Since gravel bikes tend to exist in a vacuum between road bikes and mountain bikes, deciding what to wear can be difficult.
Gravel biking kit tends to aim for the sleekness of a roadie kit while having the durability of off-roading bike wear.
If you have clothing that is made for road or mountain biking then that may be good enough for the kind of biking you want to do.
That said, purpose-made gravel biking wear will always be more suited to tackling graveled surfaces.
Your intended use will dictate the clothes that you want to wear. Shorter journeys on less rugged land may call for comfortable and loose clothes.
Longer distances usually call for lycra because there’s a higher probability that you’ll face rain and they afford you the flexibility needed to stay limber and moving for the entirety of the long journey.
Gravel bikers often wear jerseys and shorts with helmets and boots.
The exact material will change and determine their properties depending on how harsh your bike trip is.
Endurance riding calls for bib shorts while the jersey should be man-made with breathable fibers. Merino wool is better for colder weather, too.
If you don’t know what the weather is going to be like then you could pack for both possibilities, if your journey is long enough to warrant this prep work.
You can get clothing with compact storage that will be able to fit into a backpack or mounted bike storage.
Though optional, a jacket is a perfect precaution against unwanted weather, especially when biking at high altitudes.
Riders will want a jacket with a high waterproof rating while still being easier to clean.
Some gravel trails will cake your clothes in mud so, with all aspects of your clothing, you should also think about how they’ll be cleaned.
Waterproof materials are great because rain will wash the dirt away much easier.
What Kind Of Helmet Do I Need For A Gravel Bike?
You should aim for a helmet that protects the entirety of your head when biking over gravel or any other off-road surfaces.
It’s just sensible to travel with a helmet that keeps you safe and this is especially the case when riding over jagged stones that could buck you off your bike or cause more harm to your head if you fall.
You also want the helmet to be lightweight if it’s strapped to your head for long journeys.
Keeping probability in mind, it’s more likely you may fall down during a longer trip than a short one.
This means you should definitely get a secure helmet that will offer you protection for the whole journey.
Another thing to consider is whether the helmet has a visor or not. The main function of a visor is eye protection but not every helmet has one.
Road helmet manufacturers often view visors as an optional part of the headgear and some might not have any at all.
Some riders also get distracted by visors since they alter your field of view.
A visor is preferable for off-roading because you’re not just contending with hard, uneven ground, but you can also get dirt or dust in your eyes.
When traveling at speed, a visor is also appreciated so that the wind doesn’t buffet your eyes and cause any riding issues.
It’s important to wear an appropriate helmet for your riding. If you’re riding on very light gravel then a roadie helmet would be more appropriate and a visor might not be essential as long as your head is protected.
If you expect harder and dirtier terrain then you should go for a more robust helmet that includes a visor.
What Shoes Do You Wear On A Gravel Bike?
Your feet are your connection point to the pedals of your bike, so you must wear appropriate shoes.
If not, your shoes can slip and result in a subpar pedaling action or, even worse, they could get caught and result in a sudden and dangerous stop.
You want the shoes to work well when pedaling while still being comfortable and able to walk on gravel, should the need arise.
There are three main things you should think about when choosing gravel shoes.
First, gravel shoes aren’t the same as any old off-road shoe. Don’t make the mistake of grabbing some mountain bike shoes and calling it a day.
Mountain bike shoes are armored and heavier, which is overkill for a lightly graveled track.
You shouldn’t need any toe spikes when riding on gravel so you can ditch those.
Shop for shoes made for gravel instead as they have the same off-road protection you want without any of the unnecessary weight.
Similarly, don’t think too much about the stiffness of those shoes. Road shoes may be judged by their stiffness but this isn’t necessary when buying gravel footwear.
Better gravel shoes have a flexible zone built into them so that you can walk properly. The shoes aren’t stiff to walk around in, so they won’t rub and cause discomfort.
Look for shoes that use nylon or carbon-reinforced plating that has some give to them.
Lastly, the fit is everything when choosing a shoe. If a shoe is too loose, that will affect your pedaling for your whole bike journey. If a shoe is too tight, you’ll hurt your feet and not want to pedal anymore.
Shoes used for any physical activity must have the perfect fit that’s secure yet comfortable.
The volume of your fit will be less or more depending on whether the boots are racing-oriented or endurance-oriented.
The uppers should be made from a synthetic material that can breathe and bend to your leg movements.
Some use leather which may be comfortable but it won’t breathe as well and won’t dry if it gets wet.
As for fastening, go for whichever one you prefer. Laces are very adjustable and almost weightless.
Velcro is even lighter though mud can ruin them and their effectiveness decreases with time.