It’s a wet one this year, but get your kit sorted and you’ll be riding like it’s summer
When the rain comes you’re still going to want to be comfortable on your bike. Here’s how to dress for wet weather riding.
Don’t let this winter’s epic levels of rainfall get you down; here’s a list of all the best kit to keep the fire burning even when it’s soggy outside.
Starting with the head and finishing with the toes, here’s all the best-reviewed kit we rely on time and time again when the weather turns against us.
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Giro Chronicle MIPS helmet, £99.99
A solid and well-fitting enduro helmet that is equipped with the latest anti-whiplash MIPS technology. The two great things about this helmet for winter riding are the large peak and the modest amount of vents. The big peak helps keep rain and wind out of your face. The relatively few amount of vents means it keeps your head warm.
Specialized Therminal Mountain jersey, £70.00
A slim-cut jersey that works really well with a waterproof jacket layer over the top of it. The fabric is warm, protective and just makes for a really nice cosy place to be. Far too warm to wear outside of winter but ideal to wear during it! We also wear it off-the-bike a lot too.
Endura MT500 II jacket, £199.99
The MT500 is astonishingly breathable, with one of the highest ratings we’ve ever seen at 60,000g/m2/24hr and this makes it really useable in our mild, damp climate. Endura has combined that with good waterproofing, make this the best winter jacket out there. It has pit vents to open up when things get muggy, the fit is good with plenty of bum coverage, and it doesn’t weigh a ton either.
Fox Ranger 3L, £135.00
The beauty of Fox’s Ranger 3L Water Pant is that it doesn’t feel like a conventional waterproof; there’s lots of Spandex in the weave and that gives it the warm, comfortable feel of a softshell. It’s still waterproof though, thanks to the three-layer construction, taped seams and DWR coating, and the fit is both stylish and functional with a tapered leg that looks good and keeps it out of your drivetrain.
100% Brisker gloves, £26.99
The Brisker Glove from 100% is well insulted on the back of your hand and has neoprene cuffs — it isn’t waterproof, instead they keep you warm even when wet, a bit like a wetsuit. The bulky insulation doesn’t get in the way of excellent ride feel though, thanks to a single layer Clarion palm that feels as dextrous as any summer glove. This combination means they work in the cold, and the wet, and dry quickly too.
Specialized Atlas Knee Pads, £60.00
Minimalist knee pads – sometimes called Knee Sleeves – have been a brilliant invention of British bikers. Not only do they offer protection against cuts and scrapes but they act like leg warmers too! They’re very comfortable to wear and will often fit underneath 3/4 and even full-length over trousers.
Five Ten Freerider EPS High shoes, £115.00
Officially discontinued but can still be found if you dig around online. The Freerider EPS High is a winter-friendly ankle boot packed with PrimaLoft insulation and featuring a heat-reflective footboard to keep out the cold. Easily the best winter flat pedal trail shoe you can actually buy.
Shimano MW5 boots, £130.00
We find it hard to fault this shoe — warm, perfect stiffness and cheap — a worthy winner. Some boots you can just pull-on and forget they are there, with every function and practicality covered to the point that they just blend into the background.
Endura Hummvee waterproof socks, £34.99
Invest in a pair of Endura Hummvee waterproof socks because they keep your feet dry — when paired with trousers — for less money, and you can still use your choice of shoes. The Enduras are excellent because they’re unpadded for minimal bulk, and breathable too.
Smith Squad XL MTB goggles, £85.00
Glasses are great for summer and warmer days, but nothing beats goggles for pure guaranteed eye protection. Our favourite is the Smith Squad XL MTB because it has the biggest viewing window thanks to its minimal frame. The Chromapop lens is great but best of all is the clear lens because it lets most light through and is cheapest to replace.
Some other tips for dealing with wet weather…
Forget waterproof jackets (sometimes)
Waterproof jackets might keep puddle splashes and rainfall out, but they can also keep sweat in, often making you just as wet inside. There are two ways round this: Go for a thin softshell on top with a couple of layers of wool underneath to maintain your temperature — yes, you’ll get wet but you’ll be warm and you’ll dry as you ride.
Option two, invest in a top-tier waterproof shell – such as the excellent Endura MTR Shell – it’s the only way not to be totally drowning in your own steam in humid and swampy conditions. Whatever the fabric, more vents are always better.
Keep it natural
Sheep do just fine on hillsides year-round, in all weathers, and so can you. Ditch the man-made fabrics for wool — it stays warm when wet, dries quickly, doesn’t stink too badly and wicks moisture well. Merino tops make the best base layers, and can double up as outer layers when it’s mild. Thick wool socks keep pinkies toasty, even when soaked through, and magically don’t get too hot on warmer days either.
Waterproof trousers are the bomb
For the past three or four winters, we’ve lived in Endura’s MT500 Waterproof Pant II. Altura’s Attack trousers are also highly recommended. Long trousers are the best solution to keeping mud off your legs (and consequently out of the bath and your partner’s hair).
Pick a well-fitting, breathable pair. A big bonus is they are weather independent — toasty in foul and cold conditions without being too sweaty, like a jacket. They can be hosed down after a ride and machine washed in pure soap to maintain the waterproof membrane.
Stay clean and get grippy
Mudguards are essential to keeping dirt and water out of your eyes when speeds pick up. The POWA DFender (£49) or Front Race Mudhugger (£25) guards are the most effective. Mud tyres transform winter riding grip levels too — one of our more versatile favourites is the Schwalbe Magic Mary (£49.99).
Carry spare dry gloves to rapidly increase body temperature and comfort, and save a dummy-spitting meltdown if caught in a real downpour. Make sure your grips have ridges on them too, because they work better with muddy gloves, giving you a more secure hold at the most crucial moments. Thin-palmed gloves with neoprene, wind-facing fronts stay warm even when soaked. They’re a revelation!