Winter Mountain Bike Clothing: The Definitive Guide

So it is cold, wet and miserable outside, but that isn’t going to stop you doing your favorite pastime is it? Of course not, you are a mountain biker! Skidding around in the mud is all part of the fun, especially when it makes you a better rider. Also, there is something really satisfying seeing all that mud and grit get washed down the drain in the shower (or is that just me?). All you need is the correct bike set up and some decent winter mountain bike clothing.

Top Half

Water Proof Jacket – A cheap waterproof jacket from a camping shop is all well and good. You don’t mind it getting muddy or damaged. However, if you ride in one of these, you will get pretty sweaty very quickly. A proper waterproof mountain bike jacket will be breathable and provide proper wind protection. They will also cover your bum and have a hood that will work with your helmet (or it will be detachable) to add extra comfort.

Mountain Bike Jersey – A cotton t-shirt will suck up sweat and keep it next to your skin. At the very least this is going to make miserable on your ride. But if you are cold and wet out in the wilderness when something goes wrong, you could find yourself in a whole world of problems. Proper winter mountain bike jerseys are made from sweat wicking materials and designed specifically for riding. Have a look at this blog to help you choose the correct jersey for you.

Base Layer – Your winter mountain bike clothing ensemble must have breathable and sweat wicking properties This is especially true for base layers. You wear them close to the skin, and they will help keep you warm or cool depending on thickness. Most base layers are made from polyester, but paying the extra for merino wool is well worth the investment.

winter mountain bike clothing

Bottom Half

Shorts – Waterproof mountain bike shorts are great, as they don’t soak up the rain and keep your bum dry. Some shorts are made with breathable material with a waterproof panel on the back. These are OK for less soggy days and will be a bit more comfortable. I wear a pair of padded liner shorts under my baggy shorts. These help prevent a sore bum and don’t chafe like regular underwear does.

Long Trousers – For when shorts just aren’t enough, you can buy some great long riding trousers. Some are lightweight with strategic use of panels and materials to keep you comfortable. Good pairs are stretchy in the right places and have zipped pockets to make sure you don’t lose your phone.

What about your feet?

Shoes – I wouldn’t say waterproof shoes are essential, but if you don’t mind investing in improving the comfort of your tootsies, go ahead! They will make a big difference to your feet on those seriously wet and cold days. Some riders who ride clipped in prefer to swap to flat pedals in the winter. Doing this allows them to put a quick foot down when the action gets a bit sideways.

Waterproof Socks – A friend of mine swears by these. Waterproof socks have a lining that stops water penetrating. Water can still get in over the top of some socks, but splashes and spray won’t bother them, keeping your toes nice and warm. Have a look at MTB specific waterproof socks from Sealskinz here.


Gloves – These are just things that go on your hands right? Yes, but you still need to think about what you are buying. If your gloves are too thick with too much padding on the palms, you will find it more difficult to hold on to the bars and not have as much feeling. Your hands don’t really move around much, so windproof gloves are essential to stop your hands going cold quickly.

winter mountain bike clothing


Sunglasses – These stop wind and mud going in your eyes. Find some proper mountain bike sunglasses that wrap around your face. Or you could use the old trick of riding through a puddle with one eye closed. This way you will only have mud in one eye, then you swap eyes.

Backpack – Unless you are on a short ride, a back pack is a really good idea. Spare tubes and parts for your bike, snacks and tools can all go in there. Some back packs have a space for a hydration pack, which is very useful on a long ride. The more pricey ones also have added extra features such as integrated back protection and GoPro mounts.

Now you know what winter mountain bike clothing you need to stay comfortable

All these things will make a winter’s day on your bike more enjoyable. All it takes is a bit of consideration of what winter mountain bike clothing you wear for a ride. So now you have no excuse to smash those trails whatever the weather.  Leave your comments below to add to this list!

12 thoughts on “Winter Mountain Bike Clothing: The Definitive Guide

  • 12/02/2018 at 6:41 pm

    Hi just wanted to say how much I really enjoyed reading this and that the pics look really awesome and you should be really proud of making a site like this.

    Best wishes,

    • 12/02/2018 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks James, I’m glad you liked it.

  • 12/02/2018 at 8:57 pm

    I have never actually ridden a bike more than for a few minutes going down the street and back. I’ve always wanted to do more, and mountain biking looks so fun. Thanks for all the tidbits on how to do it best. I may actually take on this adventure now.

    • 15/02/2018 at 11:30 am

      Do it!!

      It’s amazing fun. It can be quite scary to start with, but as you get in to it, those nerves melt away. It is good to be a bit scared though.

  • 12/02/2018 at 9:20 pm

    Hey! I didn’t know about waterproof sock, great idea actually. Thanks for sharing this!

  • 12/02/2018 at 11:54 pm

    I enjoyed reading your article. My clothing is pretty minimal, so I am not used to planning this extensively as you suggest in your article.

    I do have a question though. What kind of waterproof mountain biking socks would you recommend? I have never really looked into socks, so I am new to the market. It is something I have not considered, but I am sure a good pair will save my feet. I look forward to hearing your answer.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  • 13/02/2018 at 11:53 pm

    There certainly is a lot more to mountain biking that I had envisioned. Proper clothing to wear to prevent injury and to keep oneself protected from the elements.

    I am from Texas and now live in California. Not many mountains to climb or trails to traverse in my area.

    Interesting article with lots of information on what to expect when mountain biking in France.

    I visited Cannes and Toulon in my earlier years but never rented a bike to travel around on. I’m sure it would have been an back then.


    • 15/02/2018 at 11:25 am

      Hi Billy,

      It is pretty awesome here in the alps. I have heard that there is actually some good trails in L.A

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