ADV Spec Baltic Hybrid mid layer jacket in the Tunisian Sahara Desert

By Roman Bale

I am a motorcycle enthusiast from Slovenia who used to be a motorcycle journalist, so I got my hands on many test bikes in the past.  This all changed about 12 years ago when I got my first enduro bike to test for a magazine. That was a turning point for me and I soon left street bikes and bought my first enduro. Over the years I swapped several enduro bikes and evolved my trips into adventure enduros to some of the most remote places, tracking down paths far away from touristy destinations, hotels and restaurants. I prefer to sleep outside by the fire, under the stars. With off road experience I gained over the years I seemed to have a good background to become one of the Trans Euro Trail Linesman and I now cover TET Slovenia and TET Albania.

Roman enjoying a local brew in Tunisia
Campfire delight

For me, I am motivated by making the next motorcycle adventure more challenging. The more demanding it gets the more rewarding it is at the end. I guess I keep making it harder and harder for the next endorphin hit. For this to work I need to evolve over time as well as the bike and gear to keep up with future adventures that I throw in front of me. For this purpose I fully adventurised a Husqvarna 701, which was the most appropriate base of the bike for my needs. The bike is now upgraded with Aurora Rally Equipment tower and fairing for better wind protection when travelling and is also race ready, having rally navigation equipment bolted on. Lots of other upgrades were done to make the bike tailored for my needs.

 

My very recent adventure was to ride with 701 to the most remote oasis ,Ain Ouadette in Grand Erg Oriental, which is hidden in the deepest corner of Tunisian Sahara. To accomplish that, it takes a few days riding in deep Saharan sand and a very determined rider to make it there if you ride anything heavier than 250-450 ccm enduro.

 


I am sure I am not alone on this, but before every big trip there is always one more piece of equipment I think I need to buy, to take my adventure closer to perfection. I love to travel and pack light, so I am always in a search of advanced versatile gear. 


 

For the Saharan Ain Ouadette oasis adventure I needed a jacket that would keep me warm both inside a sleeping bag on a cold desert night and during the evenings by the fire.

 

But to save space I also needed the same jacket to be used as part of a layering system when on the bike, to be worn over the body armour. That’s why I decided to give it a try and spoil myself with the Adventure Spec Atacama Baltic Hybrid Jacket just days before the trip. Boy did that jacket deliver in so many ways!  I did not expect that this thin material would be able to give so much warmth on a cold desert morning before the sunrise.  It’s nice to be already warm while collecting bush firewood around in the desert, to make morning fire and a nice coffee.

The jacket is very stretchy where it needs to be and can be worn over body armour and under an outer layer, which is great, since it’s a quick task to take it off when riding gets technical or the day gets warmer.

 


The jacket is extremely lightweight and packs small, so it does not take much space in the top roll or in a back pack when not needed. It’s all I was looking for in one mid layer jacket and even more.


 

I am just returning from the trip and first thing I’ll do is give it a wash, so I’ll keep using the jacket on a daily basis as a casual wear since it looks cool and is really comfortable to wear too!

Adventure Spec offers lots of different high quality riding gear, bike parts and tools in their shop. I am equipped with various items, but would like to point out also Adventure Spec engine case guard designed for 690/701. It’s hard to imagine that such inexpensive piece probably saved my expedition to Ain Ouadette oasis. The protective engine cover efficiently absorbed the shock from hitting a big rock which would probably result in punctured magnesium engine case in the middle of a sand storm due to low visibility. I could be left stranded deep in the desert with oil running down my boots.

 

The big advantage of the covers is that they are not attached with bolts, but are taped with adhesive straps. This gives the required slide movement of the covers in case of hard frontal hit so the cover absorbs more impact and protects the engine case better.  It’s exactly what happened in my situation when hitting a big pointy rock at 45 km/h. I lost the rear brake and snapped the snake wire also, but that was a good sacrifice compared to what could have stopped the adventure miserably.

 

All in all I come from a country which, with 65% of forests, the third greenest country in Europe. That gives you a feeling that riding in a desert must be a whole different experience for someone like me. It sure was very difficult to reach Ain Ouadette oasis with a bike that weighs over 160 kilos geared up and on some days the sand was really dry and soft so riding conditions were challenging.

 

But with some luck and the right equipment I made it!