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 the 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.
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 on 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.
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 colors and 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 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.
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.
Unless it’s raining really heavily, you’re going to be out riding for a number of hours, or you’re heading somewhere exposed, for the vast majority of trail excursions a good softshell jacket is a really good choice, and 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, so 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 MTB jackets on this list.
The best waterproof 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.
How to choose the best budget waterproof MTB jacket for you
When you’re on the hunt for a waterproof jacket to keep you warm and dry through the winter, 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.
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 anyway.
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, for example when using an uplift service 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, that’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.
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 it to provide waterproofing; this is 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 jacket have?
There are several key features to consider when looking for a budget waterproof 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, 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.