What to wear
Deciding what gear you need when venturing off road for the first time can be a little confusing, given the vast array of products currently available.
Riding off-road is a physical affair no question, so choosing the right type of kit and clothing is important if you want to concentrate and enjoy your riding regardless of what the terrain and weather throws at you!
This basic guide I hope will provide you with a little information to help you on your way.
The following items will form the basis of your everyday riding equipment and will be used come
rain or shine.
MX Helmet or open face (aids cooling unlike full-face lids which are not ideal)
MX Goggles or safety specs if you prefer
MX Gloves or Waterproof equivalent (Allow for greater clutch and throttle / brake control.
Leather road bike gloves may be too restrictive)
MX Boots (Provide high level of protection for foot / ankle and shin area)
Knee / Shin Guards or knee braces
Long MX Socks
Note: As with all things in life, you get what you pay for so it is well worth buying the best you can afford!
MX Shirt / Riding Pants
Enduro Jacket / Trousers
Various options exist and it is very much down to the individual as to what you decide to wear. I personally wear a full hard shell protective suit similar to the one shown below. As it provides a high level of protection for the upper body and includes a spine protector and kidney belt. Again, there are many different options available including sleeveless and items with removable components such as the back protector. Everything is held in place via a mesh lining and straps, preventing the armour from slipping and moving about. The downside is that these suits can be warm to wear in hot weather. A small price to pay for safety.
These items are best worn over a thin moisture wicking base layer or nylon MX shirt to avoid any chaffing.
Alternatively, you may be happy to ride with an enduro jacket which contains (preferably CE approved) armour built in to it and separate elbow pads if required. But, these can rotate in a crash.
MX Shirt / Riding Pants
Enduro Jacket / Trousers
Hip protection in the form of padded shorts offer further protection and is an area that doesn’t get a lot of attention but worth considering if your budget will stretch to it.
Thermal underwear is cheap and works extremely well when the temperature plummets and is a perfect base layer underneath your body armour and knee guards / braces. In addition you may want to try a balaclava or neck tube to keep the cold out. Generally when riding rough terrain these items can be too efficient and can make you overheat. Worth keeping a slim item in a spare pocket or rucksack for when you stop for a breather though.
Hydration / Camelbak
Hydration rucksacks or Camelbak’s as they are otherwise known are a must have on any ride out. Especially if your miles away from anywhere and are getting dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion. These items come in various sizes with a plastic bladder which can carry anything from 1L to 3 Litres of fluid.
Note: These items can be found in hiking / camping shops for a fraction of the cost. Replacement bladders and syphon tubes etc are readily available and easily replaced if required.
I use a 2L bladder and find it’s usually sufficient. It’s also a compromise as fluid is heavy especially when you’ve squeezed a few essential tools / snacks etc in your backpack the weight can become noticeable.
Although water is a good thirst quencher it’s poor at replenishing lost sugars and salts that have been lost through perspiration during your ride. High energy drinks such as Lucozade are much better at this and will help sustain energy levels and your concentration.
The above is a guide and insight as to what you as a rider may need to consider when venturing off-
In my opinion, it’s well worth spending a decent amount on your ‘Base Kit’, especially your helmet and boots. As with all safety equipment, it’s an investment and will provide you with many years of service if looked after. Although I wouldn’t recommend buying a second-
The levels of protection you opt for is a personal one, but remember, any steps you take to minimise injury should the inevitable occur has to work in your favour!
There’s many a bargain to be had on auction sites such as Ebay. However, Gumtree and Preloved sites are also worth a look but remember these are free add sites. Ex army waterproof coats and trousers are another consideration and are worn by many in the winter months.
There are products to suit all budgets regardless, so shop around and if in doubt just ask a fellow member or rider. But don’t be surprised if their take on riding kit differs from yours!
Finally: Common Sense – Take it with you on every ride and enjoy!