As the cooler autumn and winter weather draws closer, cyclists everywhere start reaching for their waterproof and insulated jackets to keep them warm and dry. There's a lot to consider when it comes to picking one of the best MTB jackets – be it waterproof or weatherproof – so we've collected our top-scoring jackets here to make your next purchase simple.
A waterproof and/or insulated jacket is a must-have if you're looking to keep riding through the harsher weather that the cooler months throw at you. All jackets are not created equal with each jacket designed to offer different balances of waterproofing and breathability, and they also come with carrying levels of insulation to keep you warm.
The best mountain bike jackets offer good breathability, whether that's through the use of special gills, vented pockets or simply vents, as well as solid protection against wind and rain. Many jackets on the market come with strategically placed insulation but as a rider works the pedals, they'll get warm, so it's important to determine which temperatures you'll ride in before going down the route of an insulated jacket. Other pieces of clothing such as base layers also affect insulation so in some cases, it may be best to go for a non-insulated jacket and pair that with an appropriate base layer for ultimate versatility.
Without further ado, here's our list of the very best mountain bike jackets that we've tested.
Best mountain bike jackets
7mesh Copilot Jacket_2, by Ty Rutherford
7Mesh's CoPilot jacket is a high-end bit of kit that packs the performance but for a price. It provides waterproofing and breathability at equal levels, utilising Gore-Tex's Paclite Plus material, which has been included to keep this jacket cool during those warm but wet days. On top of that, it gets fully taped seams to keep the wet stuff.
Otherwise, it's a fairly minimalist jacket with only a single pocket at the rear that can either carry essential kit, or be used to pack the CoPilot down into a super small and easily carryable package. The hood is large enough to fit over a helmet and it can be cinched down via a couple of drawcords to keep it in place.
It's shaped with a spacious and relaxed fit allowing room for under layers and there's a dropped hem at the rear for extra weather protection.
Even though its zips are a little fiddly with thick gloves, this jacket has earned its keep in this roundup so be sure to check out the 7Mesh CoPilot jacket review to find out exactly why.
Castelli_Unlimited_Puffy_Jacket_Main.jpg, by Matthew Page
The Unlimited Puffy jacket from Castelli is another high-end addition to this round-up but thanks to its combination of sorted wind protection and added insulation, it's earned its spot. Although windproof, it's excellently breathable, making it a great addition to anyone's wardrobe.
For its insulation, the Unlimited Puffy uses Polartech's Alpha fabric that's designed with an open weave insulation layer that was actually built for the US Special Forces. Towards the outside of the jacket, there's a thin windproof microfibre and there are areas that don't get insulation in order to boost ventilation.
This jacket is loaded with pockets, featuring two large pockets at the rear, a small zipped pocket as well and a second zipped pocket at the chest.
Although its price is high, our Matt liked it for its easy packability and wide temperature range. Check out his review of the Castelli Unlimited Puffy jacket here.
2023 Rapha trail gore tex infinium womens jacket-7.jpg, by Suvi loponen
Although Rapha is still a relative newcomer to the mountain bike clothing space, the brand has done an excellent job with the women's Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket. Suvi liked it so much for its classic styling and high performance that she reckons it's one of the very best women's MTB jackets around.
As its name suggests, it benefits from Gore-Tex's Infinium material that's breathable yet windproof and water-resistant. It's a ripstop material too that improves the jacket's durability. There's then a C-KNIT backer inside the jacket to provide a soft next-to-skin feel and there are stretchy underarm panels for freedom of movement and to promote airflow.
Moving onto pockets, there aren't many with one inner and one outer chest pocket. Although, the hood is large enough to fit over a helmet.
To find out more head over to our Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Women's jacket review and for the gents, we've got the Rapha Men's Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket tried and tested too.
2022 leatt trail jacket mtb 3.0 hero.jpg, by Liam Mercer
The MTB Trail 3.0 Insulated jacket is proof that South African brand Leatt is pretty darn good at building cool weather garments. This jacket makes for an excellent cold weather option for its combination of useful insulation and impressive effective waterproofing. It works excellently off of the bike too.
