A head-to-foot breakdown of recommended clothing and gear to wear when you’re out mountain biking in winter.
What: A typical enduro styled helmet with fewer vents and more pronounced head coverage extending down the back of the head.
Why: Less drafty = less chilly. The big peak is also good for low-in-the-sky sun glare.
What: Frameless glasses with interchangeable lenses: clear, dark and just-so. They come with a zipped hard-case and lens cloth bag so you can take them out in your backpack easily enough.
Why: Lots of protection from rain and puddles but not too dark when the light is dingy or when in trees.
What: A tube of stretchy lycra-type material.
Why: Doesn’t look like much but can turn itself to a whole host of warming duties during a cold ride. Under your helmet skull warmer, around your neck draft excluder. Always worth stashing in your pack.
What: A long sleeve base layer that’s designed for colder temperatures. Made from a combination of Coolmax and Thermolite fabric with flatlock seams.
Why: A close-fitting base layer is arguably the most important garment here. Keeps drafts off you, wicks sweat away. Allows the rest of your clobber to function as it should too.
What: Yep, short sleeves. A premium short sleeve jersey with a long – but not full-length – zip. Close-fitting but not restrictive.
Why: It’s very rarely cold enough for long sleeve mid-layers. I use a short sleeve jersey as a sort of under-gilet thing. Basically it keeps your core warm without restricting or overheating your arms.
What: The Attack 360 is very waterproof. It can overheat – like all mountain jackets can – but offers lots of quick and effective adjustments to deal with it.
Why: A good jacket is essential. To hood or not to hood? Having been up Lakeland mountains in winter I’m a big believer in hoods.
What: A normal pair of riding gloves.
Why: Until the weather turns properly bad during a ride, I’d rather not wear bulky winter-specific gloves. Bulky gloves can impair your bike handling, shifting and braking a bit.
What: A pair of bulky winter-specific gloves.
Why: I like to keep these in my backpack for when things take a turn for the worst. Much like having a hood on a jacket, there will be numerous times when you’re stuck halfway – or fully – up a mountain and you need to get your hands warmed back up to operating temperature.
What: 3/4 length tights. Finishing just below the knee, such tights are pretty much essential for UK mountian bikers.
Why: Full-length tights are far too hot. And they look daft. It’s nice to have a bit of skin on show before your sock tops!
What: Light, thin, waterproof overshorts. A quintessentially British bit of cycle clothing. Like a jacket for your thighs.
Why: The light weight and suppleness keeps them comfortable and stops them from drooping. These are about keeping you dry (the bib knickers underneath are there to keep you warm).
What: Knee pads innit.
Why: In winter there’s loads more filth and water flying about the place. This makes for much sketchier riding. So you may find yourself having the odd crash. Even if you don’t crash, knee pads are great at keeping your legs warm!
What: Long – but not too long – cycling socks made from mid-weight material.
Why: God bless the recent move to longer and longer cycling socks. I’ve stopped using waterproof socks as they seem to fill with water and become uncomfortable on me. I’ve had much better results from using longer, thicker non-waterproof socks.
What: Rubbery shoes with a lace covering flap. These are for flat pedals (my prefence) but Shimano also do SPD-flavoured versions too.
Why: Mesh toe boxes and open laces let in loads of wind and water. These bad boys don’t allow anything in.