Our guide to winter layering for the trails

Rapha MTB Guide to Winter Layering

With motivation at an all-year low, winter is the hardest season in which to ride. But those who brave the cold are invariably rewarded. Here’s our comprehensive guide to dressing properly so you can keep the pedals turning in comfort this winter.


Winter presents a real challenge to all but the most hardened mountain biker. We have been cooped up, thoroughly desperate to ride but hindered by the harsh temps and all-too-brief, overcast days. But even the gloomiest conditions can be opportunities for adventure with the right mindset and the appropriate apparel.

Freezing rain, howling winds, and even snow are obstacles that can be overcome with the proper gear, layered correctly. A winter weather layering system will shield you from the elements while still allowing for airflow, so you can seek out thrills without feeling chills.

Dress for the weather with a streamlined three-layer system. Since layering is a modular approach, you can always add or subtract layers to suit the conditions you’re riding in. In this guide, we’ll break down the three layering groups (base, mid, and outer) and suggest optimized options for each, so you can customize your own cold weather layering system according to your own ideal body temperature and local trail conditions.



Every kit should be built from a solid foundation. The base layer serves as a 'second skin' that provides insulation while absorbing and evaporating sweat to keep you warm and dry.

Men's Merino Long Sleeve Base Layer
Women's Merino Short Sleeve Base Layer
A 100% merino wool base layer, naturally anti-bacterial and keeps your core warm.

Men's Trail Cargo Bib Liner Shorts
Women's Trail Liner Shorts
This fast-wicking bib liner features a lightweight and quick-drying chamois for on-trail comfort.



The second layer retains body heat and blocks wind. We use fast-drying and durable technical fabrics for real-world performance.

Men's Trail Windblock Jersey
Women’s Trail Windblock Jersey
As the name suggests, this is a highly technical Merino layer with a windproof front panel and abrasion-resistant sleeves developed to keep windchill at bay for all-day comfort in colder conditions.

Men's Trail Pants
Women’s Trail Pants
Trail spray is no big deal for rugged fabrics finished with a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment that keeps your legs covered on winter rides.



The outermost shell layer is responsible to block water and wind, but still allows for breathability so you don’t overheat. A purpose-built outer layer should be packable so it can be removed and stowed easily.

Men's Explore Down Jacket
Women's Explore Down Jacket
Built for the coldest days on the bike, this versatile down jacket provides exceptional insulation in a lightweight, packable form.

Men's Trail Lightweight Jacket
Women's Trail Lightweight Jacket
The ultimate “just in case” layer is light enough to wear all day, but also packs down and straps to your frame for on-bike storage.



Trail Socks
Merino wool offers unbeatable warmth, wicking, and weight in a comfortable package that keeps your feet happy all season long.

Trail Knee Pads
Knee pads offer security and the confidence to push our skills further, but they also double as knee warmers on cold winter trails.

Rapha x Smith Forefront 2 Trail Helmet EU
Rapha x Smith Forefront 2 Trail Helmet US
A helmet designed with state of the art impact protection made for mountain biking, created in collaboration with Smith.



Trail Hoodie
After a long day out in brisk weather, there’s nothing better than a comfortably familiar cotton hoodie.

Trail Beanie
Wrap up your ride with a cozy Merino knit that transitions from trails to taproom with ease.

Trail Cap
A comfortable, snapback cap for life off the bike, now made with 100% organic cotton.


To browse all of our collections together and compare side-by-side, take a look at our full range of mountain biking apparel. From the building block of cargo bib liner shorts to the resilient Trail ¾ Jersey, we’ve got every layer of your outfit covered.


Shop Men's


Shop Women's


Shop Accessories