Skip to main content

Best mountain bike jerseys: breathable and stylish tops for riding

Best mountain bike jersey
(Image credit: Fox Racing)

Many people write the best mountain bike jerseys off as expensive t-shirts. On the surface, they aren't totally wrong, but MTB-specific details like seams that play nicely with riding packs and neck braces, drop tails, reinforced panels, built-in ventilation and goggle wipes are among the many features which set them apart.

There are multiple styles of mountain bike jerseys ranging from form-fitting XC-style options to bulkier long sleeve downhill jerseys. Most brands offer lots of designs and colors so you can find one that matches your style. Jerseys don't have to be expensive either. The top brands can be found at reasonable prices in online shops, and last year's stock is sold at good discounts, too. 

In our round-up of the best mountain bike jerseys, you'll find the very best options for all types of riding disciplines. At the bottom is further buying advice on things like fit and materials

Best mountain bike jerseys

Velocio Micromodal Trail Tee

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)
Supremely comfortable and stylish

Specifications

Material: Micromodal
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $89 / £71

Reasons to buy

+
Super soft and stretchy
+
Slim fit, but not skin tight
+
Casual styling

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Modal is a semi-synthetic fabric made by spinning reconstituted cellulose from beech trees and is becoming increasingly common in technical activewear because it's lightweight, super soft, and fast-drying. 

We found that the jersey handles heat and moisture extremely well and is supremely comfortable. The fit is slim, but not overly form-fitting like a race-cut spandex jersey so you aren't going to look too sporty on a trail ride and the styling is enough on the casual side that you can wear it off the bike if you wish. Velocio doesn't do a long-sleeve version, however the Velocio Merino Long Sleeve (opens in new tab) is a great alternative for those looking for a light jersey with full arm coverage.

If you want more details, check out our Velocio Micromodal Trail Tee and kit review.

Leatt DBX 5.0 All Mountain

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Comfortable and thermal technical jersey with an aggro enduro fit

Specifications

Material: WindBlock
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: Yes
Optics wipe: Yes
SRP: $80 / £79

Reasons to buy

+
Thermal and windproofness is impressively warm
+
Heavyweight materials are hard-wearing
+
Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for hot conditions
-
Pricey

This jersey from Leatt is a thermal, windproof top for aggressive enduro or downhill riders. Even though this jersey is somewhat more heavyweight, the mid-weight 3D-knit rear panel breathes out moisture well, whether it's sweat or rain, to keep your body warm from any wintertime draughts. 

This jersey will hold up to lots of use in changeable weather conditions and keep you riding for longer without having to reach for a shell jacket. There is some nice details too, 'Brush Guard' material is used on the elbows to protect against tumble or bag wear and there is also a pocket with an eyewear wipe for when your goggles or glasses get splotched with mud. 

Find out more about the DBX 5.0 All Mountain jersey, and the matching shorts, in our Leatt DBX 5.0 All Mountain kit review.

Gore C5 Trail jersey and shorts review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Good jersey at a fair price

Specifications

Material: Polyester, elastane
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $60 / £70

Reasons to buy

+
Great lightweight performance
+
Fast drying
+
Surprisingly durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Jersey color doesn't match corresponding Gore Trail shorts color

The latest Gore C5 short sleeve Trail jersey is a massive improvement from the previous version with the new version resisting thread pulls and bad smells better. The versatile cut is combined with the slightly stretchy material in case you want to size down for a slimmer fit too. 

The multi-panel cut also means that mobility isn't an issue, plus there's a women's version as well. You can match the C5 jersey with Gore's C5 shorts, which have received good reviews from our testers as well, although our test samples didn't have a perfect color match. 

