Staying warm and dry in is easy with the right outer layer: we put the best waterproof mountain bike jackets to the test. Light shells and storm jackets.
Keep dry and warm with the best waterproof mountain bike jackets. Waterproof jackets fall into two camps – lightweight ones that you can sling on when there’s a sudden down pore and heavier jackets that you’d wear from start to finish on a wet day.
The latter are generally three-layer, which means they have a Nylon face fabric, a breathable/waterproof lling and sort of textured inner layer. This texture increases the surface area and allows the fabric to draw up moisture and transport it to the outside where it can evaporate. A lighter 2.5 construction usually has the same outer and middle layers but with a printed inner layer. This improves wicking, but its main purpose is to stop abrasion of the delicate membrane.
The best waterproof mountain bike jackets
- Endura MT500 II – BEST MENS HEAVYWEIGHT
- Madison DTE Womens – BEST WOMENS HEAVYWEIGHT
- Endura MTR Shell – BEST MENS LIGHTWEIGHT
- Endura Womens Singletrack
- Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex C5 Trail Hooded
- Scott Trail Storm WP
- Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex Paclite
How we test
All of these best waterproof mountain bike jackets have a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment on the face fabric and to test the effectiveness and durability of this initial layer, we sprayed all our jackets with water, then scuffed the surface to see if any water would get through.
We then fitted the hood (if there was one), battened down the hatches before giving them a good soaking to see if any water could work its way through the seams, zip and chin. We then ventured outdoors to test the breathability, warmth and t of each jacket in real-world riding conditions.
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Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II
Great features for heavy winter riding
Pro: Excellent balance of protection and breathability
Con: Ain’t cheap
Endura may have updated the classic MT500 with a new fabric for 2021, but it’s gone right back to its usual spot at the top of our favourite jacket list with a win in December’s grouptest. Improved durability and a more environmentally friendly waterproof coating are the headline changes, but we also loved the capacious hood, perfect water beading and useful features such as the lift pass pocket on the sleeve.
Madison DTE Womens
The jacket to reach for before every wet ride
Pro: Great fit and protection
Con: Lack of features (which can also be a Pro for some riders!)
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.
Endura MTR Shell
One of the lightest jackets that still protects
Pro: Minimalist yet adaptable
Con: Hood not stowable
You don’t run a successful outdoor clothing business in Scotland without knowing how to make a decent waterproof jacket. Being surrounded by one of nature’s toughest test labs means you can’t take shortcuts with your products. One Endura garment that really stands out for us is the MTR shell. Lightweight, breathable and waterproof enough to handle a typical Scottish ride, this well-priced jacket can be stowed away in your pack and whipped out when the weather turns foul.
Endura Womens Singletrack
An excellent waterproof jacket at a cracking price
Pro: Great value high performance jacket
Con: A bit on the baggy side
It was a really close call between this and the Madison DTE. The Singletrack is a full wet-weather jacket for all day rides, it has a ton of features and it does everything really well. It’s excellent value for money, but on days when it’s really chucking it down, we just preferred the tighter-fitting, more protective Madison DTE.
Gore Bike Wear C5 Gore-Tex Trail Hooded
Compact and incredibly lightweight package
It really was a close-run thing between this and the Endura MT500 for the test win. The performance of both jackets is superb but C5 Trail Hooded gets the runner up spot because the lightweight build is just a bit more fragile and we feel that under hood isn’t as practical and doesn’t offer the same level of protection as an over-helmet design.
Scott Trail Storm WP
Impressive attention to detail
Pro: A really refined garment that also works
Con: On the pricey side
Using a non-Gore-Tex fabric would normally keep the price low, but the Scott Trail Storm is pricey. However, the high price is warranted because the fit, features and overall performance are excellent. If the Scott Trail Storm WP was a tad cheaper we’d have given it a 10.
Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex Paclite
Truly excellent lightweight jacket
Pro: Pack away or wear all day, it’s great
Con: Takes a while to dry out
It is not a cheap jacket but like most Gore Wear products, performance and quality are excellent. If you want a jacket that you can carry with you and just pull out during a downpour or when you stop for break, the Gore Bike Wear Gore-Tex Paclite jacket fits the bill perfectly.
Know the best waterproof mountain bike jackets
Most quality waterproof jackets are built from a laminate fabric, which consists of a waterproof/breathable membrane either sandwiched between two layers or stuck to the inside of one. The membrane is the part that keeps you dry and is also breathable, allowing sweat to escape.
All waterproof fabrics are rated for waterproofness, and anything over 10,000mm is pretty watertight in normal conditions. Breathability is also rated as a MVTR (Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate) gure. Above 20,000g/m2/24hr indicates good breathability.
Manufacturers describe their jackets as having two or three layers, but what does that mean? A two-layer fabric is made up of 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 up moisture and promote wicking.
To help expel heat, you’ll need some form of adjustable venting. Look for zipped pit vents under the arms, exhaust venting or a simple split over the shoulder blades and body vents down the front of the chest. Mesh-lined pockets can also increase air ow, but you do need to run them open
On the one hand, adjustable cu s, collars and hems stop draughts, on the other they also help regulate air ow inside the jacket. To reduce weight (and cost) on lightweight models, the Velcro cu s are often replaced by simple elasticated hems.
Lots of jackets have waterproof zips, but some companies add a storm ap as a second line of defence. These are e ective, but if they’re too narrow or imsy they can snag in the zip. Also look for a zip gutter (garage) and/or a eecy area at the collar – this stops the sharp end of the zip scratching your neck.
A hood prevents water running down your neck and keeps heat in. There are two types – over-helmet or under-helmet. Look for adjustable drawstrings on the crown and chin to keep them tight, and a high collar.
Some jackets have a ton of pockets, some have none. Side pockets for keys, a phone or tools, a big rear pocket to stu the whole lot in, or even a Napoleon chest pocket for putting your hand like, er… Napoleon.