The best MTB jackets work harder than the road cycling equivalent. 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. It's easy to 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 still need to keep you warm and dry no matter the weather.
Thankfully the latest crop of the best MTB jackets has addressed all of these challenges and more. Made from high-tech materials and featuring neat additions like hidden pockets and the ability to roll up and be stashed away, jackets have never been better.
The following are the best MTB jackets that we have personally ridden and tested. At the bottom, we'll walk you through how to choose the best MTB jacket so you can gear up as the weather starts to turn.
Best MTB jackets
The Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Hybrid Hooded jacket is a long name but nods to the highly technical nature of this jacket. Gore-Tex Active fabric is attached to the shoulders, outer arms and tail with Windstopper body and inside arm panels. This creates waterproof protection while still remaining breathable. Our test found that this jacket is among the best in class for breathability.
The multi-panel cut leads to a slim fit that doesn't compromise mobility. A boxy hood is the only glitch we found on this garment. The combination of technical fabrics and overall multi-condition wearability leads us to feel that this jacket is worth the steeper price.
Be sure to check out our Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Hybrid Hooded jacket review for more details.
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 review.
The Trail Series is Specialized's foul weather range of clothing, and this rain jacket is the flagship piece. The brand goes all-out with fabric selection here bringing in Polartec’s Neoshell for this jacket. Neoshell is unique in that its membrane mostly consists of air, so hot air can escape much more rapidly than with other materials and jackets.
The cut leads to great protection and coverage, including over the hips, and the jacket features a large enough hood to pull over a helmet. The woven fabric is quieter, softer and tougher than most shells, and the breathability really leads to greater comfort when wet or damp compared to rivals.
Guy Kesteven endured the winter Yorkshire miles to put the Specialized Trail Series Rain Jacket to the real test.
Muc-Off's Technical Riders 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 Technical Riders Jacket, check it out for full details.
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.
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.
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 recently evolved 2nd generation Guardian uses Gore-Tex Active shell with minimal width seam tapes for excellent breathability. 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.
The 3-layer fabric is still day-in-day-out tough though, and the more you wear it, the more you’ll appreciate the subtle cut and shaping details such as the scooped and elasticated cuffs, dropped hem and full coverage, but not intrusive under helmet hood. Even the torso pockets wrap around your ribs for stability rather than dangling onto your knees, making them far more useful than most. It’s impressively light at just 250g too and packs down to a water bottle size for relatively easy stashing. The cut isn’t so close it looks weird off the bike, which is a good thing, as the price means you’ll want to wear it at every opportunity to get your money’s worth.
Altura has been a favorite cost-effective brand for over 22 years and always scores for solid practical performance with an impressive feature list.
The Nightvision Hurricane sits at the top of the Nightvision range, which is actually designed for bike commuters. However, the waterproof nature of the jacket makes it great for MTB as well.
It starts with an iridescent reflective print detail and printed reflective panels so you are visible to others on the trail or on the road. The fully waterproof jacket features taped seams so that no water will enter the shell. A removable hood and side wind flap also add additional coverage from the elements.
Ventilation is taken care of by the brand's 'in pocket' airflow system, which is designed to keep riders cool when the pace picks up. The jacket is designed to look good on and off the bike so this is a truly versatile shell. The Nightvision range also features jackets at other price points so you can find a jacket that works for your budget.
Sometimes the rain is totally unavoidable, and that's where Pearl Izumi's Summit WXB jacket comes into its own. Made from PI's Elite EXB 2.5 layer fabric, the jacket has fully taped seams, a 10k waterproof waiting, and 30kWVT. Quite often the DWR treatments used on the face fabric of jackets are an environmental disaster, which is why Pearl Izumi has opted for a planet-friendly C6 water-resistant DWR that causes precipitation to bead and roll off. The hood has a three-fit design that has ample room to engulf a helmet, but can be adjusted for use without headgear, or stowed in the collar so it's not flapping when not in use. The front sees a two-way YKK watertight zipper, which combined with pit-zips means you can dump heat on a grinding climb. Two hand pockets can be used for storage or additional venting, and the tailoring doesn't scream bike nerd, so it can be worn to the shops or pub too.
Sometimes you have to look outside the obvious options to find the right kit, but even we were cynical when this bombproof foresters jacket turned up for testing. In normal trail use the BreatheDry fabric heats up fast when you hit a climb so you’ll need to open the pit zips early to try and stay dry inside. It’s relatively stiff and noisy and the super tall neck can feel awkward on the back of your helmet. The tunnel pocket across the front can’t be used when pedaling either. If you’re a gravity-focused rider pushing up a climb or taking an uplift though, the limited breathability isn’t an issue.
The fact that rain, wind, snow or whatever bounces off all day long to keep you warm and dry is awesome though. The tall neck and long cowled cuffs with soft inner sleeves and an extended tail stop draughts and drips and the detachable hood designed for a tree surgeon’s helmet will swallow a full-face fine. Even that barrel pocket comes into its own when you stuff cold hands together inside it to warm up, and the big chest pocket will take a phone and essentials without getting in the way. Add the survivability of the fabric if you hit the deck and it’s become our go-to jacket for gravity sessions and its longevity makes it a black run bargain too.
How to choose the best MTB jacket
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 it’s not 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. 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. 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 though, 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 air conditioning 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 no waterproof 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. Rain will eventually soak up even the tightest sleeves and down the snuggest collars though, 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?
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.