Technical MTB Clothing We’re Wearing this Winter

Here are several not bad jackets, jerseys, and pants we've been mountain biking in this winter.

Nobody likes to hear excuses, and most of us prefer not to make them, especially when it comes to biking. Sure, the weather might be frightful but you know what they say: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

With that in mind, here are several not bad jackets, jerseys, and pants we’ve been riding in this winter.

Winter and wet-weather MTB jackets

Depending on where you live, winters might be wet and wild, cold and snowy, or just “not hot.” And let’s face it, most places serve up a combination of all three at various points in the season. Here are some of the jackets we’ve been wearing this winter, depending on the day.

Specialized Trail Alpha Jacket

The Specialized Trail Alpha jacket may be my new favorite chilly-weather top. The look is casual and utilitarian and it’s a perfect layer for when you need something just a little extra. On the inside is a sweater-like Polartec Alpha fabric. Polartec says this material insulates without building up excess body heat. I’d recommend the Trail Alpha jacket for rides in the 40s or for wearing right after the ride when your blood slows down.

Women’s sizes and styles available.

Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie

The Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie is a lightweight puffy jacket with an athletic fit and function. Ibex says the jacket is filled with a proprietary merino wool insulation for temperature regulation. The exterior is water and wind resistant.

The Wool Aire is a simple but high-quality, lightweight puffy that feels great with minimal layering in 35°F-45°F. That temperature range can easily go lower by adding a warmer baselayer.

The jacket isn’t meant for serious wet weather, though it is water resistant. This would fit well under a decent hardshell if you wanted something for harsher winter weather.

I’d recommend this piece for fat biking in any conditions where you’d find it tolerable. It offers plenty of warmth for climbs and with an extra layer on hand for the descent, it’s plenty of jacket too. Overall, the Wool Aire is an outstanding piece that keeps the wearer warm in a minimal package.

Photo: Leah Barber

Gorewear Endure Jacket

The Gorewear Endure jacket is waterproof and breathable thanks to taped seams and the Gore-Tex membrane inside. It packs into its own pocket, and while it’s not as lightweight as the brand’s more expensive Shakedry jackets, it’s super portable for bringing along just in case. I found it works great for keeping body heat inside on cold, wet winter night rides and the reflective details really pop against the darkness.

The Black/Fireball colorway I tested is pretty unique and stands out in the Gorewear line. It reminds me of a luxury brand pattern, and it’s clear a lot of thought went into the design, from the elongated, drop tail for extra coverage in the rear to the oversized hood that fits over most helmets.

Women’s sizes and styles are available. My US size medium weighs 303g.

Winter MTB jerseys / tops

Choosing the right winter jersey for mountain biking can be tough. Yes, layering is important but so is the ability to regulate temperatures with an easy pull zipper and breathable materials.

Velocio Alpha Long Sleeve

We have a few different brands in this roundup, but it’s clear that Polartec Alpha is the real winner, showing up in three different tops here. The Velocio Alpha long sleeve is designed as an anorak top with a half-zipper, rather than a full-zip like the Pearl Izumi top below. On the front half there is a layer of Polartec Alpha. On the rear of the jersey is Velocio’s Merino 210, one of my favorite fabrics, thanks to its comfort and feel.

Velocio says the Alpha L/S adds 10-15° of warmth to an above-freezing kit. This seems about right. The Alpha material breathes quite well. I’ve worn it on warmer days, around 40°, without a layer underneath and it works alright, but on cloudy, cold days, you’ll want another layer underneath. You can certainly play with other layers to find the perfect level of warmth and movability without bulk.

The rear also gets a standard three-pocket layout that doesn’t get bogged down by snacks, phone, keys, etc. The Alpha jersey isn’t cheap, but it’s a great piece if you’re serious about great gear for winter riding. Women’s sizes and styles available.

7mesh Seton Jersey

The Seton jersey has a similar intent as both the Velocio and Pearl Izumi Alpha layers. It’s a solid mid-layer built for temperature regulation on cooler days. The Seton features a stretch woven fabric for wind resistance on the outside. On the interior, there’s a soft fabric that feels at home against the skin.

The Seton is a full-zip layer with a snug fit. The feel is more rigid compared to the Alpha layers, but the Seton also does better against the wind. I’d argue the Seton is for colder days than the Alpha layers because it doesn’t breath as much, but this can also act more as an outer layer. The Seton also keeps a bit warmer, but it’s easy enough to cool down with the zipper. The sweet spot for this jersey seems to be between 30°F with a base layer and up to 45°F without one. My only issue was a tight fit through the chest and shoulders.

Pearl Izumi Pro Alpha Layer

Pearl Izumi’s take on the Polartec Alpha layer delivers with a not-too-pricey piece for colder days. The top is a full zip and features the Alpha layer throughout the majority of the top. The Pro Alpha feels as comfortable as it looks.

As mentioned above, the Polartec Alpha fabric isn’t the best sole-layer if it’s a real cold day, say below 40°F. The lightweight Alpha material moves a lot of air through it, but it does a good job of keeping heat inside too. It’s best over another slim jersey or under a more wind-resistant layer.

