Requiring excellent breathability, a hard-wearing construction and protection from the foulest of conditions, the best mountain bike jackets have a hard life. Here's our pick of the ultimate outerwear.

The best mountain bike jackets are an investment you will never regret, especially when it starts tipping down halfway through an already wet and muddy winter ride. Whether you’re looking for breathability when working hard, packability so your jacket is always on hand, or something that can withstand the heaviest rain, we’ve got you covered with these extensively tested and reviewed options.

Pair any one of these jackets with some of the best mountain bike trousers and you’ll have no fear of getting out there on splashy trails.

Gore Endure jacket pairs lightweight design and good breathability, with modern features, great build quality and exceptional weatherproofing

1. Gorewear Endure Gore-Tex jacket

Best overall mountain bike jacket

Weight: 298g | Sizes: S-XXL | Colours: Orange, green, grey, blue, black/red, neon yellow, black | Breathability rating: n/a  | Waterproof rating: 28,000mm  | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Super build quality
  • Silky fabric
  • Drier than a Martini

Reasons to avoid:

  • Zip pulls are small and slippery
  • Expensive

The Gorewear Endure uses the latest Paclite Plus, which means it’s really comfy to ride in thanks to the inherent stretch in the fabric. Indeed, the Endure is luxuriously soft to the touch, both inside and out, and there’s none of the crackling, snapping sound you used to get from Gore-Tex of old.

Couple the comfort with first class waterproofing and the Endure is a winning jacket. For something so lightweight and minimal it’s ridiculously good at keeping the water out, which makes it one of the best jackets for those big days in the mountains when it’s going to be soggy. The Endure isn’t small enough to cram into you pocket, but it does a ruddy good job being unobtrusive on your back.

Read our full review of the Gore Endure Gore-Tex jacket.

Endura GV500 Waterproof

Endura’s GV500 Waterproof jacket might be designed for gravel, but it’s grrrreat for mountain biking as well.

2. Endura GV500 Waterpoof Jacket

Best MTB jacket for breathability

Weight: 238g | Sizes: XS-XXL | Colours: Red, green, black | Breathability rating: 40,000g  | Waterproof rating: 20,000mm  | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Extremely breathable
  • Lightweight

Reasons to avoid:

  • Slender fit
  • Single pocket

Although the GV prefix here places this jacket in Endura’s gravel range, it actually works brilliantly as a mountain bike outer layer. Lightweight and minimal, the no-nonsense GV500 is nicely tailored, so it doesn’t flap about and works well in a more stretched position.

Yes, there’s only one pocket, but the fabric performance more than makes up for it, being super breathable and more than capable of withstanding a typical rainy day’s ride.

Read our full test review of the Endura GV500 Waterproof jacket

Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket

It’s a pricey proposition, but Rapha’s Gore-Tex jacket has performance and styling in bundles.

3. Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium

Most stylish mountain bike jacket

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 326g | Breathability rating: N/A  | Waterproof rating: N/A  | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent breathability and waterproofing
  • No unnecessary features
  • Backed up by excellent after-care

Reasons to avoid:

  • Comes at a price
  • Limited pockets

The Rapha Trail is an expensive investment, but it delivers serious performance. It wicks moisture very effectively. During testing, when we took one of the other jackets off and put this one on, we actually started to cool down, it’s that good.

It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it fits really well; there’s no excess bulk in the front and you can easily wear this all day or just pack and hack. It’s a clean, efficient waterproof jacket and highly recommended.

Read our full review of the Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket

Our top women’s jacket: The Madison DTE

4. Madison DTE Women’s

Best women’s jacket

Sizes: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 | Weight: 475g | Breathability rating: 20,000g  | Waterproof rating: 20,000mm  | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great fit and protection

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lack of features

Madison’s DTE jacket won our women’s waterproof test, with its three-layer construction proving a match for the worst of a British winter. Our tester praised the hood for having enough room for long hair or a ponytail, and came away extremely impressed with the performance of the Durable Waterproof Repellent coating, with water sheeting off the surface perfectly. A heavy duty jacket, the DTE is the ideal match for even the most stinking of winter days. The jacket to reach for before every wet ride.

Read our full test review of Madison DTE Women’s jacket

Madison Roam 2.5

The Madison Roam 2.5 layer jacket is great value for money with decent performance.

5. Madison Roam 2.5 jacket

Best budget winter jacket

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL | Weight: 355g | Breathability rating: 10,000g  | Waterproof rating: 10,000mm  | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great price/performance ratio
  • Packed with features and good breathability for a two-layer jacket

Reasons to avoid:

  • Looks a bit army surplus
  • Superfluous rear pocket

With relatively modest claims for waterproofness and breathability, we didn’t have high expectations for the Madison Roam 2.5 jacket when we tested it. But it outperformed its rivals with higher specs in the real world, keeping water out and allowing sweat to escape effectively.

