BEST TOURING GEAR
The touring rider spends more miles in the saddle than anyone — and that means long hours in their gear, too.
The long-haul touring rider takes rides that last for multiple days, or even multiple weeks. They consider long tours to be their vacations, and they’re ready for anything with fully loaded machines. Weather and riding conditions will probably change several times over the course of a tour. This means the gear must be sturdy, adaptable, and completely comfortable.
The C5 is an all-new design from the modular masters at Schuberth. It resolves shortcomings from the C4 line and puts Schuberth back in the lead in this category. Touring riders have trusted Schuberth’s premium lids for many years and miles, and we chose this helmet as our top choice for a tour. The C5 weighs just under four pounds for long-distance comfort. The shell uses a variety of high-tech materials and aerodynamic elements to minimize buffeting. The chinbar locking mechanism is precise, secure, and crafted with quality materials. Inside, there are interior panels that can be swapped around to tune the fit to your head. The fit is more of an intermediate oval compared to other Schuberth models, so this helmet should fit a wider range of riders. No other modular performs at this level for the hardcore touring rider.
The Olympia Airglide 6 is the best jacket/pants combo for touring today. It stands above the competition with commendable features and attention to detail, plus a multi-layered system that can adapt to changing weather and riding conditions. The Airglide 6 is constructed from 1000 denier Cordura fabric. Under the surface, Olympia includes Powertector Hexa CE Level 2 armor Zip the Airglide 6 pants and jacket together to make a touring suit, and use different layer combinations to warm up, cool off, stay dry, and shut out the wind. Unless you mostly tour in cold weather, the Airglide 6 jacket and pants are the best choice for your next excursion.
For as long as motorcyclists have needed gloves, there’s been a slight issue. A glove can either be waterproof, or it can have airflow, but it’s hard to have both. Held introduced the best solution to this problem with the legendary Air N Dry gloves, and they’re our top pick for serious touring riders who need protection in any kind of weather. Held’s secret is a two-chamber design that separates breathability and waterproofing. Air can reach the hand through the palm side, while the back of the hand shrugs off soggy weather. Gore-Tex makes sure moisture can leave, but water can’t enter. Kangaroo leather and DuPont Cordura bring slide resistance and excellent dexterity.
The TCX Clima Surround GTX boots are some of the most advanced motorcycle boots on the market. Concealed under a fairly normal exterior is a fully ventilated footbed that allows air to flow and breathe through Gore-Tex membranes in the soles. This helps manage moisture and heat inside the boots without risking exposure to rain and dampness. TCX uses Outdry material along the insides of the boots to further boost comfort and wicking. Of course, the TCX Clima Surround GTX boots also have all the protective features we look for in a hardcore touring boot, and we’d trust our next tour to TCX’s innovative Clima Surround GTXes.
Our second rider is slightly more casual while touring. Trips are briefer than our long-haul rider’s, and those trips are in fairer weather. These are daytrippers, weekenders, and sightseers. This gear, which tends to be lighter and more athletic than the long haul rider’s astronaut suit, would also work for sport-tourers seeking the fun roads.
The HJC RPHA 70 ST was specifically designed to blend touring and sport touring. It’s a light helmet at just three pounds, six ounces (medium). That lightness is made possible with HJC’s advanced P.I.M. Plus (Premium Integrated Matrix) shell. It marries carbon fiber and carbon-glass hybrid fabric for exceptional protection and strength. Touring riders spend hours in the saddle, and a lightweight helmet makes all the difference. The RPHA 70 ST’s aerodynamics are very effective at reducing fatigue in the rider’s neck. Combined with that P.I.M. Plus shell, this helmet means more miles. We especially liked this helmet’s increased ventilation over previous versions. The top vents and exhaust flow plenty of air on warm tours. Sweat is also managed by HJC’s Multicool interior, which uses an anti-bacterial fabric to wick moisture away. The overall package is sporty without straying too close to an uncompromising race helmet. At $360, this is our undisputed choice for short-haul touring.
We recommend the REV'IT! Airwave 3 jacket and pants for the short haul rider. REV’IT!’s refinement of the Airwave platform has resulted in an adaptable combo that’s an absolute powerhouse on the road. The Airwave jacket and pants are built with high density polyester 600D, PWR|shell mesh, and Lorica. The result is a seriously tough chassis that doesn’t flinch when the weather changes. And if you pack a good base layer, the only thing it won’t tackle is the cold of winter. That said, the jacket and pants both feature waterproof thermal liners. Let the Airwave’s mesh panels flow air in the heat to keep you comfortable. Seeflex armor is along for the ride at the shoulders, elbows, knees, and hips. Zip the Airwave pants and jacket together, and you’re looking at a tenacious warm-weather touring suit that can handle your short tours, your big commutes, and your weekend adventures.
