"Geared Up" is a segment where we pick our favorite or best items for various types of riders or riding situations. Each post will be colored by the post's author, but luckily for you the editors on staff represent a pretty wide variety of tastes and backgrounds. Think you have a better pick for an item we chose? Throw it in the comments below. Is the post not aimed at you or your riding style? Suggest future "Geared Up" series ideas below.
This week, we're tackling the dual sport trail rider, because that's what I've been riding lately and that's what I've been getting lots of questions about. The hard part about trail gear is that people have wildly different styles, with different camps preferring everything from cheap motocross gear to fancy adventure suits to something as silly as over the boot pants versus under the boots pants. While I do love me an obnoxious neon motocross kit on the trails, because I'm obnoxious, we'll stick to items made for the trails for this installment (and I'm an under the boots kind of guy).
Many people think all or most dirtbike helmets are the same, and that it doesn't really matter which one you go with. Sure, you're bound to crash more in the dirt and all of them should keep you equally safe, but you're also subjecting your head and helmet to an entirely different level of abuse than you would your normal street helmet. I've spent a lot of time in different dirt helmets over the past year, and can pretty confidently say that nothing comes close to my Bell Moto 9 Flex($600). I wear mine a lot even for street riding during the summer because it doesn't buffet much, and its such a great fit and so comfy that I can spend hours in it. This "flex" version has their new liner which helps decrease rotational acceleration to limit brain injury, which is helpful when bouncing off the dirt.
A cheaper option that still does a great job is Fox's V2 moto helmet ($300). Not only is it comfortable to wear for hours, but Fox has some of the best designs out there right now. I have a ton of friends who wear this helmet and swear by it.
When it comes to goggles, it's pretty hard to go wrong. The Oakley Airbrake's ($190) are the most popular with racers, but they're also the most expensive. What that money will buy you is an incredible fit, a high quality lens with anti-fog coating, and their lens swapping system which makes switching lenses easy. Another goggle I love, again for its looks and ease of swapping lenses, is the Dragon NFX ($95). These are my go to for most things because I love the frameless design, lens options, and solid optics. I've been wearing Fox's Air Defence goggles ($85), which use a pre-curved lens to ensure accurate optics. I've been impressed with the venting on the Air Defences, especially on days where others fogged up.
Speaking of fogging up, I've unfortunately had issues with my 100% goggles fogging. They sent me their cheaper Accuri goggle ($45-60) which has some fogging issues and the lenses sometimes come out, but I know guys who are happy with their Race-Crafts ($65-75). If you're looking for something cheap and with some killer color options, they're your best bet (and they make vintage looking ones called Barstows ($95) for you hip kids out there). Finally, I'll always have a soft spot for VonZipper's goggles. Those guys just live the sport and have been making eyewear forever, and their new Porkchop I-Type MX goggles ($110) are great.
When it comes to staying protected, there isn't a kit out there I trust more than Alpinestars dirt protection (although I think Leatt's is just as good). It fits well, is all day comfortable, and built to take a beating. Their updated Bionic Tech Jacket ($299) adds a side zip so the chest plate can stay one solid piece and they re-added the kidney strap that the initial one had. I wear their Fluid Tech Carbon Knee Braces ($350) for motocross, but they can get pretty uncomfortable on a full day of riding and I've opted for the Vapor Knee Protectors ($45) for trail riding lately.
After watching a buddy fling himself off his CRF450X and hurt his neck pretty good, I've been including the BNS Pro Neck Support ($290) more and more, and the Bionic Free Ride Shorts ($90) have saved my ass, dozens of times. Literally.
I know a lot of guys wear a lot less protection than I do. Plenty are fine with just elbow and knee guards. I'm too old and get too cranky when I'm hurt and I got well kitted out when I started riding and got used to the extra bulk and find it worth it. I've also never had a serious injury; but to each their own.
While I love Alpinestars competition level foot protection, nothing comes close to the comfort and dexterity provided by the SIDI Crossfire 2 boots ($545), which provide incredible levels of protection without completely immobilizing your foot. They come all day comfortable out of the box (though some complain they're too narrow), and mine have taking an absolute beating and have held up impressively.