This winter warmer uses its insulation carefully by only locating it at the very front panels whereas there's no insulation anywhere else on the jacket. The idea here is to keep the front of the body warm as it bats off cool winds while encouraging breathability and thermoregulation elsewhere. The MTB Trail 3.0 jacket is packed with features, including Leatt's ClimbVent which allows the user to open the zip while keeping both sides of the jacket securely together to promote a bit of airflow to the chest and there's a 5K/5K waterproof/breathable fabric.
Finally, this top comes with the brand's Ride Adaptive Hood system which allows the hood to fit over a helmet, whilst offering a range of stowage and weather protection options.
Head over to the Leatt MTB Trail 3.0 jacket review to find out more.
7Mesh's Chilco Anorak comes as part of its recently released WTV (Wind, Thermal & Ventilation) range that benefits from some very cool thermoregulation tech that makes this top an effective and versatile warmer during chilly rides. It follows an anorak, pull-over design but the best bit is that it uses 7Mesh's WTV fabric.
That means it's built with a high loft fabric with a woven exterior and soft interior. The aim of this is for the exterior to form a breathable wind layer while the interior keeps warmth inside. The combination creates a solid balance between insulation and breathability.
Making for a jacket that's equally as great on and off the bike is its excellent fit but incredibly effective insulation and breathability. Its hood fits over helmets and the hoodie-style front pocket is great for storing small essentials.
Click here for the full review of the 7Mesh Men's Chilco Anorak.
2022 S_F Anorak W.jpg, by Suvi loponen
Specialized's collaboration with the Swedish outdoor adventure brand Fjällräven is proving to be more than a flash in the pan as its Räven Anorak has stacked up to be rather good indeed. Not only does it look good but it comes ripe with bike-specific features while being great to wear on the bike, or in the pub.
Ideal for hiking or biking, the Räven is made of a G-1000 Lite Eco fabric at the torso and a four-way stretch fabric at the back and lower sections. The brands have added wind-resistant measures where it's needed and there are reflective details on the articulated sleeves. For ventilation, there are two-way zipped vents at each side.
In total, this jacket has five pockets with zipped hand pockets, mesh pockets on the inside and two chest pockets with snap buttons. This one does get any waterproof treatments, however - although the G-1000 is somewhat water-resistant.
Follow the link for the full review of the Specialized/Fjällräven Räven Women’s Anorak
As a brand based in Scotland, Endura knows a thing or two about cold weather and that shows with the MT500 Freezing Point jacket. We liked this one for its blend of useful ventilation and super warm insulation while being equally as awesome off of the bike.
This is the first time we've seen the Freezing Point jacket in a women's fit. Just like the men's version, it uses PrimaLoft's Gold Insulation combined with a stretchy thermal softshell fabric. On top of that, there's a ripstop fabric as well as a PFC-free, non-toxic DWR coating to keep spray at bay.
While there's a lot of insulation built into the Freezing Point jacket, Endura has included large zipped vents under each arm to encourage a bit of airflow and as standard for most Endura jackets, there are silicone traction areas that help grip a backpack's straps. With that, the front pockets are designed to make excellent hand warmers.
To find out more about the Endura MT500 Freezing Point jacket, check out our review.
Fox_Ranger_3L_pockets.JPG, by Matt Page
While hoods might not be for everyone, Fox Racing's Ranger 3L jacket is sure to please those who like wearing one, thanks to its great fit, top weather protection and breathability.
This jacket is built using a three-layer fabric that's designed to offer better weatherproofing and breathability than jackets prior which gets a 10k/10k waterproof/breathability rating.
Matt found the fit to be great and roomy, but slim enough to keep excess fabric from flapping about and getting caught on trailside foliage. Inside, there are elastic cords to fine-tune the fit around the waist and the toggles for those cords are well hidden, so they shouldn't get caught when not in use.
This jacket is packed with pockets, with two hand pockets and a chest pocket, all of which benefit from water-resistant zips to limit water ingress. The main zip is waterproof and the hood is large enough to fit over a helmet. Of course, there's a DWR coating to further boost the Ranger's water-resistant properties.
If the Fox Racing Ranger 3L jacket looks like your cup of tea, be sure to check out Matt's review.
The Lander jacket comes as part of PNW Components early clothing drops and it tested incredibly well for its great fit, lovely comfort and impressively effective DWR coating. Its four-way stretch fabric is lightweight and soft but also abrasion-resistant.
