Have you read the SB x Adventure Spec Winter ride post? It was cold. It might not look it in this photo, but it was below freezing for the two days.
Adventure Spec (AS) were keen for me to test some of their kit. The big difference was how flexible it was. In the last three years, since owning an enduro/trail bike, I've ridden in MX gear, with a casual Dickies-style windcheater/coach jacket or Barbour waxed jacket. When I ride on the road in cold and wet gear, I use textile stuff, like Matthew is wearing in the photo above. The AS stuff I wore was like neither of those. AS talk about their stuff as being climbing/hiking gear for adventure riders. They say, 'Our clothing takes its roots from the world of alpine mountaineering where layering is used to adapt to conditions and efforts are taken to reduce weight whilst retaining strength and durability. All our gear is designed to be easily repaired ‘in the field’, increasing product life and reducing waste.'
Adventure Spec has distribution centres in the UK, USA and mainland Europe to ensure quick and cost effective shipping. Visit adventurespec.com
We interviewed Greg of Adventure Spec to hear where the company came from, where they're at and where they're going. Read the Adventure Spec profile.
The Linesman Jacket and trousers (I still can't bring myself to type 'pants'. Pants are undies) do feel like nothing I've ridden in before. The trousers were really impressive. They're super-stretchy, and cut narrow. AS doubted they'd fit over my bulky TCX motocross boots, but they did. Thy come with Forcefield armour on knees and hips, so I didn't wear the Knox padded shorts i've been wearing on and off for the last ten years, or the Fox knee armour I use. This made it easier to get ready at the start of the day, and they wear far more comfortable that separate armour under MX trousers.
The cuffs have adjustable straps and clips to tighten then around boots. The pockets were deep and because the material is so stretchy, I could bury ear plugs, keys, change, whatever deep into them and not worry about them being lost. Also, the material is warm to the touch in a way a lot of moto gear isn't, again making them very comfortable.
Downsides are they're not waterproof, so if you're expecting heavy rain, you'd need another layer. The MX pants I would normally wear aren't either, though. They kept me warm, over Knox Merino long johns, but they're not 100% windproof.
AS stuff is not cheap either, in manufacture or RRP. These pants are £275/$325.
The Linesman Jacket was good, but I've had some great textile jackets over the years (notably Hein Gericke and Dainese), so a really good jacket wasn't the same revelation that the trousers were, but it has a lot going for it. Stretchy, super comfortable, warm and warm to the touch. That speckled material is abrasion resistant.
One of the concepts AS are pushing is that of layering. If you're riding trails or long-distance ADV riding, you could start off on a freezing morning, ride through a warm morning, then climb a high, cold pass, repeat it in the afternoon, then camp at night. The jacket has removable sleeves, so when worn with their Supershirt, below, you're still protected, you have all your stuff in your pocket, but you're cooler, in a sleeveless jacket.
Downside, same as the trousers, it's not waterproof.
It costs £349/$389
The Supershirt is a major part of Adventure Spec's layering philosophy. Wear tight fitting protection close to the skin and the layers on top of it can be more adaptable for weather and terrain. It makes sense. Also, armour in a looser fitting jacket just moves after. the initial impact and exposes body part below, in the event of a skidding type fall.
I wore the Supershirt over a T-shirt and a Knox Merino wool base layer (now discontinued). It felt bulky at first, but within minutes I'd forgotten about it and wore it for eight hours. It has thumb loops to keep the sleeves from riding up.
At £299/$349 it's one of the more expensive armoured shirts.
Between Supershirt and Linesman jacket I wore another piece of Adventure Spec kit, their Baltic Insulated Jacket. It's superlight and packs down very small, so ideal for adventure riding in changing conditions. These kind of puffer jackers are available everywhere, but I've never owned one, so I don't know how this compares to what's out there. My body didn't get cold in two days of riding, though my feet and fingers did. They always do. I don't seem to have great circulation.
It comes with a removable hood and has water-resistant shoulders. I guess the later makes it different to many puffer jackets. Compared to the other AS items I wore, this was the least essential. If I were only buying one, it would be the trousers. I loved them. However, I'd probably get more use out of a Supershirt. I'd wear it for wood riding and dirt track racing/practice.
The Baltic Insulated costs £179/$249. There is also a hybrid version, with a puffer body, but regular sleeves.
The rest of the kit I wore/used is stuff I've been wearing for years. Is as follows:
Amazing bit of kit. Guaranteed to last 10 years, but will last much longer. I fitted a Hydrapack that I already had (they don't come with it). Carried everything I needed for two days.
Get this limited edition backpack from the Sideburn Shop.
Icon Airflite helmet - with peak
This is a relatively inexpensive, polycarbonate helmet, compared to the ones I used to wear, and lower down the range than the composite Icon Airframe Pro I wear for racing, but I really like it. It originally came a roadbike helmet, with a very distinctive visor, that I once wore for nearly 36 hours non-stop on a tour of all four capitals of the UK, for a Bike mag feature. Then Icon released the optional MX style peak. Just remove the visor/shield, and clip the peak in its place. Two-minute job.
The helmet is so comfortable, and I really appreciate the removable and machine-washable lining, because I do huff and puff and get sweaty when the going gets tough. See the Airflite range at rideicon.com
Waterproof socks. Trail riding is very much a winter/year-round thing for me, and the terrain I slog through is often very wet. The socks have been 100% waterproof. I only realise how wet my boots got on a ride when I take them off and water is pooled in them, but my feet are warm and dry. The socks are big and baggy, so it could be a problem if you have tight boots, otherwise, they're a must. sealskinz.com
TCX Pro 2.1 boots
I have worn TCX speedway boots while dirt track racing for over ten years, and was happy to trust their MX boots when I needed some proper protection for my first Morocco trip. The boots are covered in plastic protection and guards, and are heavy, so I assumed they were going to be uncomfortable and unyielding, but, perhaps thanks to the soft inner bootee design, that they share with the Speedway boots, they are very comfortable, despite not having a lot of flexibility. The buckles are hard to unbuckle with my cold, weak fingers. tcxboots.com
Another item I've had so long that the manufacturer doesn't make them any more, which shows a couple of things - I'm not a blagger who acquires new stuff all the time, just because I can, and also that this stuff lasts. These are fabric off-road gloves with additional palm padding and soft rubber protection on the knuckles. Dainese don't seem to make anything similar at the moment. Dainese.com
Holy Freedom Neck Tubular. Soft, lovely. Stops neck chafing. holyfreedom.com
100% Barstow x Deus Ex Machina goggles
Barstow is 100%'s road/retro goggle, and they've made a ton of collabs with Sideburn friends including Deus, Death Spray, Ornamental Conifer, Dimitri Coste, See See, Bonzorro and more. I find the lenses are a little tricky to change, because you have to really make sure the lens is seating into the small 'pips' that locate and hold them and they kept popping out as there was lots of goggles on/off. The faux leather section that attach to the frames looks like its on its last legs too. There are much better goggles for this kind of riding out there. Keep these for road riding.