Mountain Biking - Clothing and Gear 101
MTB rides in the mountains like Himalayas pose many challenges for the riders like saddling uphill in thin air and harsh weather, riding downhill at high speeds in windy conditions, and negotiating through loose gravel, rocks, and water streams. To sail through the challenges on such rides, you have 2 friends:
- A dependable MTB
- Appropriate Clothing
Once you have selected the MTB, all you need now is right pair of clothing and gear for mountain biking.
When you saddle with the right clothing, it makes the rider’s life very easy. You don’t get rashes on your thighs, you don’t struggle with paddle due to wrong shoes, your hands don’t freeze & palms dont scratch for not having gloves. You don’t shiver or sweat profusely for not having a good jacket, and most importantly you ride light & safe with your helmet.
If you choose your gear properly, your next MTB ride can be much more peaceful. Here is your guide about what all you should wear:
1. Biking Shorts
Your biking shorts should be made of a fabric which is sturdy yet flexible. It should be able to protect you from abrasion. At the same time, it should provide you stretch for easy leg movement. The fabric should also be able to wick the moisture.
Many cyclists opt for Lycra cycling shorts since they minimize the resistance caused by winds and provide drag free rides. Your shorts should be skin tight. Refrain from loose fitting shorts.
Padding along the crotch line is necessary to reduce vibration and reduce rubbing. Most of the cycling shorts come with inline padding which are perfect for short rides.
For longer rides, Bib shorts are recommended as they hold shorts in place and provide thick silicon padding.
2. Biking Jerseys
Many people prefer to wear cotton t-shirts. But jerseys are more comfortable and more relevant clothing since they soak the sweat and provide aerodynamics.
Biking Jerseys should be made of breathable, lightweight material material which is also able to absorb the moisture. These jerseys are made up of polyester fibre which dries away quickly.
Close-fitting jerseys wick the sweat more efficiently. Longer sleeves provide additional coverage from sun tan. Most of the jerseys come with pockets at the back which can be used to keep handy stuff.
3. Cycling jackets
You will need a jacket that acts like a fleece and a windcheater. Softshell jackets kill two birds with one stone.
Soft-shell jackets are made with triple layer soft shell fabric. While the inner layer keeps you warm in cold, the water-resistant outer layer prevents wind and water to seep in during gusty conditions.
Windwarm 500 Softshell by Decathlon or Wildcraft’s Softshell Jacket Pro are two good options for all outdoor activities like cycling and trekking.
Your socks should be comfortable and breathable. They should be woven thicker to provide you cushion at heel and ball of your foot, but thinner across the top of your foot.
Generally, Merino Nylon socks are suitable for outdoors since they absorb moisture very well.
Sweaty hands may compromise your grip on the handles. This is where gloves come in hand-y. Pun intended (;
A good pair of gloves will provide you protection, grip, and comfort. It will also prevent your knuckles from getting injured if you fall while riding downhill.
You can choose between padded gloves and full finger coverage. If your grips are already padded, you may consider padding in gloves optional. Full finger gloves protects your hands from bruises by branches and twigs.
Sunglasses are important for two reasons:
- To protect you from the UV rays if sun on clear days.
- and, to prevent your eyes from watering and getting dirt into your eyes.
Without sunglasses, it will put strain on your eyes and affect your vision while riding. Invest in a good pair of UV protection sunglasses for all outdoor adventure activities.
7. Cycling Shoes
If you are a beginner, the features you should be looking for in cycling shoes are lugged outsole, stiff sole, and lightweight. There should also be waterproof liners to protect from wet, cold conditions.
MTB shoes have fairly stiff soles and are more pedal efficient. If you are a pro, you would want to consider pedal fitting shoes for more pedaling efficiency and stronger grip.
Shimano shoes are purpose-made for cycling to provide you great support and comfort on long bike rides.
8. Hydration pack/water bottle
If your bike has a stand for water bottle, then it is well and good. Otherwise having a hydration pack goes a long way.
You cannot only use it to quench your thirst, but can put extra stuff in the pockets provided like first-aid kit, munchies, or a small handy tool kit.
Helmet is mandatory! Do not mount on the bike without a helmet. There goes a lot of consideration in choosing a helmet for it should provide you protection from all kinds of trails.
For riding which include steep, high speed descents and trails with technical challenges, you need a full coverage. Another good feature in the helmet is a chin bar.
10. Arm and Knee Pads
You can also consider arm and knee pads as the part of your protection gear.
More extreme the riding gets, more padding and coverage you will need. For downhill rides, you will need a air of shin guards to complete the coverage.
For comprehensive list, check out the packing list for cycling expeditions.