Staying warm and dry is essential during the winter months and a good waterproof jacket can be the difference between embracing the elements and being beaten by them! We've been out on the bike in all sorts of weather putting various coats through the wringer to bring a list of the best mountain bike jackets we've tested.
As well as the top performing jackets we've tested, we've also written a 'Buyer's Guide' so you know what makes a good waterproof riding coat and you can get to know your breathability ratings from your taped seams. Read on for our top-rated coats, a link to the review of each will be located below the text.
[Article updated 14th Feb 2019]
ION 3 Layer Women's Scrub Amp Jacket
The ION women’s Scrub Amp jacket is a waterproof coat built to protect the rider from the worst element. It’s got a ‘softshell’ look but the three layer waterproof fabric is anything but, keeping out the very worst of the elements. It is a bit pricey though bearing mind there are no hand pockets and there is no way to stow to tuck away the hood.
Morvelo Winter Attack Exile Jacket
The Morvelo Winter Attack Exile is a Durable Water-Repellant finish (DWR) treated jacket made from an award-winning P4Dry fabric that uses recycled ground coffee. The fabric claims to resist odour, and continually wicks away moisture whilst reducing condensation - so far, so good. The cut has a fairly casual yet functional bias - offering the unique Morvelo look, backed up with some well thought out technical features.
Alpkit Gravitas Jacket
The AlpKit Gravitas jacket is an ultralight waterproof with a minimalist build, perfect for fast moving outdoor sports. It certainly managed to deliver the goods out on the bike. We were impressed with the level of breathability, helped by the thin fabric it is made from. The jacket is also is properly waterproof - our tester spent three hours in heavy rain checking this fact out. The seams held up and the only place water found a way in was through the neck, as it crept down from his head. In a range of temperatures, it kept its breathability, and it has been fine up to around 12 degrees, which is about as warm as it got while raining in the test period. With a pack on, there was a degree of sweaty back, but nothing to get upset about, and it soon dried out. Good job Alpkit!
Ion 3 Layer Shelter Jacket
Ion’s aesthetically cool and ergonomically hot products are forging quite a name for themselves in the bike world. The 3 layer waterproof Shelter jacket continues this foray with a host of features and performance highlights although minor issues with fit and shape could question the high-end price tag. That said, our tester reported that the lightweight and flexible material is superbly unobtrusive on the bike, feels great against the skin and is outstandingly breathable, one of the best he's ever tested. During the test period it got covered it in muck time and time again and been out in some truly biblical downpours where it never missed a beat, never leaked and always kept the rider comfortable. It looks uber-cool, oozes quality and performs with some of the very best, you’ll have to save some pennies mind!
Altura Five/40 (540) waterproof jacket
Altura’s flagship waterproof jacket, the Five/40, oozes quality and performs well but a few ergonomic woes and a leaky zip mean you’ll have to love its aesthetics to part with your hard-earned. Aesthetically is where the Five/40 shines, its uber cool, especially in the burgundy colour we tested with its fluro green accents. Altura has worked really hard to improve their mountain bike image and the Five/40 is a prime example of that achievement. The adjustable dropped rear hem and hood work well and can easily be cinched in with one hand, should you want to do so on the move. The Five/40 oozes quality in its construction, feel and cool aesthetics, at £169.99, it does promise good value when similar jackets are priced a fair bit higher but its technical bloopers must be a consideration.
Altura Mayhem 2 waterproof jacket
With several technical acronyms, the Mayhem 2 is Altura’s all day waterproof trail riding jacket. With a waterproof and breathability rating of 20k/20k, it offers high end protection and comfort, packaged into a well priced piece of kit at £119.99. All in all, the Mayhem 2 proved to be quite a jacket, especially when you consider its humble price tag which could have potentially been a boil-in-a-bag-rice-sack. A good performer for the wonga and with what appears to be a very durable construction. Altura is certainly a brand worth keeping your eyes on, new things are a’coming so they tell us.
Madison DTE Women's waterproof jacket
Part of its new Defy The Elements range, the Madison DTE waterproof jacket is just the kind of garment you want when heading out into the worst winter weather, it's both protective and robust. It stood up well to some very wet, exposed rides in Snowdonia, and UK weather doesn’t get much worse than Wales! There are a couple of niggles though, it has a cut that is a little unflattering and there is no hanging loop at the rear but other than that the DTE is a very good winter jacket well worth considering. It comes in black too if turquoise clashes with your bike!
Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz jacket
Gore's C5 Shakedry jacket uses an ultraminimalist version of the Gore-Tex waterproof material to produce a very lightweight, hugely breathable jacket that still offers real foul-weather performance. Water really does bead off it amazingly well and as with all waterproof membrane jackets, keeping it clean is key to the best performance and this is easily achieved with regular liquid detergent, though at this sort of money, it probably makes sense to treat it to a specific wash. The quality of construction is second to none and it's put up with less than gentle handling and washing very well. The athletic cut is best suited to drop bar bike use and being both fragile and expensive, it's not for anyone that regularly parts company with their bike.
Endura Women’s MT500 Waterproof Jacket II
The Endura Women's MT500 Waterproof Jacket II is, hands down, the most breathable jacket I have ever worn. It’s kept us warm, dry and well protected from the ‘Beast from the East’ enjoying sub-zero snow riding as well as milder wet rides without sweating our own body weight in fluid. Despite the small hood and short collar niggles the Endura MT500 is at the top of our list of essentials when the weather is inclement, the fit and performance of the fabric far outweighs the other annoyances. It would be near on perfect with a couple of inches added to the front of the hood and a slightly taller, looser collar.
Madison Sportive Hi-Viz Women's Waterproof Jacket
The Madison Sportive Hi-Viz Women’s Waterproof Jacket is designed to keep you dry and safe too, with the inclusion of ‘Pixel Pot’ print coating the shoulders, arms and back. It has a slimline, flattering fit but the lack of big vents make it a little bit sweaty inside when pushing hard. For £115 the packable Madison Sportive Hi-Viz jacket is a sleek option for more road oriented gravel rides. Its got a classy look and a slim fit with a great cut that still leaves room for a couple of layers. Whilst it keeps the rain out, it does get a little moist inside as the breathability of the jacket works hard to keep up with the rider.
We will be updating this list as we test more kit receiving a score of 3.5 and above - check back again for more!
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