Downhill: The ultimate level of protection comes from downhill gear. Since
riders generally take a ski lift to the top of
the mountain, the gear downhillers wear
doesn’t need to be especially breathable.
The gear does, however, provide a cooling
effect when the rider is headed downhill at
high speeds. Jerseys in this category will
most likely have either 3/4- or full-length
sleeves, and the option of riding pants
comes in to play. Downhill pants or shorts
both use thick materials that are just about
bomb proof in a crash. Downhill riders tend
to wear the baggiest clothing, somewhat
resembling that of a motocross racer. The
loose-fitting clothing allows the rider to
wear protective gear underneath, such as
kneepads and elbow pads. Some riders
even buy their jerseys a size larger to allow
for body armor to be worn underneath.
• Choose the most appropriate style
of gear for your riding. There are serious
differences here, and simply choosing the
most fashionable kit isn’t usually the best
• Use sizing charts or try stuff on at
your local bike shop to make sure your
gear is comfortable. In our experience,
these sizing charts are very accurate and
will allow you to buy the right size without trying the clothes on first. As with a
swimsuit, trying on a chamois at the shop
may not be good form.
• Look closely at what the company
incorporates into its gear to help cool you
down on a ride. Look for ventilation under
the arm pits and on the front of your
• The best way to judge the
breathability of a kit without actually testing it on a ride is to pay close attention to
inward and outward air vents.
• Think about what features you’re
looking to get out of your kit, such as
pockets, built-in lens cleaner wipes and
• Consider how long your rides are
and choose the best way to carry what
you need on the trails. Options include
hydration packs, fanny packs, bib shorts
with pockets or even a saddle bag. The
longer the ride, the more storage you’ll
• Look for gloves that offer the best
comfort and ability to properly use your
brakes, shifters, dropper post and whatever else you might put on your handlebars. We tend to prefer very lightweight
• Buying clothing pieces individually
can allow you to take advantage of sale
items, but think ahead when buying
bright colors so they don’t clash with your
other pieces of gear.
• Keep your kit clean and fresh and
you will find yourself making more friends
on the trails.
• Most gear can be thrown in the
washing machine, but the dryer will ruin
your gear over time. Purchase a cheap
clothing rack or clothesline and let your
gear air-dry. ❏
Underarm vents: The sweatiest part of our
upper bodies is often under our armpits.
Ventilation over and around your underarm
area is crucial for a comfortable and dry
day on the trails.
Outward vents: Pay attention to the inward and outward vents on your riding gear. This
outward vent pulls heat off the back of a rider’s neck.
Stash pocket: Look for riding gear that allows you to stash extra items. Stash pockets
can show up on shorts, jerseys and even some bib liners.