You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent waterproof jacket for mountain biking. The best budget waterproof MTB jackets will offer you protection from the elements, good breathability and even, dare we say it, a dash of style, without leaving you feeling like a boil-in-the-bag sweat-fest while you’re out on the trails.
There’s always a compromise between waterproofing, breathability and price. The more you pay, the better the jacket will perform. But for the vast majority of riding, when you know you’re only going to be out for a few hours in the rain rather than hiking with your bike up a mountain, you don’t need to spend hundreds and hundreds on a jacket.
All of the jackets we’ve selected will see you through fall and winter, and keep you warm and dry in all but the heaviest of downpours – barring of course the water that creeps in from the waist, collar and cuffs.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
The pick of the bunch is the Endura Hummvee, which offers good waterproofing, sealed seams and a hood in both a men's and women’s version and a selection of colors. It’s great value for money and that, combined with its performance, puts it top of our list.
And while we’ve listed the RRP for these jackets, it’s worth knowing that most of the jackets are on sale and therefore bargains can be had!
Read on for our full list of the best budget waterproof MTB jackets, skip ahead to how to choose the best waterproof MTB jacket for you or check out our guide to the best MTB jackets if you're looking for something a little more premium.
The best budget waterproof MTB jackets
A loose-fit and versatile waterproof jacket, the Hummvee from Scottish brand Endura ticks all the value boxes. There’s a men’s and women’s version, it offers good waterproofing with sealed seams and a hood, and it’s even available in a good range of sizes.
Designed to be used for MTB, commuting and general all-round riding, it features reflective elements on the back which increase visibility when riding on the road, though may not be to everyone’s stylistic tastes.
A fit that has room for layers with a dropped tail and velcro tabs on the cuffs, really the only downsides are the fact that the mesh lining can catch and pull on velcro, and that the underarm vents (aka pit vents) can be a bit fiddly to open on the go while you’re wearing the jacket.
Both the men’s and the women’s Altura Cave Softshell jackets combine a nice style aesthetic with a some good weather-resistant features that combine to make it the type of jacket you’ll find yourself wearing on and off the bike for most of the winter months.
It’s definitely more of a shell than a full waterproof, and the stretch fabric leaves room for layers. If you’re going out in the full-on rain, choose one of the other jackets from this list, but if you just want something that you can go out riding in and if it starts to drizzle will keep you covered, this is the one for you.
Unusually for bike clothing, both the men’s and women’s ranges go up to bigger sizes - 18 in the women’s and 3XL in the men’s, which is something we’re glad to see. However, sadly the Esker isn’t as extensive in the other direction, with limited smaller size options.
Check out our review of the Altura Cave Softshell jacket for more details.
Unless it’s raining really heavily, you’re going to be out riding for a number of hours, or you’re heading somewhere exposed, then a good softshell jacket is a really good choice for the vast majority of trail excursions. The Pearl Izumi Summit Pro is a good softshell jacket.
The softshell material is stretchy and fitted, and will provide a couple of hours of protection from the rain combined with particularly good breathability – in other words, if intense efforts are on the cards, consider this jacket.
It features a hood, but only one pocket, and is lightweight and packable so if the weather brightens or you just prefer to have it on hand for emergencies, it’ll fit neatly into a pack or pocket.
The jacket has a much more fitted cut than other looser-fit budget waterproof MTB jackets on this list.
PNW’s first-ever jacket is loaded with the same kind of practical detailing that’s made its components a consistent hit with our test team and it makes the Lander a really versatile and good value shell.
While it’s a shell jacket PNW makes it clear from the start that it’s not a full waterproof. Instead, it uses a stretchy, quiet and so far impressively durable yet light and thin windproof fabric with a DWR water repellent treatment. In fact, it handles rain a lot better than even PNW suggests and the fabric and vents mean it still stays relatively dry and comfortable unless you’re properly steaming up the climbs. The big hood adds welcome protection and the internal belted pockets are a really clever feature for keeping your spares and snacks stable and protected.
This all translates into a jacket that’s practical and comfortable all day, whatever the weather, and its durability make it even better long-term value. The casual styling makes it versatile on or off the bike too, although loose cuffs and collar mean fans of snug coats might be better off sizing down.
For a deeper dive, read our full review of the PNW Lander jacket.
The Fox Ranger 2.5l Water Jacket keeps things nice and simple. The loose-cut hooded jacket is constructed from a 2.5-layer waterproof and breathable fabric – hence the name – and has a DWR coating for added water resistance. The hood is designed to sit over your helmet as you ride, keeping your head dry and minimizing the amount of water that can drain down your neck. However, the lack of adjustability here means it can catch the wind, fall down, or affect your peripheral vision.
Fox doesn’t make a women’s version of this jacket, though it does produce the higher-spec and price Women’s Ranger 3L Jacket (opens in new tab) which interestingly doesn’t have a men’s equivalent.
The best budget waterproof MTB jacket is the one that’s actually with you when it rains, and the Bontrager Circuit jacket packs small enough that you can keep it in a bag on standby for mid-ride weather emergencies.
