Whether you’re an ADV rider or a dual-sport addict, you ask a lot of your gear. Anything you’re wearing needs to perform on the street or the trail, in wet or dry conditions, hot or cold.
Lucky for you, we love adventurous riding, and we also love testing the latest and greatest ADV and dual-sport gear in such demanding conditions. So without any further ado, here’s our 2020 ADV and dual-sport gear guide.
The selection process
On any given weekend, you’ll find plenty of Zillans heading for the trails and local dual-sport events. Inferior gear gives itself away in those conditions. In our years of reviewing gear, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. That’s how we can bring this list together; it’s what we would (and do!) choose to ride with on our adventures. And when we cross-reference our choices with feedback from riders like you, it’s a cinch to spot the best of the best. Here's what we recommend for different kinds of riders in this growing segment of motorcycling.
Top ADV motorcycle gear 2020
Our first persona rides a large ADV bike. Think BMW GSes, Honda Africa Twins, Triumph Tigers, Yamaha Ténérés, KTM Super Adventures and the rest. They’re frequently riding these bikes off-road and they take their biggest trips in warm weather. That means hard-wearing gear that flows plenty of air and offers loads of protection. If that’s how you ride, we found the right gear for you.
|Helmet||Klim Krios Pro||$700||
|Jacket||Klim Baja S4||$550-$580||
|Pants||Klim Baja S4||$450-$470||
|Gloves||REV’IT! Sand 3||$120||
|Boots||Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro||$390||
Our ADV selections start with a helmet. Klim designed the Krios Pro to perform at the same level as their renowned apparel. The result is a carbon fiber marvel that confidently moves from street to dirt and back again.
In addition to that hand-laid carbon, the Krios Pro packs some tech features that put it ahead of the pack in our testing. First is Klim’s use of Koroyd, a remarkable impact-absorbing layer that looks something like a honeycomb of straws. Air passes easily through the tubes in normal riding. If the helmet strikes something, the tubes deform to soak up that impact. The Krios also picks up a Transitions auto-tinting shield, as well as a magnetic Fidlock closure instead of double-D rings. All these features add up to a helmet that’s just a pleasure to use. Klim even addressed our biggest gripe with the first Krios, which was the poor chin ventilation. The new vent sends fresh air straight to the face, and you can close it up when temps drop.
The clincher is the Krios Pro’s versatility. Want a shield? Goggles? Peak? No peak? You can rearrange this helmet into any of those configurations without tools. If that’s not ADV-worthy, we don’t know what is.
Nitpicks: Koroyd does a nice job of moving air. It would do an even better job with more vents to feed air into the helmet.
Klim’s newest jacket and pants combo, the Baja S4, is their mesh gear at its best. This is the kit you’ll want when adventure riding in warm weather. They’ve utilized 1000D four-way stretch material, plus Schoeller-Dynatech mesh for high abrasion resistance and airflow. That stretch is a dream on the trail. We were also thrilled at the ventilation afforded by the fancy mesh.
A full complement of CE 1 armor is included for the shoulders, elbows, back, hips, and knees. In addition to cargo pockets, there’s also a hydration bladder pocket in the back if you’d like to add one. Zipped together, the Baja S4 jacket and pants are about as good as a two-season ADV suit can be these days. Hop up to the Carlsbad for a full-on waterproof ADV suit that ditches the mesh in exchange for extended seasonality. You can also add the Enduro S4 jacket and pants over the Baja suit to seal water out.
Nitpicks: In the next version of this jacket, we’d like so see some more adjustment at the sides to truly fine-tune the fit.
REV’IT!’s Sand line of gloves has been a RevZilla favorite for years, going back to the Sand Pro of 2012. With the Sand 3, we get the best iteration yet. Their flexible construction means they’re as close to a dirt glove as an ADV glove can be, yet they still carry enough protection for street riding. There are lots of ADV gloves out there. Here’s why these are our favorites.
The Sand 3’s hybrid construction is the foundation for its success. A goatskin construction, combined with air stretch mesh, means a nice balance of durability and airflow. REV’IT! adds TPR knuckle and finger protection on top of the leather and mesh, but not an excessive amount. Add the pinky sliders, touchscreen-capable fingertips, and reinforcements throughout, and you’ve got a sturdy all-rounder that’s fairly unique in the glove world.
Nitpicks: The leather sections of the Sand 3 might be uncomfortably tight when you first put them on. It takes a while for these gloves to break in. It’s worth it, though.
Alpinestars’ Tech 7 boots are a benchmark in the dirt world, though their soles aren’t oriented towards rough terrain. That’s where the Enduro variant comes in. Alpinestars kept the well-dialed Tech 7 upper, then added a grippier sole for better traction off the bike. You want all the help you can get when picking up a downed ADV bike!
Dirt boots like the Tech 7 Enduros require some acclimation if you’re used to street boots. The Tech 7s (and their competitors) tend to be much stiffer than normal motorcycle boots, and you might feel a decrease in feel when shifting or braking. The Tech 7 Enduros, however, are about as good as a hardcore dirt boot can get for protection and feel. That’s largely due to the hinged construction, which allows for up/down movement of the foot, not side to side.
