After 10 years in the same riding suit, it’s time to pull out all the items I carry and transfer them to the new jacket I’ll be testing this summer.
So now might be a good time to review those items and note which ones are essential to any rider and why. If you clock more than the national average of 4k miles a year, these small tips will go a long way to simplifying your ride.
Keep in mind, a number of these items could just as easily be stored on the bike, but for reasons of convenience and commonsense, they are better stored on your person. As you read down the list, you may be wondering – How much weight does this add to your jacket? A mere 1.5 lbs in my case.
It should come as no surprise, we carry several of these items in our online store to make it easy for you to fill in the gaps and easier for us to keep the lights on. We’ve marked those items with an asterisk (*).
- Full Brimmed Hat* – The folks at your local cancer care alliance are making a mint on the business of cancer. Investing in a full brimmed hat with a Gortex lining like the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero can save you thousands in cancer clinic costs later. The beauty of this hat is you can fold it down small and it always springs back to life getting the job done whenever you remove your helmet. And when the rain kicks in, it’s got you covered with that Gortex liner.
- Snacks – We all have our favorites and having those snacks right in your pocket means you can reach for them even if you’ve walked away from the bike. Obviously anything with chocolate might not be a good idea. Personally, I’ve whittled it down to one food choice – Organic Roasted Almonds. A snack that tastes good, is good for you, and has a long shelf life. When I need to satisfy my appetite, 10 of these and 8 ounces of water makes everything right again.
- Smart Phone – It used to be a cell phone allowed you to make phone calls. Today, smart phones are the Swiss Army knife of motorcycle touring with useful apps including those for a camera, flashlight, maps, directions, weather, city guides, music player, calculator, email, office apps, and on and on. But don’t store it in your tank bag! If you and your bike separate, you’ll want the phone on you, not several hundred feet away… down a hill… in a river… at night… getting inspected by a bear…
- Reading Glasses – All right, if you’re under 40, you can probably skip this one. For the rest of us, it’s simple enough to find a small pair of readers that pack up in their own sealed circular container so they don’t get scratched and covered in dust during the journey.
- Microfiber Cloth*/Face Shield Cleaning Spray* – Microfiber cloths weren’t easy to come by 10 years ago. Now you can buy them by the dozen at the home improvement store. I personally prefer the Heininger cloths we sell because the tips are split 4,000 times, making them very effective at removing dirt and grime. I keep one in my left pocket along with a small spray bottle of my favorite face shield cleaner. During a 300+ mile day I’m reaching for this at least three times.
- Spare Key – There are more spare key tales of woe than you’ll ever want to know. Be prepared and always carry a spare key on your person, not stored in a locking luggage compartment.
- Broken Key Removal Tool* – If a key snaps at the collar of the insert point, you may not be able to remove it with a simple pair of needle nose pliers, or other gadgetry found in a multi tool such as a Leatherman. Broken key removal tools will help you extract the broken key, but they are not easy to find, which is why we carry them in our online store. Then you just grab your spare key and you’re on your way. Ever consider the other option = tow bike to locksmith, pay for extraction and key cutting – about $700. Again, this tool belongs on your person and not stowed in a locked compartment.
- Pen/Sharpie - You never know when you’ll want a pen. A sharpie is a nice edition as well for marking air pressures onto rims, labeling a Ziploc bag with broken parts or otherwise.
- Utilasil Backpack* – This tiny ultra-light collapsible bag is indispensable. It can be used to store liners in when it’s time to peel layers and there’s no more storage on the bike, or when you want to make a grocery run at the end of the day.
- Neck Gaiter* – A lightweight gaiter helps keep the heat in on cold days and keep the bugs off your neck on warm days.
- Zip EZ’s* – Have you tried opening or closing the vents on your jacket, with your gloves on, as you ride? It’s a tad tricky unless you have some sort of extended leverage on those zippers. Our Zip EZ’s provide that and are reflective so you don’t trip over your jacket at night.
Those are the ten essentials as we see it, but here are a few other thoughts.
- Passport in a Ziploc – smart travelers always keep their passport on their person, but since we’re out riding motorcycles in all kinds of weather, let’s keep it stored in a heavy duty Ziploc bag.
- Paper – Store a few sheets in a Ziploc for making notes when needed.
- Key EZ* – I keep one of these on my jacket and store my bike key there when I’m not riding. Beats the heck out of reaching into a pocket once I’ve already mounted the bike.
- Kickstand Pad* – So, you put down the kickstand and you see the bike starting to sink. Uh-oh. Simply reach into your pocket and drop down a kickstand pad, if you don’t already have one on the bike itself.
- Garage Door Opener – Most aftermarket units are very small and simplify leaving and getting back home.