What To Wear Mountain Biking? (MTB Outfit ideas)

Well, Lads! Like you, I was excited about the bike and its essential gears and what to wear mountain biking. I can imagine your excitement as well.

But wait a minute! Should I let you waste your money as I did? Never.

In my 10 years MTB career, I have learned a lot about mountain bike outfits, techniques, and gear. I advise you not to spend too much on wearables and equipment until you find your comfort zone.

Are you still confused? Don’t worry; I have compelled a list of essentials to wear while mountain biking. I am sure this guide will help you to ride.

What Should You Wear While Mountain Biking?

  1. Shoes
  2. Socks
  3. Knee & Elbow Pads
  4. Shorts/ Padding
  5. Pants
  6. Jersey/ Tops
  7. Jacket
  8. Gloves
  9. Glasses/ Goggles
  10. Helmet

Depending on the conditions, your experience, the duration of your ride, and other factors, you may need to wear different protective gear.

1. Shoes

mountain biking shoes

A biker’s outfit is incomplete without shoes, which make solid contact with the pedals to ensure comfortable riding.

Pedals, handlebar, and seat are three connection points between your body and the bicycle, which must be protected not only for safety but also for grip and speed excitement.

As mountain trails are rugged and hazy, your shoes need to have a solid grip so you can pedal efficiently and cover those rough terrains.

 

What Shoes to Wear Mountain Biking?

Normally there are four types of mtb shoes are used:

Clipped: Riders of cross-country bikes are most likely to use pedals and shoes that are clipped into the pedals.

Clipless: In contrast, clipless shoes look like regular shoes, but they have recessed cleats and tread, which allows the rider to even walk with them.

Flat: The flat shoes contract the pedals with pins and rough surfaces. The soles have tread patterns that aid in firm gripping. These shoes have a place to tie their laces.

Waterproof: Waterproof shoes are often used for winter or snow mountain biking. The water is kept from your feet and the mud is kept off while your feet stay warm.

💡 PRO TIP: While any shoe can be worn for mountain biking, they won’t provide you with a good grip or power transfer as a high-quality shoe will. The flat bottom of skate shoes is a better choice than shoes with lots of knobs and texture on the soles if you are not ready to purchase a pair of dedicated flat pedal shoes.

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2. Socks

mountain biking socks

Socks are another element of mountain biking attire that emphasizes safety while looking stylish.

While I have to travel through a bushy area, long socks protect not only my shins, but my knees, and the soles of my feet from cuts and stretches.

On the other hand, I look for waterproof socks with wicking material when I have to ride in the snow, rain, and wet conditions. However, in summer, breathable and lightweight ones are just perfect.

💡 PRO TIP: Waterproof shoe covers can also be placed on top of your shoes for an extra layer of protection. Women can go for the funny ones.


3. Knee & Elbow Pads

mountain biking knee pads

Depending upon the type of ride, knee & elbow pads are the safety gear you should wear mountain biking.

I don’t usually wear them on easy trails but these are worth wearing for XC, downhill, or enduro riders.

For more technical riding, chunkier knee pads provide outstanding acceleration and comfort. Besides knee and elbow pads, elbow and back protectors are important to use while racing.

With each passing day, knee pads become lighter and more comfortable to provide pedaling comfort and grip.

💡 PRO TIP: When paddling, knee pads are sometimes slippery, making your ride even more uncomfortable. Look for one that stays in place and is long enough to leave a gap between your shorts.


4. Shorts/ Padding

mountain biking shorts

Mountain bikers require easy leg movement and crotch pads to reduce friction. Therefore, shorts are a key mountain bike outfit component that serves many purposes.

You will find multiple options:
  • Baggy shorts
  • Tighter shorts
  • Form-fitting shorts
  • Padded liner shorts

When racing or riding cross-country, a biker should wear slim-fit, tighter shorts; this helps maintain momentum and doesn’t act as a barrier in aerodynamics.

Alternatively, if speed is not important to you and aerodynamics is not an issue, you can go with baggy shorts.

When racing, mountain biking shorts can work better with knee pads since they have more stretch and cuts. Wear lightweight shorts with a short inseam if you ride in a warmer climate without a knee pad. Choose shorts with a long inseam if you ride in a cold environment.

Downhill riding shorts, for instance, should be thicker and longer than shorts for other types of riding.

For mountain bikers who are keenly concerned about muscle movement, form-fitting shorts are preferable because they support the muscles.

The padding used to reduce crotch friction, as well as mountain biking shorts with built-in padding, should be thinner for downhill trailing since sitting and standing are more common. Additionally, most liners are removable, giving the option of wearing underwear with them.

💡 PRO TIP: To avoid abrasion, I don’t recommend wearing non-bike underwear with my liners.


5. Pants

mountain biking pants

Mountain biking also requires you to wear pants.

Most of the time, I wear shorts, but MTB pants are worth it when I have to go through muddy, rainy, or bushy areas.

In some cases (especially for downhill bikers), padded pants are recommended.

A benefit of wearing pants for mountain biking is the slimmer cut at the ankles, which allows room for knee pads. Insulated pants, however, are essential for mountain biking in winter.

💡 PRO TIP: For riding in rainy conditions, wear DWR coated pants, which prevent water from soaking through and keep you dry and comfortable.


6. Jersey/ Tops

mountain biking jersey

Jerseys and tops are not as protective as the gears mentioned above. Nonetheless, when you have to go through different body temperatures due to speed variations, then these are worth wearing for mountain biking.

According to speed and force, your body temperature changes. To regulate your body temperature, I recommend wearing synthetic cloth material or a merino wool jersey.

REMEMBER: No jersey will protect you from scratches if you fall.

