What to Wear

Starting at the top and working down …


You should have a properly fitted helmet, an incorrectly fitting helmet can be dangerous. Retailers will have someone on site that can assist you in finding a correctly fitting helmet. If your helmet is over four years old, get another one, they are not designed to last forever, and its probable that the lining in yours has compressed and it is now quite loose to wear.

Don’t be tempted to get a dark visor, they are good in bright light but not easy to change for a clear one when conditions change and you need to carry a spare visor, not easy with todays rigid plastics. Some helmets come with a secondary dark visor built in, this can be a useful addition and it makes changing light conditions easy to manage. A good compromise is the Pinlock system that involves a secondary visor that is attached inside your own visor. Easily changeable for a darker or lighter one they are also great at helping prevent your visor mist up in cold or damp conditions – just like double-glazing.

Most modern helmets have built in vents, remind yourself how to open and close them and how they can help regulate the flow of air so that you can do it while on the move.

Take a good supply of disposable earplugs, make sure you have at least one pair per day. They are at their best when new and you will probably avoid an ear infection and accompanying balance problems. They only cost about 20p per pair if you buy them in quantity. Fitted ear plugs are of course just as good. But make sure that you clean them regularly to avoid the ear infection and balance issues as with disposable ones. Noise can be very tiring, and it is important that you take every precaution to maintain your concentration levels.

Jacket / Trousers:

This is purely personal, some riders prefer to wear the traditional leather suit, one-piece or two piece, when riding the bike, some don’t.

Modern leather suits are ventilated to cope with warm conditions but are not waterproof. This means carrying a separate waterproof suit, and stopping to put it on when it rains, or wearing it “just in case” and then getting off the bike wet anyway because of the condensation that has formed on the inside.

When touring I prefer the flexibility of a good textile/Gore-Tex® suit. Modern suits have the capability to deal with most weather conditions with stopping to add or remove additional layers. Warm weather is handled by opening specially designed “zip up” vents to let in extra air flow. Wet weather is handled by design, Gore-Tex® and waterproof membranes keeping you warm and dry.

Some textile suits have multiple layers that can be added or removed as required. These can be really good, but you just have to be careful to have the appropriate additional layers handy. One of the current suits on the market has the outer jacket which is ventilated, a waterproof lining, and a warm lining. Very flexible, but you have to be careful not to get caught out by a surprise shower, riding in wet gear is not pleasant.

Leather or Textile, the choice is yours, both can be used for touring, but it is essential to have the correct body armour in place whatever you choose.

Under Garments / Inner Wear:

There are many companies that are manufacturing liners and inner wear, some to keep you warm, some help to keep you cool. Personally I find a clean, long sleeved t-shirt each day works very well for the top half, keeping you warm when it’s a bit cool and keeping you dry by wicking moisture away from you skin. If the weather is looking really cold, a good old-fashioned pair of long-Johns keeps the legs warm.

Some people swear by heated vests and trousers. Technology has come a long way and these types of liners are very effective, a question I ask myself is what happens if they break down? If this is my only way of keeping warm I could be in a spot of bother. Do you carry additional clothing “just in case”. I’m old school, I leave technology out of it, a pair of Long-John’s can’t break down!

Wearing the right clothes is very important; trying to wear multiple layers can be restrictive and reduce blood flow. Far better to wear a single layer of the right stuff.

If you suffer from a sore bum, and some of us do after many miles in the saddle, try cycling shorts, the ones with Gel inserts.


Keeping your hands warm and dry is vitally important. Its not necessary to wear a fully waterproof glove all the time. Its quite nice to wear a lightweight, ventilated, glove in the searing heat of mid Spain, but carry a pair of waterproof gloves too, just in case. A pair of XL rubber gloves can sometimes be worn over summer gloves, they keep the wind and rain out, and pack up quite small.


There is a huge array of boots on sale, but the key point to look out for is “are they waterproof”. Its not much fun riding with wet feet, so keep them dry. Whether you choose Gore-Tex® or leather is up to you, but make sure they are waterproof.

Waterproof socks have been around for a while, and although they work and do a great job of keeping for feet dry, having your boot full of water can’t be good. Whichever way you go, look after them and they will look after you.

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