The best adventure riding jacket, as far as I’m concerned, is the Adventure Spec Mongolia mesh jacket. You may have seen me talk about this jacket in my comprehensive adventure motorcycle packing list. I go through a quick overview of the jacket there and why I love Adventure Spec’s layering system, but in this article, I’m going to give it a full break down and the attention it SO deserves.
In my recommendation for this jacket, I’m talking about real adventure riding. Not road riding a GS and claiming it’s adventure. I’ve gone skidding down rocky hills with only this jacket between me and the dirt a few times now, and that’s the type of riding I’m referring to.
The Greatest Adventure Riding Jacket MUST Be Part of a Layering System
It’s a bold claim, but one I want to get out of the way from the beginning.
I know many people who complain about layering systems as fundamentally flawed, due to the fact that you’ll occasionally have to stop to add or remove a layer. These are also the same people that enlist my help to struggle with zippers for 20 minutes when needing to add or remove the waterproof liner or closing vented sections.
Time is really only a consideration in a race, as it takes seconds to pull the outer layer out of my Kriega R20, which is incidentally my favourite motorcycle backpack, and then I’m off and away again. Adventure riding is about long distances and conservative paces, so the argument that it will take time is a moot point.
How & Why a Layering System Works
When I was chasing the Dakar through Peru and then continuing on along the edge of the Andes, the temperatures and conditions changed drastically.
The Atacama desert at sea level was a scorching 45 degrees Celsius (over 113 Fahrenheit) with no shade and the wind was dry and hot. Within 30 minutes of heading through the hills, we were down to 25 degrees as we crawled up to the higher altitudes with the bikes getting less and less power. Another 20 minutes and it was starting to rain, and within a few hours we were riding through freezing clouds, being pelted with hail and found ourselves in snow.
One jacket to manage all these conditions is not going to be comfy in any of them. Carrying three separate riding jackets would take up far too much space. The only practical solution is to have one riding jacket that can have additional layers added or stripped down.
The Mongolia jacket is nearly all mesh, made from 1000D Cordura nylon and is the most breathable protective garment I’ve ever clapped eyes on. It’s got the goods when it comes to abrasion resistance and yet, still allows more wind to come through than any motocross style shirt I’ve ever worn. This is surprising as you’d expect a super light garment to let the most through.
Once it started getting cold, we simply pulled over, put our middle layer on and were good to go within a minute. The Adventure Spec Baltic mid layer actually saves space, because it looks awesome and can replace your normal jacket in your luggage. A cornerstone of packing for adventure riding is that every item you take should at least serve two purposes.
Once it started raining, on went the Klim Gore Tex Over-Shell Jacket. Another 35 second process. I haven’t personally fallen off while wearing the Klim outer layer, however one of Dad’s straps in Peru came loose and melted against the muffler. With the straps loose, the jacket came out and got wrapped around the wheel, got pulled through the brake caliper and pulled tight against the muffler. Amazingly it was still perfectly intact other than a few scuff marks. That’s bloody strong stuff.
I also believe that the way the thick 1000D nylon is weaved in the Mongolia jacket, is responsible for saving the soft tissue/tendons etc in my right arm. I was jousted off my bike by a broken branch tip that caught me right on the inside of my right elbow when I was in Thailand. It was enough force to rip me off the bike and send me head first into a river where the bike landed on top of me. I’m convinced it would have done a lot of damage if I was wearing a normal riding shirt. This was also in the very hot, very humid tropics where it handled the weather conditions perfectly.
The Best Mesh Riding Jacket
I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with riding gear technology. When I first got my hands on the Mongolia mesh jacket, it revolutionised my world.
I’ve had a look at and even tested all the other major players for mesh jackets. Nothing comes close. Klim have the overall adventure market, RST Moto cater for those on a tighter budget, but no jacket looks after true, long distance adventure riding involving heat, snow, dust and sliding along your belly on a rocky track like Adventure Spec’s Mongolia jacket.
The Best Adventure Riding Jacket
So there you have it, my opinion on the best adventure motorcycle jacket and layering system that money can buy. The Adventure Spec Baltic mid layer, Mongolia mesh jacket and the Klim Gore Tex Over-Shell Jacket. The perfect trio.