How To Dress for Mountain Biking

mountain bike clothing, mountain bike gear, mountain bike accessories, mountain bike shoes
August 22nd, 2018

Today's guest post is from Matt at evo


Once you’ve acquired a bike, you’re almost ready to hit the trails - but not quite. Getting the right bike clothing and accessories can make the difference between loving your first ride and ending up in pain of discomfort, that’s why it’s important to dress properly for mountain biking. For a new rider, these details may be intimidating, but fear not! Just follow this guide and you’ll be set in the right attire to stay cool, dry, and protected on the trail.


bike helmet

First and most important is your mountain bike helmet. Depending on what kind of riding you do, you’ll need either a regular trail helmet or a full face helmet- and many riders have both. Regardless, of style, this is something you should never leave the house without.


A standard mountain bike helmet varies slightly from your traditional recreational or road biking helmet. It extends lower on the back and sides of your head to protect you better from the rocks, trees, and other hazards you may face when taking a fall on the trail. They also often include a visor to shade from the sun, but still allow visibility while going in and out of darker woody sections of trail.

mountain bike helmet, mountain bike clothing

bike pads 

When it comes to bike pads, the most common accessory you’re going to see out on the trail is knee pads. Mountain bike knee pads are typically stretchy sleeves with built-in padding. A beginner rider may consider elbow pads while trail riding as well, however more pads equate to more heat, so many bikers choose to keep padding to a minimum when on mellower trails. Much like with helmets, riders often add on more pads for burlier downhill riding where the risk increases. For downhill riders, padding will get thicker, and larger to increase protection.

mountain bike clothing, mountain bike pads


While anyone can ride in shorts and a cotton t-shirt, the proper attire will keep you much more comfortable out on the trails.   Mountain bike jerseys come in short sleeves, 3/4 length sleeves and long sleeves, and are designed with a cut that’s non-restrictive to your riding and tends to be a bit longer on the backside. Not only will this keep the majestic unicorn tattoo on your lower back safe from the sun, it offers greater protection all-around. Most importantly, the technical fabric of jerseys wicks away moisture to help keep you cool and comfortable.


Mountain bike shorts are flexible, stretchy, and made of a tough fabric to keep you protected, while still offering a good range of motion. This combo lets you pedal without being inhibited by uncomfortable shorts and provides protection in the event of a fall. As with pads, more downhill oriented shorts typically offer more protection with longer lengths. Often integrated into the shorts, or removable and sold separately are padded liners, also known as chamois. These padded shorts are wicking, reduce friction, and prevent chafing. Even if you’re not ready to drop into a full dedicated mountain bike kit, we recommend picking up a pair of chamois.


Mountain bike gloves can be a big help in terms of both comfort and safety. Your handlebar grips are often somewhat rough, to give you a better grip, but the grips can leave your hands feeling beat up after a ride. Gloves give you some extra comfort and also keep your hands from slipping off your handlebars when they get sweaty. Your hands are also often one of the first things to hit the ground in a fall, so a little protection is a good idea.

mountain bike clothing

bike shoes 

All shoes are bike shoes if you ride in them, right? Well, you’ll be in for a surprise once you enter the good life with real mountain bike shoes. These will go a long way toward keeping your feet solidly in contact with your flat pedals, or keeping you locked into your clipless pedals. The grippy soles of bike shoes made specifically for flat pedals are an awesome improvement with stiffer soles that will keep your feet happy, and push power to the pedals.

mountain bike shoes


The goal of all of this clothing is to make your ride safer and more comfortable, aka more fun. As you’ll see, there is a whole range of gear available. For mellow trail riding, you can get away with lighter weight clothing and less protection. When the trails you ride get steeper, more technical, and include jumps, you might want up your level of protection with pads, and trade out your helmet for a full face. The more you ride, the more you’ll be able to tweak your apparel and find what’s most comfortable for you, but this guide is sure to get you started in the right direction. Happy riding!


About the author: We are evo - a ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, wake, and skate retailer based in Seattle, Washington, USA, with stores located in Seattle, Portland and Denver. We also offer trips to remote locations across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, and legendary mountain biking through our evoTrip adventure travel packages.