Most mountain bikers are a little bit addicted and want to ride their bike 365 days a year. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a nice and warm country all year round, you almost need to stop during winter. However, this is not actually true. You simply need to have the right clothes for winter mountain biking. And yes, you’ll be able to enjoy your saddle anytime you want.
Indeed, mountain biking in cold weather has always been a challenge. The obvious problem is that when you’re starting your cold. Then, as you go, you’re warming up and start breaking a sweat, making yourself wet. And then, of course, when you get to a downhill section, the combination of your wet skin and the windchill will make you chilly. If not downright cold.
Below, you will find a list of clothes for winter mountain biking that will make your day less of a bone-chilling experience.
In the winter, or simply in cold temperatures, your feet are the most vulnerable part of your body. Undeniably, pedaling can put you at risk of frostbite. The pressure of the movement tends to cut off the circulation to your toes. This seems extreme, but it is serious as most of the time we won’t even notice.
To help solve this problem, in cold conditions, neoprene booties are a must-have. I know they’re not that nice. But the objective is not to be a fashion model but be comfortable and ride. The advantage is that they simply zip over your shoes and are not that expensive. You can even have a pattern in the sole where you can cut out a piece for cleats.
Your hands are another important part to protect. Afterall, you need them to hold on to the handlebar, and, of course, break. If they’re freezing, you won’t be able to feel the break and be safe.
Today, there are several brands offering what we call “lobster gloves“. They are hybrid gloves that separates your index finger and thumb from the rest of your hand. These are interesting for riders as it allows you to have maximum grip and be comfortable. Also, the distinct index finger will allow you to operate your shifting and brake levers easily. Furthermore, these gloves are warmer than regular gloves.
There is also the “bar mitts” that can be nice during winter to keep you warm. They are hand covers attached to your handlebar in which you simply slide your hands. The interesting part about those is that you can wear lighter gloves in them, and in return have more dexterity.
Also, you should always carry a pair of lightweight glove liners with you as well. If your hands get cold, you can add a layer by putting them under your gloves. Also, if you must stop to take care of a problem, the liners will protect your hands from the cold. And won’t prevent you from being able to work effectively.
Not everyone likes to wear glasses or goggles while riding. However, in cold weather, they are a good addition to your gears. Not only will they protect yourself from debris, but also from the cold.
Glasses that wraparound and provide maximum protection from the wind are best to wear in the winter. Indeed, a good pair of ski goggles would do a great job.
In the category of clothes for winter mountain biking, socks are an important one. Afterall, as we said earlier, your feet are the most vulnerable part. You should wear heavy socks. Although not too heavy. If your socks are excessively heavy, they will make your shoes tight. Therefore, they will cut off circulation, and even make your feet cold. Likewise, a very thin sock will allow for too much air circulation and will also make your feet cold.
You should try lightweight socks. Indeed, they will keep your feet warm without bulk. If you need an extra layer, try silk ski socks as they are very warm and extra lightweight.
This might be obvious, a good pair of underwear or underlayer will help to keep you warm. However, there are so many kinds of materials and thickness that it is sometimes confusing. Polypropylene is the best material here. Indeed, it is comfortable, lightweight, and best suited for colder temperatures. One thing to remember, though, is to make sure to have the proper size. Otherwise, they won’t do their job.
The biggest cause for losing body heat is the movement of air. So, that’s why it is essential to have good wind protection. By having good wind protection, you’ll be able to vent perspiration while also protecting yourself from windchill.
There are quantities of wind protection clothing to choose from. Thus, you should choose your pants and jacket based on durability and breathing. Of course, price will be another factor, as these types of clothing can get expensive fast. However, these can make the difference between going out there or not.
Helmet and Liners
This is one piece of clothes for winter mountain biking for which we normally don’t pay to much attention. Nevertheless, it is an important one. As you surely already know, you lose 50% of your body heat through your head. Which makes your head a particularly important part to protect adequately from the cold.
A biking helmet is designed to keep you cool in the summer, not warm in the winter. So, it is a good idea to simply add a fleece liner inside your helmet. Likewise, a lightweight ski balaclava will keep your head and ears warm during winter riding.
The clothes for winter mountain biking that you choose to wear, or not, will make a world of difference on your riding. As, indeed, when you are well equipped, you have more fun and go more often.
What would you say your most important winter mountain biking clothing is?
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