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Wet Weather Riding Gear

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Wet weather riding gear for any trails!

Mountain bikers are experts in accidentally seeking out unfavorable weather. Usually there are only two options when riders find themselves staring down inclement conditions: suffer through it or hunker down and wait it out. However, if a mountain biker believes in the age-old philosophy that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation,” then they will be ready for whatever conditions Mother Nature throws at them. After over 14 years of mountain biking in Peru, Ecuador and other parts of the Andes, we’ve seen everything, from Biblical rains to dust storms to llama stampedes. Through all these trials and tribulations we have learned that wet weather riding gear are indispensable pieces of equipment that will save you from getting soaking wet and freezing your butt off which could hinder you riding back to safety. 

We are going to break this down into 6 different pieces of wet weather riding gear that we think are an absolute must to bring on any mountain bike ride!

First piece of wet weather riding gear is: A pocket-sized rain jacket

This is that rain jacket/windbreaker that does that nifty little Macgyver move where it stuffs into its own pocket. These things are light, pack down to the size of a deck of cards, and will keep you warm and dry for a least a couple of hours of unfavorable weather. A regular rain jacket is also a fantastic option but might not pack down as small.

Second piece of wet weather riding gear is: A puffy vest   

So, we’ve tried puffy jackets, fleece vests and even baby alpaca sweaters, and we’ve found that the best mid layer to stay warm in any conditions is a puffy vest. They pack down even smaller than your pocket-sized rain jacket, keep your core extremely warm, fit under even the tightest of rain jackets, and are totally in right now, at least last I checked.

Third piece of wet weather gear is: A  Buff®:

As children we were always told that your head is where your body releases the most heat. On the trail, we do lose a lot of heat through those cool vents on our helmet, and in cold situations we want to keep that heat as close to our bodies as possible. Our solution to this is to always have a Buff® (cotton or wool) that you can pull up your neck covering your ears and head. We have also found that a cold head makes people lose focus and control of their bike which can lead to more falls and more dangerous situations. Trembling from the cold is no way to ride epic trails.

Fourth piece of wet weather gear is: A pair of rain pants

Ok, so we know you are probably shaking your head right now and saying that we are total gear geeks for even mentioning rain paints, but here’s the deal: mountain biking in the high Andes during the rainy season can be like riding a waterpark. The difference, though, is that you’re not in Dallas, Texas in the summertime, you’re most likely over 4000 m/13,000 ft — it’s beyond cold and wet, and you may be riding in those conditions for hours. When you ride in the rain, your shoes, knee pads, and shorts are all going to be the first thing to get absolutely soaked, and then those items are going to begin to make the part of your body that is responsible for keeping you on your bike numb and unresponsive. Rain pants catch all the water and mud, keep you warm by insulating your body, and keep you dry. Let’s be honest — most rain paints can be rolled up to a size smaller than a Pringles can. Furthermore, when you get to your vehicle, all you have to do is take off your rain pants, climb in all warm and dry, and not worry that you are going to leave a huge mud-spot on the seat. If you want to be the envy of your buddies then buy yourself a DirtSuit, this fabulously Swiss engineered waterproof shorts and long sleeve one piece is made for MTB’ing. It  has plenty of ventilation and will keep you dry and warm all day long. Expensive but cool as hell.

Fifth piece of wet weather gear is: A pair of washable wool socks

Mountain biking in the mountains either at high elevation like Peru or in the tropics of the Andes like in Colombia, you need socks that will keep your feet warm if they get wet. Smartwool socks come in all thicknesses and sizes. For any MTB vacation I take at least three pairs of these amazing socks. 

Sixth piece of wet weather gear: A light wool base layer

Our last necessary item for riding in the rain is an upper wool base layer. With this layer you will be much warmer if your jacket doesn’t keep you 100% dry or if you are sweating while riding. There are many companies that make washable wool base layers. We recommend a lightweight or ultalight version of these base layers over the heavier pieces while mountain biking. This layer is great for both wet weather and just plain mountain weather where you never know what the temperature will be.

