Gloves are another traditional piece of safety gear. Although gloves may not seem like safety gear, they serve to protect your hands from the constant wear of holding onto mountain bike grips. Long, rugged downhills can be especially taxing on the hands, and gloves protect from calluses and blisters that would otherwise be inevitable. Gloves offer different levels of padding and protection and may be full-fingered or half-fingered (tips of the fingers are exposed).
Disciplines of freeride and downhill involve high speeds and large jumps and drops, thus risking severe injury. In addition to a helmet, there are a number of other pieces of safety equipment, often called "body armor," needed to offer full protection. There is a piece of gear for essentially any part of the body at risk of being cut or broken including chest protectors, back protectors, shin guards, shoulder pads, knee pads, elbow pads and neck protectors. These may be purchased separately or as larger units (i.e. chest, shoulder and arm protection armor). For men, a cup is also important. Just consider the possible consequence of falling from 30 feet in the air onto hard-packed trail, if full-body protection seems like overkill.
Freeride full-body gear is not really feasible for cross-country style riding. Although, being as safe as possible is always a positive, body armor would be far too heavy and cumbersome for long cross country rides and climbing up hills.
Most mountain bike shorts include padding to protect your butt from wear due extended time sitting on a hard saddle. Some more advanced shorts offer additional padding on the thighs and hips to absorb some impact of a fall. Protective pants and shirts are also available.