Getting Dry - Motorcycle Touring Tips

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Skagit


Getting Dry; Staying Dry

20 Things you can do to keep the wet out

You know how it goes, you're on a ride when sure enough the clouds roll in, the wind starts to blow and before you know it there's a tropical rainstorm right outside your face shield.

If you're on a multi-day trip, you've got your work cut out for you to get your gear dry before you begin your next day, but even if you're on a one day ride, there are some things you can do at the next rest stop to make things a bit more comfortable.

Photo: Placing wet gloves and other gear near a wall heater can be useful or detrimental if you don't keep an eye on things.

Let's begin by talking about things you can do to get dried out and then we'll cover 10 things to do to be sure you ride dry all day long.

  • Leave Your Cotton At Home – When I ride, the only cotton item I have with me is my handkerchief. Everything else is made from synthetics like Polyester which dry out about six times faster than cotton. Blue jeans, cotton tees and socks are a recipe for discomfort when they get wet. Often a moist polyester t-shirt will dry out during a lunch break indoors. They're also lighter and smaller to pack on multi-day trips.
  • Air Hand Dryers – Typically the interior of gloves are the first things to get wet in a down pour. This is because few riders cuff their rain gear over their gauntlets, or don't have water-tight gloves. When this happens you'll find air hand dryers at many rest stops, restaurants and gas stations. Nowadays it seems like every McDonald's has one. Simply punch the unit on, place your glove over the nozzle and let the warm air do the trick. Don't completely wrap the nozzle with your glove, make sure the air goes in and has a space to escape out, this is necessary to allow the moisture to escape. td>

    Wringing out your clothes

    Step 1: Place your wet clothing onto a dry towel

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    Step 2: Fold the towel over the top section (like a burrito).

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    Step 3: Rool it up (like a burrito).

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    Step 4: Place one end of the wrap under your knee and twist the other end tightly (never try this with a burrito).

  • Towels – So while I don't have any cotton on the ride, when I get to the hotel or back home there's always a plentiful supply of towels I can use to dry my wet gear. The interior of saddle bags and tank bags can be patted out and will usually be dry by the morning. For clothing (and this trick comes in handy when you're doing your laundry in the hotel bathroom, too) you can place each article into a towel, roll it up and then wring the towel. You'll get more leverage and a tighter wringing effect if you put one end of the towel between your knee and the floor and use two hands to wring the other end. For gloves, place a dry wash cloth into the glove, wrap the outside of the glove with a hand towel and wring it out. You'll be amazed at how much water a cotton towel will absorb from your gear. If you're using plastic map cases be sure to check them for moisture as it can occur by way of condensation inside.
  • Hair Dryers – Better hotels and motels have hair dryers. These can be used to dry gloves as pointed out in the air dryer section, but you can also use it to dry out luggage interiors, your helmet and so on.
  • Wall Heaters – Now we're getting into the tricky stuff. It's tempting to place your wet gear next to a wall heater in a motel or hotel, but not too close. Unattended clothing might dry out too much and, heaven forbid, catch fire. If you're sleeping then consider your gear unattended because you won't wake up until it's too late. Wall heaters do have a way of drying the air out in your room which over several hours will help dry your gear just by wicking the moisture by virtue that you've dropped the room's humidity.
  • Dry Zone Gear Dryers – These handy gear dryers just came on the market a few years back. They're bags about the size of a cucumber that are filled with silica beads that suck the moisture out of anything wet that lands near them. You can use them in your gloves, boots, helmets, luggage and virtually any other textile item that gets wet. It typically takes about 8 hours to dry a pair of boots or gloves using them. They're a bit cumbersome to carry when touring, but if you've got the space what the heck. You can get them through Sound RIDER!
  • Dry Climate Air Drying – If you go through the desert and experience a torrential down pour, you still might be in luck. Once the clouds clear, even if it's in the evening, the humidity will drop and you'll have good conditions for drying your gear. A combination of the towel wringing trick and air drying in an arid climate works every time.
  • Fire Pits – Ohhhh – you thought the wall heater trick was dangerous, you really better be careful attempting this one. But when you're camping what else can you do? Lots of guys think it's a good idea to lay wet socks and gloves on the stones of the fire pit near the flame. More often than not the results are not good with holes getting burned into socks, boot heels melting and so on. Don't ask me how I know this. You wouldn't throw fresh caught salmon directly onto the coals, but you could use a similar process used to cook salmon and vegetables. Begin by warming a few stones in the fire for an hour or so. Then wrap your wet gear into tin foil, poke a few holes in it, get the stones away from the flames and roast your wet gear on the stones turning about every three to five minutes. For boots, wait for the stones to cool a bit, wrap them in tin foil and place them into your boots, moving them around just as often.
  • Sleep With Your Clothes – An old back packing trick I learned as a kid. Get your clothes as dry as possible and then take them into bed with you. Most of your body heat is coming from your core, so place them near your chest when you go to sleep and move them around during the night whenever you wake up.
  • Find a Laundromat – Just about everything but your boots and helmet will tumble nicely in a dryer and just about any town you drive through has a laundromat, so take advantage and perhaps you can grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee while you're at it. Again, Polyesters dry much faster in a commercial dryer than cotton.

