We put 15 rid­ing jack­ets through the wringer to find the best wa­ter­proofs for your rid­ing style and wal­let

Mountain Biking UK - - CONTENTS -

Rid­ing through win­ter in the UK means in­vest­ing in a wa­ter­proof jacket. It’s po­ten­tially the most ex­pen­sive item of cloth­ing in your kit drawer, so it’s im­por­tant to pick the right one. De­cid­ing how much to spend is straight­for­ward – the more you pay, the more you get, in terms of fab­ric and/or fea­tures. Pock­ets, vents and de­tail­ing all add to con­struc­tion costs, while guar­an­teed-wa­ter­proof and highly breath­able ma­te­ri­als are pricier to pro­duce.

Be aware that a lower-spec­i­fi­ca­tion fab­ric will breathe bet­ter if it isn’t ham­pered by mul­ti­ple pocket lay­ers and has gen­er­ous vents. If you’re on a bud­get, our ad­vice would be to go for clean de­signs with max­i­mum vent­ing. Wick­ing base­lay­ers help with the com­fort of any wa­ter­proof, but es­pe­cially if you know you’re com­pro­mis­ing on breatha­bil­ity.

For fast XC rid­ing we favour go­ing as breath­able as you can af­ford. We’ve tried and tested Gore-Tex in all its forms and it works ex­tremely well, as does Po­lartec NeoShell. If you al­ways wear a pack, then you don’t need to pay ex­tra for pock­ets.

Think about the ex­po­sure of the trails you ride – the rel­a­tive ac­ces­si­bil­ity of a trail cen­tre ver­sus a back­coun­try epic, where a punc­ture or ac­ci­dent in ex­treme con­di­tions will leave you need­ing the very best pro­tec­tion – and look for a cor­re­spond­ing bal­ance of dura­bil­ity and breatha­bil­ity. If you spend all day be­tween uplift and down­hill, then your pri­or­ity will be dura­bil­ity, but you’ll want good vents so you can cool down be­tween runs.

The fea­tures we look for are a draw­cord hem, to stop crud spray­ing up in­side the jacket, a hood that doesn’t im­pede pe­riph­eral vi­sion, a suf­fi­ciently long back and well-shaped sleeves. And be­cause some­times you just need one jacket for ev­ery­thing, we’ve in­cluded some good multi-pur­pose op­tions.

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