A friend recently told me he cannot afford to buy gear for motorcycle touring which got me wondering how much does a basic kit set you back.
My home region the licence plate logo says “Sunshine State”, like Florida. I rode for years without owning wet weather or winter riding gear. Arriving in Japan I soon found my old gear was useless and started updating things.
I could have spent a fortune on rider gear, some of those ADV brands are $2000-3000A just for a textile jacket which is amazing marketing given they are all made in Vietnam for $20. I chose more affordable things: (this is not my summer or SE Asia hot weather gear)
For upper body I am using a Alpinestars Andes touring jacket. This is a drystar ‘like’ gore-tex type jacket with zip out quilted liner, reasonable ventilation with top flap that clips open to allow a good amount of air. The jacket cost about $250 and falls into the budget category of jackets. I have worn it as low as 3 degrees (with thermal base layers) and up to 30 degrees with liner removed (and open weave shirt). It is not specifically a winter or summer or rain jacket but can handle a bit of anything for a while. The sleeve ends can be held open with the velcro latch thus letting lots of air in or make sure the sleeves are firmly secured to your gloves to stop water and cold air.
Good point is price and dry weather performance, weak point is more than showers or light rain you need to add a rain jacket. (edit – I now use a Macna jacket which cost $500 but is heaps better in every way)
When riding in cooler conditions I wear a pair of Alpinestar Drystar pants with quilted liner. These cost $190 and are like their matching jacket have a gore-tex ‘like’ liner. In Japan spring or autumn can turn 10 degrees and rain then fall to 5-6 degrees at higher altitude so warm pants like this are essential.
Good point is warm when needed. Bad point is still need rain pants if not light showers.
(edit I now use Macna pants which are much better)
Mid season I am using BMW city pants which I obtained in Australia long ago discounted but they still cost about $200. The BMW city pants are a reinforced fabric construction with armor and a perforated inner liner to work over a wide temperature range. In conjunction with these I use a pair of lightweight rain overpants which are very compact and cost about $15 online.
Good point is comfortable over wide temperature range, much better than draggin jeans.
I am very demanding about gloves which relates to a lifetime struggle with dermatitis. I have tried many over the years, most turned out to be uncomfortable and a waste of money. Dainese, Alpinestars and other brands I find poorly constructed. I use Held Rain Star gloves as my all rounder touring gloves. When I got them it was from overseas and that saved me some money, about $160 back 8 years ago and they still look like new but the inner liner is worn but that works out at just $20 a year.
(edit – now worn out I am using a Japanese brand but am looking for new gloves)
I have a pair of TCX Explorer boots (TCX was formerly known as Oxtar). Mid cut boots with Gore-tex. These make a world of difference when it is cold or raining. My feet stay warm and dry all the time. I basically chose them being the cheapest brand name boot with consistently good reviews. They cost $169 direct from USA plus shipping but I used a freight forwarder (shipito) which saved me heaps.
(edit – still using these boots – superb)
A key part of keeping my feet comfortable and dry is wearing non cotton touring socks. I chose Alpinestars simply as they were the cheapest that were certified as proper technical socks with Coolmax. About $20 a pair. Oh and add a pair of odor eater inner soles to your boots and replace them frequently to keep the boots themselves fresh.
(edit, now using a mix of other coolmax socks, non motorcycle brands)
The base layer is just as important. I have been warm down to very low degrees when wearing a technical thermal shirt with the afore mentioned jacket but wearing a cotton t-shirt I was cold soon as it dropped to around 10.
Similarly when riding in hot and steamy places with a open weave non cotton shirt I have been fine as air could easy circulate to my skin and perspiration was whisked away. With cotton t-shirts in similar conditions heat and sweat is retained.
Budget chain Uniqlo sell both air flow or ‘heat tech’ t-shirts here for about $6 each (probably more in other countries where they are not budget despite exact same items) and they are fantastic for riding and quick dry also. Traditional cotton shirts I keep for off the bike.
I never ride anywhere without a Buff to seal around my neck in cool weather and to keep the back of neck from being burnt in the sun. In cold and wet conditions I switch to a thermal water resistant gator to seal the neck and cover the lower face up to and over my nose keeping me warm and reducing visor fog. These are both just $20-30 items but essential for touring.
I carry anti fog and rain-off visor treatment with me. On a very wet day these are most welcome and I apply every few hours priced from a few dollars each or look for the small twin touring size packs sold on Amazon.
Incidentals I find useful on tour are a microfibre cloth kept damp in a ziplock bag for wiping visor or screen. UV block lip balm and easy application sunscreen. I also always bring Febreeze or similar in small pump bottle to refresh gear while on tour.
That’s my tour setup. I am not endorsing any of these brands just giving an idea what has worked for me and what it cost. If buying tomorrow I would look afresh and choose some items differently.
I don’t pay too much heed to Revzilla feedback because everyone there rushes to review an item soon as they open the box. And as for motorcycle writers on commercial sites you know they are being paid so their reviews are just marketing spin.
(If I am touring SE Asia or specifically in hot summer I use different setup)