With an outdoor sport comes gear. Unfortunately mountain biking is not a cheap outdoor sport. Not only do bikes cost $$$, the gear does too. Fortunately I’m pretty good at finding deals. I shop online at Sierra Trading Post and Steep & Cheap and usually end up buying last season’s gear at discounted prices. I’m not an expert by any means, but this is what I’m using right now as a novice mountain biker.
Women’s Giro MTB helmet with MIPS.
First and foremost, the most important piece of gear you buy will be the helmet. The main difference between a mtb helmet and a road bike helmet is the coverage. Mtb helmets cover more of your head, especially in the back. MIPS stands for Multi-impact Protection System, a technology that “reduces rotational forces when the helmet gets hit at an angle.” Buying a helmet with this newer technology is a no-brainer (see what I did there?) because it’s one of the most important pieces of gear you will buy.
Buying Body Armor can quickly get out of control and before you know it you’ve spent thousands. Since I do have a budget, I wanted to pick one good quality piece. I don’t ride aggressively so Jordan and I decided shin pads would be the way to go. POC makes the VPD 2.0 shin guards that have flexible padding that’s soft until impact, it’s really quite amazing. I ride with flat pedals that have spikes on them to keep shoes connected to the pedal. When those spikes come in contact with your shins it is NOT good. Therefore, shin pads are quite necessary. However, they are sold individually, which I think is pretty stupid. Who only wants to buy only one shin pad? My next purchase will probably be POC’s VPD knee pads.
Speaking of shoes…
When I first started riding, I was wearing regular trail running shoes. But when I upgraded my bike, I got flat pedals with spikes that were tearing up my shoes. Enter mountain biking shoes. Yes, they look like shoes that high school skater kids wore back in the 90s, but they work for mountain biking. And they are comfortable! They have special grippy bottoms that keep your feet glued to the pedal, most of the time… and they are also surprisingly waterproof.
These are traditional fingerless road biking gloves that I wear mountain biking. I’ve tried full-fingered mountain biking gloves but my fingers must be odd lengths because I have yet to find a pair that I like enough that fit well. Anyway, these gloves are pretty cheap and they work well enough.
Osprey is my go-to for packs. I’ve been hiking with their Sirrus daypack for years and love it. When I found a mtb specific pack on sale on Steep and Cheap for $60 a few years ago I got it and do not regret it. This pack has a sleeve for your body armor, along with a helmet attachment that I believe also works with full-face helmets. It also comes with a built in zippered bag for your mountain bike tools. Mine is blue, not orange, but you get the gist. I love it.
So there you have it! My favorite pieces of gear for mountain biking. Obviously you don’t have to spend a ton of money to be safe while biking, but certain items are worth it. You can always find deals online, too.