With the winter months upon us, it's easy to slip into hibernation and hang up the bike until spring, but with so many great products out there to keep you warm and dry, there's no reason mountain biking can't be a year round passion.
Finding stylish and functional women's MTB wear is difficult. Even at the best of times and height of summer, women are crying out for more options, more colours and well... just more of everything. The choice can be so limited that we're often stuck with the same brands which inevitably leads to coincidental matching on the trails with other women.
With the women's industry still growing and now slowly answering to our plight for more clothing, it can be daunting to think of the winter months and having the palaver of looking for well-fitting clothing, which is also waterproof and stylish.
We've done our research and our field testing to bring you some of the best winter MTB wear to see you through to spring... and beyond.
Base Layers: Alpkit's Kepler Merino Wool Top
Where better to start our guide from, than the bottom. Merino wool is a fantastic base layer for all active wear - it's soft and light, but its remarkable properties allows the material to keep you both warm when it's cold, but cool when you heat up.
Alpkit are not MTB specific, but they cater to the adventurer in us all. Their Kepler merino wool base-layer acts great as a second skin for riding in. The cut is flattering and it fits really well, with a long body to limit it riding up your back throughout a trail.
The Kepler merino wool layer is priced at £39 makes it quite reasonable, especially when we haven't yet mentioned the best feature: Thumb Loops. These are very comfortable, and ensure your sleeves are nicely tucked into your gloves so you don't get any nasty wind shooting up your arm as you shred down a trail.
A good quality base layer can make all the difference to your winter ride. It keeps you warm, without being heavy of inconvenient. It's even great to layer with your jersey, or jacket and there's nothing stopping you from wearing it on its own.
Winter Socks: SealSkinz Mid-Length, Mid-Weight's
The only thing worse than cold feet, are wet and cold feet. Fortunately, SealSkinz provide a great pair of socks that can prevent numb tootsies - so when you're ripping through the muddy puddles and splashing your way through a stream, you can be sure that while your shoes become suitable paddle pools, your feet will remain dry.
These really are well worth the £32 they retail at. Even if you have just one pair in your MTB arsenal, they will see you through many winters and rainy days owing to their innovative technology and strong durability.
Winter Jacket: The Madison Women's Flo
Finding the right riding jacket is no easy feat. You want something that satisfies that 3 F's: Fits, Functions and Flatters. So why is it so hard for us to find something that ticks all these boxes? The skinny of it is just that women come in more shapes and sizes that a piece of fruit, so to have something that fits AND flatters, it a tough cookies for any manufacturer to cut.
However, we've tested out the jackets that Madison Clothing have on offer and feel these come closest to the holy trinity. The soft-shell women's Flo jacket from Madison offers a great balance for being breathable, waterproof, well fitting and it looks great. At £99.99, it's a steal for the amount of use you will get out of it, not to mention the high quality of craftsmanship that goes into the design and production of Madison clothing. With a jacket like this, you don't even need many under layers, just a base-layer or jersey will do.
One of my favourite bonus features of the Madison Flo Jacket is the rubbery silicone pads on the shoulders. These add extra friction between the straps of your bag and your jacket, so your hydration pack doesn't slip around too much. The jacket is so nice and stylish that it's great to wear off the bike as well!
If you're looking for something more waterproof specific, Madison offers the Flo Women's Waterproof jacket as well which is just as stylish and comfortable to wear, but more durable to withstand more rain and waterfall.
Winter Bottoms: Madison Women's Flo shorts
The great thing about mountain biking, and riding in general, is that it raises your body temperature considerably. Providing your core area is warm and dry, then you can be a little more forgiving with the bottom half of your body. Even in the depths of winter, I'll still wear padded shorts and trail shorts on top. The only real difference is that the shorts I wear will be slightly thicker, and have an element of water resistance to them.
Bonus tips for enjoying a winter MTB ride:
Now we've covered the primary areas of the body to ensure you're warm and dry for some British winter riding, we have some bonus tips that will really seal the deal and get you out of hibernation this winter...
If the weather is particularly bitter outside, and you're prone to feeling every drop in degree Celsius, then a little saviour can come in the form of a pair of tights. Doesn't have to be expensive, or fancy, but a medium denier pair of tights can make a lot of difference for keeping your pins warm. Best thing about this, is that they are cheap and are available in a variety of colours to really coordinate your riding gear.
A little tip on how to wear tights whilst riding: Wear tights under your padded shorts, then they won't slip down!
If you're prone to ear ache, it's understandable why you wouldn't want to speed down a trail on a cold windy day. To overcome this, try a thin beanie hat, to wear under your helmet. This will keep your head warm, and help to prevent wind pain and consequential ear infections. It's also common to use a head scarf, or cotton wool for the same effect.
Snoods are great for stopping the wind rushing down your neckline, sending chills to the bones. Air Hole do some great face masks, in a variety of styles and materials and they are long enough to tuck into your neckline on any jacket or top.
Wrap up, and shred down the trails
Winter days are short, so we should really make the most of it and enjoy the riding we can do. We've provided a list of the best mountain bike clothing out there for the winter, along with some bonus tips to keep you warm and comfortable on the trails.
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