The queen of all waterproof jackets in terms of breathability but still with a few fit niggles hanging around
Mar 30 2018
Great quality feel
Some well thought out features make the jacket stand out from the crowd
Hood won't fit properly over a lid
Collar is a little tight fitting when zipped up
if the quality of the build and the performance of the fabric is the highest on your wish list
The Endura Women's MT500 Waterproof Jacket II is, hands down, the most breathable jacket I have ever worn. It’s kept me warm, dry and well protected from the ‘Beast from the East’ enjoying sub-zero snow riding as well as milder wet rides without sweating my own body weight in fluid.
The 2018 revision of the women’s MT500 is head and shoulders better than the last iteration which I have spent some time in over the last couple of years. This year’s version, the MT500 II, is a complete redesign, doing away with the irritating and hard to reach pockets/vents, fixing a pretty much unusable hood design and most notably using a much more flexible material whilst still retaining the great waterproof and breathability ratings the MT500 range is known for.
First up then, that new fully seam sealed material is called ExoShell60™ 3-Layer waterproof fabric and it has a slightly stretchy nature meaning it conforms to the shape of the body well without a hint of the stiffness I have experienced on Endura MT500 jackets of old. This MT500 II still retains the lofty waterproof and breathability ratings (18,00mm /60,000gm/m2/24hr respectively), which when put through its paces in a variety of conditions make the jacket an outstanding performer.
The light material breaths very well indeed and, whilst no ride in wet warm conditions is ever going to be a fully dry affair inside a waterproof, the performance of the MT500 is better than any other jacket I have tested. If you fancy a bit more ventilation though there are two double ended zipped underarm vents plus mesh-lined hand pocket to unzip and provide a breeze.
I’m 160cm and a dress size 8 so opted to test a size small jacket, Endura sizing is roomy though and there was plenty of room to spare inside. If you are a similar size to me, I’d suggest trying on an extra-small for size too. The fit isn’t uber slim fitting but it’s not bulky at all, multiple panels over the shoulder and down each side tailor the fit to allow the jacket to stay in place whatever funky shapes you pull on the bike. In this size the jacket came up nice and long on me and I used the cord on the lower hem to winch the bottom in a little to prevent drafts and water ingress.
There is a huge amount of attention to detail on the Endura MT500. There are of course all the normal things you’d expect in a jacket of this price (£200), including waterproof zips, a big storm flap on the main zip, large YKK zippers that are easy to grab, adjustable cuffs and a hood. Additional features lie in the small ‘lift pass pocket’ on the left arm, lycra inserts at the wrists to keep out drafts, a glasses wipe in one pocket, well placed reflective print and neat non-slip silicone printing on the shoulders. I can’t say I’ve had a problem with my pack slipping whilst wearing other jackets without this silicone but it’s a nice thought and unobtrusive. I did experience some problems with the inner storm flap on the main zip, with it getting caught on the zip as I began to do the jacket up, there's a knack to getting it zipped up smoothly, its all about keeping the material taught and flat as you zip!
The lycra inserts at the inner wrists are a brilliant addition in very cold temperatures but a hindrance in warm or wet conditions. I found I felt as if I was overheating when the temperatures rose and you need to be careful they lycra doesn’t extend out of the end of the sleeve in the rain otherwise it will function as a vacuum for water. Luckily the sleeves are generous so this isn’t too much of an issue. The last iteration of the MT500 allowed these lycra inserts to be unzipped and removed, I wish this was still the case.
The hood is another love and hate feature, it has great adjustability but in conjunction with the collar has some fit issues. The hood will fit over a small lid but it doesn’t extend as far forward as I’d like. We recently took a look at the Madison DTE jacket which handles the hood design very well. I also couldn’t zip the collar up fully with the hood up which is actually a pretty big deal, if the weather is bad enough that you need the hood up, you are probably going to want to stop the rain or wind going down the front of the jacket too.
The hood does offer good adjustment though, there is a cord that runs from collar to collar over the peak of the jacket, its super easy to pop the hood up to grab the end of the cord and tug it tight via the well secured toggle, the ends then tuck away behind keepers lower down on the chest. There is a similar cord set up at the rear of the hood from side to side alongside a vertical Velcro strap meaning when riding the hood can be winched in tightly to prevent flapping. Stowing the hood away is a simple affair involving rolling the hood down and securing with a loop at the back of the jacket. The hood rolls for the outer side is against the skin so make sure the hood is dry before stowing away mid-ride! One last thing on the collar/hood set up, I found with the hood down that there wasn’t a lot of room in the neck area, zipping the coat up fully leaves the zip under the chin and sitting close to the neck – there is no opportunity use the collar as protection from the elements, it’s just not long enough.
Despite the hood, storm flap and collar niggles the Endura MT500 is at the top of my 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.
Deputy Editor here ar off-road.cc, Rachael is happiest on two wheels. She's been riding bikes for a good few years now after horses got too expensive! Partial to a race or two Rachael also likes getting out into the hills with a big bunch of mates. She's been writing for publications such as, Enduro Mountain Bike Magazine, Mountain Biking UK, Bike Radar, New Zealand Mountain Biker and was also the online editor for Spoke magazine in New Zealand too. For as long as she's been riding and is equally happy getting stuck into a kit review as she is creating stories, she also coaches mountain biking and when she's not busy with all the above she's serving coffee from a horse trailer!