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On the topic of determining what to wear when going on an enjoyable and full of adrenaline riding session, you have to take into account elements such as comfort, duration of the session, weather conditions, and personal preferences. For example, most mountain trail riders and downhill riders prefer to wear baggy mountain bike shorts with a loose-fitting jersey; whereas. more competitive cross-country mountain bikers prefer full Lycra outfits in order to compensate for both speed and sweating during hot summer days.
If you are a beginner at cross-country riding, then the best mountain bike clothing you can find is what you already possess. You do not have to be equipped with professional-level gear in order to progress on your skills. However, as you level up your control over the bike at a variety of different challenging terrain, then you will have to wear items according to your specific situation. For example, rocky roads and steep hills require full mountain bike helmets in order to provide extra protection in case of an accident.
Temperature, activity you are going to do, the season of the year, and location have crucial influences on the clothing you are going to wear. When the season is hot and dry enough, generally you require less protection than you would require in the depths of winter. On the other hand, if you are going for an adventure in mountains, you will need an extensive riding kit in order to be prepared for various scenarios for challenging situations as well as cold weather.
In the end, there is some rudimentary equipment you have to bring regardless of whenever and wherever you are riding at.
A helmet is a fundamental component for safe mountain biking. Risks of slipping, crashing, or falling because of a tree or a rock are significantly higher compared to paved roads. Therefore, ensuring the protection of the head is drastically important. According to Glase and McFadden (2001), bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 60% and brain injury by 58%. So, wearing a helmet is a necessity to cover yourself from unwanted events.
Helmets for a mountain biker are designed to possess an integrated peak in order to provide protection to eyes against sun and rain while deflecting low-hanging branches. A mountain bike helmet also grips the lower around the back and sides of the head in order to provide better impact protection. However, rougher terrains such as bike park, downhill riding, and enduro-style riding require to be equipped with a full-face helmet in order to get maximum protection over the most vulnerable part of mountain bikers. Sometimes, especially enduro riders wear full-face helmets with a neck brace in order to extend the protection of the helmet down to the neck in case of throwing out of the bike out of a big crash, which is more common on steep ups and downs during the race.
Currently, the best protection is offered by Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) in terms of providing extra layers of safety at different type of riding activities ranging from trail riding to tough road riding. The design of the MIPS technology is to offer a reduction in the rotational forces on the brain that can be caused by heavy impacts.
Glasses and Goggles
Eye protection is important because a momentary loss of sight may cause you to crash into something on the way. Therefore, a pair of glasses or goggles are important to provide this protection, as well as protection against sun glare and debris. Glasses with interchangeable lenses provide a set of options that you can adjust according to the conditions such as rain, or extreme dust. For instance, transparent lenses are good for dusk or dark times, while tinted lenses are ideal for sunny days to reduce glare and high contrast.
Although most of the riders wear glasses, heavy and muddy terrains may encourage you to use goggles as an alternative due to the fact that they provide a better level of protection with a sealed design while maintaining full vision. Many riders prefer goggles paired with a full-face downhill mountain bike helmet in order to achieve comprehensive protection of the head. In addition, many downhill mountain biking enthusiasts wear goggles in exchange for glasses because they provide better protection for eyes on long, technical descents.
Many mountain trail biking jerseys possess a loose cut design and have options for different seasons and terrain such as short-sleeve, three-quarter, and long-sleeve.
Short-sleeve jerseys will fulfill the need for easy cooling in high temperatures of summer, meanwhile, long-sleeve jerseys provide slightly more protection for arms, both from the harmful UV light, branches, thorns, and any other kind of debris that may be thrown out by speeding wheels. Furthermore, a long-sleeve jersey design features breathable material in order to make you comfortable for long riding sessions.
If you tend to go on cross-country mountain biking, you may prefer a Lycra jersey with rear pockets in order to stow extended tubes, snacks, and other equipment.
Shorts and Trousers
Reinforced shorts are the perfect choice due to the fact that mountain biking by its very nature occurs at places where rough terrains are common, and bikers do get in and out of the saddle often. Furthermore, you can pair mountain bike shorts with a pair of baggy mountain bike shorts in order to achieve better lower body protection when you are going to trail riding. Should you desire maximum comfort meanwhile preserving protection, you can opt for more lightweight and breathable fabric shorts under the baggies.
Baggy mountain bike shorts do possess knee-length feature and robust, tear-resistant material. Also, many models have easy-accessible pockets in order to give you freedom of movement. You can also use knee pads easily with baggies.
If you are doing all-round, year-long riding or living somewhere with an inclement climate require quality riding trousers in order to provide a comfortable and enjoyable ride even if in wet conditions.