This packable jacket features a water-resistant fabric, a dropped tail to provide coverage to the rear and elasticated cuffs to help reduce water ingress up the sleeves. Two-way YKK zips mean you can open the bottom of the jacket if you need to access pockets.
There is both a women’s and men’s version of the jacket, differing only in the cut and fit.
Giant has been increasing its range of riding gear steadily for the past few seasons and we’ve worn the Giant Proshield MTB jacket on colder days and warm, wet days in spring. Some clever features and a sound fit make it ideal for casual cruising through showers, but start working harder or heading into serious rain and the fabric can’t cope.
While there's little of the rustle or bagginess that can make some waterproof jackets intrusive, as soon as you start working remotely hard, the fact that the 10k WVT breathability rating isn't actually very good becomes very clear. The outer shell sheds water pretty well at first and dries relatively fast, but it doesn't take long to wet out in heavier rain, which impacts breathability further. Some of its additional features – such as magnetic catches and a removable hood – are well thought out, but they also add bulk when it comes to packing down. That means the Giant Proshield won't fit into a back pocket, and is likely to overfill most waist packs too.
Get a more in-depth verdict on the Giant Proshield MTB jacket in our review.
The 2.0 MTB Jacket is Leatt's entry-level-priced jacket. It includes some innovative features like a patent-pending magnetic connection between the hood and a rider's helmet so the hood doesn't blow off at speed. The fit is snug and draught-free, plus there's a drawstring to secure the hood around your face. At 5000 WVT, breathability is lower than others so you will want to open it up on the climbs to get some air flow.
It's not for the heavy downpour defense either, as the fabric also has a low waterproof rating, but it would work as a starting point for new riders.
Check out our full review of the Leatt 2.0 MTB jacket for more details.
What to look for in the best budget waterproof MTB jackets
When you’re on the hunt for a waterproof jacket to keep you warm and dry through colder months, there are a few key things you need to consider, including the type and level of waterproofing, the breathability of the fabric, and key features such as hoods and pockets.
Why is breathability important?
There are a few ways a jacket can be made waterproof, and the absolute simplest is to have a full sealed fabric that doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate. However, this means that moisture from sweat can build up on the inside of the jacket and if you’re riding hard you can end up as wet as you would from the rain.
Most jackets therefore have breathability built-in; a way of allowing moisture from inside the jacket to permeate to the outside, ideally without letting any of the outside water in. The cheapest way to do this is a vent, an opening in the fabric-covered by a flap of fabric that allows the warm moisture-laden air in the jacket to escape.
A more technical solution is a breathable fabric that allows internal moisture to move through a membrane that doesn’t permit moisture to flow the other way, and this is what the majority of the more technical jackets opt for. For high-exertion activities this is the preferred method, and the more expensive the jacket, the higher quality the membrane and the more breathable it will be.
That said, there are a few times when breathability may not be as important a consideration – when using an uplift service, for example, where the level of exertion is likely to be less.
What makes a jacket waterproof?
Because of the breathability situation above, most jackets don’t just use the impermeable layer approach to waterproofing.
Instead, they’ll use a fabric that has a waterproof membrane, or several layers of membrane, to repel water. At the budget level, this is likely to be a generic membrane. At the higher price points, more premium membranes like GoreTex start to be used.
Another method is to use a coating on the fabric (usually called DWR or Durable Water Repellent) hat’s hydrophobic. This means it actively repels water, causing it to bead on the surface and run off rather than soak through the fibers or gaps between the fibers.
What should I be looking for in seams and zips?
Water can also penetrate where the fabric joins, and seams and zips are both key areas where this can happen. Most jackets at this price point are likely to be sewn and then backed with a waterproof tape that’s glued over to provide waterproofing; these are commonly referred to as ‘taped seams’.
A more water-resistant, though pricier, process is laser-cut and sealed seams, where they are bonded together.
At the budget price point, waterproof zips are uncommon, but for short-to-medium trail rides in moderate conditions, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Instead, at this level most jackets will opt for a storm flap, which is an additional layer of waterproof fabric that sits over and covers the zip while riding.
What features should the best budget waterproof MTB jacket have?
There are several key features to consider when looking for a budget waterproof MTB jacket, and one of the most important to think about is the hood.
Hoods help keep your head dry and prevent water from running down the back of your neck into the inside of the jacket. Most MTB hoods will be designed to be big enough to sit over the outside of your helmet when riding, though some will sit underneath. Adjustability here is important as it needs to feel secure so it doesn’t blow off while you’re riding, and so it doesn’t affect your peripheral vision negatively.
Pockets are also a critical feature, as being able to keep your phone and snacks to hand without them getting absolutely sodden is kinda important when you’re riding. Cheaper jackets will tend to just have two or three pockets, while pricier jackets may have more. Look out for a good chunky zip-pull as fiddling around with zips and having to take your gloves off while it’s chucking down rain isn’t fun.