protection for the price tag. They have held up very well for what I have put them trough, rocks, mud, water, sand and everyday sweat and wear. They are very comfortable once they have been broken in ( as any boot ).

But this boot also has its draw backs. As an entry level boot it does not have the best protection but it's better than street or adventure boots. In my opinion they sit just above adventure boots and under enduro/mx boots regarding protection.

The buckles are plastic but honestly they work well, I have put them trough the ringer and I never had a buckle fail.

Comfort they are ok, once you are use to them you don't even think about it. But adventure boots are much more comfortable and premium mx boots are also more comfortable.

My personal opinion on them is they are a good entry level boot and very good value for money. But lack in the protection department.

After 2 years of mostly Offroad use they are now finished, I have given them a well deserved retirement.

Protection 6/10

Comfort 6/10

Value 8/10

Cissy - Leatt 3.5

We all know the quality of protection gear Leatt brings to the market and the 3.5 boot is no exception. The quality of this boot compared to the price tag is extremely good, the boot is comfortable and very well made. In our opinion it is also an entry boot from Leatt but it sits above the other entry level boots. It is an extremely comfortable boot and provides a lot of protection. There is enough movement in the boot to move around comfortably without being restricting. This boot also has two air vents at the heel that helps keep your feet a little bit cooler here in Africa. But this also means that it is not waterproof, step into water and you will have wet feet.

Off the bike this boot is better than the Mavericks Werner was wearing, it is more comfortable and there is much better grip for walking.

I have been wearing these boots now for just over a year and they still look like brand new, so that is proof of their built quality. During this period they have not let me down once and have been performing as I want them to.

The only draw back of these boots are they are very narrow, so if you have wide feet they can get a little cramped inside. Once they are broken in this gets better but there are other brands that is better for a wider feet.

The 3.5 does not have as much protection as the 4.5 or 5.5 but is a good compromise. It has more protection than an Adventure boot but less than the premium mx boots.

The 3.5 is also light, well built and quality material used in this boot also helped with the weight. This becomes noticeable when wearing them every day for hours and hours, then weight starts playing a role. The 3.5 does a great job.

As these boots still look like new after a year they will carry on with the adventure.

Protection 6/10

Comfort 8/10

Value 8/10

2. Helmet

Your most important part of your body, your head, needs to be protected by a good helmet But not just a good helmet, one that fits properly! Do yourself a favour and measure your head size and shape when thinking of buying a helmet, don't just believe the sales rep in the shop. We made this mistake and Cissy ended up with the wrong helmet for her head. This resulted in pressure on her head within 30 min of riding, forcing us to stop for long periods for the pressure to release and for her to be able to carry on. We changed her helmet and got the new helmet custom fitted at GPS4Africa. We can recommend them 100%, they actually do know what they are talking about. They measured her head size and shape and custom build the inside pads to fit her head perfectly without an extra charge.

So what helmet do you get? Street, Adventure, Touring, MX? This is all up to you and what you want the helmet to do, we think the best helmets are Adventure helmets. They provide good protection on the road and good ventilation when off roading. We will talk about the two helmets we have been using.

Werner - Shark Explorer - R

Shark makes amazing helmets that are super comfortable and very good quality. The Explorer - R is a hybrid helmet between Street / Touring / Adventure it does good everywhere but does not excel anywhere.

I have been wearing this helmet now for just over a year and I am very impressed with it. There are stuff I like and stuff I don't like.

What I like - The helmet is very comfortable inside, the material is soft and sits well on my head. It is a very quiet helmet for the long roads with good ventilation on the tar. It is also on the lighter side of things making long days more comfortable. There are pods inside ready for a coms system speakers. The peak is adjustable up and down. The visor is very large and your field of view is fantastic, the little lock on the side to crack open the visor just a little is very nice when riding in cities to get a bit more air in.

