What to wear on your mountain biking tour in Scotland
“No such thing as bad weather…” what to wear on your mountain biking tour in Scotland
Mountain biking is a great way to get into remote and amazing places, to see things that few others will ever experience. With each new innovation to bikes and equipment we are able to climb higher and ride harder than we ever thought possible. With this comes an increased amount of time in the elements and a need to understand and protect yourself to maximise the amount of fun you have while riding, be that on your local trails or an epic adventure deep in the mountains of Scotland.
One question often asked by riders coming to Scotland is “what to wear on your mountain biking tour in Scotland?”
We are blessed with having four very distinct seasons in bonnie Scotland, however they have been know to occur all in one day! Whether you’re joining us on for an advanced adventure like the coast-to-coast or Torridon + Skye, or are new to mountain biking and looking for some gear tips, here are a few pointers on how to make sure your adventure is memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Layer up
You don’t have to look like you’re about to embark on an Everest expedition from the front door of your accommodation, but understanding how to get the most from your layers is the difference between a great backcountry experience and coming back a shivering, wet mess!
- Base layer – this is the closest to your skin, and should have some insulating properties pulling sweat away from the skin keeping you warm and dry. Wool or synthetic materials work well but avoid cotton as this holds moisture and quickly loses its ability to retain warmth
- Mid layer – whilst mountaineers would normally use fleece this can be too warm for more dynamic mountain bikers, even a simple technical jersey can be enough to trap a thin layer of air that warms up and keeps you toasty! However a heavier weight fleece or jersey in your rucksack is always a good idea when the conditions get more ‘character building’
- Insulation layer – this could be a down jacket or heavier fleece, we often forego this layer in summer conditions but worth having in your suitcase on standby
- Outershell – hardshell or softshell this breathable and highly waterproof layer is essential for mountain biking in Scotland. Even when the sun is splitting the sky I never leave without a good hardshell in my rucksack
Full fingered essential! Some people love how half fingered gloves feel, personally I prefer the feeling of my fingertips being intact! You’re going to be riding over all kinds of surfaces, especially rock. As much as gloves keep you warm and help to grip the bars, they are there for protection and your fingertips won’t thank you if you become temporarily detached from the bike and you have forgotten about them!
Lycra is great as an under layer but put a sturdier layer between you and the many bushes and rocks you will encounter on your adventure. Plus it looks much more acceptable when you stop in the cake shop after a ride!
When you’re mountain biking in Scotland your feet will get wet. Embrace it. All the best shoes, plastic bags and rolls of cling film won’t stop that, but a well fitting technical sock means your feet will be warm and wet instead of cold and blistered! Dry your socks after a ride, but during, have fun and aim for the puddles with no fear!
If you’re on flat pedals make sure you have a good sole on your shoes, SPD shoes on flat pedals don’t match up well. If you’re riding with SPDs think about the kind of mountain biking you will be doing. If the itinerary for your Scotland adventure mentions ‘hike-a-bike’ your new, fancy, lightweight “disco slippers” made from a recycled space shuttle might be best swapped out for a good mountain SPD shoe with a sturdy sole.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes! – and that doesn’t just apply to mountain biking in Scotland; it’s equally important in any mountainous region, like Slovenia, the Yukon, Nepal and New Zealand.
Thanks to our guide Chris Gibbs for his words of wisdom on what to wear on your mountain biking tour in Scotland