The Atacama Jacket and Pant at altitude in Colorado, USA
Jesse Felker takes his Adventure Spec gear on an Alpine mountain adventure

If you love elevation, then Colorado has a treat for you. We drove up into the thin air, unloaded bikes, and rode over mountain passes at nearly 13,000ft (3900m) for a couple weeks on the Alpine Loop.

Located between the towns of Ouray, Silverton, and Lake City in Colorado, this route features a multitude of side roads that take you over insanely scenic views, with more abandoned mines than you have ever seen before. 

However, with shortness of breath and engine issues from the altitude, the cold, and being far from a major city or cell phone service, spending time here can be rough... especially in the off season.

Trees can’t even grow in most of this area, just think that over for a minute. However, with a bit of extra effort, it can be absolutely worth it. 

Read further to see how ADVSPEC gear made this trip possible.

Free dispersed camping is absolutely plentiful here, especially in the off-season. The majority of our stay, we didn’t pay to camp. By driving just a few minutes out of Ouray or Silverton, we’d park and not relocate for over a week at a time. Other times, we could drive right up to a trailhead of the Loop, and find a dispersed campground available for visitors right at the entrance to the fun. By this season, most campers are gone so it was very quiet.

We arrived just as the leaves on every Aspen tree across the state were turning bright yellow. This was a beautiful sight, as well as a reminder that it was getting Watching fall set in, we quickly knew what gear we needed to select.

For the entirety of this trip, I used a cold weather layering setup of the Atacama Race suit.

With all of the “boulder hopping next to cliff edges” and surprise 4x4s going a bit too fast in blind corners, I opted to be in a suit that easily integrates my neck brace, and also adapts for changes in weather so I could ride a bit faster and closer to the edge.

Core Long Sleeve base layer

Baltic Hybrid mid layer

Atacama race jacket and pants, armor installed

Atacama Race Shell

My girlfriend, Casey, wore the same setup but with the Mongolia Jacket and Pants and Aqua Pack Jacket instead.

The Alpine Loop was essentially built from mining operations, and the remains of the structures used have been left for time to take hold of, while allowing people like us to find and explore within.

Abandoned homes, mineshafts, cart tracks, and foundations of massive mills are all still there to be explored on foot (moto boots recommended).

This was very reminiscent of the days of my youth, discovering awesome places near my house that I have no business climbing on and trying to unravel the mysteries of what was once there. However, this may have never stopped now that I think of it.

The unique part about these mining communities is that they are up in the Alpine Tundra, a brutal place to live, where they often were trapped from the rest of the world by heavy snowfall. The determination of these people must have been rewarded well, if they survived at all.

Even on our leisurely adventure, riding a dual sport through these ghost towns in October was cold, let alone once the snow arrives.

These trips required the Baltic mid layer to block the rush of chilly air passing through my Atacama’s mesh, and when the evening started setting in it was supplemented with my neck brace incorporated jacket shell.

Although the Linesman may have been more suitable, I chose to layer and keep the neck brace integration.

Most of our days consisted of waking up early to top off our generator, and wait for the sun to reach the bikes before hopping on them. Armed with a chest pocket full of bottled oxygen and our jacket shells stowed in our luggage, we would take off in a new direction and discover a new feature every single time.

Aside from the scattered mining remains, few vault toilets, and important signage, this entire area is untouched for miles upon miles. Before embarking on our rides, we made sure to have tools and equipment in case of a mishap. You’re totally on your own out there, and may not see another person for hours at a time, so we always left our camp prepared for the worst.

Tubes (for Casey only..who is tube?), satellite communicator, water, nothing out of the usual... except for carrying supplemental breathing oxygen in a convenient travel can somewhere within reach while sitting on the bike in case you dump your bike and spend three minutes pulling it out of a small ditch up at 12,400ft (3780m) and realize you can’t breath and are about to pass out just as you turn your key back on so you take a few hits and slowly remember your first name again... and just reading that aloud I’m out of breath, again.

Leaving camp, it only took a minute to turn into a scenic, fun ride. The roads are very primitive and rough, and as I remember it I was standing up more often than not to handle the jarring rocks and potholes. We followed the water backwards up the mountain, at times even riding under overhanging rocks.

Our first ride out, we saw the top of the mountain in the distance. After riding through tight valleys with steep forested hillsides, we’d reach the “top”, only to see the actual top on the horizon.

After multiple occasions of this repeated process (possibly every 1000ft in elevation), we began to feel like we were in a video game environment that just kept rendering new mountains the farther we traveled. This could be a good thing... maybe my bike will respawn if it blows up and I can ride a brand new one down.

As our elevation gained, the sun set farther, dropping the temperature fast. We were quickly in our outer shells as we descended back down to town.

Even at temperatures down to 25°F/-3°C, the shell/Baltic combination took our “hot weather gear” and turned it into almost “all weather gear”.

We did supplement with a mid-layer pant as we found ourselves closer to the looming Colorado winter, which caught up to us surprisingly fast.

Our last couple days on the Alpine Loop were spent waiting out a snowstorm, and then immediately heading back out for a ride. After a few good (accidental) tests of the ForceField armor, we were ready to get out of Colorado to some dry, red rocks.

No motorcycle apparel can stop the sad reduction in traction the icy roads bring, but it can absolutely help you get to better weather warm, dry, and comfortable.

Odoo • Image and Text


Jesse Felker is a freelance media professional based out of the Western half of the USA, living full time in a 1983 Chevy van.

Along with him is his girlfriend, two bikes, two dogs, a cat, and a lot of memories to be made.


Adventure Spec clothing is designed around the principle of ADV Layering.

Our gear is designed to be used as part of a system that makes sure you are in the right clothing for the conditions you are riding. 

Odoo • Text and Image

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