Kath’s Top Tips to Keep You Out on the Trails Whatever the Weather!

Mountain biking in wet, autumn and winter weather in the UK is a necessary part of year-round riding. It can be fun, rewarding, and incredible for improving your skills. But it can also be uncomfortable cold and unpleasant if your kit isn’t up to the job! Riding muddy trails, navigating slippery roots and rocks, and dealing with unpredictable weather conditions require the right gear and preparation. Here are some essential RideHigh MTB tips to help you make the most of your wet weather mountain biking adventures. As, lets face it, if you don’t get out in less-than-ideal weather then you’re not going to ride for a big chunk of the year… We need that fresh air and feel-good endorphin hit that riding gives us to get us through until next Spring with our mental and physical health intact.

  1. Waterproof Clothing: Invest in high-quality waterproof jackets and pants to keep yourself dry during rainy rides. Look for breathable options to prevent overheating while maintaining protection from the rain. I’ve been massively impressed with 7Mesh Thunder Pants as, for the first time ever, the leg length is right, and they are comfortable to pedal in due to the awesome design and cut. Jacket-wise, there’s lots of choice out there but I wear my Mountain Equipment (non-bike specific) heavy, shell Gore-Tex jacket when its truly battering down or for coaching when I’m not moving much but need to stay dry and warm. For riding and working hard, I’m a big fan of the Rapha Gore-Tex Infinium jacket. Yes, these products are spendy but, with waterproof and breathable kit, unfortunately, the more expensive, high-end products really do work best! As a footnote, I’ve had my Mountain Equipment jacket for over 10 years now, so, when you do the math its actually good value.
  2. Grip-Enhancing Gloves: opt for gloves with grip-enhancing features, such as silicone or textured palms. These gloves will give you better control and grip on wet handlebars, ensuring a safer ride. When it gets significantly colder go for a glove with more thermal qualities. Always, always carry a spare pair. A warm, dry pair of gloves just feels like paradise after a café / lunch stop!
  3. Footwear: Finding decent flat-pedal shoes that will keep your feet dry is like the search for the holy grail… nigh on impossible! Anything low cut, skate shoe style made from canvas and suede is going to get soaked almost immediately. I’ve usually gone for the 5.10 Freerider EPS for winter and due to the leather construction and a primaloft layer they really do keep your feet warm. They also do a mid-height boot style model with a cuff which should add to the weatherproofing. If you ride clipped in, then there’s lots of choice. My Shimano winter boots which I use on my road bike are simply perfect! Socks are also a crucial choice. I go for Sealskinz waterproof cold weather socks which are great. You could equally use plastic bags over warm, wool socks for a cheaper option!
  4. Backpack or Hip Bag: Backpacks usually have a rain cover so don’t forget to use it! Explore all those mysterious hidden zips at the very bottom of your backpack, I bet you’ll find a rain cover hidden away down there! I also use dry bags to ensure spare clothes, electronics or other important items are kept dry inside my backpack or hip bag.
  5. Anti-Fog Goggles or Glasses: Wear anti-fog goggles or glasses to maintain clear vision during wet rides. Fogging can be a significant issue, and these accessories will help you stay focused on the trail. Keep your goggles bag in a dry bag along with a cloth for wiping them when on uplift days. I also have a spare photochromic lens for my Melon Optics riding glasses. These are brilliant for the different light conditions when winter riding in and out of the forests.
  6. Quick-Dry Clothing Layers: Wear moisture-wicking, quick-dry base layers that can efficiently manage sweat and moisture. Layering allows you to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable throughout the ride. My 7Mesh Chilco vest is an awesome bit of kit, giving an extra layer of warmth to your body without being too ‘boil in the bag’ when working hard.
  7. Brake Maintenance and Pad Check: Prioritize proper maintenance for your brakes and regularly check brake pads. Wet conditions can decrease braking efficiency, so ensure your brakes are in optimal condition before hitting the trails.
  8. Mud Guards: Install mud guards on the front of your bike to minimize the amount of mud and water splashing onto you and your bike components. This will help keep your vision clear and reduce the wear and tear on your bike. SKS Mudrocker mudguard and RRP Proguard Max are highly recommended.
  9. Emergency Repair Kit: Pack a compact repair kit with essentials like tubeless tyre plugs and a Co2 quick inflate system. No-one wants to be standing around in the rain and cold faffing with inner tubes and pumps. If you are on a big mountain day, then yes, a decent repair kit for trailside repairs is a must!

Remember, preparation is key when mountain biking in wet weather. Equipping yourself with the right gear and maintaining your bike properly will ensure a safe, enjoyable, and successful ride, no matter the weather conditions. Stay safe, and don’t let a bit of rain and mud spoil your mountain biking plans this autumn/winter!