Kids don’t necessarily to have specialist clothing from top to bottom, but a few select pieces can help your child feel comfortable on the trails and feel part of the crew.
To match the increasing number of kids mountain bikes available on the market, there has been a welcomed increase in the range of kids clothing for small rides right through to teens. We tested a range of shorts, trousers, tops, jackets and gloves from a number of different brands and over several months to find you the best picks for your little rippers.
Our selections are based on versatility, longevity (we don’t want things that fall apart after a few washes), style, comfort and price.
Endura MT500JR Burner Short
Best kids mountain bike shorts for durability and wearing with pads
Sizes: age 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 | Colours: Camo, green, blue | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Tough, durable, good for handing down or on
Reasons to avoid: Spendy
The Endura MT500jr Burner Shorts are tough, if spendy, shorts and built to outlast the time they’ll fit any one child, which makes them perfect for handing down to younger siblings or handing on to other kids.
The Burner shorts are a scaled down version of the adult Burners, and are packed with features. The fabric of the Burner shorts is stretchy and tough and the fit designed with movement in mind. These feel comfortable and ready for action, with an elasticated waste and easy Velcro straps at the sides to synch in.
We particularly like the zip pockets for essential trail snacks and collecting important pine cones on the way round. The padded liner snaps in place and is easy to remove for a separate wash, or to swap out for alternative liner shorts that have Endura’s Clickfast mechanism. My daughter actually prefers the ‘Engineered Boxer’ liner from Endura, which has a knitted feel and is seam-free.
Fox Youth Ranger lined shorts
Best kids mountain bike shorts for versatile use
Sizes: age 6/7, 8, 10/12 or 14 | Colours: Dark indigo blue, Red clay, Olive green, Black | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Look great, very comfortable, adjustable waist strap, versatile
Reasons to avoid: Spendy
The Ranger shorts have an adjustable strap at the waist, helping fit the waist to slim body shapes. We opted for a ‘26’, suitable for age 10/12 and this came up true to size.
The slate blue is very popular with our oldest daughter and her favourite combo is to pair the shorts with the Fox Ranger tee in lime green. I have to admit, she looks awesome.
The shorts liner is made from a silky, light weight fabric and the shorts stayed fairly cool even on hot weather rides. Two zip pockets come in handy for snacks. The outer shorts are made from a ripstop fabric that we preferred to others in the test because of the stretchy feel.
Even after a hard few months there are no signs of wear on the bum! You can snip the liner to remove it, or leave the tabs in place. Our daughter likes to wear the outers doing other sports.
Altura Spark Kids Waterproof Jacket
Best kids waterproof mountain bike jacket
Sizes: age 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12 | Colour: Lime, blue and black/olive | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Great waterproofing, peaked hood, available in small sizes for younger kids
Reasons to avoid: A little pricy (but worth it)
The Altura Spark kids waterproof MTB jacket is a genuinely waterproof outer layer with a useful peaked hood, perfect for mid-ride breaks. It’s an investment at £60, but is a genuinely waterproof kids jacket that has sizing going down to 5 years old. This is a rare find!
The fit is roomy but perfect for layering over warm tops to keep the weather out. Our daughter particularly likes the reinforced peak, that keeps the rain out her eyes when she’s off the bike on mid-ride missions (think tree-climbing or stick collecting). There is a dramatic shaped tail, keeping water off the little shredder’s bum on a rainy ride, too!
The lime is a great colour for visibility around roads, and the reflective details are far from cursory, nodding to Altura’s commuter heritage. Overall this is a brilliant addition and taken on every ride given it is so packable and squishes down small.
Kids Five Ten Freerider mtb shoes
Best kids mountain bike shoes
Sizes: Infants 10 to adult 4 | Colours: Black, teal, brown, blue | Flat or clipless? Flat | Closure system: Velcro straps | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Velcro straps are easy to use for smaller riders, grippy soles, durable
Reasons to avoid: None! They’re worth it.
FiveTen’s Freerider shoes are a mountain bike classic, and the kids version comes in four colours with very complicated names that are translatable to black, teal, brown and blue. They
come in a 10 (infants) through to an adult 4. The Velcro straps and grippy soles are the making of the Freeriders; laces are so annoying on a mountain biking shoe, especially for smaller riders whose lace-tying skills are still being honed.
Our oldest daughter loves her Freeriders. Her teal versions have been put through their paces but show little sign of wear. They are easy to slip on, with the three adjustable Velcro straps keeping the fit tight. The shoes really do stay in place and snug when on the bike.
The reports are that her feet stay firmly on the pedals without slippage, thanks to the fit but also because the soles are made from the usual tough rubber that grip beautifully to flat pedals. The Freeriders have really helped instil confidence. They have been an important part of our daughter’s skill improvement – she is using her feet more and more as she grows in strength and skill, really driving into the pedals as she navigates the trail.
Altura Spark Trail Pants
Best mountain bike trousers / pants for kids
Sizes: age 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12 | Colour: Black | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Available in smaller sizes for younger riders, light and breathable for hotter days.
