Best MTB jackets 2023 – stay dry when the weather turns wet

The 7mesh Copilot jacket in action
(Image credit: 7Mesh)

Mountain bikers can experience some harsh weather conditions when out on a ride, especially if your trails involve actual mountains. Investing in the best MTB jacket is a surefire way to keep you comfortable when it's wet or cold out.

Any waterproof jacket will work on the bike but the best MTB jackets have specific features for better performance when riding. 

The biggest issue is mountain bikers produce a ton of heat and sweat that needs to be wicked away in order to stay dry, but riders don’t move fast enough on climbs for easy ventilation. Riders also get coated in mud and charge through wet bushes, making it hard for fabrics to function properly. It's also common to snag thorn bushes and slide along the ground far too often for a fragile fabric to survive. And yet, the best MTB jackets – whether or not they're paired with the best waterproof MTB trousers – need to keep you warm and dry no matter the weather.  

Thankfully the latest crop of MTB jackets has addressed all of these challenges and more. Made from high-tech materials and featuring neat additions like hidden pockets – as well as the ability to be rolled up and stashed away – jackets have never been better. 

Looking for a jacket for mountain biking that's more affordable? Check out our best budget waterproof MTB jacket guide.

Best MTB jackets

Why you can trust BikePerfect Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Endura MT500

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Excellent fit, performance, and durability

Specifications

Colors: Black, fossil grey, kingfisher blue and nutmeg
Sizes: XS-XXXL

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic practical cut and features 
+
Excellent breathability enhanced by extensive venting
+
More durable, comfortable fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly bulky for carrying and previous version was more breathable

The second iteration of the Endura MT500 II jacket isn’t just loaded with tons of useful features, it’s made from a killer cloth too. With its rubbery inner feel, we were concerned the ExoShell40DR fabric would feel clammy as soon as we started blowing hard, but the 40k WVT rating is no joke. It’s PFC-free and environmentally friendly too. Exceptional breathability is backed up by super long side/underarm/upper arm vents with two-way zips and mesh-backed pockets that also work as vents. That gives more cooling flow through than any other jacket we’ve used which really helps control temperature and speed up drying on extended exertions. 

The soft fabric doesn’t rustle or crinkle and stretch panels give a barely-there feel when you’re throwing the bike around. The sleeves are generous enough to stop arm pump or pull up for extra cooling, but still snug down cozily if things get draughty, and inside is a lycra storm cuff. The hood stows neatly with a quick-release strap, but gives tall necked, peaked and draw corded protection under your helmet when you need it. The shoulders even get silicone grippers to keep bag straps in place and there’s a hidden inner pocket, a tethered glasses/goggles wiping cloth and a lift pass pocket on the left sleeve for park convenience. 

For more details on this revamped wet weather classic, read our Endura MT500 II jacket review.

PNW Lander jacket

(Image credit: PNW)
PNW’s first jacket is a comfortable, practical, and well-priced all-rounder

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL in mens and womens
Colors: Super Nova orange (tested) Neutron green

Reasons to buy

+
Tough, weatherproof fabric
+
Decent vent boosted breathability
+
Casual but practical cut
+
Clever suspended back pockets
+
Top value

Reasons to avoid

-
Loose cuffs and collar
-
Direct sell only
-
No reflective detailing

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, check out our full review of the PNW Lander jacket.

Specialized Trail Rain Jacket

(Image credit: GuyKesTV)
Comfortable, versatile, and reasonably priced

Specifications

Colors: Harvest Gold, Black, and Dove Grey (women’s only)
Sizes: S – XXL in men’s and XXS – XXL women’s fit

Reasons to buy

+
Properly prolonged waterproofing
+
Full hood and closable cuffs
+
Packable chest pocket
+
Mid weight and cost
+
Versatile styling

Reasons to avoid

-
Adequate breathability
-
Parachute hood

Specialized has done away with its more premium waterproof options and replaced them with some far more affordable options. While the new jackets don't feature the fancy Polertec Neoshell materials, they are considerable more lightweight and packable too. 

The jackets 2.5 layer construction does a good job of keeping rain at bay longer than most without being excessively sweaty or looking too ‘bike’ for general use. There's a front zipped pocket for your phone and a side zip to give easier access to your rear bib liner pockets without having to pull the whole jacket up.

Styling is nicely neutral if you want to wear the jacket in a more casual setting as well as on the bike. There's loads of sizes available for both men and women, as well as a couple of color options too.

Guy Kesteven endured the winter Yorkshire miles to put the Specialized Trail Rain Jacket to the real test.

Muc-Off Clothing

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Batten down the hatches on wet weather rides

Specifications

Colors: Black, Green
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Decent fabric specs
+
Versatile, nicely detailed cuts
+
Quiet and comfortable feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Check jacket sizing as the cut is generous

Muc-Off's Mountain Bike Jacket is designed to be ridden through some seriously wet conditions, and that's what it succeeds at too. It features a 20k waterproof rating and three-layer MOD 94 fabric to keep you nice and dry, even on the worst days.

