Travelling long distances on a motorcycle proffers mixed blessings. There's the oft-hyped gratification of being out there on the open road – man, machine and nature – with all the Zen and contentment that that entails. But there's also the reality of the weather, boring motorways, directional mishaps, hunger and an aching behind. What'll stay in your memory, the glory or the grit? That depends often on what you wear.
Touring takes in all types of roads and riding, so your helmet – like the rest of your motorcycle gear – needs to be multifunctional. A flip-up helmet converts from full- to open-face at the flick of a switch, great for fuel stops, rapid photo-snapping and mixed-pace itineraries. Some of these helmets are available ready-equipped with communication systems – saving you from lonely silence.
Your motorcycle jacket needs to serve several purposes with distinction because there's no turning back. It must keep you safe, warm and dry for the whole trip. Only if your body is comfortable can your mind stay focused on the road and directions. Go for a quality textile jacket with a waterproof/breathable membrane and removable lining. You'll want plenty of pockets for sundries like some money, phrase book, digital camera and sustenance-giving snacks. Make sure there's room underneath for some body armor (chest and back... etc). Your hands are susceptible to the weather and it's imperative to keep them dry with a decent pair of all-season gloves. Not all 'waterproof' live up to the claims of their labels, so it really is worth investing in the best you can afford.
You need head-to-toe comfort when you're touring. Keep your lower half snug inside a pair of leather jeans or textile trousers. If you go for jeans, opt for a pair with plenty of comfort-conducive stretch panels and a cosy lining. Invest in a good pair of knee protectors to keep you safe...
While a race boot is made purely to protect, a touring boot has to tick several boxes – comfort, waterproofness, protection and more comfort. Yes, touring motorcycle boots are less glamorous and rather more welly-like, but practicality, not style, is your closest ally when covering hundreds of kilometers. It also encourages impromptu sightseeing recces if your boots are comfy to walk around in.