Canyon’s Softshell jacket is part of Canyon’s Defend range, aimed at countering cold weather and adverse conditions when riding. While many riders will reach for a hardshell when the weather is less than ideal, at Bike Perfect we often choose a softshell when we are in need of the best MTB jacket.
Softshell jackets have a number of advantages over hard shells, namely breathability, durability, and comfort. These days softshells are often as weather-resistant as hard shells too. I have been heading out into the grimness of winter to find out whether Canyon’s Softshell will be our new go-to riding jacket.
Canyon’s Softshell jacket uses technical fabric which uses a Hydrophilic TPU membrane to keep the weather on the outside. On the inside, there is lined with a soft fleece texture for warmth and comfort against your skin. There's a full-length storm flap behind the zip to make sure drafts are kept out. There are two zipped hand pockets for storing things and keeping hands cozy.
The fit is a balance between on and off the bike, which probably explains why Canyon choose to size the hood for a head, rather than over the top of a helmet like more MTB-specific jackets. The softshell material is a bit bulky for the hood to be worn under a helmet too. There are two elastic drawstrings to cinch the hood in for a better fit around the head. Tucked into the back of the neck is a built-in face mask, which can be pulled over your head to give more face protection on colder or windier days.
Branding is kept to a minimum helping the jacket further fly under the radar as a MTB jacket. There's a small Canyon logo on the back and a tiny fabric tag on the bottom of the hem. Canyon does a decent spread of sizes of the Softshell jacket from S to 2XL and it comes in one color, black.
This jacket is seriously warm, I was riding in snow storms with just a base layer and a thin long-sleeve jersey very comfortably. It didn't seem to make much difference if it was pouring rain either, as the unpleasantries stayed on the outside even if I was out all day in the rain, grit, and grime. Any temperatures over about five degrees though and you will start to feel the heat if you are climbing under your own steam.
Speaking of steam, the jacket isn't as breathable as I would expect for a softshell. There aren't any vents or options to unzip from the bottom so it would get quite humid inside. Keep heart rates down though and this wasn't so much of an issue, which meant I gravitated towards this jacket when heading out on wintery e-MTB rides where efforts can be better managed.
The boxy fit is a bit basic but certainly leaves plenty of space underneath for additional layering and the heavy material cuts down on any annoying flapping while riding. The material has a decent amount of stretch so I didn’t experience any binding or restrictions to movement. Along with the boxy fit, it's quite long as well which can cause the stout material to bulge on the front although it didn't bother me when I was riding. The material means it's a heavy garment, with most jackets coming in well under 500g the Canyon Softshell weighs in at 634g. That's before it gets wet, and the ability of the material to hold on to moisture when it’s very wet out significantly amplifies the weight when it's raining.
The basic elasticated cuffs work well with thicker gloves although they will leave a gap when worn with lighter lower-cuffed mitts. Generally, though the sheer warmth of the jacket meant I was only wearing it on proper cold days when my fingers needed proper insulation.
The hood isn’t really big enough to comfortably fit over a helmet, which leaves it a bit redundant when riding. That is until I realized I could use it to hide my goggles to keep them clean on the climb. The built-in face mask is also a bit useless as you need to remove your helmet, and eyewear, and unzip the jacket to pull it over your head and onto your face, not really something you want to do in poor weather.
The Canyon Softshell jacket has a lot of weak points, but when the temperatures drop low this jacket really comes into its own. It's very warm and has plenty of space underneath for layering too if you need more insulation. I was very surprised at its weatherproofing too. While water doesn't bead off as well as it would on a hardshell, water never seemed to find its way through despite some particularly Scottish wintery riding conditions.
While this jacket would be a go-to for rides where warmth is of utmost importance such as winter e-MTB rides or uplift lines, it's not the jacket I would opt for on rides where I'm likely to generate my own heat. Although softshell materials generally breathe well, the amount of warmth this jacket offers means things can get very hot very quickly when you're working hard. Plus, the weight will be a disadvantage on climbs too, especially when wet.
The Canyon Softshell jacket is available direct from Canyon at Canyon.com.
Tech specs: Canyon Softshell jacket
- Price: $NA / £99.95
- Weight: 634g (M)
- Sizes: S-2XL
- Colors: Black
- Materials: 96% Polyester 4% Elastane