The Essential Mountain Bike Clothing Guide for Women

I created this mountain bike clothing guide to help all the ladies out there gain the confidence to start mountain biking more often!

Mountain biking is such a fun way to get outside and explore, plus its great exercise! But, if you are a woman you might not have the confidence to get out there and ride with the boys right away.

I felt the same way when I first started mountain biking, and I noticed that it helped a lot when I started really getting into it by dressing the way a real mountain biker dresses.

Read next: A Women’s Guide on How to Start Mountain Biking

I’ve been biking regularly for a couple of years, and I now have a few rules that I live by. One of those rules is to make sure I dress appropriately and wear the correct gear. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out for a ride and realized that I forgot something and that one thing totally changed my ride and made me uncomfortable.

I guarantee you will feel better and much more confident if you follow the same rules as me.

Downhill mountain biking in Big Bear, California

The Essential Mountain Bike Clothing Guide for Women

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From head to toe, this is my essential list of what to wear mountain biking, with a few optional items at the end:

Sweatband

A sweatband to wear around your forehead makes a big difference in the heat! Sweat dripping down your forehead and into your eyes is a big distraction when you are trying to climb a hill. Use something thin and comfortable, you don’t want it too tight or it might cause a headache.

What I use: Pearl iZUMi Headband

Sunglasses/Goggles

Eye protection is absolutely necessary. You need to protect your eyes from dust, dirt, rocks, sticks, and anything else that could fly in your face. The larger the glasses the better so they cover more of your eyes.

I purchased the Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 sunglasses and later found out that they don’t cover enough of my eyes and dirt still gets in them when I ride certain trails. I still use them on trails that are not too dusty; otherwise, I use clear safety glasses from Home Depot or goggles for more extreme downhill trails. If you are in a really dusty or fast-paced downhill section, it might be a good idea to wear goggles, especially if you are following someone else since their bike will kick up a lot of dirt.

What I use: Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 Sunglasses

For downhill riding: 100% MX Goggles

Helmet

A helmet is absolutely necessary, no matter what. If you will be riding downhill or technical trails I recommend a full-face helmet. The helmet I use actually has a removable chin section, so you don’t always have to wear it as a full-face helmet if you don’t want to. I love everything about this helmet, and I highly recommend it! The removable section straps to my Osprey Hydration Pack perfectly too!

What I use: Bell Super 3R

MTB Jersey/Moisture Wicking T-Shirt

You are definitely going to be sweating during your ride, especially if you are going to wear a backpack (and you should be). Make sure you wear a shirt that is made out of the appropriate material! It doesn’t feel good to have a sweaty back, but if you wear a moisture-wicking shirt you won’t even notice.

What I use:

Fox Racing Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey

Pearl iZUMi Women’s Tank

Backpack/Hydration Pack

I never go on a ride without my backpack. You never know what you might need, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Read more: 9 Essentials to Pack for a Mountain Bike Ride

I use the Osprey Raven, which I love! This backpack is the perfect fit for mountain biking for several reasons. It holds plenty of water (I always have extra on my rides), it has a specific space for your toolset which actually rolls out for easy access, a special pocket for your keys, phone, and sunglasses, and a special attachment which holds your helmet! I am telling you, this thing really has everything.

What I use: Osprey Women’s Raven 10 Hydration Pack

Full Fingered Gloves

The reason for needing full finger gloves instead of half finger is to better protect your fingers of course! You might be riding through narrow trails and branches could hit you, or worse, you could have an accident and you want to make sure your fingers don’t get too scraped up.

What I use: Fox Women’s Gloves

MTB Shorts or Cycling Tights w/Chamois

Another thing that I recommend you wear on every single ride. The chamois is basically a cushion for your butt, so make sure your shorts or tights come with this part. When I first started biking I didn’t realize the importance of these, but I quickly learned that they are a must. I once went to a 2-hour bike clinic without them and my butt hurt the next day even though I wasn’t really riding. The extra cushion really does wonders.

If you don’t like to wear “baggy” shorts you can also try cycling pants or tights. These are form-fitting and they also keep you a little warmer!

