MOUNTAIN BIKING is an adrenaline-pumping activity that sees you exploring off-road trails, tracks and paths on two wheels, but it does come with its risks – hence the need for body armour.
Although a helmet might seem like enough protection, it’s worth investing in other bits of kit to keep you covered if you do come off or crash.
The amount of body armour you need will depend on the type of mountain biking you’re doing – for example, cross country riding is less risky than downhill or dirt jumps – but a good pair of gloves is generally the bare minimum. From there, the possibilities are endless.
Most riders favour knee guards and protective undershorts, but the likes of ankle guards and armour for your torso can also help minimise the impact of an accident.
As with everything in cycling, there is a vast array of choice when it comes to body armour, and each brand will claim that their product is the best.
When it comes to your protection though, you’re going to want to know that the product your buying can stand up to the test. To make it easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best body armour for mountain biking you can currently buy.
This article and featured products have been independently chosen by Sun journalists. It contains links which are ads, and if you click a link and buy a product we will earn revenue.
1. Best ankle guards: G-Form Pro Ankle guards
- (AD) G-Form Pro Ankle Guards, £24.19 from Amazon – buy here
Sitting just above the protection of your shoe, your ankles can take quite a hammering from loose stones and trail debris. Enter the ankle guard.
Although quite a subtle piece of body armour, ankle pads are a relatively inexpensive way to keep the protruding boney bits of the joint out of harm’s way.
The Pro Ankle guards from G-Form might have a low-profile and second-skin fit, but offer shielding when it’s needed. It’s worth noting that these won’t prevent twisted ankles, so it’s worth looking into ankle braces if you’re after that level of safety.
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2. Best gloves: Giro Remedy X2
- Giro Remedy X2 mountain biking gloves, £36.99 from Giro – buy here
Your hands are crucial when riding off-road as they’re the only thing that’s going to help you navigate away from any obstacles in your path. Keeping them protected is therefore crucial.
The Remedy X2 gloves by Giro do this better than most thanks to armouring on the knuckles and the heel of the hand that minimise hits from low hanging branches or impact if you do fall off.
That’s not to say that they’re like riding in boxing gloves though. The upper is made from a breathable moisture-wicking mesh and a flexible-yet-durable synthetic suede palm.
3. Best knee guard: Dainese Trail Skins Pro Knee Guard
- Dainese Trail Skins Pro Knee Guard, £79.95 from Wiggle – buy here
When you fall off your mountain bike, there’s a good chance that, along with your hands, your knees will bear the brunt of the impact. To save yourself from serious damage (and scabby knees) it’s worth investing in some knee guards.
The Trail Skins Pro set by Dainese are the pinnacle of knee protection – combining excellent impact resistance with all-day wearability.
Side pads add another buffer to the overall package, and an ergonomic design and highly breathable sock allow you to pedal without any drawbacks.
4. Best protective undershorts: Endura MT500 Protector Undershorts II
- Endura MT500 Protector Undershorts II, £55.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles – buy here
Comfort when riding off-road can be easily boosted with a pair of cycling shorts, but a thin layer of lycra won’t make a lot of difference if you do fall off. Scottish brand Endura has an answer – the MT500 Protector Undershorts.
Designed and constructed like a normal pair of waist cycling shorts (features include an antibacterial chamois pad and grippers on the hems), the MT500s are boosted by high shock absorption inserts on the hips, lower leg and tailbone areas.
5. Best body armour: Bliss Protection ARG 1.0 LD Top
- Bliss Protection ARG 1.0 LD Top Comp Body Armour, £179.99 from Tredz – buy here
Protecting yourself on the trails doesn’t come cheap but can be the difference between a serious injury and walking away relatively unscathed. Investing in body armour for your upper half is an expense that a lot go without, but can make a real difference if riding dirt jumps or big drops where the risk is higher
The ARG 1.0 LD top by Bliss Protection is worn like a base layer but, like the MT500 Protector Undershorts, does much more.
The garment features shock-absorbing gel pads on the ribcage, back, shoulders and elbows that will take away 80% of the force of an impact. Unlike other protective materials, it can also survive multiple impacts on the same spot, helping prolong your investment over numerous crashes and scrapes.
What is the best MTB body Armour?
The best mountain bike body armour is the Bliss Protection ARG 1.0 LD top. Its innovative shock-absorbing pads keep all the key impact points of your upper body protected, while its lycra construction leaves it breathable and comfortable to wear ride after ride.
What protective gear do I need for mountain biking?
While it’s not required by law, a lot of bike parks and trail centres won’t let you ride without a helmet. From there, gloves, knee pads and protective undershorts are wise and relatively cheap investments.
Do I need elbow pads for mountain biking?
Elbow pads can protect your arms from scratches, grazes and bruises from trailside debris and falls but whether you choose to wear them is down to personal preference. A lot of cross country and trail riders would generally opt not to, relying instead on a long sleeve jersey or jacket to cover their arms from the odd low hanging branch.
Is mountain biking hard on your body?
Mountain biking is generally harder on your body than any other discipline of cycling. The technical nature of riding off-road makes the risks of falling off higher, while the surfaces – such as gravel or flint – can sometimes be quite unforgiving. That said, if riding on a wet loam or clay surface, any crashes are going to be a lot softer than falling off onto tarmac.