Cold Weather Mountain Biking Gear Essentials

Discover the best cold weather mountain biking gear essentials to keep you dry and warm out on the trails. Find apparel, accessories, & more.

Photo out over front of mountain bike handlebars of trail in winter lined with snow

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Whether you like it or not (and I do not), winter is just around the corner, so it’s time to bust out your cold weather mountain biking gear. While some mountain bikers may swap their tires for skis or a snowboard, others (like me) consider mountain biking a year-round commitment.

But riding in colder weather and on muddy trails does require a few extra pieces of weather-resistant gear to keep you warm and snug out on the trails. Thicker gloves, long riding pants, waterproof shoes, and a breathable jacket are all great winter mountain bike gear additions.

So if you’re headed out on some cold weather rides, read on to learn more about what to wear to keep the chill away.

Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Dirt Roamer jacket for cold weather mountain biking

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Jacket

  • Helmet-compatible
  • Longer back provides coverage when riding
  • DWR finish protects against light rain
  • Packs down small
  • Not waterproof

An insulated yet breathable jacket is an essential piece of gear for cold weather mountain biking. You want the jacket to keep you warm, but not get all sweaty and gross as you’re pounding up hills.

The Patagonia Dirt Roamer jacket (men’s version) does just that. Made from super breathable, super stretchy 100% recycled nylon fabric, it’s the perfect winter mountain biking outer layer.

The hood is helmet-compatible and the jacket packs down small and stows in a back pocket for when the winter sun breaks through the clouds.

More insulated mountain biking jacket options:

Waterproof jacket

Fox ranger 2.5 L jacket for winter mountain biking

Fox Ranger 2.5 Layer Waterproof Jacket

  • 100% waterproof
  • Helmet compatible
  • Drop back
  • Drawcords at cuffs and waist
  • Not as breathable

If you’ll be riding in cold and wet weather, you’ll want a good waterproof jacket. The Fox Ranger 2.5 Layer jacket (men’s version) is fully waterproof and it’s designed specifically for mountain bikers. It’s also great for keeping cold wind from cutting your ride short.

The hood is compatible with most helmets and the drop back protects your rear from slush and mud. It also packs down small, so you can stash it in your pack for those ‘just in case’ days.

More waterproof riding jacket options:

Thermal Tights

Kitsbow Tempest Merino tights for cold weather mountain biking

Kitsbow Tempest Merino Tights

  • Side pocket for phone
  • Not super tight like some other leggings
  • No chamois

For really cold days, the Kitsbow Tempest Thermal Tights (men’s) are a great piece of cold weather mountain biking gear for your winter wardrobe. They’re made from soft merino wool, which wicks away sweat and is very breathable so your legs don’t feel like they’re suffocating.

These tights do not have a padded chamois liner – they’re meant to be worn over your regular chamois. This also allows you to use them for other cold-weather pursuits like running or hiking.

More cold weather cycling tights:

Woman riding bike on snowy doubletrack fire road in high desert of California

Weather-Resistant Pants

POC Ardour All-Weather Pant

  • DWR coating to shed water
  • Reinforced materials around the rear & legs
  • Velcro waist tabs
  • Can be hot to pedal in

I love the POC Essential Women’s MTB Shorts, so it’s no surprise that the POC Ardour All-Weather Pant (men’s) are a favorite as well.

These pants are highly breathable, but they still keep you dry in harsh conditions. They’re designed with extra water-proofing and durable material over the knees, rear, and calves and they have elastic cuffs at the ankles to keep the wet out.

More winter mountain biking pants options:

Warm Gloves

HANDUP cold weather gloves

HANDUP Cold Weather Gloves

  • Fleece lining
  • Fleece nose wipe
  • Touchscreen compatible
  • Not waterproof

Fingers are the first thing that get cold when I’m riding in winter conditions. It’s no fun (not to mention the safety hazard) trying to make your way down a descent with fingers that can’t even feel the brake levers.

Thankfully, there are some great winter mountain biking gloves out there that have thicker insulation for cold days out on the trail.

My personal favorites are HANDUP Cold Weather gloves, which have a fleece layer inside to keep your hands nice and warm. They’re also touchscreen compatible and have a neoprene cuff to keep wet and cold out. Most importantly, though, the thumbs are designed with a huge snot cloth (which you know you need).

Waterproof Socks

Endura Hummvee Waterproof Socks

Endura Hummvee Waterproof Socks

  • 3 layers of construction
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Not great color/pattern choices

Endura recently launched their redesigned super lightweight Hummvee Waterproof II Socks and they’re awesome! If you plan on riding in cold, wet winter conditions, these socks are essential for keeping your toesies warm and dry.

Made with three different layers to keep wetness out while still being breathable, they are warm, waterproof, and durable even in the harshest of conditions.

Winter Mountain Biking Shoes

Ride Concepts Hellion Mountain Bike Shoe

Ride Concepts Hellion

  • Weather-resistant synthetic upper
  • Gusseted tongue to keep dirt/mud out
  • High rubber outsole
  • Not fully waterproof

There are fully waterproof mountain bike shoes out there, but I recommend the Ride Concepts Hellion (men’s) instead. This shoe has a synthetic upper, which is water resistant but they also dry pretty quickly if your feet do get soaked.

Related: Ride Concepts Livewire mountain bike shoe review

More waterproof & resistant winter mountain biking shoes:

Cold Weather Mountain Biking Accessories

Depending on what temps and conditions you’re riding in, these cold weather mountain biking accessories can make your ride that much more enjoyable:

  • A buff: these are great for keeping the chill off your neck. They can also be pulled up over your mouth.
  • Skull cap: fits under your helmet and can prevent that painful brain freeze sensation.
  • Neoprene booties: for clipess riders, these can help keep your toes toasty
  • Bike light: in case you run out of that short-lived winter daylight!
  • Insulated hydration tube: If you ride with a hydration pack or fanny pack, using an insulated hydration tube can prevent your water from freezing.

I hope this post helps you gear up for the winter so that you can ride all year round!

Do you mountain bike throughout the winter months? What are your cold weather mountain biking gear essentials? Let us know in the comments below!

Discover the best cold weather mountain biking gear essentials to keep you dry and warm out on the trails. Find apparel, accessories, & more.
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  1. Helpful posts as really really need some gear for winter -here in upstate New York. Unfortunately none of the links go to companies that carry a size I can use. It is impossible to find BigWomen clothing. And I mean big. I am 67 years old and 350
    Pounds and like to ride daily. Do you have any suggestions for 3x or 4x clothing????? Thanks

    1. Hi Emilie! I know SHREDLY makes plus-sized women’s mountain bike gear and Zoic has a short that comes in 3x. Ride Cosmic Dirt is a newer brand that is releasing technical gear like jerseys in 2022, so keep an eye on them as well. Happy shredding!

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