You can buy MTB jerseys in both short sleeves and full sleeves.

For summer weather, short sleeves keep you calm, but they are not as protective as full sleeves.

If you fall to the ground, a full-sleeved jersey will protect your arms from the sun’s rays. Depending on the price range, different brands offer different price ranges and colors.

Even though every rider can have different preferences, cross-country mountain bikers prefer lycra jerseys with back pockets and ventilation zips. The main difference between mountain bike lycra jerseys and road jerseys is that mountain bike lycra jerseys soak up sweat better.

💡 PRO TIP: Pocket jerseys are useful if you are not going to pack yourself. It would be better not to wear that jersey during an entire pack ride.


7. Jacket (Optional)

mountain biking jacket

Jackets are not a permanent part of a biker’s outfit unless you live in a cold and snowy climate.

When it’s too cold outside, you may wear a jacket to regulate your body temperature.

I recommend waterproof jackets for better breathability and pit-zips to help you acclimate.

💡 PRO TIP: A waterproof/ breathable jacket is essential for serious protection. Short rides or moderately gloomy weather may call for a featherweight shell that fits in a jersey pocket.


8. Gloves

mountain biking gloves

Gloves are a self-preferred thing to wear while mountain biking in any condition or experience-level.

However, it is another essential piece of equipment since it is the first point of contact with your bike (with handlebars).

When you wear gloves, you can grip the handle better and control the brake lever better, which allows you to ride longer and reduces wrist and arm fatigue.

There are two main factors to look for:

  • How much padded are these gloves?
  • How much of the fingers are covered?

Long rides benefit from the increased padding. Non-padded gloves, however, are lighter, more comfortable, and cooler to provide a better bar feel (especially on technical descents).

💡 PRO TIP: Sweaty hands are uncomfortable, so opt for gloves with full fingers.


9. Glasses/ Goggles

mountain biking glasses

Glasses or goggles are another important gear to wear mountain biking especially when you have to go downhill.

Although at first, I preferred helmets and other apparel, I soon realized that eye protection was also important since eyes are irreparable.2

For regular trails, regular glasses are fine. However, for steep or uneven terrain, eye protection is required to avoid dust, excessive wind, sun glare, and tree branches (the right solution is determined by the location and riding style).

What to look for?

  • Sticks while sweating.
  • Should not contract with a helmet.
  • Keep side areas or glasses wide to see around.
  • Cover your eyes completely from wind and tears.
  • When riding in the dark, choose a clear lens.
  • To reduce glare, choose tinted lenses.

They are paired with helmets and made in such a way that they can adjust with any helmet, making them the choice for most riders over glasses.

💡 PRO TIP: I always recommend having interchangeable lens glasses with a multi-lens option.


10. Helmet

mountain biking helmet

MTB helmets are probably the most important gear in this mountain biking gears list.

Head protection is essential in mountain biking because any other kind of injury can be cured, but if you get hurt in the head, it clouds lead you to senselessness or permanent failure.

Mountain biking helmets are quite different from regular bike helmets. They are designed to cover your ears and lower around your back, which gives you complete protection.

Based on your purpose, the following is a breakdown on how to choose mountain biking specific helmets:

PURPOSE PREFERENCE
Cross-country Choose similar to road biking with proper ventilation.
Regular Trail Riding Look for more protection and coverage (longer on the sides and back).
Enduro Look for more coverage along with a detachable chin bar.
Downhill Look for maximum coverage with full-face and a pair of goggles.

Another technology used in bicycles is called MIPS. It reduces rotational force to protect the brain from damage.

💡 PRO TIP: Never compromise on quality for the sake of saving some bucks. 😀

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What to Wear Mountain Biking in Summer?

Beginners often ask what to wear for mountain biking in summer because they want to keep cool and protected from too much heat. Wear jackets and shirts that are sweat-wicking and ventilated. To help you breathe better, you should wear shorts that are a little oversized and baggy.

You can wear a knee cover if you feel comfortable wearing it without second thoughts, but you can wear a knee pad attached to your back pad as well.

What to Wear Mountain Biking in Winter/ Snow?

Along with basic protective gear, you need to wear

  • Moisture-wicking base layer
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Pants.

Another important thing is to keep your body organs warm like your hands, ears, and hands. I recommend choosing thick and waterproof gloves, woolen socks, etc.

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FAQs

What should you not wear on a mountain bike?

Rather than sneakers, use running shoes, short socks, thin clothing that could suffocate you, and a jacket outside for protection.

Should you wear pads while mountain biking?

Crouching with a pad protects against jump impacts. It is not necessary for regular cyclists, but it is vital for downhill riders with the highest impact of shocks and jumps.

What should girls wear MTB?

Boys and girls can wear mountain bike shorts and other accessories that provide comfort and allow great leg movement while mountain biking; there is no discrimination in clothing or gearing.

Can you wear jeans mountain biking?

Although you can wear jeans, they don’t provide adequate leg space and can restrict your leg movement. But don’t wear it in snowy, rainy, or windy conditions. However, beginners and trail hikers can.

Wrap Up

In bikers’ outfits, there are some items that everyone should have, but in general, MTB outfits vary from person to person or preference to preference. With regards to my suggestion, I must say that I know about gears, but I do not know you, so picking the right gear is up to you.

Even if you are an explorer or an adventurer, you shouldn’t have a hard time exploring what to wear mountain biking.

If you still can’t find the right one for you, let me know in the comment section. I will be more than happy to assist.

Tom Fortune has been reviewing cycling products for several years from his home in the French Alps. As a freelance mountain bike wrtier, he mainly reviews mountain bike products but also reviews road cycling products independently.

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