Every traveller is stuck in the conundrum of choosing between what to pack and what to leave at home.
For a long-haul bike adventure, weight matters. Your clothing can eat up a lot of room in your panniers, not to forget the cooking supplies that you still have to deal with, so prepare to compromise.
But if that little bending of your choices is a little too much to take, manufacturers are coming up with apparel that lets you get the most out of your ride, combining style and function, like how base layers nowadays come with an integrated storage pocket system.
You’ve got to learn to layer if you’re in for a long bike adventure. Layers only mean you’re prepared for all weather conditions: rain, shine, heat or cold.
Wear against your skin a base layer as your first line of defense. Choose the one that keeps you dry when you’re sweating by wicking moisture away from your skin.
Merino wool is the most common natural fabric used and does a great job in coping with changing temperatures. You may wear it for a couple of rides before it needs washing. Although, on the other hand, synthetic and less bulky base layers like polypropylene or polyester are usually lighter and better at wicking sweat away. Some mix both (merino and polyester) for stretch and durability.
Some tops have base pockets to stash your riding essentials in securely, allowing you to wear another layer over the top that’s not necessarily cycle-specific.
For the bottoms, you may choose to wear padded underpants that feature a thick chamois to give you comfort where it counts.
Perform better and ride longer with this next-to-skin essential.
This is the insulating, most flexible garment in your layering. Wear only this in warm weather, have this as your outer layer with a base underneath, or make it as your mid-layer between your base and your outer shell.
Choose the one with good insulating qualities. Most of the time, this will serve as your outermost layer, so choose the one with a reflective strip or two on it.
There’s a wide range of style choices and storage options for the touring tops that one could wear comfortably in public. Some come structured with collars, some with discreet shoulder vents. Pockets are added features to crews and tees, so you can bring what you want.
This applies for touring shorts, too, which give riding comfort and look great even when off the bike. A lot of touring cyclists are ditching the form-fitting shorts and opt for the boxer-style designed, loose-fitting ones that also feature a lightweight, almost unnoticeable pad in it for cushioning, so you look great and casual on and off the bike.
Wear an outer shell, your protection from the elements on any terrain. Choose between windproof, weatherproof or both, and make sure it’s breathable either way.
Get the one that doesn’t disappoint on style and versatility. Some pack a combination of casual style and functional storage efficiency.
Soft shell jackets might stand against all weather conditions but a downpour, as they are mostly water-resistant instead of waterproof, yet this type allows you to breathe better on the ride.
Its hard shell counterpart can be totally waterproof, but might feel a bit rigid.
The packable, lightweight wind shell is a good option to consider. You may kick off with it on, then stash it once you warm up. Some come with cape vents to make you feel comfortable without getting clammy.
Choosing the apparel to take with you can be a daunting task, but it’s better than suffering later in the long ride. Pay attention to function and efficiency, as this will improve your sense of freedom on your two wheels.