Category Archives: Gear Reviews

Reviews of overland/expedition and adventure gear, luggage and kit. Independent reviews and comment for making your next upgrade to your touring armoury!

Adventure Travel Preparation

A large part of the excitement and fulfillment for challenging adventure travel plans comes from the initial preparation. Adventure motorcyclists are no different; in fact, because we’re packing to fit all our gear on a bike, we’ve got extra considerations about space and weight to consider. It’s part of the sport and with increasing experience you know what to leave behind and what vital kit you need – tool kit step forward!

Phase 1 – Trip Planning
Here’s where you pore over the maps, google searches and other ride reports for the area. If your chosen destination is really remote or hard to reach then it’s worth getting opinions from other travellers’ blogs and staple Adventure Motorcycling sites (links).

Phase 2 – Riding Gear Preparation
Based on your interpretation of the likely Met conditions, the length of your days-in-the-saddle and how much comfort you need to dial in for your personal preference. Select the kit you’ll be wearing and then make sure it’s in good condition; the seams and weatherproofing is intact and the stiching won’t fail during prolonged hard riding or if you take a spill. I find it helps to lay out the kit and then look over it in order. It’s at this point that you can wash in a coat of NIKWAX or hydrophobic water repellent for textiles or for leather, rub in some treatment. Particularly important is to check your riding helmet for signs of deterioration or damage.

Suzuki DR350 packed for travel (C) motomonkey
Suzuki DR350 packed for lightweight travel

Phase 3 – Bike Tools and Spares
This is where experience and forethought really count. It’s about finding the balance of a lot of factors; light enough to carry, useful enough to actually¬† use and all with a strong likelihood of really being needed.¬† It’s unrealistic to carry spares for every eventuality and a heavy process to boot! It’s really useful to think about how you’re going to be packing and carrying the spares. Look for somewhere low and central on the bike for heavy items. Good examples of this are Austin Vince’s solution on the DR350 during the Mondo Rally; he used and old metal ammunition box bolted below the engine, and any possible use of the easily available ‘tractor’ tool tubes like these;

Tractor Tool Tube and Sigg Bottle mounted behind the pannier rack (c)cybermogul
Tractor Tool Tube and Sigg Bottle mounted behind the pannier rack

Phase 4 – Gear Check.
This is for everything you need to carry on the bike to survive. Again it helps to be organised; lay it out, check tents and shelters for weatherproofing, that the stove is working, sleeping bags are intact and the thermarest is still holding air.

Decisions, Decisions
Now you’re ready to enter the debate about how much gear is just enough, what you cannot do without and what your essentials are; enjoy!

Hand luggage – motorcycle helmet – Ryanair

How’s this for a ‘first world problem’? You’re flying somewhere on a motorcycle trip and want to take your helmet with you. Consigning it to the hold baggage risks it being used as a football, or worse, and slows you down getting out of the airport. Fairly minor stuff but here’s a couple of solutions.

Even the most draconian of airline hand luggage rules are not often checked. Given that the average helmet size generally falls outside the cabin baggage allowance one answer is to carry the helmet on in the smallest pack possible. If you’re challenged then you can either take the hit and check in the lid or put it on. After all, it’s just a big hat. I haven’t done this but I’m going to guess that strategy two is less likely to succeed if your lid is matt black with a dark visor!

As I write I’m about to get on a Ryanair flight; with a helmet and four days of riding gear in a Kriega R25. Travelling light and saving time (and money) hopefully.