What I don't like - The chin strap took a very long time to get used to and break in for more movement, it sat pressed in my neck and was extremely annoying for a couple of months. There is a drop down sun visor but it distorts vision and does not sit well over the eyes. The peak feels like a after thought for this helmet, it is very flimsy and stands to upright catching wind and creating headshake, when it is in the lowest position (which is still to high) it prevents the visor from fully opening, so you can only open the visor fully after adjusting the peak all the way back. The visor does not have pinlock and it fogs up very vast in bad weather, I usually just ride with it open when the weather is bad. Off road this helmet is ok, but there is not enough air flow even with the visor wide open. The chin bars design is from road bikes and is very close to your face, causing you to breath against it and heat building up quickly. This also acts as a dust vacuum, hot air and dust packs up right in front of your mouth.

The Shark Explorer - R is a compromise, it is a jack of all but a master of none. The helmets biggest plus points are the light weight, large field of view and being so quiet. But the negatives of this helmet, for what we do, is too much and I would not recommend this helmet for Adventure riding. I am looking at replacing this helmet at some point.

Protection 8/10

Comfort 5/10 (It would have been much higher if it was not for the issues Offroad)

Value 6/10 (It is a great helmet for touring but not Adventure riding)

Cissy - Arai Tour X-4

As mentioned Cissy had issues with her first helmet ( Also a Shark Explorer - R ) but she moved to the Arai Tour X-4 and could not be happier. Yes this helmet was custom fitted to her head (the padding) at GPS4Africa and this makes a world of difference. We all know how fantastic the Arai is and their reputation proceeds them. But nothing is perfect, so let's talk about the down sides of this helmet first.

It is not the quietest helmet on the market, the Shark Explorer - R is much quieter than the Arai. This is also due to the fact that there is more air flow into the helmet, so naturally it is going to be louder. Space inside the helmet is less than the Shark. This is directly a thing for us because we have a lot of cables inside our helmets to record our Youtube videos, to us this is a draw back but for anybody else this won't be an issue. Of course the price tag can be a negative.. The Arai is a premium helmet and the price tag shows it, we would suggest that you look at the plain coloured options because the price is much lower than one with a design.

So what is good on this helmet? The Arai Tour X-4 has been around for such a long time that is has become almost the perfect adventure helmet. There are so many good things that I am sure we can't cover it all. First the ventilation is fantastic with all the options in controlling the airflow, you can adjust if perfectly to what you want. Offroad there is plenty of fresh air rushing to your nose and mouth, with enough space to blow the hot air out of the helmet. The visor comes standard with pinlock and this works wonders in bad weather. Comfort level is fantastic and once the pads has been custom fitted you can wear this helmet all day long. On the tar the peak works great keeping the sun out of your eyes and the helmet stable. I do not experience any head shake from the peak. The chin strap is comfortable and super secure. Taking the check pads out and inners to wash is extremely easy and install is just as fast. The Arai also has a wide field of view and can easily fit goggles for Offroad riding. There is no sun visor but we actually like that as there is no gap to trap more dust and it also makes the helmet safer and stronger. We can hands down recommend this helmet, Werner will be getting one once he replaces he's Shark Explorer - R.

Protection 9/10

Comfort 8/10

Value 8/10

3. Riding Jackets

Protecting our vital organs and spine at impact and the rest of our bodies from the elements, our adventure jackets needs to be high preforming and durable. We have been riding in more extreme temperatures (below zero and + 40C) and the jackets had to work on the tar roads as well as off road. In South Africa we don't have the extensive choices from all the brands and gear can become extremely expensive, but a good jacket is important. We did run into trouble finding gear that actually fits Cissy, in a male dominated sport the options for woman is limited for good gear and can proof a mission on its own.

Werner - Outback 2 Touring Jacket

As with my boots, this is a jacket is gear that I already owned. The Outback 2 is a low budget jacket but it does give a lot for the price. I really like the design of this jacket with all the ventilation options and ways to control the temperature. It is a comfortable jacket with good protection options. The armour that came with the jacket was ok but I upgraded it with my old road jackets armour. Protection on the back, shoulders and elbows gives good impact protection (with the armour upgrade I did). The quality of the jacket is good but the zippers are not the best and my chest ventilation zips did fail, so I ended up not being able to close the one vent completely. Lucky we have been riding in South Africa so ventilation is most of the time welcome. The jacket has a lot of adjustability on the arms and waist and is a comfortable jacket. It is not waterproof but you do get a rain inner, I do not like inside rain gear as they do not breath and you end up being wet from sweat and then it gets cold. But this is a budget jacket and it has served me very well over two years of abuse. There are lots of pockets in the front and a two large pockets in the rear, one being suited to carry a water bladder. I do not like carrying stuff in my jacket pockets anyway but it is nice to have.

