What's a little rain, wind or snow when you're prepared? For those of you who are planning to ride through the colder wetter months of winter, you'll be gaining an advantage over your pals who stay sat on the sofa. But in order to get out when the weather isn't so kind, it's important to wear the right layers. This will make each KM on the bike much more enjoyable as you'll be able to concentrate on the trail and upcoming features, rather than trying to warm yourself up or shake the blood back into your fingertips.
Benefits of riding through winter
Some of your pals may opt for the easy option of staying at home when the temperatures drop and when sun is replaced by rain. Getting out on your mountain bike will help keep up your fitness so that by the time spring hits and your friends are just getting back out, you'll be fitter and stronger. Trails are also less crowded which means you can have a whole lot more fun and take your time on your favourite tracks.
Knowing what to wear when mountain biking will save you a whole lot of trial and error, meaning every ride will be a good ride. Here's a guide to MTB layers for winter rides.
Baselayers are the first layer of clothing against your skin and are designed to wick sweat and moisture away from your body, keeping your body temperature regulated as it evaporates away. Whether you wear a long sleeve or short sleeve baselayer will depend on the temperature outside. We recommend that during autumn and spring, short sleeve base layers should suffice. During the colder winter months, the extra material on your arms will help keep your muscles warmer.
The best baselayers you can buy are made from Merino wool. Merino is naturally odour resistant so you can wear it several times without it starting to smell of sweat, it wicks sweat away from your body quickly and dries quickly too. Merino is a little more costly than synthetic materials but it is long-lasting, durable and is great for regulating your temperature at all times of the year, not just as an extra layer during winter. This Merino baselayer from Nukeproof sits close to your skin, but is a little looser for a classic MTB style. Plus it is available in a huge range of sizes from XS to XXL!
For those who prefer to have short sleeves, we highly recommend this dhb baselayer. It sits tight against your skin but does not restrict any movement and is well vented for those days you're working hard on the trails. Again, it's to be worn as your first layer during winter months and it will keep you warm without making you drench your clothes with sweat.
Mid-layers are your next defence against the cold. During the winter, a long sleeve jersey over your baselayer will trap warm air from your body between the layers. This warm air will again help you stay warm and when you're descending the trails and not overheat when you're making your way back to the top of a run. These are a looser fit than a baselayer which should be skin tight and you should be able to move around comfortably without feeling restricted.
We love the pattern on this Nukeproof jersey and it fits perfectly over your baselayer without feeling bunched up around the arms or chest. The mesh material on the back will keep you cool and the side zip pocket is a nice touch to keep small valuables safe. But what we love the most, is that this jersey is made by combining recycled coffee grounds with 100% recycled yarn, making this mid-layer extremely eco-friendly.
We're back on the Merino wool hype with this mid-layer from dhb as it offers another fantastic layer of insulation on cold days. This jersey also features a side pocket to store your valuables but it is the flatlock seams on the shoulders that we rate on this top. It's all about the little details for added comfort.
This jersey from Fox Racing is another fantastic example of a mid-layer for mountain biking. It is designed to get sweat away from your body quickly so that you don't get cold when you stop and has mesh features so you don't get too hot when you're going full gas. Another tick in the box is that the long sleeve jersey is made from 100% recycled materials.
Shell jackets / outer-layers
A waterproof or windproof jacket is your final layer when heading out on a mountain bike during winter. As they say on the tin, they'll protect you from the elements to keep you warm and dry.
Waterproof yet breathable what more could you want? This jacket from Nukeproof also features waterproof zip pockets and an adjustable hood to keep yourself and your belongings as dry as possible when out and about. It also packs away into a little pouch which can easily be stuffed into a bad or pocket when the sun does come out too!
When it's windy, the temperature can feel that much colder. Wearing a windproof jacket will stop the wind from whipping through your clothing and chilling you to the bone. This windproof jacket from Endura provides you the extra protection you need but without letting you get too sweaty underneath. It packs away easily too and can be stuffed in a pocket or bag if the weather starts to change.
Another waterproof jacket to throw in the mix is this trail jacket from dhb. All the seams are taped meaning you are extra secure from rain seeping in, but is well vented so you don't get wet from inside! The hem at the back of the jacket is slightly dropped to keep your lower back and bum warm and dry too. dhb have even added silicone grippers to the shoulders so that your hydration pack doesn't slip even in the wettest of conditions.
Shorts and pants
When it comes to shorts and trousers, you want a pair that don't restrict your movement on the bike and that don't soak up rain or mud and become heavy.
The Altura trail trousers are water-resistant and lightweight so will protect your legs from rain, wind and the cold without weighing you down. They are tapered towards the ankles so that the material can't get caught in your chain and they are also stretchy to give you plenty of room to move and pedal in comfort.
When it comes to clothing for mountain biking, durability is key. These trail pants from Nukeproof hold up in tough conditions, they will keep you warm when the temperatures drop and will protect you if there is a sudden shower. Similar to the Altura pants above, the Blackline trail trousers are tapered to help you avoid getting caught in chains and stop you from flapping in the wind.
Warm hands and feet
Cold hands and feet are a common pain for cyclists in winter, giving more reason to invest in some quality gloves, socks, shoes or overshoes. Not sure where to start, check out our articles below.