Considering the beefy waterproofing, breathability is surprisingly good and there are small zips under the upper arms to add some cooling. Mobility isn't an issue, thanks to a generous cut and durability is good too. The cut can be on the larger side however, so check the fit before buying. 

We have put Muc-Off's Technical mountain bike kit to the test including Muc-Off's Mountain Bike Jacket. Check it out for full details.

7Mesh Copilot review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Lightweight jacket that offers great protection from bad weather

Specifications

Colors: Black, Blue, Orange
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Good protection from the conditions
+
Recycled fabric
+
Lightweight
+
Large hood

Reasons to avoid

-
Underarm pocket is saggy
-
Get a thicker, warmer jacket for worse weather conditions

The Copilot is a lightweight jacket that still offers protection from the elements. The material is designed to be more durable than most lightweight fabrics, and if you damage it, 7mesh offers repair or replacement options. 

The minimalist design means limited features, but that doesn't mean this jacket doesn't have a spot in a rider's wardrobe. It won't keep you very warm during the gnarliest rain storms, so you'll need something more heavy-duty for that. But where this jacket excels is as an extra layer when the seasons start to get colder or for light rain/fog. Combine it with a long sleeve jersey or keep it in your pack as an emergency layer during the shoulder seasons. 

For our full thoughts on how this jacket performs, read our 7mesh Copilot review. Since we reviewed the Copilot, 7mesh has given it an update with new colors and when packed into its storage pocket the jacket can be strapped to your bike using 7mesh's Stash system.

Albion Zoa Rain Shell jacket

(Image credit: Paul Brett)
Pertex performance for serious weather riding

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Color: Black (tested), Black/Orange, Orange

Reasons to buy

+
Great casual riding fit
+
Hood fits easily over a helmet and has a moldable peak
+
Neat velcro cuffs
+
Two-way front zip
+
Sustainable approach

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit baggy for faster riding
-
Two-way pocket zips are unnecessary
-
No real venting
-
Expensive

If you havenmt heard of Albion, theres only two things you really need to know. They make performance riding gear and are very pesimistic about the weather. That means their clothing range are focused on keeping you riding no matter how grim it gets outside. 

Albion are better known for their gravel and road gear, however the Zoa jacket has a more casual cut which is perfect for mountain biking and bikepacking. The jacket uses Pertex Shield Air as the jacket's main fabric giving it excellant waterproofing and a nice soft finish. Its also breathable and if do start getting too hot, the double zip means hot air can be easily dumped out while riding.

The jacket is finished with a generous helmet accomidating hood, plenty of draught excluding draw strings, and two hand pockets. We think its subtle black finish also looks great, although it also comes in a very load orange option too.

Get a bigger version of our verdict on the Albion Zoa Rain Shell jacket in our review. 

Specialized Trail Alpha Jacket

(Image credit: GuyKesTV)
Winter warmer for dry cold days on the trail

Specifications

Colors: Men Black, crimson, slate grey, or oak green / Women Maroon, black or crimson
Sizes: Men S-XXL, Women XS - L

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding warmth for weight
+
Excellent sweat shifting and fast drying
+
Casual cut versatility
+
Hand pockets
+
Decent price for Polartec Alpha

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-eco fabric
-
SWAT zip is pointless
-
Cuffs are comparatively cold and wet

Its hard when the mercury starts seriously dipping as the more insulation you add, the greater the risk of overheating. Specialized's Trail Alpha jacket uses Polartec Alpha fabric to trap air within the jacket to keep the body warm whilst a light and stretchy windproof outer shell stops chilly draughts from impregnating the outside layer. 

Heat is well managed too and we found that the Trail Alpha jacket wicked sweat from skin or base layers and spread it over the outer shell for efficient evaporation. This is further assisted by the underarm and arm back panels which are made from stretch microfleece.

It's not for wet weather defense though, as the fabric also has a no waterproof rating, but for keeping you warm on the trail its one of our favorites. Check out our full review of the Specialized Trail Alpha jacket for more details.

7mesh Skypilot Jacket

(Image credit: Mildred Locke)
Outstanding stormproof performance if you can afford it

Specifications

Colors: Redwood, Peat (mens) / Midnight Blue, Fern (womens)
Sizes: XS-XXL (XS-XL womens)

Reasons to buy

+
Super waterproof and breathable
+
Lightweight and packable
+
Comfortable, relaxed fit
+
Sleek and subtle styling
+
Drawstring toggles for refined fit
+
Comes with lifetime warranty and repairs

Reasons to avoid

-
Hood doesn’t pack away
-
Small reflective details means low visibility
-
No stash pocket
-
Small size range available

7mesh emerged quietly but purposefully from the Canadian outdoor gear aristocracy a few years back, rapidly building a cult following for fantastic performance from anyone who could afford its kit. 

The Skypilot uses Gore-Tex Active 3L, a 30-denier nylon fabric that’s designed to be both robust and lightweight, as well as breathable and protective against the elements. That means even when we experienced four seasons in one day, the jacket managed to maintain a comfortable temperature. Gore’s C-Knit backer gives it a really soft and mobile feel that reduces clamminess and cooling on descents so it’s noticeably nicer to wear than any other jacket we’ve tried. 