And now for the tips on how to keep from getting wet

  • Water Tight Boots and Gloves – If you plan to ride in the rain and your boots or gloves leak, throw them away now and stop being so cheap when you buy motorcycle clothing. For the same cost as a quality motorcycle jacket you can get a quality pair of boots and gloves that don't leak. If you spend less than that, you'll pay the price later. Your feet and hands are the first things to get cold on your body. If they get wet, they'll get cold sooner, much sooner. That's because water is the ultimate transport system for heat, and when it's cold out you don't want your body heat stolen by water. If you spent $300 on waterproof boots and gloves and they leak, go get your money back.
  • PVC Rain Apparel – Rain suits are an essential part of your riding arsenal. A leaky rain suit is about as good as not wearing a rain suit at all. Again, don't ask me how I know this. After a lot of testing I've come to the conclusion that a PVC coated rain suit is the only way to go. Better manufacturers such as Nelson-Rigg make this gear. When you're buying a set, be sure the seams along the crotch are accessible and can be re-taped easily if one should open up. You can get more tape at an outdoor or fabric store. A lot of riders think that because the manufacturer said their regular riding jacket and pants are waterproof, they don't need a rain suit. We'll talk about the reality of that when you have a chance to ride through the pelting rain for an hour or so on your way to the resort at the top of the beautiful mountain which isn't so beautiful that day. Even if the regular gear is waterproof, the exterior shells takes on about ten pounds of water weight, which incidentally is about seven pounds more than the weight of a quality rain suit.
  • Cuff Your Glove Gauntlets – I mentioned this earlier, but now I'll explain why. When you put on your rain gear, be sure to place your cuffs over the gauntlets of your gloves. This way the water won't run down your arm on the outside and into the gloves at the cuff point. Sometimes it's not easy to get the second cuff over the other hand when you have a set of gloves on…but the person behind the cash register at the gas station will help you out.
  • Seal Your Neck – And while you're cuffing your gauntlets, make sure you seal the top of your rain gear around your neck so the water from your helmet doesn't pour into your upper body.
  • Waterproofers – Water proofers such as Nikwax allow water to be repelled away from textiles when it hits them, rather than immediately penetrating them. Keeping the water away from the inside of your luggage, gloves and boots is critical to keeping dry.
  • Luggage Covers – Better manufacturers of soft motorcycle luggage include rain covers that are PVC coated like that rain suit you swear by. They do the job until the wind gets up under them at which point water can follow or they can blow off your bag at 60 mph on the interstate. Find a solid way to secure them onto your luggage. I often use a Rok Strap or two to secure my luggage cover on my tail bag.
  • Dry Bags – Soft saddle bags often have zippers on them that allow the water to get into them. If that's the case with your bags, purchase a set of lightweight dry bags and put all your belongings into the dry bags, then place them into your saddle bags. Better safe than sorry. Lightweight dry bags can be purchased alongside the meatier ones at outdoor and marine stores. This is also handy if you want to leave your saddle bags on the bike at night because you can just simply grab the dry bags out and easily carry all the gear inside to your room or tent.
  • Plastic Map Cases – Plastic map cases are critical to keeping maps and other paper essentials such as phone contacts dry. Their only drawback is that the air already inside them can condense and get stuff wet anyway. Simply wipe them out with a paper towel now and then along the way.
  • Scott Cloth Your Face Shield Before You Ride – The best anti fog cloth I know of so far is the Scott Cloth from – who else – Scott, the same folks that make ski goggles. The cloth has a solution on it that keeps the moisture that condenses on your face shield from obscuring your view. Without it you'll find yourself having to open your face shield from time to time allowing water droplets onto the inside of the shield. Typically one rub down last a day, but in really wet weather you may need to reapply it a few times during the day.
  • Carry a Seattle Sombrero – This all season utility hat is critical when it comes to rainy or sunny weather. It allows you to do tasks like loading luggage without having to wear a helmet to keep your head dry. Its diversity also allows you to remove your helmet and have sun protection whether you're just gassing up, taking photographs or checking your route. The hat is made by Outdoor Research and you can get them through Sound RIDER! . Much more useful than a baseball cap.SR!

Patrick Thomas/Fall 05

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