Oh, it’s getting cold outside now, winter is finally kicking in with a bang. And unless you wrap up right for a MTB spin, you’ll not be long getting frost bite!
Layering right with good quality riding gear can mean the difference between a bearable day out on the trails and great one. To help with ideas of what to wear, we’ve put together a go-to list of the most-important items you should be considering. After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing…
Thermal Base Layer
Keeping warm starts at your primary layer of clothing. A quality thermal long-sleeved base layer should be a snug fit – not too tight, or loose. The idea is to allow your body-heat warm the air trapped between your skin and the garment. The material also needs to be fast drying which can wick the moisture away from your skin when you sweat – polyester or merino wool is most preferred.
It goes without saying that a decent riding jacket should be waterproof, but should hold good breathability properties to prevent you from overcooking on the climbs. It should be able to maintain a level of heat when riding, but at the same time keep you insulated when stopped. Vents in the arms, front and rear can help control that when working hard. Look for one with good waterproof zippers to stop the rain leaking through. A hood is also extremely handy for when you get caught in the rain. Some brands, like Leatt, are now incorporating a magnetic system into the hood to keep it attached to your helmet when riding. Clever stuff!
Your riding jersey acts as a mid-layer between your base layer and jacket. Generally speaking you’ll want to use a full length sleeve at this time of year. This winter we’ve been wearing the Leatt DBX 5.0 All-Mountain jersey and it’s proving a definite game changer due to its windblock fabric on the chest, arms and sides, while the back panel is slightly lighter and lightly meshed for venting. In warmer winter weather we’re thinking you could get away without needing a base layer.
If you prefer not to ride in full length trousers, you can still get away with shorts for winter. Winter shorts are generally constructed of heavier material meaning they’re slightly stiffer than your average summer riding gear. The trade off usually comes with the benefit of waterproof material that won’t rip or tear easily and can withstand plenty of mud. Pick a pair with waterproof zippers and pockets.
Protecting your extremities while out on a cold ride needs serious consideration – there’s nothing worse than baltic-cold feet 10 minutes into a long spin. And with your feet generally first to come into contact with mud, water, snow and all manner of winter elements, invest in a proper set of waterproof thermal winter socks. The Sealskinz knee length have proved the ticket for us.
Like your feet you need to keep your hands warm to maintain proper use of levers and controls. Slippery trails also mean your prone to crashing more than usual and that can result in your hands taking the brunt of the fall. So you need a balance of warmth, breathability, protection and bulk. Numerous companies offer winter gloves with varying degrees of those properties mentioned.
Often overlooked, a neck buff can prove a versatile and handy piece of kit to wear. Granted it will keep your neck warmer, but when there’s an extra bite in the air you can pull it up over your jaws to protect your face. Multi-purpose, you can also use it for drying off sweat, cleaning goggles or tie it up to wear as a head buff.
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Additional Gear Shown