For a lot less, however, you can get Fox's Comp 5 Offroad boots, which add a full traction outsole to their entry level Comp 5 boots ($220). Again, we have another option sourced from a sizable local dirtbike community, but I've thought a lot about picking up a pair for myself because I like how slim fitting these are. Don't be surprised if you see me in these on the Hyper this summer.
For what it's worth, I also know a ton of guys who wear the Gaerne SG12s ($558) and swear by them, but 80% of people I know stick with SIDI (who, by the way, just released the Crossfire 3).
Outerwear (PT. 1)
When it comes to the actual pants and jerseys themselves, Fox has quickly become one of my favorite brands in this space. If you like to dress on the more motocross side of things, they have a huge range of pants and jerseys with a ton of tech built in that make them comfortable and move well on the bike.
Fox's "Legion" line is their more offroad based gear, with thicker fabrics on the panels that might be bumping off rocks or brushing by thorns or tree branches. It's a nice blend between motorcross track gear and heavier duty adventure gear, only it's cut to fit well and is durable. They have options in the line based off the 360 kit and runs about $90 for the jersey and $230-$250 for the pants depending if you want under or over the boot. They also have Legion LT gear, based off their 180 kit, that is cheaper at $35 for the jersey and $120 for the pants.
Finally, they'll also make jackets for colder weather riding or those brisk mornings. The jackets will take armor and are waterproof, should your winter riding take a turn for the worse.
Outerwear (Pt. 2)
For those of you on the other side of the spectrum, those who prefer more ADV type gear, there's KLIM. I've been wearing their more moto stuff lately, and I've been super impressed with the quality of the garments and level or protection they give. The knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows are all reinforced well to not tear regardless of the environment you have an off in, or in that thistly tree you brush past.
The Tactical Pro jersey ($140) has slightly padded and reinforced arms and a very handy little pocket built into the chest, and they make both in and out versions of the pants (I wear the Mojave In Boot pants at $170), which also have a pocket (something almost no other gear has).
If you prefer to swing even further into the ADV segment, KLIM makes some of the best gear on the planet and has a ton of options.
When it comes to hand protection, I try to wear something a little beefier than your normal motocross glove. Because riding trails normally means eating dirt some and because the dirt out there can have all sorts of nasty little things in it. The Klim Dakar gloves ($46) offer decent protection and fit great. Likewise, 100% also makes some great options with the more heavily armored Derestricted glove for $60 or $50 Simi glove.
Riding a dirtbike is one of the most physically demanding activities on the planet, and doing so in the wild normally involves long days and varying environments and temperatures. Staying comfortable starts with the stuff touching your skin, and I've found that choosing wisely can go a long way when the days get long.
I always wear full length base layers when I ride, if only so that I don't have armor touching my bare skin. A nice moisture wicking material like basically any base layer on the planet will do nicely. For those of you men out there, you know that keeping your sensitive bits comfy can be incredibly important, in which case I've found Ethika's performance underwear ($28-32) to be incredibly breathable and to stay put. Finally, the right pair of socks is key for keeping your feet comfortable. Stance's moto socks are thick, but don't retain heat or moisture, making them easily the most comfortable I've worn. Plus they look rad ($35 for the super tall, $25 will rise just under the knee).
Finally, Risk Racing palm protectors help reduce hand fatigue and calluses built up by gripping a thumping handlebar for hours on end. For $10, they're worn under your gloves and are well worth it.
The Other Stuff
Part of riding in the middle of nowhere is being prepared to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, at least for a bit. This means having some food and water handy, as well as the tools and supplies needed to get you back home.
The KLIM Arsenal Vest ($190) is a great option that does most of the jobs on this list all in one. It has a hydration pack, places for tools and food, and it distributes them well around your torso so you don't just feel the weight of a backpack on your shoulders. If you don't like that option or don't want to look like you're going into battle, the Kriega Hydro 3 ($140) is by far my favorite hydration backpack and I love Fox's Deluxe Toolpack for $40.
Besides tools, keeping spare tubes is always a good idea, for which I love Wolfman's Fender bag ($35) which straps to the top of your front fender and holds a tube or two perfectly.
For those of you who like to listen to music or chat with your buddies while riding, I like the Sena 10R ($215) for my dirt helmets as its low profile nature helps keep it from getting ripped off if I take a tumble.
What did I miss? What are your favorite pieces of trail riding gear?