The material is very strong and has held up extremely well. This is a very good entry level jacket and punches way above its price tag. Very good value for money. My only issue with the jacket was the zips that failed and the material used is heavy. But I can recommend this jacket to anybody looking for something to start off with or if the budget is low.

Protection 7/10 (After armour upgrade)

Comfort 7/10

Adjustability 8/10

Value 9/10

Cissy - Alpinestars Andes V2

We all know Alpinestars gear is extremely good and premium range. The Alpinestars Andes V2 is a fantastic globe trotter touring jacket. It ticks ALMOST all the boxes. This was the only adventure jacket we could find that fitted Cissy and we were very glad that it is such a good jacket.

The build quality on this jacket is world class, the material is premium and the design is great. We did upgrade the back protector but the rest of the armour was fine. The Andes is waterproof so this is great for when the weather turns bad, it does not get waterlogged and keeps you nice and dry. It is also an extremely adjustable jacket to tailor fit to your body.

But there is a problem: ventilation. The Andes, as the name suggest. is focused more on colder climates. Cissy has had a lot of issues with being too warm. There are two vents in the front and under the arms, but they do not open properly so air does not rush in very easily. In warm climates this is an issue. Luckily Cissy is quickly too cold, but in hot days working through difficult terrain in slow speed it was an issue. She ended up riding with the front zipper open half way to get more air in, but this is not safe and not ideal.

On cold days the jacket worked very well keeping the cold out, Cissy did not take the warm inner with as we use our own jerseys under the riding jackets when it is cold (to save space). But the Andes works well when all tucked up and zipped up in the cold weather and also in rain.

This is a premium jacket and you can see and feel it. Extremely comfortable and well build. It is expensive but this jacket can last a life time. When it is washed it looks almost brand new, here and there is some wear signs but nothing to write about.

We can recommend this jacket for touring and adventure riding but stay away from this jacket if you are riding in very warm climates. We are replacing this jacket for the second season with something more airy.

Protection 8/10

Comfort 6/10 ( Would be much higher if ventilation was better)

Adjustability 8/10

Value 8/10 ( Would be higher if the price was not so high and the ventilation was better)

4. Riding Pants

As with the jackets the pants are just as important, not only to protect us from falls and weather but also from branches and rocks being kicked up. But finding pants for Cissy once again proofed extremely hard. We did end up finding her a set of pants. So let jump into the pants.

Werner - Alphinestars Andes V2

The Andes V2 pants are extremely good quality and comfortable. As with its counter part, the jacket, it is waterproof and this is fantastic. Nobody wants to stop next to the road to drop your pants so you can insert a waterproof lining on the inside. For protection the pants comes with knee protection inserts and can take hip protection, but does not come with it. The material is extremely tough just as the jacket, with reinforcement on the knees. The legs are wide enough to go over even a MX boot, we do like riding with our pants over our boots. This gives some more airflow and is more comfortable.

Ventilation on the pants is good, there are two zips on the upper leg and, unlike the jacket, air does rush into the pants. It comes with adjustable bi brace to keep the pants up and they are needed as the pants does not have any belt loops. This is something I don't like. I am one of those people who like to wear a belt and a belt would have helped this pants, to keep it better in place. The pants is on the heavy side because of the heavy duty material used.

In cold weather the pants works extremely well and there are no issues what so ever. I have ridden with this pants in extreme heat and very cold weather and they work good in all conditions. Comfort wise I really do like the pants but they do sag because there is no belt (they do have waist adjusters but this does loosen up during the ride.) so when the pants start to sag your knee guards does not sit in the right place and can get annoying.

I can highly recommend these pants, you can buy them and they will last a life time. Extremely well made and good quality, they are on the premium price range but well worth the money.