Madison has added a useful hood and pockets – although the rear pocket is overkill – while the cut allows plenty of movement without hanging like an old sack. For the money it’s a great winter jacket.

Read our full test review of the Madison Roam 2.5 jacket

7Mesh Chilco Thermal Anorak men's mountain bike jersey

We loved the quick-drying cosiness of the 7Mesh Chilco jacket.

6. 7Mesh Chilco Thermal anorak

Best jacket for freezing temperatures

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL | Weight: 380g | Breathability rating: N/A  | Waterproof rating: N/A  | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Amazing drying ability
  • Windproof
  • Perfect sweet spot of ventilation and warmth
  • Looks cool and modern
  • 7Mesh repair service

Reasons to avoid:

  • Expensive
  • Kangaroo front pocket is thin and heavier items pull it out of shape easily
  • Fabric washes well but can get snagged over time
  • Not a waterproof, per se

The 7Mesh Chilco is a favourite of two of our product testers, both of whom live and ride in Yorkshire, where the winters are proper, lad. It’s a soft-shell pullover design with a textured fabric to increase the surface area, trapping air and allowing sweat to escape more easily like a radiator.

It works really well over a wide range of temperatures, and dries exceptionally fast, so while it’s not designed to be waterproof, it still works for the odd shower. Only the kangaroo pocket misses the mark, as anything stored inside will pull the fabric down and flap about on descents.

Read our full test review of the 7Mesh Chilco Thermal Anorak

7Mesh Skypilot

The 7Mesh Skypilot is Gucci Gore-Tex.

7. 7Mesh Skypilot

Best money-no-object waterproof jacket

Weight: 253g | Sizes: XS-XXL | Colours: Green, beige, blue | Breathability rating: 25,000g  | Waterproof rating: 28,000mm  | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • High performance breathability and waterproofness
  • Lovely fabric feel
  • Superlight

Reasons to avoid:

  • It’s very expensive
  • Zip pulls can loosen and fray

7Mesh stuff ain’t cheap. It’s a relatively small brand formed by folk who used to work at Arc-teryx, that now designs specific cycling gear in Squamish, BC. The general vibe of 7Mesh is one of no-compromise. Take the fabric – Gore-Tex Active – it’s pretty much the best full three-layer fabric that Gore-Tex makes. This alone forces the high price tag, due to its unbeatable rating for both waterproofness and breathability. A rating that’s backed up by some of the best performance we’ve ever experienced in testing.

The cut is on the loose side, but the light nature of the fabric means it’s not annoying or bunchy. And while the initial cost is high, 7Mesh’s offer amazing after-sales care, repair, and warranty, so as an investment, it’s a sound one.

Read our full test review of the 7Mesh Skypilot

How we test the best mountain bike jackets

There are a couple key tests we do to all waterproof clothing. The first is to verify the pooling on the DWR (durable water-repellent) coating on the face fabric by spraying all of our test jackets with water and gauging the run-off. This coating does wear out and wash off, so we test this again by riding several times in each jacket and putting it through a spin cycle.

We tested the waterproofness by immersing a section of the fabric in a shower for 20 minutes. Several back-to-back test rides were undertaken in each jacket to gauge breathability and condensation and heat build-up.

We take no prisoners in our waterproof testing!

What to look for in the best mountain bike jackets

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘there’s so such thing as bad weather, only the wrong type of clothing’, and that rings true for mountain biking as any outdoor activity. But there are probably few disciplines placing such extreme, and often conflicting, demands on foul weather clothing as riding bikes in the dirt.

Not only does a mountain bike jacket have to protect you from the elements, it needs to process sweat generated by your body too. It has to be durable enough to endure being sprayed by abrasive pellets of mud and dirt, and resistant to rips and tears when you crash, yet, ideally, lightweight and packable into a pocket or bag. An obvious aspect to prioritise is water resistance. And while that’s crucial, we’d argue that waterproofing should never come at the expense of breathability, since you’ll only get soaked on the inside if your jacket can’t manage the heat you generate on a climb.

The reason jackets can be both waterproof and breathable is down to the size of the water molecules. Water droplets are larger than moisture vapour molecules, so by designing the size of the fabric weave, a jacket can block the rain while also allowing sweat to escape. Most quality waterproof jackets are built from a laminate fabric, which consists of a waterproof/breathable membrane either sandwiched between two layers (three- layer jacket) or stuck to the inside of one (two-layer or 2.5-layer). The membrane is the part that keeps rain out while allowing sweat to escape.

Are jackets tested for waterproofness and breathability?

