Mountain bikers are, for the most part, simple people. Give us some singletrack, a panorama or two, and we’re happy. But holiday shopping for our strange breed can be admittedly tricky, as we tend to be picky about gear. That’s why we’ve pulled together this holiday gift guide: to lessen the stress of picking out a proper present for the rider in your life.
Below, you’ll find everything from tester-approved helmets and knee pads to cold weather essentials and shades from top brands like POC, Pearl Izumi, and Club Ride. And remember, every time you shop for mountain bike gear with Active Junky, you earn cash back. So that’s a gift for them, and a gift for you, too.
Many riders have knee pads but never use them. Why? Simple: they’re uncomfortable. Pearl Izumi’s Summit Pads change the game, with a stretchy, lightweight, breathable Cordura mesh, a thin viscoelastic pad, silicone grip on the thigh and calf, and a slit behind the knee for breathability. The result is a pad that rides more like a knee sleeve: it stays in place, isn’t uncomfortable on the uphill, won’t overheat (too much) in summer, cuts wind on colder rides, and offers more protection than a likely alternative—nothing.
Best for: forgetting you’re wearing pads instead of forgetting them (on purpose) at home.
This cranial case is exactly what you want on your dome in a worst-case scenario. Not only does it employ POC’s best-in-class helmet construction with a stalwart unibody shell and aramid bridge, but it also includes a built-in NFC Medical chip that stores medical and emergency contact information. The chip is a potentially life-saving feature—one you’ll be happy to have yet never want to use.
Chip aside, the helmet is no cross-country lightweight—it’s built to endure the rigors of enduro. The Swedish safety brand’s SPIN tech reduces the consequences of concussion-causing torsional impacts (similar to MIPS). Testers dug the extra features: the broad, effective visor, as well as the goggle clips, but did notice that the fit of the helmet pressed down on the arms of big-bodied sunglasses.
Best for: peace of mind, and confident albeit cautious sending.
This POC jersey is purpose-built for enduro races with its aerodynamic cut, pad-friendly stretch, and breathable, flowy fabric. However, as soon as this jersey was delivered to our tester’s house, it was quickly confiscated by his girlfriend to be used as a pajama top—it’s that mind-bogglingly soft. He eventually wrestled the jersey back from her and brought it out on the trail time after time, where he dubbed it, “the most comfortable jersey he’s ever worn.” He loved the card and key stash pocket on the back of the long sleeve, calling it, “a welcome feature that kept essentials out of mountain bike shorts.”
Best for: Sleeping comfortably. And shredding comfortably, too.
We’re big fans of Pearl Izumi’s entire Summit line, but the Summit Shell Shorts were certainly a standout. Biking with a phone in your pocket can be absolute torture, but the Summit Shell’s pocket placement—parallel to your IT band—is such that you can hardly feel a phone at all while riding.
The pockets were no doubt a standout feature of these standout shorts, but the rest of the construction is on point, too. The DWR-treated material is durable and can handle light rain. Testers judged the fit baggy enough for kneepads and found the 14-inch cut offers plenty of protection. A skinnier rider loved the hook-and-loop waistband, which is secure and snug without feeling constricting while in the saddle. All told, these may just be our new favorite mountain bike shorts.
Best for: Riding with a cell phone in your pocket. Or, conversely, riding without a cell phone in your pocket.
When temps are too chilly to justify shorts, the Club Ride Gold Rush pants are a sharp option. The midweight, double-woven stretch fabric is thick enough that it dulls the sting of winter, yet it’s also comfortable and stretchy against the skin. High-vis accents improve safety if night falls before you finish your ride, too. With six pockets, there’s plenty of room for storing snacks, a phone, and other essentials. Testers noted that they’re stylish enough to wear off the trail as well, and appreciated the funky waistband adjustment system that negates the need for a belt.
Best for: casual, cold-weather riding, off-trail lounging, travel.
We have a soft spot for POC’s optics—they are, generally speaking, primo, and we love rocking their goggles all ski season long. The Aspire Clarity’s have a full wrapping style that’s buttressed by a nose bridge and a flexy and sexy grilamid frame. The Clarity Lenses, which are made by Zeiss, met our testers’ high expectations, and the Aspire comes with a spare low light lens. It’s a bit tricky to switch lenses the first couple times but soon becomes second nature.
While testers were largely head over heels for the shades, they did have a couple critiques: the wrap isn’t aggressive enough for narrower faces—there’s definitely some gap above the cheeks. Additionally, the nose bridge of the frame is slightly visible, so the Aspire doesn’t yield the same goggle-like optics of the Crave, for instance. But all things considered, these are amongst the finest cycling shades our crew has ever had the pleasure of testing.
Best for: mountain biking, trail running, backcountry skiing—any time you want to go fast, or at least look and feel fast.
A hard-charging tester put these POC pads through their paces—he scrubbed out at full speed and walked away without so much as a scratch. He judged the VPD Airs comfortable and lightweight while still inspiring confidence. POC’s exoskeleton expertise shines through with these pads, as the elastic straps and compression mesh reduce chance of slippage and the VPD padding absorbs impact without being overkill on weight.
Best for: riding heavy terrain without being weighed down by heavy pads.