Protection 7/10

Comfort 7/10 (Would be higher if it had belt loops)

Adjustability 7/10

Value 8/10

Cissy - Octane Ladies Caroline

As mentioned, we struggled to get riding gear for Cissy that fitted well. With the pants we actually did not find anything that worked and fitted properly and had to compromise. The Caroline is more of a touring pants than an Adventure pants, however they look to be made well. Unfortunately we had several issues, beside the fit. There are wires in the pants around the zipper areas that keep poking in the leg. We have cut them off several times, but they keep 'unravelling' and end up poking again. The sharp wire ended up cutting the leg several times and the stitching on the knees also came loose. This might have been a design fault in this particular pants, but it did not add a lot of confidence in this design.

The ventilation is alright with two air vents and two extraction vents on the sides, but they do not as well as the Andes pants. The legs on the bottom are narrow, you can get them over MX boots but it is a struggle and a very tight fit.

Protection is good on the pants with high quality material used in the construction and good knee protection.

But the fact that the pants has started to fall apart after a year of use makes us feel that we can not recommend these pants. Also for the fact that the reinforcement wires that actually cut Cissy's legs is a no go for us.

Cissy has replaced her pants and can't recommend them.

Protection 7/10

Comfort 2/10 (No pants is comfortable when it cuts your legs)

Adjustability 5/10

Value 4/10 (Even if the price is low/mid it is not worth buying when it falls apart and cuts you.)

5. Gloves

Gloves is a very important part of riding gear, not just protecting you from falling but it keeps your hands warm/cool and protects from the sun, branches, thorns and aids with grip and vibrations. We have two different feels about gloves, Cissy's likes warmer gloves as her hands gets cold very quickly and Werner likes cool gloves that are very thin but gives good grip and protection.

Werner - Leatt 4.5

Once again Leatt creeps into our gear, I have been wearing the 4.5 set now for over a year and love them. I do not like thick gloves and like the dexterity that the gloves gives me, I have complete feel on what I am doing with my hands and this gives me more confidence and control.

The gloves works great in hot weather with a lot of air flowing trough them, they are well protected but not as much as touring or road gloves. There are some rubber protection on the knuckles and leather on the palms.

Extremely comfortable and durable they have been working fantastic for me. Their only downfall is in cold weather, but this I knew from the start.

I can highly recommend the 4.5 gloves from Leatt.

Protection 6/10

Comfort 9/10

Value 8/10

Cissy - O'Neal Butch Carbon Winter WP

Cissy has been riding with the Butch gloves for over a year now and they have held up well. Yes the side of the pointer fingers has torn but that was an easy fix. These gloves are winter gloves but they still breathe, Cissy has used them in 40 degree heat and never complained. They have much better protection than the 4.5 gloves Werner uses, but are much thicker. In cold weather they keep your hands nice and warm and if you have cold hands like Cissy then in warm climates they will still be comfortable. The knuckles has carbon fibre protection and the palms has leather.

They are very comfortable and well made, absorbing a lot of the vibrations in handle bars and providing a lot of grip.

Very good value for money and we can recommend these gloves for people looking for a warmer glove.

Protection 8/10

Comfort 9/10

Value 9/10

Well this wraps up our riding gear we have been using now for over a year, this is our experience and what we have found. We are all different and have different needs and wants so we urge you to fit all gear on and make sure it is what you want. Adventure riders ask a lot of their gear and we want the best of all worlds, this is not always possible but we can get close. There are many options out there and we urge you to make the choice carefully as gear is expensive. But your body is precious so protect it and look after yourself.

Also remember that sometimes when gear gives amazing protection does not mean it is the best, if it restricts you or makes you not 100% comfortable it will add to fatigue and this can cause you to have a crash. So make wise choices and use what is right for you. DO NOT SKIMP ON A HELMET, BUY A PROPER HELMET AND GET IT FITTED CORRECTLY.

- We are both changing our pants and jackets to something with more airflow.

- Werner is upgrading his boots

- Sometime in the future, Werner will upgrade his helmet.

We hope you enjoyed our little review of our riding gear and that this can help you.

Happy adventures!

The Traveling Tortoises

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