These MTB Jackets and Pants Will Keep You Riding Through Winter

Geez, it's cold lately in the Northern Hemisphere. Layer up and keep riding with these jackets and pants.

Geez, it’s cold lately in the Northern Hemisphere. Yes, even in the southern states! 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.

Layer up and keep riding with these jackets and pants. Of course, you’ll want to keep your fingers toasty too so don’t forget a pair of warm gloves or heated ones.

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.

Craft ADV Charge jersey hood jacket

The Craft ADV Charge jersey hood jacket can be used as an added layer of warmth in milder winter temps or as a mid-layer under a waterproof jacket for more extreme elements. The polyester jersey material feels buttery soft and has super stretch allowing total freedom to move. The front chest and hood have an additional wind-proof layer to help cut the chill where it matters most. The sleeves have thumb holes which you’ll not likely need while riding but are appreciated for times you have to de-glove to take a summit selfie. Two small, zippered hand pockets are great for stashing a pair of hand warmers or oatmeal cream pies.

Test pilot profile height: 152cm (5’0″) weight: 50kg (110lb) testing zone: Atlanta, Georgia

While not exactly packable, in that it doesn’t stuff into itself, it is lightweight enough (9.4oz) to carry in most hydration packs. During the winter months I’d swap an emergency shell in my pack with this jersey hood jacket since it does add a little extra warmth. It’s not water resistant in any way, but I’m typically more worried about being cold on a ride than being caught in a stray shower. For $100, this is one piece that will potentially get a lot of use during the winter and shoulder seasons, especially if you also ride gravel or run outside a lot.

  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Men’s colors: Black, Crock/Black, Ash
  • Women’s colors: Black, Rhubarb, Norit/Shade (pictured)
  • Available at Craft

Endura MT500 Freezing Point II Jacket

Photo: Hannah Morvay

Endura’s MT500 Freezing Point II Jacket is made to get out on the trails on cold days. If the snow isn’t piling up on the trail, the jacket makes the cold bearable. The Freezing Point II features PrimaLoft Gold Active Insulation panels on the sleeves, the front, and on the hood and moveable material all around.

Reviewer profile height: 173cm (5’8″) weight: 75kg (170lb) testing zone: Colorado Front Range

The jacket also has Endura’s signature rubberized shoulders to resist pack movement, and there’s zippered venting from the nipples to the hips on both sides and along both armpits for a lot of wind flow. Reflective accents complement the backside of the jacket and the tip of the hood. The jacket is finished with a water repellent.

Pit check. Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Endura Freezing Point II is a solid jacket for when you know you’ll be moving. It feels like a “puffy” jacket but doesn’t offer warmth on cold days when you’re stagnant. On the bike, the jacket feels good around 30°, and I’d say give or take 5°. It can get pretty warm closer to 40° or on climbs, and the area of the zippered vents is appreciated.

This really isn’t the jacket for wet snow days or frigid cold, but if you’ve got some lightly fluttering flakes, the Endura will hold up well. The jacket is a perfect choice for bluebird days on the fat bike.

Ortovox Westalpen Swisswool hybrid jacket

The Ortovox Westalpen Swisswool Hybrid jacket is technical jacket that is deceptively warm. The close-fitting jacket is made with merino wool and fleece material with a raised waffle pattern on the inside that is soft, warm, and stretchy. There are also lightly lofted sections of the jacket on the front torso to the neck and extending to the tops of the arms and upper back that are filled with Swiss wool insulation for added warmth. The jacket is wind and water resistant and the bold colors make it a warm jacket on its own. For freezing days with the possibility of precipitation, pair this hybrid jacket as a mid-layer with any waterproof shell for complete protection and warmth on the bike, or under a ski parka if you’re skiing or boarding this winter.

Test pilot profile height: 152cm (5’0″) weight: 50kg (110lb) testing zone: Atlanta, Georgia

Merino wool fleece raised waffle weave.

I often reach for this jacket to wear around casually instead of a hoody since it’s not as bulky and allows me to move around easily. Unlike a hoody, there is no hood or hand pockets. There is one large chest pocket that could fit a phone, which is hard to miss since Ortovox used a contrasting, fluorescent pink color to accent it.

Pearl Izumi Canyon ECOLoft jacket

A puffy trail jacket? Yes. For those of us who ride no matter the weather, a piece like the Canyon ECOLoft Jacket can make a massive difference in overall comfort. The recycled material is thinner than a typical puffy, with a tighter fit to sit under your rain shell. It’s wicked warm and breathes better than I would have expected, making the Canyon jacket ideal for ambient temps below 45° F. The tall collar warms your neck and chin and the draw-string regulated hood can fit under a helmet to keep those ears happy.

Test pilot profile height: 175cm (5’9″) weight: 65kg (145lb) testing zone: Bellingham, Washington

Two hand pockets and a breast pouch round out the features list, keeping the Canyon’s look clean and simple. The material has some stretch, but I wouldn’t want to crash hard in this jacket. Rocks would likely chew right through it. The fabric layers are thick enough that riders should stay dry so long as the water is only coming up from their tires, but it’s by no means waterproof. Paired with one of the larger rain jackets in this article, the Canyon ECOLoft Jacket will keep you warm in almost any conditions worth pedaling through.

Velocio Recon Hoodie

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Velocio Recon hoodie is a high-quality and high-cozy hooded sweatshirt, perfect for when the leaves are falling. The Recon hoodie is made from a heavy weight Merino and the inside is lined with fleece for comfort. Velocio placed a woven fabric around the elbows so that the joints can have a durable place to move without worry of wearing quickly. The Recon hoodie does feel heavy for a sweatshirt. Riders will want to opt for this on cold days, or don it after the ride, though it is easy enough to move in.

The Recon hoodie’s price is steep, but the sweatshirt is comfortable, durable, and has sharp details. There is a rear hip pocket for popping a set of keys or some snacks into. Velocio makes the Recon hoodie slim and form fitting. On my size large, after a wash, the sweatshirt fit me well with a little extra room, but check their size guide before ordering to determine the best fit.

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.

See also: Big Fat 2021 Winter Fat Bike Apparel Roundup

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.

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.

See also: 14 Mountain Bike Pants for Any Condition, Tested and Reviewed

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.