If you haven’t yet, put mountain biking on your list of adventures to try—or master—this year, do it. Nothing beats the challenge and thrill of dodging trees and dropping over steep ledges on your bike, but to get the most out of your time on the trail, the right gear is essential. In addition to a mountain bike, you’ll need proper mountain bike apparel to keep you rolling comfortably and safely.
Along with shorts and a jersey, you’ll want extra padding on your backside, knees, and elbows to protect you from the bumps and inevitable tumbles you’ll experience as you ride. Gloves will keep your hands from getting scraped up by branches and brush, and on chilly or rainy days, it’s wise to bring along a jacket or shell, too.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to update your thrashed gear, we’ve rounded up our favorite pieces of mountain bike apparel from brands like Pearl Izumi, Dakine, and more. Here’s what you need to ride like a pro this season.
Jersey: Pearl Izumi Men’s Summit Top
Technically speaking, mountain biking jerseys aren’t much different than road biking jerseys. You’ll even see some riders wear their road kit on the trails. But for a looser and airier fit, consider the Summit Top. With a relaxed cut and raglan sleeves, it feels like a regular shirt, but the recycled polyester mesh is more breathable and wicks sweat to keep you comfortable on even the hardest hill climbs.
Shorts: Club Ride Mountain Surf Short 12″
You can count on these tough and durable shorts to keep you comfortable. The 12-inch inseam reaches the tops of your knees for full abrasion and sun protection, and the two-way stretch fabric and gusseted crotch help the shorts move with your body. An adjustable Velcro waistband offers a dialed-in fit, and there’s plenty of storage as well: two front and two rear hand pockets, and two side zippered pockets for your keys and other valuables. Plus, the low-key styling makes these shorts versatile enough for post-ride activities.
Chamois: Club Ride Gunslinger Chamois 8”
Club Ride’s chamois offerings range across a spectrum of cushion, and the Gunslinger style, which is made for 2-hour rides, falls in the middle. We especially like that the 8-inch inseam doesn’t hike up while pedaling and the wide waistband lays flat under shorts and a pack. The 8mm perforated memory foam increases comfort in the saddle, but it isn’t so bulky that you feel like you’re waddling once you dismount.
Gloves: Giro Xen Glove
These Giro gloves come with all the right features at a wallet-friendly price—perfect for an entry-level cyclist or someone adding to their kit. Padding on the knuckles and around the palm cushions against falls and bumps, and mesh fabric panels prevent your hands from getting clammy. Plus, the fingertips are touchscreen-friendly, so you don’t have to take these off to check the map on your phone.
Knee Pads: Dakine Anthem Knee Pads
Unless you’re cool with busting up your knees, protecting them should be top priority, especially if you’re downhilling. Dakine’s Anthem model features impact-absorbing foam that’s 3D-molded to conform to the bend in your leg. Adjustable thigh and calf straps keep the pads in place when you’re hustling, but they’re also easy to get on and off, even over your shoes.
Elbow Pads: G-Form Pro-X2 Mountain Bike Elbow Pads
Don’t forget to keep your arms safe, too. The G-Form Pro-X2s are built specifically for mountain bikers, and they absorb impact forces thanks to special body-mapped pads. The compression sleeves stay put all day without squeezing you, and they’re thin enough to slide underneath T-shirts and jackets. Plus, they’re made from UPF 50+ fabric, so you’ll get some sun protection, as well.
Jacket: Fox Racing Ranger Fire Jacket
Pull this on when the temps drop or drizzle starts to fall. The polyester exterior blocks wind and light sprinkles (though it’s not completely waterproof), and the brushed fleece interior wicks moisture and stays cozy. Pockets offer additional storage for your phone or mid-ride snacks, and it comes with a bike-specific fit: The drop tail covers your backside from mud, snow, and other debris kicked up by your rear wheel.
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