Deciding what to wear while riding the TAT can make or break your trip. To wear something all day that is uncomfortable or just not working out can make for hours of misery. There are many factors to weigh; weather protection, comfort, and most important do you look good in pictures (just kidding, kinda)
There are many ways to say it, dress for the crash, not the ride, ATGATA(all the gear all the time ), and many other sayings about the importance of the equipment you wear. I am a proponent of buying the best gear you can, it is cheaper than a medical bill.
I had two options, my off-road gear I ride on the trails with or my Klim Badlands jacket and pants I wear on the road. Both have pros and cons in comfort, protection, and weather versatility.
My primary concern on the TAT is dealing with the heat. I have ridden in the desert before, and I can tell you if you wore nothing you would still feel like your brain is melting and I ride in east coast humidity were just thinking about putting on your helmet makes you sweat. So the balancing act of protection versus heat stroke is real.
My offroad setup is light as comfortable as you can get wearing protection. I never liked pressure suits, so I wear the Alpinestars A10 roost deflector, Fox Titan elbow guards, Leatte carbon fibre neck brace, Ossur knee braces and Sidi Crossfires. The pros to this setup are it is light, excellent airflow and pretty comfortable all day. The cons are it not very weather versatile, it is hard to layer for the cold or rain easily. Since I wear a neck brace all my layer go under my armour which is beautiful on the trails since a light fleece and windbreaker is the most I wear. I have ridden in the high desert, and the temperature changes are drastic with elevation and fast-moving storms. It is a real pain to layer up or down with armour on. The major con is you have almost no road protection, and I am sure I will be on roads quite a bit. Especially since I will be visiting friends along the way.
Next is my Klim Badlands it excels where the motocross armour fails with weather and road protection. Not as much offroad protection but fine for the TAT. It seems like a great solution, but it is HOT as hell. I know if I wore a black Goretex jacket and pants in the desert, I would probably strap them to the top of my bag before I died of heat stroke. The best protection in the world does no good if you are not wearing it.
So my solution is the Klim Adventure Rally Air jacket and pants and Hit MLV-P air vest. It has the best of both worlds, it vents better than my off-road gear and the badlands pro, since it is a full mesh and has excellent road protection, and you can layer pending upon the weather very quickly with the over jacket and pants. Combined with a heated vest and lightweight fleece, I can handle the heat of Tennessee and cold of the Colorado mountains. The Hit Air MLV-P vest is a lightweight solution to my neck brace plus adds some visibility to me and allows me to strip some of the armour out of the jacket on the road and fire roads if I am roasting.
I can have my protection, and I can eat it too.