@Iamrockandroll13 That's not a bad idea, but i cannot find used sleeveless chech protector (and i don't have money for new)... Only thing i am wondering now: Is full body armor worth extra 50e? Or it is enough to stick with elbow/knee pads?
Cross country riding I wear a helmet, gloves, and a camelbac. Lift served - I put on every piece of protection I can find. A few friends made fun of me for this last summer - most of them spent time in a cast.
If you don't have the money for padding do you have it for medical bills? A pair of scissors can make the full body into a convertible system in about 5 minutes.
It also depends on how far over your head you plan to get as you try to progress your riding. I came to mountain biking from a freestyle skiing background and I used to huck tables and drops that made some of that Red Bull Rampage stuff look small. I wore a helmet and that's it but I slowly worked my way up to that stuff and along the way, I learned how to yard sale properly. If you're hucking on smooth stuff, and you aren't going mega huge, some knee and elbow pads probably will be fine, spine protection is a good idea. If you tend to really push way out of your comfort zone, fall awkwardly, are riding really chunky stuff fast, or don't have good health insurance, it's probably worth it to go the full nine.
Personally, I like the "T-shirt" torso protection that incorporates some shoulder pads. My biggest fall last year would have shredded my left shoulder if I'd only had knee/elbow protection. I ride with a pack 99% of the time, and don't wear a spine pad. I also upgraded my knee pads to ones that include a partial shin guard. If I'm riding something rougher where I have to pedal up, I'll usually go with just knees or knee/elbow and leave the torso armour at home.
From the perspective of an over 50 rider, I ride with full armor if anywhere other than flat, mellow trails. I'd rather exercise a little caution, and hopefully stay healthy. Of course no armor will 100% protect against a devastating crash.
I wear what makes what I think will be adequate for the ride that day. For most riding (XC/AM?), I wear soft knee/elbow and a XC FF (MET Parachute). I start adding more protection as I move to harder (scarier) rides. DH is full protection with hard knee/shin/elbow/forearm, POC Tee, FF DH helmet, and, now, a neck brace (I think I have it working OK with the Tee). Hope I never have to use the helmet, spine protector, or neck brace, but I will put up with a little discomfort just in case.
Also, what Gcarve said. I have only been seriously hurt (broken wrist now with metal) on an easy XC ride--a bit too complacent.
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