What To Wear When Mountain Biking

a man is mountain biking with netuno pro electric mountain bike

Comfort, weather conditions, protection, and personal style determine what to wear for mountain biking.

In general, trail riders and downhill riders tend to opt for a baggy kit consisting of loose-fitting shorts with a pair of padded Lycra shorts underneath and a loose-fitting jersey. In contrast, more race-focused cross-country riders will often go full Lycra.

If you’re just starting, the best kit is the one you already have, but as you progress, chances are you’ll want clothing designed for the specific demands of mountain biking.

Ultimately, the choice is totally up to you, and you should wear whatever you feel comfortable in.


a couple wearing helmets when ride e-bikes

A helmet is really essential for mountain biking. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

A helmet is an essential piece of kit for mountain bikers. The chances of slipping, crashing, or bumping into a tree or rock are much higher than for commuters or most road cyclists, so head protection is crucial.

Helmets designed specifically for mountain biking generally have an integrated peak, which helps keep sun and rain out of the rider’s eyes and deflect low-hanging branches.

A mountain bike helmet also sits lower around the back and sides of the head to provide better coverage.

For bike parks, downhill riding, and downhill and enduro racing, mountain bikers usually wear a full-face helmet, which offers all-around protection.

2.Glasses or Goggles

Glasses or goggles help protect your eyes from the sun and dirt kicked up by your front wheel. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Glasses or goggles are essential for protecting your eyes from sun glare and debris thrown up by your front wheel.

Look for glasses with interchangeable lenses and multiple lens options, which lets you swap the lens according to the conditions.

a man with glasses is introducing his e-bike on the grasslands before mountain biking


Mountain bike jerseys tend to have a loose cut. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Most MTB jerseys will have a loose cut and come in short-sleeve, three-quarter, or long-sleeve options.

A short-sleeve jersey will keep you cooler in summer, but a long-sleeve jersey will offer a little more protection for your arms - both from the sun and nettles, thorns, and branches. Some long-sleeve jerseys will have mesh panels to improve breathability.

Prices are generally lower than the best cycling jerseys for road cycling, and there’s a huge range of colours and designs out there.

4.Shorts, Liner Shorts, and Baggy Shorts

Cross-country riders may wear Lycra shorts, but most mountain bikers prefer baggies. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Padded shorts are a good idea because mountain biking, by its very nature, takes place on rough terrain, and riders spend time repeatedly getting in and out of the saddle.

Road-cycling-style bib shorts with a chamois pad are ideal either on their own or, more common for trail riding, as an underlayer with a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts over the top.

a couple wearing mountain bike jerseys and liner shorts take a rest on the grasslands after cycling

5.Waterproof Trousers

Riding trousers will help keep you warm, dry, and clean in muddy conditions. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

If you ride year-round and live somewhere with an inclement climate (like us here in the UK!), then riding trousers will make a big difference in muddy conditions.

Riding trousers will not only help keep you dry but also provide warmth when the temperature drops and stop you from getting caked in mud (even if your kit still takes the brunt of it).

Like jackets, riding trousers are normally available in waterproof and water-resistant variants.

Waterproof trousers are likely made from a hardshell fabric – the kind of waterproof trousers you might expect to use for hiking – and offer plenty of protection from the rain, but at the cost of breathability.

Water-resistant trousers are more likely to be made from a softshell fabric, offering improved fit and durability and a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment to shed rain.

Fit is key when it comes to riding trousers. You want something close enough to avoid the material flapping or getting in the way but with enough room not to restrict pedalling. An articulated cut will help in that respect, too.

Added extras such as Velcro tabs on the ankles for a close fit and abrasion-resistant materials are also useful.

a man wearing waterproof trousers ride his e-bike in the mountainous forest

6.Knee Pads and Other Protection

Keep your knees in good nick with some impact protection. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Most riders wear knee pads at a minimum if riding any trail with an above-average chance of taking a spill. Or just for peace of mind.

There are more lightweight options than ever before that offer protection while still being able to pedal comfortably. For more technical riding, there are chunkier pads available.


Gloves are a year-round essential to protect your hands. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Full-finger gloves are favoured by most mountain bikers and provide more comprehensive protection than mitts.

The coverage provided by full-finger gloves helps protect the hands from crashes and undergrowth, and some gloves will come with padding on the palms to provide additional cushioning.

Mountain bikers wear full-finger gloves rather than fingerless gloves or mitts. Look for gloves with carefully placed grippers. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media

Look for gloves that have carefully placed grippers so you’ve got full control over the brakes and shifters.

Full-finger gloves also provide welcome insulation and windproofing in the autumn, winter, and spring when riding in cool or wet conditions.

the rider with gloves and knee pads carries his e-bike on his shoulders after getting to the mountain top


Socks are a chance to add some flare to your get-up. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

As well as expressing your style, long socks can help protect the shins and calves from scratches and cuts from the undergrowth or the pedals themselves.


Whether you go for flat pedal shoes like these or a clipless pair, ensure you get a good fit. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

When it comes to contact points — where the rider makes contact with the bike — the shoe/pedal interface is one of the most important.

Riders need to feel secure when riding over rough ground and also be able to pedal efficiently up tough technical climbs.

Mountain bikers have two pedal choices to choose from: flat and clipless. Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

Other riders opt to ride with ‘flat’ shoes and pedals, where the pedals have a rough-textured surface and ‘pins’ that project outward to grip the shoes.


“A lightweight jacket will fend off the wind and showers,” Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

As with every other type of cycling, mountain biking can be a year-round activity if you have the right kit.

A jacket will help keep the elements at bay if the weather starts to look inclement. Still, you may encounter a wide range of conditions, so there’s a wide range of mountain bike jackets to choose from.

“A hybrid jacket will offer additional protection in cooler conditions,” Simon Bromley - Immediate Media.

A hybrid jacket looks to offer the best of all worlds, combining water repellency, warmth, and breathability. A good hybrid jacket is likely made from a softshell or padded fabric for additional warmth and stretch.

While a hybrid jacket will be less packable than a lightweight shell, it should still stuff into a riding pack. Look for a jacket with vents because, even with a breathable fabric, there’s only so much heat build-up a jacket like this can handle. It’s unlikely to be fully waterproof, either.

a man wearing jacket pushes his e-bike on the seaside reefs.


With all this advice and outfit geared up, one is assured that he or she is safe. Yes, one can ride with their outfit, but safety first. All the mentioned above are not the only thing to wear but also serve as preventive tools. Happy riding!

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