For more details, check out our full review on the 7mesh Skypilot.

Endura MT500 Freezing Point II jacket hood and back panel

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Specifications

Colors: Black or Electric Blue
Sizes: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent strategic insulation
+
Slim but mobile cut
+
Super effective venting
+
Surprisingly good ambient breathability
+
Massive pocket capacity
+
Properly cozy hood

Reasons to avoid

-
Short-lived DWR wets out fast

Endura's MT500 Freezing Point II jacket is aimed at those cold crisp rides. To keep you cozy Endura has used Primaloft Gold Active insulation across the front torso, sleeves, yoke, and over-helmet hood. Warmth is further enhanced with the cut of the jacket, which has a drop tail, tall collar, and decent-length sleeves to minimize any gaps. 

Should the insulation levels work too well, Endura has specced two-way zips that reach from halfway to the elbow to just above the hips, which can be opened up to dump hot air if needed. The wide opening is super effective and positioned in a way that they still work when wearing a backpack.

The only real weakness is the DWR treatment which we found to wear off quickly. That said it will still shrug off a drizzle and the Primaloft still holds heat OK and dries fast when the rain stops.

Be sure to check out our Endura MT500 Freezing Point II review for more details.

Choosing the best MTB jacket: everything you need to know

How much should you spend on a jacket?

You’d hope that the more you pay, the fancier fabric and better performance you’d get, but knowing what to wear mountain biking isn't always that simple.

As a general rule though, sub-$50 / £50 will get you a packable emergency shell and sub-$100 / £100 will get you bearable weatherproof performance if you’re not killing yourself on climbs. If you're looking for a waterproof layer that won't break the bank, check out our guide to the best budget waterproof MTB jackets.

Depending on the brand, decent breathability and well-designed features for hard riding kick in at three figures, and the real cutting-edge cloth and fancy cuts will take you over $200 / £200 and beyond. Of course, that’s also when crapping yourself in case you crash and tear a massive hole in your new coat might make you sweat more than any fabric can cope with, so remember durability is a big part of the value. 

How breathable should a jacket be?

Breathability is how fast a fabric can shift your sweat from inside to out. The bigger the WVT (Water Vapour Transmission) number the drier you’ll stay for longer if you’re working hard. Anything under 5k is poor, 20k is appreciably better than a bin bag but still sweaty, 50k plus will let you work pretty hard and only get moist rather than creating a monsoon in your coat. Vents, sleeves you can pull up, and other cooling features make a big difference to overall heat and sweat management, though. The best performance jackets will minimize the area covered by seam sealing tape too as that doesn’t breathe at all.

Whatever jacket you choose, give it the best possible chance of performing by wearing the best wicking base layer you can afford underneath.

Incidentally, you’ll rarely find WVT data on softshells, but because they stay warm when wet, it’s less of an issue than a clammy shell. 

How weatherproof should a jacket be?

The first thing to realize is that nothing is totally waterproof, and no jacket yet made will keep you totally dry all day on the bike. Yes, the fabric might be waterproof and you can watch water roll miraculously off fresh DWR coats or Gore One gear for an hour or more too. But rain will eventually soak up even the tightest sleeves and down the snuggest collars, at which point those wicking layers will spread it as fast as possible. 

However good the theoretical performance, lots of water/mud on the outside stops water ‘breathing out’ from the inside. Warmer days also reduce breathability rates and make you more likely to sweat on the inside too. This all means you will always get wet eventually, it’s just a question of how soon. 

What else should you look out for in the best MTB jackets?

There are loads of minimalist jackets for racers and roadies designed to tuck into pockets ‘just in case’ you need them. Superlight fabrics tend to be fragile though, so not good for crashing or charging through bushes. Then there are the mid-weight coats you can cram into (or strap onto) your best hydration pack and then the proper heavyweight 'I’m wearing this all day long' options. You know what suits you best and we’ve rated all the jackets here for how easy they are to stuff and carry.

The thinner the fabric, the more likely it is to tear if you hit the deck, so if you’re a regular diver, look for reinforced elbows and forearms. Bag straps can also wear out waterproof coatings, so if you’re doing big miles with a pack look for reinforced shoulders too. Otherwise all waterproof (DWR or Durable Water Repellency) coatings will degrade and wear off over time, so be ready to reproof them once they start wetting out.

There are a huge amount of extra features offered on jackets but don’t buy features you don’t need as they add cost, weight, and potential points of weakness. Hand warming pockets are great for coats you’ll use off the bike but useless on it. If you want a hood, do you want it to go under or over your helmet? Do you want big vents to blow hot air out on climbs or is a really well-fitted cuff that keeps your gloves dry too what you’ll really value on the vilest days? 

Finally, while you might get a bargain online and we’ll try and describe fit here as best we can, nothing matches actually trying a jacket on before you buy. Not just for sleeve and back length, but also whether it squeezes your forearm on descents and causes arm pump or the hood bangs against your helmet. 

Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect's technical editor-at-large. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg