What to wear mountain biking can be challenging to figure out, but it doesn’t need to be. The beauty of it is, mountain biking clothes can be anything from tight-fitting spandex to comfortable, breathable shorts.
Here are some quick tips on dressing to impress and knowing what to wear mountain biking to be as safe and happy as possible while riding.
What to wear for mountain biking
The absolute most important thing to wear while mountain biking is your safety equipment. Anytime you’re on the trails, taking a tumble is possible, and preparation is key to getting right back up.
The most obvious first piece of safety equipment is the helmet to protect your most valuable asset on the trail. While it may have been embarrassing to wear a helmet as a kid, now it is the exact opposite. If you forget every other piece of equipment, don’t get on the bike without your helmet.
Mountain biking is a fast-paced sport with a lot of surprises. When the unexpected root or rock comes, it’s good to be strapped with knee and elbow pads in preparation for the possibility of a fall.
While most riders remember to cover their heads, they often forget about the need to protect the eyes. Goggles or glasses can be a valuable piece of safety equipment while mountain biking. Branches that stick out or hang low can easily whip your face, damaging your eyes if left unprotected.
Pedaling and riding tend to create a lot of friction. Friction can start to get uncomfortable if you haven’t worn the right clothing to protect your skin from it. Chamois, liners, and underwear specifically for mountain biking are your best bet for finding comfort while riding.
Chamois, pronounced “sha-mee,” are a pair of shorts or bibs with extra padding to increase comfort and reduce any soreness while riding. Chamois butter brings an extra level of friction reduction to help your chances of walking away without chafing considerably.
Liner shorts are another great option for bringing down the friction while riding. The tight-fitting underlayer will protect your skin and help wick away moisture that can lead to even worse chafing.
If the cold temps and snowy trails call your name, then a base layer that will provide additional warmth will be essential. This needs to be anything but cotton, or it will hold all of the moisture your body made on the ride and get you even colder.
Covering the Extremities
Your feet and hands are necessary to stay in control while riding, which means they need to be taken care of as well. Gloves are a great addition to your mountain biking clothes as they provide a better grip on the handlebars and add another layer of protection in case of a fall.
Down at the feet, you need proper protection from friction, cold, and any accidental small collisions. Good socks and the right shoes are going to boost your experience immensely. Regular shoes are great at first, but mountain biking shoes add extra security in the system and protection for your feet as you progress.
On the Outside
On the exterior, your mountain biking clothes can be just about anything. You want shorts, a jersey, and a jacket (if it’s colder) that are comfortable, breathable, and don’t get in the way. Any cotton clothes are going to suck sweat in and hold them forever. Merino-wool and synthetic fabrics are the top choices for a workout this extreme.
Remember the moving parts on the bike where cloth can get trapped and ripped before putting on baggy pants. Loose-fitting clothes can be okay to wear mountain biking as long as you are aware of where they are and they won’t catch anywhere on the bike.