To find out more, be sure to read our Gore C5 Trail mountain bike shirt and shorts review

MFF Tech Tee review

(Image credit: Mildred Locke)
(opens in new tab)
Excellent performance benefits, well thought-out details and available in a wide range of sizes

Specifications

Material: 90% Micro Modal, 10% Elastane
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $78 / £N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish, casual design for off the bike as well as on
+
Incredibly comfortable
+
Buttery soft, sustainable micro modal fabric
+
Mesh sleeves for airflow
+
Inclusive size range

Reasons to avoid

-
Only the black colorway gets the mesh sleeves
-
Not flattering on all body shapes
-
Quite cropped at the front which may not suit everyone

This Machines For Freedom jersey uses a micro modal fabric which cellulose of beech and other hardwood trees to form a natural fiber. As Machines For Freedom sources its materials from sustainable forestry that boost the environmental kudos for this jersey. Against the skin, the material is very soft and offers UPF 50+ sun protection too.

The micro modal fabric has superb moisture-wicking properties as well. When riding in warm weather or during extended climbs the jersey lifts sweat away from the skin, comfort and ventilation are further enhanced by the mesh sleeves which give the jersey a super airy feel. Construction is designed to be lightweight with details like a doubled-over hem to help the jersey sit well when riding.

Find out more in our Machines For Freedom Short Sleeve Technical Tee first look review

Fox Ranger short sleeve mountain bike jersey

(Image credit: Fox Racing)
(opens in new tab)

Fox Ranger Short Sleeve

Comfortable fit and quick drying fabric

Specifications

Material: Polyester
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $49.95 / £40

Reasons to buy

+
Quick dry lightweight fabric
+
Ample venting

Reasons to avoid

-
Generous fit may be cause to size down

Fox's Ranger top is one of the most comfortable jerseys we've worn, and the TruDri fabric is soft to the touch and efficiently wicks moisture off your skin. The middle third of the jersey is mesh, allowing for plenty of air to find its way into the shirt and the seams are non-intrusive and flatlock stitching. While it does not command the same price as some of Fox's other tops like the Flexair and Indicator, it's made from the same material - the only difference being the lack of lie-flat cuffs and the perforations not being laser cut. 

The Ranger jersey has a looser fit and as Fox puts it 'drapes' around your body. While this leaves ample room for padding underneath and airflow, if you like something a bit more fitted, consider sizing down. 

Pearl Izumi Canyon jersey

(Image credit: Pearl Izumi)
(opens in new tab)

Pearl Izumi Canyon

Casual riding t-shirt that looks great off the bike too

Specifications

Material: Polyester
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: Noe
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $100 / £39.99

Reasons to buy

+
High-quality materials
+
Tailored fit
+
Simple aesthetic

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks brand cache

Peral Izumi has completely refreshed its Canyon mountain bike jersey, transforming it from a zippered and pocketed design to a more trail casual style t-shirt. This means it can cross over between everyday wear and on the bike without standing out as sports apparel.

The jersey uses Drirelease fabric to help deal with any moisture build-up and improve all-day comfort. The rear has a dropped hem at the back and the raglan sleeves should help avoid bunching around the arm-pits when on the bike.

Nukeproof Blackline Short Sleeve Jersey

(Image credit: Nukeproof )
(opens in new tab)

Nukeproof Blackline Short Sleeve Jersey

High quality fit, features and fabric at a great price

Specifications

Material: Polyester
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: Yes
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $60 / £45

Reasons to buy

+
Mesh panels under the arms which stretch across the back
+
Spacious stash pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Sleeves are a touch long

Sitting at the top of Nukeproof's clothing range is the Blackline collection. Even though it's labeled as 'premium' the price sure doesn't reflect it. The majority of the Blackline short sleeve is made from 100% recycled S.Cafe Polyester (said to be UV rated), while under the arms and the majority of the back panel are made from mesh (not recycled). This is not only to keep you fresh but also to limit sweat from your backpack - the panel is also black so nobody can see if your back gets a bit swampy.

