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.
Our expert reviewers have put a selection of MTB jackets through all kinds of weather to come up with our pick of the best. Our top jacket is the Endura MT500 II with excellent fit and breathability, and our budget choice is the Specialized Trail Rain jacket which provides simple but really effective waterproofing.
Keep reading for the rest of our recommendations, and if you need more help in what to look for, skip to the bottom for our guide to how to choose the best MTB jackets. If you're looking for a jacket for mountain biking that's super affordable, check out our best budget waterproof MTB jacket guide too.
The quick list
Best MTB jacket overall
Excellent fit with exceptional breathability, enchanced by extensive venting.
Best value MTB jacket
A comfortable, versatile and reasonably priced jacket with good waterproofing.
Best premium MTB jacket
All-purpose, all-weather shell with a smart cut and excellent breathability.
Best lightweight MTB jacket
A good-looking, comfortable jacket for serious weather riding.
Best breathable MTB jacket
The ideal balance of wind and water protection and breathable comfort.
Best eco materials
Best MTB jacket for eco materials
Versatile, comfortable and high performance pullover jacket made from recycled material.
See the next 2 MTB jackets ↓
Best all-weather MTB jacket
A good-looking and versatile trail jacket for foul-weather riding.
Best MTB jacket for insulation
Offering day-long comfort on the coldest days, with insulation and excellent ventilation.
Best MTB jackets
Why trust BikePerfect
1. Best overall
The Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II 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. We found that gives more cooling flow through than any other jacket we’ve used which really helped control temperature and speed up drying on extended exertions.
The soft fabric doesn’t rustle or crinkle and stretch panels gave a barely-there feel when we were 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.
In his review Guy Kesteven reported that, "The tougher fabric still breathes well and Endura’s performance management and practical life features are best in class."
For more details on this revamped wet weather classic, read our Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II review.
2. Best value
Specialized has done away with its more premium waterproof jackets and replaced them with some far more affordable options. While the new jackets don't feature the fancy Polertec Neoshell materials, they are considerably more lightweight and packable.
In our test rides, we found the jacket's 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.
Guy Kesteven endured the winter Yorkshire miles to put Specialized's jacket to the real test. He concluded: "If I’m totally honest I was just expecting the Specialized Trail Rain jacket to be another example of why I always tell people to get softshells not ‘waterproofs’. The fact it’s kept me dry in serious prolonged rain got my attention though and it does it without feeling/sounding/breathing like a plastic bag. The styling adds versatility too and this all makes the price seem like a bargain compared to more expensive, more disappointing jackets."
Find out more in our full Specialized Trail Rain Jacket review.
3. Best premium
Rab has put its best-selling outdoor tech to good use to create this super-breathable, comfortable bike-specific jacket. The Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket uses Rab's Proflex fabric with a DWR treatment, which Rab says gives the comfort of a softshell with the waterproof protection of a hardshell.
The jacket's bike-specific fit means it has a longer back and pre-articulated arms for easy movement, extended cuffs, and a silicon gripper on the hem and single-sided adjuster cord to prevent it riding up. The hood fits over a helmet and has a stiffened peak, plus there's a single pull volume reducer that closes it down around your lid.
In our tests the Cinder Kinetic coped impressively well with a lot of serious downpours, and the DWR coating is still going strong after a couple of months of regular use. The jacket dries quickly too and windproofing is excellent.
Most importantly, we found the Kinetic has excellent breathability, making it a really versatile jacket for a wide range of conditions. Our reviewer Guy Kesteven said: "It became my favorite shell jacket for everything from mountain biking to going the shops."
Find our more in our full Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket review.
4. Best lightweight
If you haven't heard of Albion, there's only two things you really need to know. It makes performance riding gear and is very pessimistic about the weather. That means its clothing range is focused on keeping you riding no matter how grim it gets outside.
Albion is better known for its 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 its main fabric, giving it excellent waterproofing and a nice soft finish. It's also breathable and if you do start getting too hot, the double zip means hot air can easily be dumped out while riding.
The jacket is finished with a generous helmet-accommodating hood, plenty of draught-excluding drawstrings, and two hand pockets. We think its subtle black finish looks great, although it comes in a very loud orange option too.
We found the Zoa had an excellent fit and held out against heavy rain storms for a commendable amount of time. Our reviewer Graham Cottingham reported: "Albion’s Zoa Rain shell is a very well-fitting, good-looking jacket, and all the draw cords around the hems and the cuffs are well thought out and neatly executed for you to batten down the hatches when the worst of the weather is coming down."
