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Making bad decisions on motorcycles (or Russian sidecars) has consequences. I’m able to ameliorate the consequences of frequently awful decisions by wearing the best safety gear available. This is what I was wearing when I crashed last weekend, it, in addition to Sean, is the reason I’m able to type this (slowly) today.

Alpinestars Tech 10 Boots

These are bulky, heavy, look ridiculous and, at nearly $600, extremely expensive. But, I can crash bikes safe in the knowledge that it’d take a collision with a freight train to damage my feet, ankles or shins. That’s an empowering feeling. Like other Astars boots, an inner bootie prevents extreme movement of the ankle while allowing freedom of movement within a preset degree. That’s then backed up by ridiculously heavy duty impact protection absolutely everywhere. These took over a year to break in, but now I can’t imagine riding off-road in anything else. An added bonus now that I live in California is that they vent extremely well. No sweaty feet for me.

Camelbak Hydropak

This is literally the cheapest Camelbak available, but it’s all you really need. Its 1.5-liter capacity is enough to see me through an entire morning or afternoon of hot dirt riding, provided I take care to hydrate before setting off. I bought this for Moab years ago, figuring it’d last one trip, but its since been across Labrador and to countless other places too and its as good as new. Just make sure it dries out completely inside before you store it or it’ll get mouldy. Simple, cheap, effective.

For those of you that don’t use one of these yet, you’re being a bit silly. Hydration affects brain function, you might find yourself saddled with Wes-like judgment if you aren’t topping up as you ride.

Dainese MX Gloves

These are the gloves I wrote a love story to, then threatened to retire, then wore across Labrador. Now I really need to stop wearing them, this crash holed the left palm. Quality construction, street bike safety (leather palm), dirt bike ventilation (textile back). Perfect.

AGV AX-8 Dual

Guess it’s time for a new one of these. You’ve already read my thoughts on its effectiveness on the street, but it turns out it really does work off road too. Ventilation remains excellent, even without a dirt-style open chin vent. You can swap that out for one from the dedicated AX-8 dirt helmet, something I plan to do with my next AX-8 Dual, should be hot here when I start riding again in about 5 weeks. Light, comfy, cool.

Alpinestars Bionic Protection Jacket for BNS

You need one of these if you’re going to wear an Astars neck brace, its chest armor is cut a little low to accomodate the collar and a panel in the back protector velcros off to make room for that back plate. Otherwise, its essentially the Alpinestars Bionic Protection Jacket, which is a good thing. Its comfy and safe.

The left arm is zipped off in these photos, my life is a wreck right now and I can’t find where that sleeve is buried.

Thor Jersey and Pants

These are just some unwanted things that a friend bought home from work one day. They work awesome though. The jersey is mesh, meaning it ventilates extremely well, and the pants are tough and fit well. A heavy duty zipper and velcro closure keeps them on. Both of these survived a collision with a log and some barbed wire unscathed.

Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guard

Probably the least sexy item in my arsenal of riding gear, these $25 protectors nevertheless do their job extremely well. They’re bulky, sure, but provide excellent coverage and cushion impacts unbelievably well. No need for tall socks or armor liners either, they don’t pinch or chafe. I’ve been meaning to replace them with some whizz-bang braces for a while, but never got around to it because these work so well.

2012 Alpinestars Bionic Neck Support Carbon

The doctors say this saved my life. I think they might just be exaggerating because they see so many unprotected riders coming in with horrendous injuries. Whatever, I was wearing it and my neck's not broken, who knows.

Neck braces are a relatively new entry to the motorcycle protection game and something of an odd one. They’re expensive and require add-on, specific gear like that jacket to work. But, MX racers swear by them. I’m always on the lookout for better gear, so figured why not. Once you get the right fit (kinda like a helmet, fit is personal and necessary) and get used to putting it on, it’s virtually unnoticeable and is just there to prevent the helmet from tilting too far in any direction or squishing your neck.

This is the new 2012 model that won’t be out till next month. It brings the price of the lighter carbon version down from $530 to $400, which will be a much easier pill to swallow and makes the brace more competitive with rival products from Leatt. New graphics too.

Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts

These look a bit unwieldy, but it turns out they’re just as comfy as my old compression shorts. That two-part hip armor is the key, allowing for natural movement. The hard coccyx protector is unnoticeable too. These are just one of those high quality, well thought out products that feel good when you put them on. They fit well, ventilate effectively and a silicon strip in the leg prevents them from riding up, without tearing off your leg hair. That armor is seriously confidence inspiring too, a trait shred by all this gear and probably a big part of the reason I’m free to make the bad decisions I make.

Don’t be like me and crash all the time, but please be like me and protect yourself from the consequences if you do.

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