To help define a jacket’s performance, standardised lab tests have been developed. For waterproofness, this involves putting a piece of fabric under a 1in diameter tube and filling it with water until it leaks through. The height at which the water starts to penetrate the fabric is its hydrostatic head. Hence a 20,000mm jacket can withstand a column of water up to 20m high.

For breathability, the test examines how much water vapour can pass through 1m2 of fabric in 24 hours. So a 3,000g jacket lets through 3kg of water in 24 hours. Some brands publish the figures for their garments, but these tests don’t always tell the full story, as they can relate to the fabric itself rather than the performance across a specific garment taking into account zips, pockets and seams, which can alter performance.


DWR coatings aim to stop the water penetrating the fabric, so it just rolls off the surface

What is a DWR?

Stands for durable water repellent and is a hydrophobic fabric treatment that helps any water to bead into droplets and run off the surface rather than collecting in pools and wetting-out, which impedes the transfer of water vapour (sweat).

Alpkit Morphosis jacket, softshell with fleece lining

A hood is useful for mountain biking, but not essential

How important is a hood?

While not essential, a hood (either fixed or removable) prevents water running down your neck and keeps heat in. They are designed to fit either over the top or underneath the helmet, so need to be either pretty tight against your head or generously sized with a means of tightening down. This means they need adjustment, which usually takes the form of drawstrings or pull toggles, located on the crown, rear, sides, chin or combination of these, to get the best fit.

Waterproof jacket vent

A good waterproof jacket shouldn’t have to rely on vents to keep you cool

So vents must be pretty important, right?

To a degree, yes, although the most breathable jackets we’ve tested rarely have vents, as it’s actually the fabric (usually Gore-Tex Pro or Infinium) that makes the biggest difference. Vents are often used as a way of introducing airflow to a jacket with poor breathability. Mechanical venting can include zipped vents at the front and exhaust slits on the back. Armpit vents are also popular and some jackets also have mesh-lined pockets, so simply opening them can also increase airflow.

Certain fabrics (such as Gore- Tex Active) breathe better with a pressure differential between the interior and exterior, in which case keeping everything zipped up actually helps keep you cool in the long run.

waterproof jacket two way zip

A waterproof jacket two-way zip can help ventilation while stopping the jacket from billowing when riding along

What should I look for in a zip?

Lots of jackets have waterproof zips, but some companies add a storm flap as a second line of defence. These are effective, but if they’re too narrow or flimsy they can snag in the zip. Also look for a zip gutter (garage) and/or a fleecy area at the collar – this stops the sharp end of the zip scratching your neck.

A zip gutter (garage) is a little pocket at the top of the zip that the zip tag goes into when it’s fully done up, which stops it irritating your neck. It usually comes hand in hand with a storm flap, which is usually on the inside but on some of the heavy-duty, threep-layer jackets you also get one on the outside.

How is water prevented from leaking through the seams?

Most quality waterproof jackets are built from a laminate fabric, which consists of a waterproof/breathable membrane which is either sandwiched between two nylon layers or stuck to the inside of one. To ensure full waterproofness, the seams are then taped on the inside. It’s worth noting that the reason manufacturers recommend you only wash the jacket at a certain maximum temperature is because it can melt the glue used on this tape.

Fabric construction

Taped seams seal the inside of the jacket, but tape can come unstuck over time and will limit breathability, so the less tape the better

What’s the difference between a 2 layer, 2.5 layer and a 3 layer jacket?

A two-layer fabric is made up an outer face fabric bonded to the waterproof membrane, usually with a mesh liner hanging inside. On a 2.5-layer, the mesh liner is replaced with a micro (or half) layer, which is either bonded or printed onto the membrane. A three-layer jacket has a third layer attached to the membrane, which usually has some form of texture or open weave to help draw out moisture, promos wicking and feel good next to the skin.

Waterproof jacket pocket

Pockets are super useful, although they do add weight and extra layers of fabric, which will impede breathability

Do I really need pockets?

Not if you use a pack, but we’d always go for a jacket with at least one pocket on the front, as they’re incredibly useful. Some jackets have a ton of pockets, while some have none. There are side pockets for keys, a phone or tools, a big rear pocket to stuff the whole lot in, or even a Napoleon chest pocket for putting your hand in, like er… Napoleon.

Reproof your waterproof jacket in the washing machine

Reproof your waterproof jacket in the washing machine

How should I care for/wash my waterproof/Gore-Tex jacket?

Since jackets are expensive, it makes sense to take care of them. The best way to prolong the life of your waterproof jacket is to wash it in either pure soap liquid (available from most supermarkets) or a specialist detergent such as Nikwax Tech Wash. Use a low temp (30º) and either air dry or tumble dry on low. Wash-in reproofers are also available to restore the DWR should you notice that water is no longer beading on your jacket.