When mountain biking, comfort and safety are everything. Sure, you can wear anything. Some pro athletes wear denim on gnarly trails. But when you want maximum comfort and protection, you’ll need to know the most important things to wear when mountain biking. We have curated our guide that incorporates different MTB clothing and gear. Here is everything you need to meet your clothing style on the mountain trails.
Material to Wear
The major merit of mountain biking is that you aren’t restricted to Lycra and skinsuit wears, like in cyclo-cross and Short Track Cross-Country Racing. If you are new to mountain biking, you would want to purchase clothes made of synthetic fibers such as spandex, nylon, and wool. The materials pull moisture to the surface, preventing you from having a soggy ride in the summer, which irks a lot. Try to avoid cotton wool because it absorbs moisture and could be the causative of cycling-induced hypothermia.
Investing in a good helmet could save your life. Helmets have evolved from one-size-fits-all helmets to helmets for Enduro racing, downhill racing, and single-track trails. Full-face helmets are ideal for downhill racing and offer unparalleled protection. If you’re on single trials or Enduro, a helmet with a detachable mouth guard is ideal. Removable mouth guards allow you to drink and spit water and give you added ventilation. The helmets have a visor protecting you from rock chippings and low-hanging branches. You shouldn’t skimp on helmet quality. The best helmets sit low on the back of the head and incorporate MIPS technology that reduces the rotational effects on the brain in a crash. Giro fixture MIPS and Troy Lee Designs A3 MIPS are some of the best.
Eye Protective Wear
Goggles protect your eyes from glare and debris thrown off your front wheel. Opt for goggles with interchangeable polarized lenses. Tinted lenses reduce glare and increase contrast in brightly lit areas, while clear lenses aid in cycling in dark conditions. Most cyclists wear goggles for downhill racing. However, it is advisable for you to always wear goggles for MTB. Most goggles are compatible with helmets in a “full Enduro” gear.
A good base is imperative in mountain biking. Biking shoes are either platform pedal compatible or clipless. When people mention clipless goes, they refer to shoes with a clip that attaches to the pedal. Some pedals offer double-sided entry allowing faster clipping when you are in a rush. Clipless pedals and shoes may be hard to master at first, but they become second nature in no time. Your other option is platform shoes that are compatible with platform pedals. Platform pedals are the flat pedals you had on your first bike. Flat shoes go well with platform pedals. Socks also play a crucial role in-shoe comfort – more on that later. Whether you like clipless or platform, you should consider the waterproofing capabilities. A Velcro cover prevents your shoes from getting soggy when it starts raining in the mountains.
Armor and Padding
We’ve never seen any mountain biker, even the pro athletes racing without armor and padding on the hands, knees, and elbows. There are lightweight and thin options for bikers keen on their safety. Thick paddings and armor are the reserves for racers who want to get to the bottom of the hill in the fastest time possible and are susceptible to crashes. Sometimes knee paddings slip off. Especially if you don’t get the right size, ensure the pads snugly fit but don’t constrain knee rotation. Scrapping your knees or hitting your elbows could end your biking career. The faster you race, the more coverage you’ll need. It doesn’t hurt to have a layer of cushioning or two to protect your hands, knees, and elbows.
You will notice there are two types of gloves depending on finger length. For extreme mountain biking, you will need full finger gloves. The gloves have padding on the palm for extra protection in case of slips and nicks. Breathability is essential since long hours of cycling can make your hands sweaty. You need gloves that take up moisture from your hands out to the surface.
Having a good base is the key factor that determines your comfort. Spandex and padded shorts are easing out of the market, replaced by moisture-wicking fabric. You still have spandex shorts with removable liners that allow you to personalize your comfort. Shammies, padded liners, or chamois keep your tush comfortable sitting on the saddle for long hours. Also, consider the pockets and stretchiness of the shorts before buying one. Avoid cotton shorts.
Jerseys, Tops, and Jackets
Jerseys don’t strictly protect you or add comfort. But they determine if you will feel good and look good. Short-sleeved jerseys are generally lightweight and have mesh panels to increase breathability. Riding on a trail with trees and thorns naturally steers you to long-sleeved jerseys. There are different styles and colors to match your aesthetic needs. Like shorts, choose moisture-wicking jerseys. Also, a pocket for storing your phone or racing tag is highly convenient.
You can wear almost any type of socks for MTB. The recommended sock is thick and waterproof to prevent water from seeping into your shoes and getting cold feet (literally). Linen socks are ideal for summer conditions, while you can go an extra layer of thickness with woolen socks.
Cold Weather Clothing
It may not always be a bright sunny day for mountain biking. But should the cold stop you from having fun? The right cold-weather gear allows you to enjoy mountain biking despite the chilly conditions. A thick waterproof jacket acts as a shield against cold weather and wind. If you plan on making mountain biking a year-round activity, we recommend investing in hybrid jackets.
Your head is the most important part of mountain bike racing. You should invest in the best helmets and goggles to protect yourself. Step up your protection game with paddings and armor. Remember, protection doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. A diverse range of colors and apparel styles suit your esthetic and protective needs.