PNW admits that this jacket isn't waterproof, but its DWR treatment is long-lasting and does a great job of keeping water out. Elsewhere, there are a pair of hand pockets, along with a large back pocket that gets internal organisers which also works as ventilation. Inside, there's also a removable belt to stop the jacket's baggier fit from flapping around.
Although it's not fully waterproof, the Lander impressed due to its top design and comfort but most of all, it's great value for money.
For more details on the PNW Components Lander jacket, click here.
2020 Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II hero.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Endura's MT500 Waterproof Jacket II is a modern classic that combines excellent performance with tonnes of breathability and decent comfort. It's jam-packed with features, including large zipped underarm vents, an uplift pass pocket and lycra inner cuffs to seal the jacket against wind and rain.
On top of all that, there's a water-repellent zip with a built-in storm flap and its two large front pockets also double as vents when left open. Then inside its big chest pockets, there's a handy glasses wipe and its cuffs are adjusted thanks to handy strips of Velcro. The hood then fits over a helmet.
The Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II scored a very hard-to-achieve five stars in our review, so it's definitely one to take a look at.
What should I look for in a mountain bike jacket?
Mountain bike jackets come in all shapes, sizes and use cases so before deciding what kind of mountain bike jacket you would like to buy, it's important to determine what you want from a jacket, whether that's all-out waterproofing or something to keep you warm when it's cool.
A lot of jackets don't utilise insulation, making them ideal as a water-resistant outer layer that allows you to pick and choose your base and mid-layers as you wish, depending on the temperature outside. These jackets offer the best versatility as a direct result. However, if you live and ride in seriously cold climates, insulated jackets offer the most warmth while still maintaining the opportunity for layering.
Most jackets offer some level of waterproofing but what's important to check out is its waterproofing/breathability rating that's depicted using 10k/10k for example. Here, the bigger the number, the more effective a jacket's fabric is at staying waterproof and breathable. This is a deep subject so check out our guide on waterproof cycling clothing to learn more.
Some jackets use non-waterproof fabrics, instead relying on a DWR or durable water-resistant coating. Although almost all waterproof jackets get a DWR treatment, it's a spray-on coating that can wear off with time. It is possible to retreat these coatings, however.
Other handy features to look out for are hoods that can fit over helmets. A hood that doesn't fit over a helmet isn't of much use on the bike – unless you wear it inside the helmet instead - but that can be uncomfortable.
The number of pockets a jacket has is also something you should consider. Of course, pockets are handy for storing things but on waterproof jackets, they often act as extra vents. A jacket's ventilation options are also something to consider, as are storm cuffs that help keep nasty weather out.
Should the best MTB jackets be tight or loose?
A jacket's tightness or looseness entirely depends on the style of riding it's designed for. Mountain bike jackets are often fairly loose in order to offer a maximum range of motion when pulling shapes on the bike. However, some come with tighter torsos in order to keep the fabric from snagging, whereas the shoulder and arms are baggier for that easy movement.
Tighter jackets may appeal more to the cross-country crowd as they offer a level of aerodynamic gain, where excess fabric may catch the wind and cause drag. Tighter jackets are more widely used in gravel and road cycling for this reason.
What should you wear when mountain biking?
In the winter, a good waterproof jacket is imperative for a good time out on the bike however, a jacket alone isn't a whole solution as it only covers the upper body. When riding in nasty weather, a solid pair of the best MTB pants or waterproof shorts boosts weather protection, making wet and cold rides far more tolerable.
Jackets and trousers are then best complimented by a pair of waterproof shoes, or at least waterproof socks.
What is a DWR coating?
A durable water-repellent coating (or DWR for short) is a treatment that's sprayed onto almost all modern outdoor clothing and something that's not just reserved for cycling. What's good about these coatings is that they're often very effective and not too expensive to apply.
While this sounds all well and good, DWR treatments come with a couple of downsides; the first of which is that they wear off and require more care. With every wet ride, the DWR will wear down and in order to extend the life of the factory coating, the jacket mustn't be washed with harsh detergents. However, whatever you do, the coating will eventually fade in use.
The other problem is that DWR coatings aren't kind to the environment. However, brands such as Endura are working to create eco-friendly options.
An upside to a DWR coating is that fabrics can be re-proofed after-market products such as Nikwax's TX Direct wash-in waterproofer. However, these treatments aren't always as effective as what brands use from the factory - and you really should read and follow the instructions properly to do the process correctly.