All of these pieces of wet weather gear are perfect for MTB tours like our 10-Day Ecuador Mountain Bike Trip or our Tropical 9-Day Colombia MTB holiday. They are also perfect in any backcountry medical situation to bandage wounds, pad splints, keep you warm if you have to hunker down, and can even be used as a pillow in the car ride to and from the trailhead. So, think about the gear that you use and how it compares to the suggestions that we have listed above, and consider taking our advice. Or, just keep shivering in a cotton tank and denim Daisy Dukes — as long as you’re out there shredding!

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Wet Weather Riding Gear

Wet weather riding gear for any trails! Mountain bikers are experts in accidentally seeking out unfavorable weather. Usually there are only two options

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Biking Fitness Ratings

1 – Getting your heart rate up isn’t really your thing, and you rarely (if ever) exercise. Your idea of a perfect vacation is total relaxation: sitting on a beach, sipping a mojito, and just generally vegging out. 

2 – You don’t necessarily work out regularly but you aren’t averse to the idea of doing something active. Although you don’t exercise that often, you don’t necessarily consider yourself out of shape.

3 – You exercise one to two times a week but do not have a normal schedule that keeps you biking or doing other activities weekly. You don’t go to the gym or train for any specific sports but you lead a relatively active lifestyle by biking, hiking, skiing, or whatever it may be. For biking: climbs and long descents give you some trouble and you tend to get tired after about 2-3 hours on the bike.

4 – You exercise 3-4 times a week and enjoy physical activities such as biking, hiking, skiing. You are active. For biking: you enjoy climbs that are are moderately long and being on a bike for 3-5 hours in one day doesn’t get you too tired or fatigued. 

5You exercise at least 4 times a week and are an avid athlete that is consistently in good shape. You’re more or less game for any kind of adventure. For biking: you’re comfortable with being on your bike for 5-7 hours a day. 

6 – You live and die for exercise, sweat, and suffering. You only want to climb higher, go farther, and prove how much of an animal you are. Steep climbs, long descents and big days are something you are looking to do more of and you can’t wait for your next adventure. 

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Biking Skill Levels

Beginner:
You’ve been riding a mountain bike for a couple of years or less and you’re most comfortable on smooth single-track and wider, forgiving doubletrack. You like rides with scenic views; you like both ascending and descending on well-maintained, safe trails. You’re looking for an active but relaxing mountain bike vacation; you’re not into jumps, drops, super steep trails, rock gardens, roots or taking big risks on your bike.

Intermediate:
You’ve got two plus years of experience mountain biking on single-track trails under your belt; you’ve gotten pretty confident behind the handlebars and are beginning to expand your mountain bike abilities. You like riding most types of terrain, and you’re comfortable both climbing and descending on single-track trails with smaller technical features such as rocky sections, small drops, and small steep sections. You aren’t trying to walk on most of the trail and are looking to take small risks with things like speed, jumps, rock gardens, and stair sets to improve your skills as a mountain biker.

Intermediate Tech:
You’ve got three plus years of riding on singletrack trails of all sorts with features such as rock gardens, steep sections, rolls and drops, roots, and small jumps. You are confident on the bike in most situations. You’re constantly looking to improve your riding skills and enjoy riding for extended periods of time climbing and descending in terrain of all sorts. 

Advanced:
Ten plus years of experience riding single-track, freerides and biking of all sorts. You live for steeps,  jumps, rock gardens, techy trails, long descents, big ascents and discovering new terrain. Mountain biking is one of your passions and you are ready and confident to do what you love in a new and challenging place.
You can handle anything we throw at you — jumps, rock gardens, steps, technical descents, tough ascents, etc. Biking is a central part of your life. For you, the bigger the challenge, the more excited you get.

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