Get a bigger version of our verdict on the Albion Zoa Rain Shell jacket in our review.
5. Best breathable
In the Lupra Gorewear has created a jacket that balances the needs of the trail rider, combining wind and weatherproofing with excellent breathability.
Designed for demanding trail conditions, the Lupra is constructed with wind and light rain protection at the front and a breathable, quick-drying stretch material at the back, hips and underarms for maximum freedom of movement. The cut is excellent with articulated arms, a long back and a generous hood that fits over a helmet.
In our tests we found the Lupra a quiet delight to ride in, with the range of movement so effective we put it on and forgot it was there. The adjustable drawcords either side of the long drop tail meant it remained protectively in position throughout the ride, a great feature which we now don't want to be without.
The wind and water-resistant material at the front proved a solid protection against everything but the very worst downpour. Our reviewer Russell Burton summed up: "The Gore Lupra is an impeccable combination of on-point fit and highly specified materials. The balance between weatherproof protection and non-sweaty comfort is so good that it has become my go-to for transition season riding."
For more info, read our full Gorewear Lupra Jacket review.
6. Best eco materials
Patagonia's Dirt Roamer Storm is a waterproof pullover style jacket, designed to be comfortable and easily packable.
Made from Patagonia's H2No fabric, the jacket is waterproof, breathable, stretchy and recycled, and on the inside a soft, wicking knit prevents clamminess. The three-quarter length front zipper can be opened from the bottom for additional venting, and there are side zippers to ease putting the jacket on and off. The hood fits over a helmet, with single pull adjustment, and the whole jacket stows away into the rear pocket.
Despite our initial resistance to a pullover style, the Dirt Roamer Storm became a regular companion. We found the soft inside gave a good next-to-skin feel if it's warm enough for short sleeves underneath, and the front and side zips gave plenty of options for shedding heat.
We found the cut excellent, with shaped sleeves and a good amount of room through the shoulders, and the waterproof fabric, over-helmet hood and long back hem kept us covered and dry.
Our reviewer Russell Burton summed up: "Versatile, comfortable and high performance, in the Dirt Roamer Storm Jacket Patagonia really has created a pullover style that works."
Find out more in our full Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm Jacket review.
7. Best all-weather
Rapha's Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket uses the brand's Infinium material that's designed to be windproof and breathable across a broad range of temperatures, is DWR treated, and features mesh underarm panels for extra breathability and movement. Inside, the Infinium shell is backed with Gore-Tex's C-KNIT material which is comfortable next to the skin.
The adjustable hood fits over a helmet, and the jacket has a longer lower back for extra coverage, with two drawstrings along the hem to keep out draughts or spray. There's a robust YKK zipper, which only opens from the top, and two zipped chest pockets, although no hand pockets, which we missed.
We found the jacket a great fit with good length arms, although the body was a little on the long side which caused bulging when riding. Although Rapha only claims the jacket is water-resistant, we found the waterproofing excellent, even during some wet and windy winter conditions, with the hood giving great coverage too. Breathability was decent, although we would have liked a double zip to dump out heat on long ascents.
Our reviewer Graham Cottingham summed up: "Rapha’s Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket is an excellent choice for trail riding when the conditions are challenging. High-performance materials over-deliver on waterproof performance and it breathes well. The jacket's light weight means it folds down pretty small too."
For more info, check out our full Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket review.
8. Best insulation
Endura's MT500 Freezing Point Jacket II 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.
Our reviewer Guy Kesteven summed up: "Smart insulation placement, an excellent ventilation/heat management system, a proper cozy hood and boosted ambient breathability make it brilliant for cold, snowy or sub-zero wind chill days. It can handle a surprisingly high workload without getting sweaty so comfort doesn’t plummet if you stop pedaling during or after a ride."
Be sure to check out our Endura MT500 Freezing Point II review for more details.
How to choose the best MTB jackets
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 will get you a packable emergency shell and sub-$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 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.
How we test the best MTB jackets
Our expert testers have ridden these jackets in all kinds of weathers, thoroughly testing out their waterproofing and breathability. They've also been assessing their fit, comfort, hoods, storage pockets, weight and packability, durability, price and looks.
Meet the testers
Guy's been testing and writing about mountain bikes since the early nineties and knows what makes a MTB jacket a hit or a miss.
Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing.
Russell has been heavily involved in mountain biking for decades. As well as Bike Perfect he's shot and written for just about every British MTB mag and website in existence.