Mountain biking is one of the most thrilling sports there is. A day exploring trails through the forest is hard to beat—and the right gear can make or break it. While a quality bike is your number one consideration, the right clothing is critical, too. Here’s a quick guide on what to wear mountain biking.
Protection & Comfort
When you get dressed to go mountain biking, there are two goals you should keep in mind: protection and comfort. Mountain biking can be dangerous, so you want to dress in a way that is going to help you stay safe. At the same time, it’s important to wear items that will remain comfortable for a long day out on the trails. Striking the balance between comfort and safety isn’t always easy, but you can do it when you have the right items in your wardrobe.
Start With Great Shorts
Mountain biking shorts are the foundation of any great mountain biking outfit. While there is a degree of variety within this category, you’ll want to have something that has been specifically designed for the task at hand. Mountain biking shorts are usually constructed with a sturdy fabric, which is important if you take a tumble or two.
Like most biking shorts, you’ll usually find some degree of padding built in, as well, which can make for a far more comfortable day on the trails. Note that mountain shorts may have a little less padding than traditional road shorts—this makes it easier to switch up riding positions on the trail.
The last element to keep in mind when picking out the right shorts is how tight you would like them to be on your legs. This is largely a matter of personal preference. Some riders prefer tight shorts, while others find a relaxed fit to be more enjoyable. Choose whatever is more comfortable for you.
A Jersey For The Job
If you also ride road bikes, you probably have a closet full of jerseys. These are pretty similar to what you will find other mountain bikers wearing, but it’s important to note that they’re not exactly the same. While both styles tend to fit tight to the skin, a mountain biking jersey may be a little more relaxed, as aerodynamics are not as much of a concern. Also, mountain biking jerseys typically feature longer sleeves as a form of protection against scrapes from branches and other foliage. In either case, your jersey will likely be made with synthetic, moisture wicking materials to help keep you cool as you ride.
Don’t Forget Your Feet
As you pedal hard through the trees, your feet are going to be exposed to brush and other obstacles. Be sure to check your bike’s pedal features to make sure the shoes you pick will be a good match. You want shoes that will firmly grip your pedals while still protecting your feet.
In terms of performance, your first concern is how the shoes will work while pedaling, but it’s also worth thinking about how they’ll do while you’re walking. This is particularly important if you are relatively new to the world of mountain biking. You may find that you frequently encounter terrain that you are unable to navigate with your bike, meaning you’ll have to walk through those sections. In this case, look for shoes that are reasonably comfortable when walking and offer the traction you need on tough terrain.
Gloves Are Important
Don’t make the easy mistake of thinking that your road biking gloves will work just fine when you start to explore trails on a mountain bike. Although road and mountain biking gloves are both meant to grip handlebars, that’s about where the similarities end. Mountain biking gloves are designed to cover your fingers completely, protecting you from nasty cuts and scrapes when you traverse (and perhaps fall on) tough terrain.
A Helmet, Of Course
You shouldn’t even consider venturing out for a mountain biking trip without a quality helmet. While the need for a helmet is ubiquitous among all riders, the specific style of helmet you wear will depend on what kind of riding you like to do. If you know that you’ll be dealing with highly technical terrain and the risks that come with it, a helmet with significant coverage is a wise move. Those who take it easy on more spacious trails might not need as much coverage to protect from hazards, but a well-made helmet is still required for a safe and enjoyable day on your bike.
Keep Your Gear Clean & Odor Free
Mountain biking can be a grueling sport, and you’ll probably be covered in grime and sweat in no time. If you’re not careful, your favorite biking clothes can start to stink. You may even find that they stay stinky even after you wash them. This is likely because your cycling jerseys and shorts are made with synthetic materials, while regular detergents are designed to treat cotton. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the stink!
To keep your mountain biking clothing clean and odor-free, simply use a dedicated sports detergent, like WIN Detergent, which is made specifically to get the odor out of synthetic activewear materials.