Mountain biker riding trails

Best MTB Jackets

When you’re on the trails, the weather can turn at a moment’s notice. Bringing along a versatile MTB jacket can make your ride much more comfortable. From lightweight packable windproofs for chilly-but-dry rides to jackets that can keep the rain out for hours at a time, there’s a lot of variation in the performance of these jackets.

The best MTB jacket will depend on the features that match the weather conditions on your ride. When looking for a new MTB jacket it’s good to think about what you want it to do before you buy.

If you just want a jacket to keep the wind off, then a lightweight packable windproof is ideal. These are the lightest jackets and are easily stashed in a pocket for the climbs ready to put on when descending. You can use a lightweight packable waterproof in the same way with the added advantage that they will keep the rain out if you get caught in a shower.

Soft shell jackets are windproof and highly breathable so they’re comfortable to ride in. Soft shell fabric tends to be tough, so these jackets are less likely to tear in a crash. Soft shells with a DWR water-resistant coating will also protect you from trail spray as well as a light shower.

For proper rain protection you’ll need a waterproof jacket with taped seems to stop water seeping in through the stitching. Even the most affordable waterproof tends to offer good waterproof protection. The real difference comes with breathability. This is important as you’ll easily overheat in a jacket with a low breathability rating.

mountain biker wearing a waterproof jacket

The best waterproof MTB jackets have both a high waterproof rating and a high breathability rating. Mountain biking speeds are much slower than road cycling, so a focus on breathability and venting is more important. Plenty of airflow helps to stop you from the dreaded ‘boil-in-a-bag’ feeling. Zip vents are helpful for this especially when combined with a good breathable fabric.

Cut is important in a mountain bike jacket. You need to be able to move around freely on the bike, so MTB jackets tend to have a loose fit. Hoods can be useful too as you have a more upright riding position on a mountain bike and climbing speeds are low. Hoods come in two types, under or over helmet. Over helmet hoods are easy to pull on and off again but don’t stay in place so well when riding fast. Under helmet hoods stay put but you’ll need to stop to put them on.

Other useful features to look out for adjustable elements such as hem draw cords, wrist closures. Pockets tend to add bulk but if you intend to wear the jacket all-day then they are very useful for storing ride essentials.

Testing a waterproof jacket

The Best MTB Jackets


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