As we enter prime time for mountain biking (think lower humidity, cooler temperatures, no mosquitoes, and fall colors), you may wonder what’s the best clothing to wear for mountain biking. Generally speaking, the best advice is to wear what’s comfortable. Are you a road rider who dabbles in mountain biking and has a closet full of form fitting lycra shorts and jerseys? It works well for mountain biking. Are you the type of rider who prefers the baggy look and feel? That works well too. In other words, wear what you feel most comfortable in.
While fitted and baggy both work, and you will see plenty of both styles on the trails, there are advantages to both. If you race, a fitted lycra kit will feel faster (assuming you’re comfortable in it), and if you feel faster you may ride faster. And though there are aerodynamic advantages to fitted bike clothing, you won’t benefit from it as much in the woods as on the open road at higher speeds. Bike jerseys with rear pockets work well for carrying stuff, such as a phone, tool kit, energy bar, etc.
Baggy clothing is the choice of many mountain bikers because it’s more comfortable for some, and it fits the carefree, casual atmosphere of mountain biking. Baggy shorts come with or without a padded liner, and usually have several zippered pockets to keep keys, wallets, and phones safe. Pockets in the shorts come in handy because mountain bike jerseys usually don’t have them.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what style of clothing you wear mountain biking. Whether you wear loose or fitted, your clothing should have pockets (in the pants or in a jersey), should wick moisture away from your body (merino wool does this well, cotton doesn’t), should have padding in the shorts, and should make you feel good. As the temperatures drop adding accessories like knee warmers, leg warmers, arm warmers, base layers, long sleeve jerseys, or a jacket can help you extend the season and squeeze every last ride in before winter hits. Of course when the snow flies there’s always fat biking.