What I use:

Fox Women’s Shorts

Pearl iZUMi Women’s Cycling Tights

Elbow and Knee Pads

This is another must on every ride, you need to have protection! You never know when you might fall, and it could even happen on the easiest trail. Find a set that is comfortable for you so you are willing to wear them on every ride.

There have been a few times that I thought I didn’t need mine, either because I was familiar with the trail or I just thought it was too hot out. I clearly remember that I was not confident during those rides because I didn’t feel protected. It’s just better to be safe.

What I use:

POC Elbow Pads

POC Knee Pads

Tall Trail Socks

Tall socks are not essential but definitely preferred. If you wear short socks, first of all, your legs are more exposed to dirt, sticks, rocks, and whatever else you run into on the trail. Second, tall socks help protect your ankles from rubbing on your shoes.

I actually wear short and tall socks, but every time I wear my short socks the back of my ankle rubs against my shoe, which is really annoying! Tall socks are much better.

What I use: Poc or Fox Trail Socks

MTB Shoes

When I first started riding I would wear my regular tennis shoes. This might be fine in the beginning, but sooner or later if you are riding more technical trails it is better to have shoes specifically designed for mountain biking. You want shoes that have excellent grip so your feet do not slide off the pedals.

Some people choose to use clips, which require special pedals and shoes. Basically, your shoes attach to your pedals, which I have not tried before so I cannot comment on this experience. I choose to ride with standard flat pedals and shoes because I don’t like the thought of having a fall and my feet being attached to my pedals.

What I use: Five Ten Women’s Shoes

Mountain biking

Optional items…

Facemask/Headwear for dust

If you are planning to ride downhill, or on a really dusty trail, you can bring something to cover your face. Otherwise, you are going to breathe in a lot of dirt! I usually only wear mine when I am riding a fast-paced downhill trail, especially if I am following someone.

What I use: BUFF Multifunctional Headwear

Sun Sleeves

If you are biking on a sunny day, sun sleeves will help protect your arms from getting a sunburn, plus you will avoid awful tan lines. They are lightweight and comfortable, and you probably won’t even notice they are on. Just make sure you get the right size so they don’t slide down your arms.

What I use: Pearl iZUMi Sun Sleeves

Arm & Leg Warmers

If you are biking in a cold environment you might want to wear arm and/or leg warmers. I have only tried arm warmers, and they are really great for chilly weather!

What I use: Pearl iZUMi Arm Warmers

Mountain biking in Orange County, California

Comparing these two photos you can definitely tell which one is me as a beginner and which one is me knowing what to wear mountain biking! I hope this essential mountain bike clothing guide will be useful for you. Be safe and have fun!

The essential mountain bike clothing guide for women

READ NEXT:

How to Start Mountain Biking: A Guide for Women

9 Things to Pack for Your First Mountain Bike Ride

25+ Items Every Outdoorsy Girl Needs to Have


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14 thoughts on “The Essential Mountain Bike Clothing Guide for Women”

    • Omg it’s amazing! It’s pretty dusty on the SoCal trails (since we NEVER get rain), so it really helps a lot! Thanks for your comment!

  • I wish I had read this 3 years ago! , I look the same as you now and then . Regarding clothes I agree with Pearl Isumi but I prefer Troy Lee design over fox ,I ride in very humid jungle and I barely notice sweat. butt comfort is Very important, for me the best are Sugoi cycle pants. Fox full finger gloves definitely a must. I use also trail shoes Salomon X ultra. Thank you for writing! Greetings

    • Hi! That’s so funny. I can’t believe how much I evolved since I first started riding! I will have to try Troy Lee…I haven’t because I never really found any style that I liked and I like that Fox is a little simpler (plus the headquarters is close to me so I can go shop there easily and get deals sometimes!). Thanks for your comment and recommendations, have fun riding!

      • YOU ALL WELCOME TO VISIT PUNTA VENADO OUR BIKE PARK IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, LETS KEEP HIGH HOPE WE WILL BE ABLE TO TRAVEL AGAIN!

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