A tourer’s gloves are crucial to a successful trip. That’s why we recommend the REAX Castor Perforated gloves. There are other, fancier touring gloves on the market, but for the short-haul rider, the Castor gloves check all the boxes without breaking the bank. The Castor gloves mix cowhide, goat leather, and TPR impact-absorbing inserts for protection that can go the distance. Other tour-friendly features include touchscreen-capable fingertips and subtle reflectivity. The perforations and tricot lining will keep your hands comfortable while laying down miles on a warm weather tour.
TCX’s outstanding X-Five.4 GTX boots are our top pick for short-haul riders. The X-Five.4’s full-grain leather uppers make for light, abrasion-resistant boots, with all the right reinforcements at the ankles, shins toes, and heels. The Comfort Fit System ensures a perfect contour for your feet, and the Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining handles excess moisture and sweat. These boots aren’t overly technical or complicated, perfect for the no-nonsense tourer. These boots carry a CE certification, too, so you can ride with confidence in their abilities.
Best Budget Motorcycle Touring Gear for Fairweather Riders
When it's "kickstands up," these tour-tough riders answer the call
Maybe these riders are just starting their motorcycle touring careers, or they’re getting back into the game after some time away. Budget gear might also be of interest to anyone who’s crunched the numbers on what a long tour can actually cost, especially if you’ve got luggage, wind protection, and other essentials to buy. No matter what, this guide wouldn’t be complete without a look at the best budget motorcycle touring gear on the market today.
Sedici recently updated the Sistema II with Mips rotational impact protection technology. As a DOT/ECE-approved modular in fiberglass in Kevlar, the Sistema II Mips was impossible to ignore when choosing the best budget helmet for fairweather touring. We liked its stable shell shape and simple pushbutton release for the chinbar. Its comfort rivaled helmets priced significantly higher, yet it still included desirable features like a drop-down sun shield, adjustable padding (forehead and temples, 5mm), and a removable chin skirt. The helmet can accept a Pinlock insert; be sure to get one. The Sistema II Mips proves that you don’t need to break the bank to get a fiberglass/Kevlar modular that’s up for a tour. There’s not much weight penalty over those helmets, either, as the Sistema II weighs in at 3.7 pounds! Not long ago, a helmet like this was impossible. Top marks to Sedici for bringing modular performance to the masses.
The Federico 2 jacket and pants, a recent update to the popular Federico, earned our top pick this year for the budget tourer. The Federico 2 suit walks the line between sport and touring with its waterproof 600D laminate construction. The styling is muted and pretty purposeful, just the way we like it while keeping a tourer’s odometer spinning. The Federico 2 suit includes CE Level 2 armor at the shoulders, elbows, and knees. Hip and back armor can be added for complete protection. We appreciated the adjustability and ventilation of the Federico 2, along with the mesh panels that keep air flowing. Pockets are easy to access with large zipper pulls for access with gloves. Pull on the included thermal liner when temps drop, and ride on.
Touring in warm weather on a budget? We recommend the REAX Tasker Perf gloves. They mix sport glove DNA, short cuff convenience, and the breathable protection of perforated leather at a price that’s hard to ignore. You get protective knuckles, TPR finger inserts, and reinforced outseams to handle the curviest roads on your ride. Creature comforts like touchscreen fingertips, palm pads, wicking liners, and a pre-curved fit push the Tasker Perf back into touring territory.
TCX’s lauded Explorer 4s are the best budget touring boots, bar none. Look to the Explorer 4s’ microfiber panels for protection and comfort. There’s plenty of protection baked in for the ankles, shins, toes, and heels, too. A shift pad prevents excessive wear to the top of the boot as you stir the gearbox. These boots are mostly intended for three-season riding like the rest of the budget gear chosen here. What’s not budget, however, is the extensive use of Gore-Tex on the Explorer 4s. We’re always glad to see Gore-Tex in a boot like this, and for the price, budget-minded tourers owe it to themselves to try the Explorer 4s out.
Frequently Asked Questions
"Adventure" bikes, these are not. Nor are they American V-Twins (not usually, at least) or hunched-over sportbikes. Touring motorcycles, including sport-touring bikes, are strictly for the pavement. They are meant to cross state lines over and over and soak up major highway miles to cover vast distances. Honda's Goldwing set the stage and continues to serve as a good example of what a big bike can do. If the destination is only part of the vacation — with the two-wheel travel time to and fro being part of the fun — then these are the bikes for you.
Without playing favorites, let's consider the needs of long-distance rides. You need something comfortable in the saddle and at the bars to combat fatigue and mild pain. These are generally big bikes and they'll stay firmly planted on the road at highway speed, which you'll be doing plenty of. Storage capacity is another common need, as you're likely doing days away from home at a time. Saddlebags and storage boxes come in handy here.
Not every meteorologist can predict with total accuracy what the weather will be a few days out. Hope for the best and plan for the worst with our picks of the best touring motorcycle gear on this page. If you're going to push ahead in the face of wet weather, we've got you covered with waterproof and windproof apparel. If you're going to roll with punches and do your best despite rough weather, we've got middle-of-the-road touring motorcycle gear for that, too. If you're just getting into the long-distance riding segment and need something warm, safe and comfortable without breaking the bank, you're also in the right place.