Adventure motorcycle gear is always a hot topic for discussion: pure ADV, touring, off-road, and modular gear choices all have their pros and cons, and most of those have already been picked apart. But what about moto travel wear? That is, the base layers under your gear, and the casual wear in your panniers?
For shorter adventure rides, the casual wear probably isn’t that important. You pack a few shirts, a pair of pants, and some socks, and you’re good to go. On a long-distance journey, though, it all gets a little more complicated: you’ll need clothes for all climates, you don’t have a lot of packing space, and you want your casual wear to be as multi-functional as possible. At the same time, you may want to pack at least one item of clothing that’s actually nice – in case you’re invited for dinner, need to look presentable at an embassy interview for the next visa, or want to go out to eat once in a while and not look like a walking Patagonia ad.
If it was up to me, I’d carry both a set of functional casual wear – think windproof, waterproof, lightweight, and quick-dry – and a pair of cosy denim, a few nicer shirts, and a pair of shoes that aren’t flip flops or hiking boots. Alas, it’s not up to me, it’s up to the size of one third of my soft pannier. Still, I manage to get away with both hiking and camping and attending a civilized dinner here and there, all while eeping the travel wear pack minimal. Here’s how.
One Jacket to Rule Them All
Do you actually need an extra shell if you’ve got your ADV jacket? That depends: if you’re mostly traveling through warm countries and if you can wash your riding jacket often enough, another casual jacket may not be an absolute necessity. On the other hand, you may need one for colder climates and off-bike activities, and taking your protective armor out of your ADV jacket every time you’re going for a stroll in town or embarking on a hiking expedition may not be ideal. The solution? A thin, windproof, waterproof, and durable jacket that can protect from all elements, pack small, and work as an extra warm layer when you’re facing snow, rain, and high altitudes. For me, this Leatt jacket has served as a walking jacket, a windproof layer over body armor, a water-resistant layer under ADV jackets, and just about everything in between for two years:
Sure, it still looks more moto than casual, and it could do with a thin warm insulaiton layer on the inside, but there’s bound to be plenty of similar options among outdoor wear manufacturers (including the afrementioned Patagonia).
Now for that cosy pair of jeans: frankly, I can’t quite afford it, space-wise, so I’ve devised another strategy: Dyneema jeans. They’re a tad thicker than regular denim, but the bonus is, you can ride about town in them, do your groceries in them, and still get away with a more casual look. Add knee pads in, and you can ride in them on hotter days; take the protection out, and they work as casual wear whenever needed. I’ve had these Pando Moto jeans for a while now, and so far, so good – especially when paired with the next item on the list…
…The Black Shirt…
The one item that can instantly make you look a little more presentable is a simple, black button-down shirt that doesn’t crease easily. It packs tiny and can simply live at the bottom of your pannier to be taken out for occasions when you need to dress up a tiny bit.
…And The Warm Flannel
What’s warm, fluffy, and cosy, but isn’t a hoodie? A flannel shirt. The risk of being called a hispter is worth it – these things keep you warm, look better than sweatshirts, and you can always add a thin baselayer underneath for extram warmth.
Casual wear aside, there’s also the stuff you wear under your motorcycle gear – and thin, merino wool base layers have few rivals when it comes to staying dry, warm, and comfortable while riding long-distances, on or off the road. ultra thin, quick-dry base layers for hot weather, and a set of thicker ones for the colder days, and that’s about it – everything packs small, washes and dries quickly, and tends to wear well for years.
Style and function requirements may vary, of course; what do you wear under your gear and off-bike when doing a long-distance ride? Share in the comments below!