The message came in from my favorite group of moto friends; there was a space in the upcoming three-day adventure to Death Valley and back. It would be all on dirt bikes, sort of: my KTM, one CRF250L and a pair of Africa Twins. Staging from Tehachapi, over the Sierra to Bishop, then up the White Mountains to Death Valley. This presented the perfect opportunity to test my new gear from the English company Adventure Spec.
I first learned about Adventure Spec on my social media feed and had long admired the style and real-world testing of the little English manufacturer. When I was approached by the company to create technical Illustrations for an upcoming product line, I decided why not put the touch, er, get some firsthand experience with their gear?
I secured a pair of Mongolia Trail Pants and a Linesman Jacket just in time. Both come with a full spread of Forcefield armor inserts. I left some in, took some out to my liking. The company’s slogan is “light is right.” All of Adventure Spec’s clothing is designed for lightweight adventure riding and built on the principle of layering: Only wear what you need when you need it.
I prepped my trusty KTM 500 EXC with the Tusk Excursion Rackless Luggage system replete with duffel and gas bottle holders. This truly transformed what is essentially a dirt bike into an adventure machine. With tools, clothes, snacks and spares packed she was heavy but ready.
We headed out from Tehachapi following the famous railroad loop before heading into the forest, blasting up recent burn areas of the Piute Mountains toward Chimney Peak and the gateway to the Sierra. This was a beautiful ascent from desert to thick pines chasing the faster members of the group. We came upon a few poor souls in the forest on brand new Harley Pan Americas. Was that ice? No Bruce, just normal dirt: As we flew by them the rest of the grazing herd came into view waiting in the thicket. Must have been 35 of them. Who were they and what were they doing? Maybe three of them waved as we dirt-snorkeled past. Good luck and Godspeed!
A few hours in the saddle with the Adventure Spec gear, and I could start to assess what’s going on here. Not only is this gear good looking, but it is also extremely rugged and comfortable. The morning started out super cold and was warming up, the jacket adapted with the change and kept me warm and cool at the same time if that makes any sense.
The superstretch construction doesn’t bind my Sasquatchian upper torso area like many jackets I own. I wound up leaving the Linesman on the entire day, which was a first for me. I just adjusted vents to control my temperature, especially on the single-track cottonmouth, baby-head rock sections. Ditto the Mongolia Trail pants, which have super long leg vents that are easy to unzip when things heat up.
We popped out onto Sherman Pass and 9 Canyon Road, dropping into the proper desert hitting the 395. We would gas up and take sections of the California Backcountry Discovery Route (CABDR), alternating east and west of the highway headed toward the night’s stop in Bishop. Through Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, we found some nice technical bits skirting the base of the snow-capped Sierra, in view of the almighty Mount Whitney. With zero daylight or will to live left for some of us, thanks to the babyheads, we rolled into Bishop and our first room. No camping here folks, it’s showers and Bacon Burgers for all four of us. Day 1 was 274 miles, and so far so good – human, machine, and gear holding the line. No chafing or complaints of any kind.
Day 2 was an insane pre-sunrise affair starting with a round of giant baby-diaper burritos at the not-to-be-missed Mahogany Meats. We headed from town immediately, snaking up the Silver Canyon trail and topping out at 10,400 feet, with great views of the valley and town of Bishop.
On top, we went through a section of the ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, always a treat to see the oldest living things on earth. Rolling down the backside the route follows Silver Creek, with sections actually in the creek and maybe a dozen deep crossings. The gear did well and kept me super dry, though Adventure Spec says this stuff is more “splashproof” than waterproof. Certain sections were freezing cold and had me sweating at the same time – tricky conditions for any jacket, but I was loving the Linesman.
Leaving the pine forests and abandoned mining camps of the White Mountains, we flowed through some single track in the Joshua Trees and slot canyons of the high desert before spilling into ever more flat, expansive sand vistas exiting California into Nevada. Next stop was the strange yet wonderful little ghost town of Gold Point. We were welcomed by the proprietor and had a nice rest in the eccentric old tavern while being entertained by the intrepid caretaker with stories of Jim Morrison in 1960s Venice Beach.