Reasons to avoid: Only available in black
The Altura Spark Trail Pands are great for protecting little legs from brambles, even in hot weather. These slim fitting trail pants are a perfect thin layer, and top marks to Altura for offering these trousers for age 5 – they’re a firm favourite with our tiniest shredder.
Altura’s Spark range is truly thoughtful, well-designed gear that is available in tiny sizes so even those fitting age 5-6 can benefit from the awesome design features. These trousers are constructed from a lightweight, slightly stretch fabric that feels tough and has withstood some hardcore tree climbing and games of chase as well as a lot of summer mountain biking.
The trousers are great with a pair of padded shorts underneath, or just some normal underwear. There are easy Velcro cinch tabs at the side to accommodate different sizes and a zip pocket on one side for treasure.
Mostly, we love these trousers for being totally versatile. They are great for mountain biking but also any outdoor activities. They dry really quickly and are rip resistant. We wish they came in more colours.
Endura Humvee Kids cycling gloves
Best kids mountain bike gloves
Sizes: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 | Colours: Orange, royal blue, grey camo and dark blue | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Simple contruction, no padding, velcro strap to keep them as a pair
Reasons to avoid: No padding on palms, sizes up a little small
The Endura Humvee gloves are constructed simply, with a supple chamois palm and silicone gripper but with no padding. The bright orange gloves are a big hit with our kids. For a start, they haven’t lost them (yet) and the Velcro wrist straps mean you can lock them together between uses.
They have washed remarkably well, keeping their shape and without the Velcro deteriorating. They have not gone stiff and crusty like some others we have tried. There is no padding on the palm, so not ideal for long rides, but our little shredders rarely ride for more than an hour, so this has never been a problem.
The lightweight mesh back means they have been worn all summer without overheating. Summer-weight long finger gloves are perfect for when it’s hot but there are brambles about.
The strip of patterned silicone adds just enough stickiness to keep hands on the bars and the fleecy thumb great for a quick snot wipe. The two touch screen finger details might be useful for older children. We would say they come up a bit small. Our age 7-8 gloves are perfect for the nearly 5 year old.
How we tested
Children aged 4 (nearly 5), 8 and 9 tested a range of specialist clothing over the course of three months in late Spring and Summer, some of which was during a heat wave. They were asked to feed back on what they liked or didn’t, and we also kept a close eye on the failsafe ‘whinge-ometer’ which is a good indicator of children’s enjoyment and comfort levels. Rides involved pedalling as well as more technical descending.
What to look for in the best kids mountain bike clothing
You might want to dress your children as mini-me shredders but they don’t necessarily need
every bit of specialist gear. However, a few key pieces of well-made specialist clothing can
add a huge amount of comfort and this can mean everyone gets to stay out on the trails for
Brands that have been providing excellent adult kit for years have now branched into gear for small humans – and it comes with the same features and quality finish as the bigger versions. We are impressed, although inevitably the prices can be a bit eye watering.
If you’re looking for some gear for your riding crew, there are few real-world retails that
stock a good range of kids clothing, but try shops connected to mountain bike hire places that rent kids bikes – they often have a selection. If buying online, check the size guides carefully. We found bottom half sizes did not often match our very slim girls’ waist measurements, even if the height was right.
What’s the most important piece of MTB clothing or kit to buy for kids?
Our advice is to focus on touch points – hands, feet and bum. Investing in sturdy, grippy trail shoes has transformed our daughter’s riding and overall confidence on the trail. She has tried a few different shoes but loves the Five Ten Freeriders for the Velcro straps and fun teal colour.
As well as touch points, finding a really waterproof jacket for kids is a good investment. Often kids waterproofs are barely showerproof, or huge and difficult to pack. Hunting out good waterproofs is my specialist subject as a mum of an outdoor-loving brood.
Can I buy a second hand?
Definitely. There are specialist Facebook groups for second hand mountain biking kit for
kids. This is a great way to shop in an eco-friendly way. The kit is built to last so it should
serve more than one child.
The exception is helmets, of course. If you buy new, make sure you go for quality gear that won’t fall apart and hand it on when your child grows out of it!
How else can I make sure my child loves mountain biking as much as I do?
Kitting your children out in specialist clothing is really all about making sure they have a fun
time on the trails. If they’re too hot, cold or uncomfortable it will ruin their enjoyment. And
let’s face it, that means ruining yours too.
There are plenty of ways to encourage and support your kids as they learn the ropes in mountain biking. Take a look at our tips for helping get your kid excited about mountain biking. Our focus is always on keeping it fun, with plenty of snacks and a bit of a push (or a tow) up the hills (them, not us – that’ll come in a few years time). We want them asking to come back again next weekend!
Excited to get your kids out riding? You’ll also want to check out our guide to the best kids mountain bike helmets and protection kit, and lets not forget finding the best kids bikes – we’ve got advice on everything from balance bikes to kids full suspension bikes. Your little rider will be a little ripper in no time!