Riding trousers do not only prevent you from being soaked, they also offer a comfortable temperature in cold conditions. In addition to that, waterproof trousers provide better protection from mud, which is very common on trail mountain biking during fall/winter. Furthermore, waterproof trousers are made of a more durable fabric as it resembles the same kind of trousers you wear when going for hiking and has a con-pro ratio for trading breathability versus protection. You might feel slightly less comfortable, however, the trade-off pays itself with the prevention of being soaked even during the heavy rain.
In addition to waterproof trousers, you may opt for water-resistant trousers which have softer material that results in improved fitness and comfort; meanwhile, DWR models may offer the ability to repelling water.
The fitness of the trousers is paramount; you have to make sure your pants are not loose or getting in the way while providing enough freedom of movement to let you do pedal without extra effort.
Knee pads are one of the most important components of mountain bike clothing. Many mountain bikers wear knee pads as standard protection if they are heading towards trails where there is a risk of falling is more common. Thanks to the ever-advancing technology, more lightweight materials provide the same protection and durability without limiting your ability to pedal comfortably. Especially if you are interested in technical riding, you should opt for clunkier pads. Furthermore, racing and technical riding may require bikers to wear other body armor protection such as elbow pads and back protectors to offer maximum safety.
If you want to achieve the best crash protection and penetration resistance for your arms, you have to use full-finger mountain bike gloves paired with long sleeve jersey, elbow pads, and a padded jacket together. Some gloves have padding on the palms to ensure additional cushioning. Especially gloves that are designed as downhill mountain bike gear offer an additional layer of protection on the back of the gloves since chances of crashing are drastically higher compared to other types of riding. Furthermore, you can increase your safety margin by opting for precisely placed grippers in order to take maximum control over the brakes and shifters in wet conditions.
Especially common among beginners, ankle socks are often misused as a part of mountain bike clothing. If you are up to mountain biking, you should wear long waterproof socks in order to protect your shins and calves from damage and cuts that may be caused by rocks and pedals themselves. On the other hand, if you are in hotter climates, you can use breathable socks in order to help your feet get cool down.
When you are doing mountain biking, you would want to make sure that you are totally in control of acceleration and precision at stopping. Pair of grip-free gloves may ensure stopping, however only if you can control your speed accurately. Therefore, the match between your shoe and pedal is required in order to realize that. All in all, the choice of shoes is one of the most important parts of mountain bike clothing. Furthermore, riders would not want to worry about their security and safety and be able to keep up with high pedal efficiency at technical terrain.
If you have the correct equipment, you can maintain the enjoyment of mountain riding at different seasons without worrying about the conditions. Especially if you are living where colder weather is common with a high chance of rain, you can opt for a waterproof jacket.
In addition to a fully waterproof jacket, you can opt among these two options: lightweight material, and hybrid jackets.
Lightweight jackets are made of a water-resistant fabric designed to provide limited wind and rain protection, meanwhile offering sustained breathability, often via mesh panels. In addition, a lightweight jacket also provides easier to stow it into your backpack, meaning that you will always be ready in case of sudden rain during mid-ride.
A hybrid jacket aims to achieve the perfect combination of water repellency, temperature isolation, and breathability. A quality hybrid jacket has to be made from a softshell or reinforced fabric for extra warmth and elasticity.
Although a hybrid jacket, naturally, is less packable compared to a lightweight counterpart, regardless, it should still fit into a riding pack. If you are generating more heat during cycling, you can opt for jackets with vents and more breathable material. Although it will not be effective as fully waterproof jackets in terms of keeping water out. However, hybrid jackets are suitable for fall and early spring seasons when the climate is much gentler than winter.
Overall for all jackets, accessible pockets are important for all kinds of activities in order to bring more items to your journey through the misty mountains! (pun intended). If you can balance the weight of your supplies and distribute it correctly, you can carry them without adding not too much total weight to your bike.
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Extra Supplies That May Come Handy
Preparation is key to achieving maximum safety precautions. You as a human being may, and probably will make errors during nearly all of your endeavors. However, you might take some upfront steps to mitigate the results of harmful things.
First Aid Kit
First aid kit, along with the knowledge of how to using it, might be life-saving during critical moments such as heavy crashes and body penetration. It should not necessarily be stocked with an extensive inventory of items, a basic first aid kit consists of alcohol, bandages, and painkillers may save a team member, or even yourself.
Bottle Of Water
Always carry a bottle of water with high capacity in order to ensure stay hydrated throughout your biking sessions.
Healthy Sugar Snacks
Sudden discharge of energy may cause you to experience a drop in blood sugar. Therefore, a snack that can get you back in the game is required especially if you are considering a session longer than a couple of hours.
Extra Pair of Clothing
An extra pair of clothing may serve as handy during situations where you have become soaked suddenly or ripped away from your in-use clothing. So, even another t-shirt may save the day.