Helmet – The most important piece of bicycling apparel is certainly your helmet!
Helmets should be reasonably new. Helmets should fit properly (comfortably and snugly) and should be positioned (with straps adjusted) to provide good coverage over the riders forehead area.
Mountain bike helmets–as opposed to road bike or bicycle commuting helmets–typically provide a bit more coverage and often include a visor. Any bicycle helmet is acceptable however, provided it is in good condition and is a good fit on the riders head.
Riding glasses – A pair of suitable athletic sunglasses can be a really good idea when mountain biking. They are not required but are a “nice to have” that can help protect the riders eyes from dust and debris which might get kicked up from other riders tires out on the trail. It is also a good idea to wear glasses with UV protection when spending long days out in the sun.
Gloves – A good mountain biking glove is typically full fingered and typically has some type of padding in the palm of the hand to help absorb shock and vibration and to help the riders hands remain comfortably on the handle bar.
Riding shorts – The two styles of riding shorts are common for the type of mountain biking we do. The tight fitting “Lycra”variety, typically including a chamois/pad in the bike seat area. Or a slightly looser pair of “baggy” riding shorts, often equipped with an inner liner that is padded in the bike seat area.
Note: “Board shorts” style swim trunks are often great alternative riding shorts, especially when combined with a padded liner, since they usually contour with the body with a simple construction and athletic material.
Shirt/jersey – Traditional cycling jerseys are not required although they may be handy for riders who are interested in benefiting from the pockets that are typically included on the back of these garments. A good alternative to a traditional cycling jersey is any running shirt or soccer jersey in an athletic material.
Extra layers – Extra layers including accessories such as arm and knee warmers may be useful to riders later in our season when the weather starts to cool down. Long-sleeve tops and jackets are also nice to have, but again should be of a polyester fabric variety suitable for athletic use. Nike Dry-Fit type material…which can be easy to acquire around Portland.
Note: Old rain jackets are also nice to have if and when the weather turns wet. Even it they don’t shed water as well as they used to…they can provide a layer of insulation and wind protection that will keep a wet rider warm so long as they keep moving.
Socks – Cycling socks come in many varieties, but for mountain biking the best socks are typically something mid-length in the wool and/or polyester variety. These fabrics will keep a riders feet warm if they get wet and socks in the right length will protect their lower shins and calves from scrapes.
Caps – Thin cycling caps and/or thin beanie hats are nice to have when the weather starts to cool off. They must be thin in order to fit underneath a riders helmet comfortably, and the extra layers of fabric go along way in maintaining a riders temperature in colder weather.