Scottish practical bike gear guru Endura has updated its sub-zero ride-ready Freezing Point jacket and gilet to make them tougher and more versatile without losing their thermal edge. So how do they stack up compared to the best MTB jackets when things start getting really cold?
Design and aesthetic
It doesn’t take long to realize that the Freezing Point is a lot more than just a puffa jacket you can pedal in. Yes, the front torso, sleeves, yoke and over-helmet hood all use Primaloft Gold Active insulation, but the twisting multi-panel cut and extended cuffs of the sleeves are clearly designed by riders who know exactly where the warmth is needed. The design uses the same wind and shower-proof front face fabric for the back of the jacket and the inside line of the sleeves too. However, the evolved Freezing Point II backs this face fabric with a honeycomb layer that’s both better wicking and insulating than the furry fleece finish of the original.
The dropped tail gets one-handed cord locks inside the massive mesh-backed front pockets. There are also very neat hidden cord lock loops for the hood inside the tall contrasting-color collar, which shares the same fast wicking/quick drying inner face as the back panel. The hood itself is big enough to pull over a helmet and comes with its own stiffened peak to keep the weather out.
Endura is clearly aware that this much thermal protection can soon become too much of a good thing on a maximum power climb or in changeable weather conditions though. The answer is to give the Freezing Point II jacket two-way zips that reach from halfway to the elbow to just above the hips so they work even if you’re using a backpack. These are particularly effective at spilling excess heat if you also open the massive chest-to-hip front pockets, which have full-length double-ended zippers so you can use them as vents without compromising the security of what’s in your pockets. While there are no rear pockets, you can easily get to any of your pockets on your jersey beneath via the same zips on the sides.
Because lofted jackets are normally fragile and unstable for backpacks, the MT500 II gets properly sticky silicon shoulder grippers to keep your straps up. The whole jacket gets a PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment for shrugging off showers too. Safety is enhanced with reflective tabs on cuffs, hood and tail, and they’re black in daylight so you can wear the Freezing Point as civvies without looking like a ‘ruddy cyclist’.
Not only is the Freezing Point II loaded with MTB/gravel friendly features but the fit has clearly been created by real riders (MT500 is Endura’s performance - rather than recreational - MTB family), not an algorithm based on armchair ‘athleisurists’. We’ve already mentioned how well-structured the sleeves are, but even with basically zero stretch in the materials, they stay close enough not to flap without constricting movement or being too tight for a mid-layer. The arms don’t pull up off your wrist and leave a cold gap even if you’ve got arms like a gibbon like me. While it’s something you might not think about, having warm arms makes an amazing difference to how hot your hands stay and I found I could comfortably ‘under glove’ for maximum bike control even when the wind chill was well into the freezing zone.
The tall collar and long tail add welcome warmth when the weather really has you in its crosshairs. While we expected the lack of stow straps on the hood would cause irritating parachute problems, it’s chunky and structured enough to sit quietly behind your helmet even on long, too-fast-to-pedal descents. It doesn’t sound like you’re having a fight with a crisp packet every time you move either, and talking to long-term Freezing Point users, it’s not overly fragile if you put it through a bush or hit the deck. However, if you do trash it, Endura runs a ‘reasonable repair’ program.
Considering how warm it is, the jacket wicks surprisingly well so you can go harder for longer before you need to blast some cold air through the vents. When you do they’re super effective and very easy to regulate whether you’re just wanting a bit of air-con or you have everything open. Unlike a lot of designs, they still work really well with a backpack or waist pack on.
While - like most eco DWR coatings - the waterproofing doesn’t last long, it’s not a disaster in the wet either. The Primaloft still holds heat OK, dries fast when the rain stops (or overnight on multi-day rides) and it doesn’t brew up an evil stink like furrier fabrics such as Polartec Alpha can.
The hood is also a proper warmth and comfort multiplier if things really get grim or you’re just standing about after a ride feeling smug about how brave and adventurous you’ve been.
If you want a more packable option the £99.99 gilet doesn’t have sleeves or a hood but gets all the same body features for easily vented core warmth and it works great under a more waterproof shell or stowed in a pack just in case you have an incident or surprise big weather moment out on the hill.
As the name suggests, the Freezing Point II jacket is a niche item designed for comfort in properly extreme conditions. 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. The gilet is super versatile as an outer or mid-layer too and things we thought might be an issue didn’t actually bother us when riding.
Tech Specs: Endura MT500 Freezing Point II jacket and gilet
- Price: Jacket $199.99 / £159.99 , Gilet $169.99 / £99.99
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Colors: Black or Electric Blue