The upper of the Tech 7 Enduro is made with a hard-wearing microfiber, reinforced with PU. (Basically, Alpinestars uses synthetic leather.) From heel to toe, these boots deliver the protection you need in the dirt. The Enduro sole uses a different compound and design from the MX-focused Tech 7, and in use, our testers preferred it for ADV riding. The sole itself is replaceable if you manage to wear one out. We appreciated the ease of entry, the durability of the buckles, and the serious protection when riding technical terrain. Adventure riders could be dropping a quarter ton of motorcycle on themselves on any given ride. It’s nice to have a fighting chance with the Tech 7 Enduros.
We’re focusing on a primarily dirt-focused ADV rider in this guide, as we noted at the top of this section, and our boot choice reflects that. That said, Tech 7 Enduros are fine for street riding, too. For a less dirt-focused boot option, check out the Forma Adventure Boots. They’re enormously popular with the street-biased ADV crowd. They’re far more flexible than the Tech 7s.
Nitpicks: Despite being the go-to boots for this segment, ventilation isn’t great. We’d like to see Alpinestars revisit their ventilation options for warm-weather riders.
Top dual-sport gear 2020
Dual-sport riders typically have much lighter bikes than you’ll find in the ADV world. A dual-sport bike isn’t designed to carry much, if any, cargo, and most riders aren’t touring their thumpers around the country. (Not that it can’t be done!) For our dual-sport persona, we considered someone who splits their time pretty equally between street and trail.
|Helmet||Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS||$220||
|Jacket||Sedici Garda WP||$230||
|Pants||Sedici Garda WP||$190||
|Gloves||REV’IT! Sand 3||$120||
|Boots||TCX X-Helium Michelin||$390||
The Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS is a derivative of Bell’s famed MX9 dirt helmet. The Adventure option gets a full-face shield, and the MIPS adds Bell’s proven slip-liner system, which serves to reduce rotational impacts to a rider’s head in the event of a crash.
Nitpicks: The MX-9 Adventure MIPS, like some of Bell’s other offerings, looks a bit large on the head when compared to the competition. Here’s hoping they can slim it down a little.
Sedici’s new Garda H2O jacket and pants is new for 2020, and we’re already recommending it as our go-to for the three-season dual-sport rider. The Garda suit is waterproof, CE 2 armored, and highly agile with its 600D stretch main construction. 1200D ballistic nylon reinforces the usual impact zones. The Garda jacket even features a hydration pack pocket at the back.
Adjustability is the name of the game with the Garda. Stretch, snaps, and sliders are found throughout the suit, making for better fit than gear that goes without. Add that clean design and the competitive pricing, and the Garda kit easily won our reviewers over.
Nitpicks: We wish there was a tube holder for the hydration pack in the front.
See above. The Sand 3s are just that good.
Alpinestars’ Tech 7 Enduros were our choice for the ADV rider, and they’re still a fine option for the avid dual-sporter. We ultimately preferred the TCX X-Helium Michelins for light bikes, however. They offer better feel via their Michelin Hybrid MX sole. Like the Tech 7 Enduros, they also use a microfiber upper. Serious reinforcements make the X-Heliums ready for the trails, including steel toe caps and internal plates to increase grip on the bike’s frame. Aluminum buckles add a premium touch.
Again, the Tech 7 Enduros would not let a dual-sport rider down. We really liked the X-Helium’s slim profile for manipulating smaller dirt bike foot controls, and at over $100 less than the Tech 7 Enduros, we’d go for the TCXes every time.
Nitpicks: Breathability isn’t great on the X-Helium boots, either.
Best aggressive dual-sport gear
If you’re a more aggressive dual-sport rider, you’ll need gear that’s up to the task. We’re looking at folks trailering their bikes to the trailhead, or those that ride mostly dirt with a few road sections linking them together. This kind of riding demands more technical gear. For the jacket and pants, our current favorite combo is Alpinestars’ Venture kit: the Venture R jacket and Venture R pants, or the Venture R jersey if it’s warm out. Alpinestars also supplies our favorite armor, the Bionic Action jacket. We’d pair that with Leatt’s Dual Axis knee guards, which strike a good balance between protection and price. It’s worth bumping up to their C-Frame knee braces if you can afford it. The MX-9 Adventure MIPS helmet would be fine (we’d probably just use our dirt helmets), and the X-Heliums can definitely stay.
Buying the best ADV and DS motorcycle gear... for you
For those of us who live between the blacktop and the trail, there’s nothing like getting out there and exploring. All our adventures have led us to recommend the gear listed here, and we hope you find you can depend on these choices, just as we have. Of course, choosing ADV and dual-sport gear can be tricky. If you have questions about anything covered in this article, let us know by commenting below, or by contacting some of our friendly Gear Geeks. Enjoy the ride!