Leaving Gold Point, we descended into Death Valley, riding ever-increasing sandblasted whoops into the endless horizon. A few of them snuck up on me, launching my best-laid plans into the air Flying W style. Creeping in from behind, I have never been so happy to see the ghost town of Rhyolite, which meant we were getting close to our second night in Beatty, Nevada. Day 2 was only 150 miles but felt like three times that – a full day of intense, tiring riding.
The Adventure Spec gear felt like an old pair of slippers at this point, super comfortable. The pants go over the boot and have a set-it and forget-it buckle system: at first, I was unsure I needed that, but after taking a beating all day the pants hadn’t moved and felt great tucked over my new Alpinestars Tech 7s. An early night to bed was interrupted by my roommate Mark jumping up alarmed: “Jackasses are messing with our bikes!”
Hmmm, so they were indeed. Real jackasses, the donkeys that roam free in the area, not the local ruffians.
Day 3 would be the old favorites of Death Valley; a loop of Titus Canyon, The Volcanic Crater and a run out to Teakettle Junction and over Hunter Mountain. We were just ahead of bad weather the entire time and a big storm was about to hit. We knew we needed to get off this mountain or it would be ugly tonight in the coming snowstorm. Not sure if we were the last crew over Hunter but maybe close. We made it and headed back towards home.
I experienced no issues with either machine or gear, while being super comfortable the entire time. I’ve been riding a long time, and the Mongolia Trail pants may be the best-made garment I have ever owned. You can feel they are substantial yet super roomy in fit. When I first got the Linesman jacket it almost looked too pretty to issue a beating upon. I did wear it for a few street bike rides and loved it. After our big three-day it still looked great and washed up perfectly. Removing the Forcefield armor is super easy. It’s so nice you could even wear it to dinner. How dressed up does a dirt bike rider really get?
Temps ranged from the low 30s to the 70s F, and the Adventure Spec gear dealt with all of it, keeping me mostly cool and relatively collected the entire time. There are no layers to deal with, but the design and fit of the jacket and pants means there’s room to layer up under or on top of as needed; Adventure Spec offers various options. I wear an Icon Field Armor Compression Shirt that fits perfectly under, as well as knee pads down below. I’m about 6’2″ and went with an XL jacket and 38 Long pants; those sizes are accurate and what I’m used to wearing.
|Adventure Spec Linesman Jacket Specifications|
|Sizes||S, M, L, XL, 2XXL, 3XL|
|Weight (XL measured)||2 lbs (914 grams)|
|Safety Standards||CE EN17092 certified A|
|Adventure Spec Mongolia Pants Specifications|
|Sizes||28 – 42 in 2-inch increments; regular, short, tall|
|Weight (XL measured)||3.3 lbs (1510 g)|
|Safety Standards||CE EN17092 certified AA|
Who makes Adventure Spec gear?
Chris Colling and Dave Lomax, two Englishmen who had a chance meeting on a trail in Yorkshire, UK. They’ve been at it in since 2007.
Is this gear waterproof?
More like splashproof. Adventure Spec says its clothing takes its roots from the world of alpine mountaineering, where layering is used to adapt to conditions and reducing weight is key. Therefore, inner and outer layers are available, extra charge, to complement these outer shells.
How durable is Adventure Spec gear?
The jury is out, since Jim’s is the first we’ve seen of it, but it seems to be pretty tough so far. AS says its goal is to keep it light while retaining strength and durability, and that all its gear is designed to be easily repaired in the field for increased product life and reduced waste.
Jim Hatch is a long-time MO contributor, who finally hit the big time on the cover of the current Road & Track with a new Ferrari SF90 hybrid. Remember, that’s Hatchillustrations for all your illustrious needs.
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