- Properly waterproof and breathable
- Over-helmet hood is excellent
- High-quality fabric and construction
- Cuffs are too tight
- The back could be longer
- Quite a baggy fit
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!
The jacket is sturdily constructed from Madison’s own three-layer waterproof and breathable fabric with waterproof and breathability rating of 20,000mm a piece. It does a sterling job of keeping you dry, it isn’t too heavy, and it’s packed with useful features – especially the hood and pockets. Given its reasonable price considering its quality performance and construction, I’d describe the DTE as exceptionally good if it weren’t for some issues with the fit. However, if you can overlook these (it will suit shorter, fuller-figured riders), I’d heartily recommend this jacket to see you through several winters to come.
So, here’s all the good stuff. Most importantly, this jacket is properly waterproof – rain beads well and the fabric remains waterproof when it does eventually wet out. Plus, it dries out quickly too. It is also sufficiently breathable – I get sweaty easily and didn’t find any telltale dampness inside, though I ride with the pit zips fully open all the time and it has been pretty cold (but bad conditions is what the DTE is designed for).
The jacket feels like it’s made to last, with fully taped seams and strong stitching, and a chunky zip with a storm flap behind and chin guard at the top. Attention to detail is also good – the zip is two-way, which is very useful if you want to open the jacket up without it billowing, and there’s a long tag on the zip pull which you can easily grab wearing thick gloves. The pit zips are also two-way with long tags but because they’re waterproof I found them too stiff to open one-handed. All the zips, including pocket ones, zip closed into a little hood to prevent water ingress.
The stowable over-helmet hood is the best I’ve seen yet. It is easy to pull up one-handed while riding along, doesn’t restrict vision or head movement at all, plus stays in place even in strong winds (aided by silicone print inside the peak). It is generously sized and fits easily over my Troy Lee Designs A1 lid (unlike Madison’s previous Flo storm jacket). There are drawcord adjusters at the back and sides, though you need two hands to operate these and I found the side ones a bit fiddly with the little internal button, but you’re unlikely to need to adjust these while riding anyway. The inside of the collar is microfleece-lined so it feels comfy against your skin when you’re zipped right up.
Another bonus of the DTE is its multiple pockets, with waterproof zippers on the chest and hand pockets. There’s also an internal zipped chest pocket. The hand pockets are big enough to swallow a medium/large smartphone plus keep snacks, spare buff, etc easy to access. The hem drawcords are neatly hidden inside the pockets too. Madison’s trademark silicone print shoulder patches prevent pack straps sliding around.
Finally, the jacket is easy to care for. Madison recommends regular washing to keep it breathable and effective – reviews of Fibertec wash and proofer coming soon – and you can bung it in the machine on a gentle cycle (after hosing the worst of the mud off!). Tumble drying it helps reactivate the water-repellent coating.
So now for the not-so-good stuff. My main issue is the cuffs – they’re a little narrow, making it a bit of a struggle to fit over winter gloves. The Velcro adjusters and elastic are superfluous as the cuffs are so tight, and I needed help to pull them down over my glove cuffs. Taller or long-limbed riders might find the sleeves too short – I’m just under 5’7 and with some gloves the cuffs kept slipping off, leaving bare skin exposed. Also, despite the slight drop hem the back of the jacket is barely longer than the front when you're actually riding, especially with a pack, so it doesn’t cover your bum. Madison say they haven't experienced this problem with other riders.
Not as important but worth mentioning, the cut is rather unflattering, with excess material around the middle and lower back – I’d like a neater, more tailored fit that shows you have a waist.
Also, when you roll the hood up it leaves the collar quite loose, and tightening the drawcords pulls it down, exposing your neck – I prefer to leave the hood free as it makes the collar more snug, and it didn’t get in the way or billow. My last, very minor, niggle is the lack of a hanging loop – mostly this isn’t an issue as you can use the hood or the exterior stowing loop, but if you do keep the hood rolled up then there’s nothing to hang the jacket by.
Those niggles aside, the DTE is a very good winter jacket well worth considering. It comes in black too if turquoise clashes with your bike!
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