Much like rallying requires a completely different level of driving skill compared to on-track motor racing, mountain biking is in a league of its own if ever compared to road cycling. With fast-downhill descents, narrow tracks through forests or boulders the size of meteors to avoid, mountain biking offers riders an adrenaline-fuelled two-pedal ride.
High-paced action requires high-performance clothing to offer invaluable and reliable protection such as helmets, gloves and pants that won’t tear when you (potentially) come crashing off your seat. You’ll also want clothing that can withstand clouds upon clouds of dust and splashing of dirt and water, because you’re going to let something like a puddle get in your way of a personal best time, are you?
Fortunately, there are several clothing manufacturers who specialise in mountain bike clothing, understand what it takes to enable you to perform to your highest level. Sacrificing nothing in both function and aesthetics, these are the top brands every mountain biker needs to get down and dirty.
Of course, if you prefer the pristine paved roads instead, then feel free to check out our round-up of best cycling clothing we’re loving right now.
Best Mountain Biking Clothing FAQ
What clothes do I need for mountain biking?
Mountain biking is a dangerous sport, so you need specific clothing help better protect you from sand, dirt and of course, if you fall off. You need a helmet, padded inner shorts, mountain bike shorts and a jersey, some gloves, socks and goggles.
What is the difference between mountain bike shorts and cycling shorts?
Mountain bike shorts and cycling shorts are worlds apart. MTB shorts are longer and are built from incredibly durable materials as they are more likely to come into contact with dirt, rocks and other terrains if you fall off. They are also waterproof and offer a great deal of stretch to allow you to move to your fullest.
One of the most trusted names in mountain biking apparel is Endura. It has to be since it was founded way back in 1992 in Scotland by a keen club cyclist called Jim McFarlane. The man originally spent a short stint in Sydney where he had entered the cycle portion of team triathlon events. At one particular event his kit was stolen, leaving him no choice but to search for another one. Nothing on the market would suit his needs at the time so a disappointed McFarlane returned to Scotland and vowed to produce cycle clothing of his own caliber. It was here that Endura was born with a defining ethos of function and longevity without cutting corners on material and construction.
Playing to its strengths, Patagonia's MTB clothing collection comprises pieces designed for harsh climates such as rain, snow and cold temperatures. Lightweight, waterproof pieces are the order of the day, with an emphasis placed on breathability, so you remain cool when the intensity increases.
Jackets, jerseys, shorts and more are all designed to offer unrivalled protection from dirt, wind, rain and snow, allowing you to focus on the trail ahead.
Quality isn't spared either, and you'll find everything from shoes to gloves to shorts to jerseys, all ready and waiting to help change up your mountain bike runs.
With terrain rougher than Caitlin Jenner’s face, a man on his mountain bike needs the right gear to back him up. Yeti is one brand that throws two middle fingers to the corporate hierarchy muscling in on the sport with an ethos of absolute inclusion. That means a collective of hardcore riders designing the apparel along with the continual input of those in the field who use them. From downhill to enduro to some of the world’s most challenging environments, Yeti apparel has been there. It’s this collective experience that makes Yeti a household name well worth looking into.
The pursuit of mountain biking gear that can outlast you stops at Alpinestars. MotoGP, Motocross, Formula One, WEC, NASCAR, mountain biking and surfing, you name the extreme sport on wheels and Alpinestars has been there. It’s an old company too having been founded in Italy by Sante Mazzarolo in 1963. Since then it’s taken the sporting world by storm and sprouted dedicated design studios both in California and Italy. Given the brand’s extensive experience in motorcycle sports, you can expect no less in their quality mountain biking gear which offers extensive levels of protection and their signature ‘wild child’ designs.
Dirt, wood and mud in your face is Dakine’s playground. Rob Kaplan founded the name back in 1979 in Hawaii with a focus on sportswear for alternative sports. Think surfing, skiing, snowboarding and of course, cycling. Today the company is based in Oregon where it continues to push the boundaries of high-performance, trail-ready apparel with a casual everyday look perfect for parlaying a bike ride into a brew stop.
Odd name but don’t be mistaken by the roots of this serious Japanese cycling sports apparel brand that was founded in 1950. What started in Tokyo quickly spread its wings into the U.S with the help of Stan Mavis & Hugh Walton who grew the footprint of the brand globally. As a Shimano-owned company, Pearl Izumi continues to produce some of the most aesthetically pleasing mountain bike gear that will get the job done without destroying your budget. Oh and the name is derived from the gem “pearl” and an area of Japan known for its clear water “Izumi.” Literally translated, the name means, “fountain of pearls”.
If you’re going to go hard on the trail and risk life and limb, you need one of the most trusted names in the game. POC’s motto says it all: To do everything we can to possibly save lives or to reduce the consequences of accidents for gravity sports athletes and cyclists. And with that, the Swedish company that was founded in 2004 has quickly risen as a household name amongst the most extreme thrillseekers on two wheels. It started with helmets and now punters can also pair it up with POC mountain biking apparel backed with technical solutions, quality construction and signature Swedish design.
Air time is not for the faint of hearted but if you’re betting on chasing it on a mountain bike, Fox has your back. And head. And anything else that could potentially break. Founded by Geoff Fox and Peter Fox in 1974 California, Fox Racing has quickly become a global leader over 40 years of keeping those in action sports alive. Given their extensive experience in motocross, moving into mountain bike gear was a no-brainer. Their threads feature the signature loud Fox designs without compromising on safety credentials and rider functionality.
The name may sound familiar and that has everything to do with Keith Bontrager, the man who forged a reputation from building indestructible mountain bike frames in his NorCal garage in the 1980s. Since then the brand has merged with Trek but the founding principles are still there and this also extends to their apparel. Design it, build it, ride it, love it. Share with the world.
The story of Specialized is a truly a special one (sorry). It’s one of the most recognised names in high-performance cycling today and it all started with the sale of a Volkswagen bus for $1,500. The year was 1974 and Mike Sinyard of California decided to palm off his car so that he could fuel his love for cycling Europe. He bought handlebars and stems made by Cinelli to take back to the US before importing Italian bike components that were difficult to find in the States. By 1976 though, Specialized began making its own bike parts starting with a touring tyre. Today they’ve extended that footprint with finely tuned and advanced engineered mountain bike gear with a quintessentially refined American look.
High performance cycling apparel and components is what Race Face does best. The company which hails from Burnaby in Canada has been providing this stuff for 20 years and today they sponsor some of the world’s most recognised athletes with their proven gear which includes mountain bike gear and apparel.
Certainly a brand with a 'by the people, for the people' ethos, ZOIC understands what riders need and what they don't.
Another Californian outfit-making impeccable mountain bike threads for obsessives is Kitsbow. Given that cycling apparel is all they do, you can expect some of the most innovative and premium stuff on the market designed to work. Their successful line of mountain bike gear is of course driven by those who ride and test them in the midst of the mud, rock and great outdoors.