There's also a sizable stash pocket - more than large enough for a phone. The Blackline short sleeve is also available in men's cuts, with the women's version showing a more tapered fit. Even better, with a long list of features, it's also one of the cheaper jerseys on our list and is available in men's and women's fit. 

Mons Royale Icon

(Image credit: Mons Royale)
(opens in new tab)

Mons Royale Icon

Good looks and performs even better

Specifications

Material: Merino Air-Con
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $75 / £69.99

Reasons to buy

+
Super soft material
+
Odor-resistant
+
Men and women's options

Reasons to avoid

-
High price

Hailing from Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, Mons Royale started making merino wool underlayers for skiers, however, with the Kiwis being MTB mad it's no surprise to see them with a range of bike clothing. The Mons Royale Icon works great on the trail, in large part because Mons Royale's Merino Tencel wool feels more like a warm hug than an MTB jersey. The material does not dry as quickly as open mesh synthetic materials, but it still keeps you comfortable even in the heat and humidity of the summer. The wool also staves off smell and can be worn multiple rides without you being relegated to the back of your riding group because you stink.

At the bottom there is a stepped hem, meaning the back of the jersey extends lower to prevent riding up. It's available in a choice of pleasant colors as well as coming in two women's versions, a regular and relaxed fit.

7Mesh Desperado Henley Women's three quarter length mountain bike jersey

(Image credit: 7Mesh)
(opens in new tab)

7Mesh Desperado Henley Women's

Casual style belies high-tech materials

Specifications

Material: Polyester-Merino wool blend
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: No
SRP: $75 / £N/A / €80

Reasons to buy

+
Can double as a base layer

Reasons to avoid

-
Sleeves a bit tight, especially if you run elbow pads

With its founders coming up through outdoor brand Arc'Teryx it's no surprise the gear from 7Mesh is top quality and versatile. The Desperado Henley doesn't scream bike dork from a distance; however, closer inspection reveals a drop tail and articulated cut through the torso and sleeves so the top won't bunch or bind when you reach for the handlebars. Even still, the aesthetic and fit also don't look out of place off the bike at the pub or on a hike. Snap closures at the front can be popped should you need a bit of extra airflow, and the buttons are low profile and don't rub.

Made from a 54% polyester and 47% merino blend the fabric breathes well, and the slim cut also means it can double as a base layer when the temperature drops. Like the Mons Royale jersey, it doesn't dry quite as fast as fully synthetic fibers, but it also doesn't pick up a smell when you think the word 'sweat.' 

100% R-Core-X DH mountain bike jersey

(Image credit: 100%)
(opens in new tab)

100% R-Core-X DH Jersey

Downhill drapery, moto style

Specifications

Material: Polyester
Drop tail: Yes
Pockets: No
Optics wipe: Yes
SRP: $79 / £59.99

Reasons to buy

+
Well vented
+
Room for body armor
+
Neck brace friendly seams
+
Pro look when paired with 100% bottoms

Reasons to avoid

-
Styling may be too moto for some

One of many mountain bike brands with moto roots, the 100% R-Core-X DH Jersey definitely looks fast. The top is made from polyester mesh, so it's quick-drying and has received an antimicrobial treatment to stave off smells. There is a semi-raglan sleeve, with the seams situated so they won't interfere with a neck brace.

Being a DH jersey the fit is relaxed, leaving abundant room for armor underneath, and there’s a drop tail with a goggle wipe inside the hem. The styling is clearly aimed to look best when paired with 100%'s R-CORE X pants or shorts although the matchy factory look may not appeal to all riders

What you need to know about the best mountain bike jerseys

How should a mountain bike jersey fit?

Beyond just navigating size charts to find the correct size jersey, your riding style will also play a role in how a riding top should fit. 

XC whippets will usually err on the side of skin-tight Lycra, and may even wear road-style jerseys (or even skinsuits) to eke out any possible aero gains and use the rear pockets for spares, food and water. 

