Whether you like it or not (and I do not), winter is just around the corner and 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.
Ready to face the cold? Gear up for winter riding with these cold weather mountain biking gear essentials!
Winter mountain biking gear apparel
1. Warm Gloves
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 on the market that have thicker insulation for cold days out on the trail. My personal favorites are HandUp gloves. HandUp offers two cold-weather options: a Cold Weather Mid-Weight Glove and a ColdER glove for those real brisk days.
Check price: HandUp
2. Breathable (yet warm) Jacket
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 does just that. Made from superbreathable, superstretchy 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.
3. Long pants or cycling tights
For extra cold days, a pair of long pants can help keep legs warm and cozy and prevent them from turning all red and tingly from the biting wind. There are two options when it comes to long mountain bike pants for cold weather mountain biking: Cold weather cycling tights or cold weather mountain biking pants
Personally, I like long thermal cycling leggings because they’re more breathable and comfortable to pedal in. But if I know I’m going to be out in harsher conditions with wet and slushy terrain, a shell offers more protection.
Cold weather Cycling Tights
The Bontrager Circuit Thermal Tights are a great piece of cold weather mountain biking gear for your winter wardrobe. They have a soft fleece lining that helps trap heat, but they’re still breathable so your legs don’t feel like they’re suffocating. They also come with a padded chamois and the form-fitting design helps remove excess material.
Check price (W): Trek
Check price (M): Trek
Cold Weather Mountain Biking Pants
I love the POC Essential Women’s MTB Shorts, so it’s no surprise that the POC Ardour All-Weather Pant are a favorite as well. These pants are highly breathable, but still keep you dry in harsh conditions. They’re designed with extra water-proofing over the knees, rear, and calves and they have elastic cuffs at the ankles to keep wet out.
4. Thermal Base Layer
A thermal base layer is a great addition to any cold weather mountain biking kit. They work as an outer layer for cooler (but not freezing) days or they can be worn under a breathable jacket like the Dirt Roamer Jacket above.
When looking for a base layer, look for ones that wick away sweat and dry quickly. Synthetic or merino wool are both great material options but stay away from cotton. Cotton doesn’t dry quickly and will leave you shivering at the top of a big climb.
I know I keep recommending Patagonia, but they make great stuff and their thermal mid-weight Capilene bike jersey is no exception!
5. Waterproof socks
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.
Cold weather mountain biking gear accessories
There are a lot of other winter mountain bike gear and accessories to keep you warm and dry on the trails. Buffs are great accessories to keep the chill off your neck and a skull cap that fits under your helmet can prevent that painful brain freeze sensation.
And if you’re planning on riding later in the day, also be sure to have a bike light in case you run out of that short-lived winter daylight!
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!