The jersey has three large pockets in the rear, which makes it easy to stow and retrieve items while on the move. I’m 5’8″ at ~170lb and the large top was a good fit.

Ibex Woolies 2 Crew

For the added layer mentioned in the Wool Aire review above, Ibex specifically recommends the Woolies Tech L/S crew shirt — a Merino wool base layer that comes in a handful of earthy colors. The Woolies is a dead-simple base layer that will fight stink and sop all-day, and if you don’t need a full sweater or flannel under the jacket, then yes, this long sleeve wool shirt is a perfect match.

Women’s sizes and styles available.

Winter MTB pants

Tights or pants (or both!) are an obvious choice for days when temperatures dip into the chill zone. We tried two new pairs of riding pants and two pairs of tights this winter.

Velocio Recon Stealth Pants

Velocio’s Recon Stealth pants are a 4-way stretch pant that the brand markets as a cool weather pant for mountain biking, or if you need something to ride to the office in. The pants are made from a milled Italian fabric that feels light but tough. The side pockets are zippered and there’s a big pocket in the rear.

The Recon Stealth pants fit true to size and have a slim fit through the ankle. The Recons feel light compared to a denim pant, but they are heavier than most techy MTB pants. These are on the more casual side too, which some will likely appreciate compared to some of the racier styles.

The pants have an amazing fit and feel, and they work great on casual, cool weather rides. Women’s sizes and styles available.

Photo: Leah Barber

Gorewear Fernflow pants

It’s taken me a few seasons but I’ve finally found a pair of mountain bike pants I love. For starters the Gorewear Fernflow pants (size medium US) fit better than most, with plenty of length and just the right amount of material for my long, skinny legs. Zippered hand pockets make for convenient storage while two zippered vents on the thighs make it easy to regulate temperatures during the ride.

The Gorewear Fernflow pants aren’t really insulated so I’ve been wearing them on rides where the temperature is at least a little above freezing. Built-in, adjustable waist cinchers dial in the fit, and there’s a wide band of silicon to prevent them from sliding down your chamois shorts underneath. The tapered legs are drivetrain friendly with snaps and a zipper that makes them easy to take on or off, or roll them up, depending on the weather.

The one drawback to these pants is they’ve forced me to do laundry more than once a week so I can wear them over and over again all winter.

Velocio Luxe Bib Tight

Velocio’s bibs are some of the best out there and the Luxe Bib Tights are no different. These aren’t a full-winter thermal bib, like their Thermal Bibs. The Luxes are designed for when the conditions are more favorable but you still need some coverage.

I ordered a size medium and these fit me true to size, even though I am on the bigger side of medium. I haven’t felt any tight spots on the bibs. Velocio recommends these for temperatures between 40°-55°F. I reckon you can stretch the limit and go out in them when it’s a few degrees colder with the proper top, but the rating is still a proper range.

I’m going on 4+ years with some of my Velocio bibs and bib liners and they are all still running strong. These Luxe tights are a chunk of dough, but they are in it for the long haul. The chamois keep their firmness for years and the fabrics and seams haven’t torn in my experience.

Pants and shorts plus women’s sizes are available as well.

7mesh Mk3 Cargo Bib Tight

The 7Mesh MK3 Cargo Big Tight is a utilitarian option for mountain bikers and gravel riders who are out in the colder months. The MK3s aren’t a thermal bib either but work on cooler days when you need a bit more coverage. It feels like these bibs do well in the temperature range of 35°-50°F.

These bib tights are big on features and have cargo pockets on both thighs and back pockets too. I must say, cargo pockets on bibs are becoming a must-have for me. While I disdain how much control my phone has over me, cargo pockets make life a lot easier for certain items, especially while you’re pedaling.

The chamois has a nice amount of coverage and support. 7mesh made these bib tights a little long with hash marks of bar tacking for a recognizable spot to trim them.

More warm MTB gear

Having a warm jersey and pants is great, but sometimes just adding a proper scarf or hat can make an even bigger difference. Or, if you’ve already got the right jacket and pants but still have cold extremities, it might be time to level up to more extreme gear.

Photo: Leah Barber

Smartwool Intraknit Merino Tech Beanie

I’ve tried a few different under-helmet beanies over the years, and they make a big difference on the coldest days bottling in heat and protecting my ears from biting wind when temperatures dip below freezing. The Smartwool Intraknit merino tech beanie is my go-to choice now, thanks to a fit that’s not too tight but still fits under a helmet and the no-itch merino wool blend. It actually works ok without a helmet too, unlike some beanies that tend to look odd on their own. Every few rides I toss it in the wash and it’s back to looking and feeling fresh again.

Pearl Izumi Amfib Lobster Gel Gloves

The Pearl Izumi Amfib Lobster Gel gloves are not messing around. Featuring 170g of Primaloft Gold insulation and a heat-pooling, split mitten design these are easy on the bike controls while keeping paws warm. There’s a nice snot cloth on the thumb, a velcro closure for keeping wind and snow outside, a vibration damping and heat conserving aerogel palm, and a wind and water resistant construction. Reserve the Amfib Lobster Gel gloves for the coldest, sub-zero rides of the year; otherwise you may find yourself with seriously sweaty palms.

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