Trail jerseys cover a large swath of riders and can mean anything from casual-looking dry-release t-shirt style tops to full zip garments with a mix of stretch and non-stretch panels and rear pockets. They come in several weights, sleeve lengths, cuts and materials, and some feature zippered pockets and goggle wipes too.

Downhill jerseys are usually made from slightly thicker fabric, have a baggy fit to accommodate body armor underneath, and have long or three-quarter sleeves. Often DH jerseys will also see extra panels of soft fabric devoid of seams around the collar to play nice with neck braces, and may even have reinforcements in high friction areas.

Regardless of your riding style, a jersey should be comfortable in the riding position and should not restrict your movement or bind, which in some cases may make for an awkward fit off the bike. At the most basic end, this should mean a longer rear hem or 'drop tail,' and may also influence the placement of seams, moving them away from areas that rub.

What should I look for in a mountain bike jersey?

Even if a mountain bike jersey has every bell and whistle and the cut is bang on, if it's made from scratchy fabric it's still going to be uncomfortable. For the most part, jerseys will use materials designed to wick sweat and dry quickly to prevent you from overheating. For those that live in colder climates, there is also a broad range of thermal jerseys and jackets, but we will cover those in a separate guide. 

MTB jerseys come in all sorts of polyester blends, and natural fibers like merino wool. While synthetic fibers often dry faster than natural ones, they do tend to pick up a perma-stink that will persist through an infinite number of washes - which also releases microfibers into the water supply. On the other hand, your merino jerseys can be worn multiple rides in a row and won't pick up a funk. Often fabrics will receive chemical treatments or something like silver thread woven throughout to add wicking properties or keep body odor at bay, however, these solutions don't seem to last. 

Quite often, mountain bike jerseys will have mesh panels or lighter weight fabrics in areas like the armpit or the back to further the ability to dump heat and moisture as you ride. 

Are long or short sleeves best on a MTB jersey?

MTB jerseys are available in short, three-quarter length, and long sleeve varieties. Look for a Raglan sleeve, meaning the sleeve starts at the collar and the seam runs down under the armpit. This not only allows for a bit more freedom of movement, but it also moves the seams well clear of backpack straps that might cause chafing. 

Obviously, longer sleeves are going to be warmer than short sleeves, but the layer of material over your arms also offers added protection from spikey trailside plants, the ground if you come unstuck and the sun too. For both long and three-quarter sleeve tops if you wear elbow pads, make sure they fit underneath, however, don't get something overly baggy as it will flap when you ride. And no one likes that.

How can I look like a proper mountain biker?

The roots of MTB clothing comes from motocross, with quite a few of the top brands making gear for both. With this, it shouldn't be a surprise the fluoro MX pajamas complete with massive logos have made the jump across to mountain biking. 

While there are people on both sides of the debate, in recent years many brands have adopted a more casual style, with smaller logos and muted colors. However, there is still plenty of MX steeze to go around if that's your thing, no judgment here. 

What features should I look for in a mountain bike jersey?

Beyond what we have listed above, the best mountain bike jerseys will often feature goggles or glasses wipes inside the bottom hem of the shirt and a zippered stash pocket situated behind your kidney. 

Also be on the lookout for flatlock stitching, which will not only help the seams to last longer but reduces chafing too.

Finally, some jerseys will feature reinforced fabrics around high friction areas like crash points and shoulders where backpack straps sit. This should help increase the jerseys durability and extend its life span.


Back to the top.

Born and bred in Colorado, and now based in Australia, Colin comes from a ski racing background and started riding as a way to stay fit through the summer months. His father, a former European pro, convinced him to join the Colorado State University collegiate cycling team, and he hasn't stopped since. It's not often he pins on a number nowadays, and you'll likely find him in search of flowy singletrack, gravel roads and hairpin corners. Colin has worked at Bikeradar and is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike and Cyclist magazines. 

Rides: BMC Team Machine SLR01, Trek Top Fuel 9, Ibis Ripley