4 Hard Shell, Waterproof MTB Jackets Tested

If your trusty rain shell is no longer blocking the wet stuff, have a look at these possible replacements. We understand that jackets are a piece of gear that could be with you for a long while, they are expensive, and no one wants to be wasteful when purchasing gear made of petroleum. With that in mind, we’ve carefully selected some of the best options for your consideration.

Dainese HG Harashimaya

A few of the jackets in this roundup are hyper tech-focused, while others are a bit simpler and more straightforward. The HG Harashimaya rain jacket is covered in well-designed ways to provide airflow and comfort while keeping the elements out. Both of the chest pockets open up to mesh lining, and a pair of zippered armpit vents help the laser-cut underarm holes to keep you cooler in the creases.

I received this jacket in the summertime, and have been wearing it on cold night rides this fall. The HG Harashimaya offers a nice amount of warmth while pedaling through cooler temps of 35-50° F, and there’s space inside for a few warmer layers. I hose-tested the jacket’s waterproof-ness and my jersey remained dry despite my best efforts to get soaked. The inner waterproof layer is a shiny nylon/elastane blend material that becomes a little clammy while riding. If you’re not wearing a long sleeve shirt underneath it tends to stick to sweaty skin, and can become uncomfortable.

On the fit front, this rain shell has a somewhat tight, or “athletic” cut. I always wear a size small top, and this small fits perfectly. If you prefer a looser fit to make space for back protection, or want to layer more heavily, consider buying a size larger than your usual. The hood, cuffs, and waist can all be tightened with drawstrings, allowing for custom coverage that should work well in all cold conditions.

  • Price $249, €219 (available from Amazon)
  • Weight: 311g
  • Three pockets
  • Materials: 50% polyester and 50% polyurethane outer, 84% nylon and 16% elastane lining
  • Water column: 10,000mm
  • Adjustable wrist cuffs, waist, and non-removable under-helmet hood
  • Zippered armpit vents

All of those snacks have to go somewhere, right? The HG Harashimaya has two awkwardly high, hand-size pockets and a large zippered rear pouch that’s large enough to fit a paperback book inside. The chest pockets are placed so that your hands will be over your pectorals, and they seem more useful for ventilation and small snack packing than hand warming.

Lastly, the hood is not detachable, and unlike most of the competition, it’s designed to be worn under your helmet. Depending on how your helmet fits, this could be an important element to consider. I don’t have space between my helmet and head to fit the hood comfortably, so it’s only useful off the bike.

Drop tail keeps the soil out of your pants.

Endura MT500 Wateproof Jacket II

Reflective piping and strips abound.

The MT500 Waterproof Jacket II was revamped this fall with all of the best bells and whistles. With 36-inch-long vents that start at the armpit and extend to the lower torso, and a pair of hand-pockets that have 34″ integrated vent slots, there is no shortage of ventilation through this jacket. The liner material is less sweat-sticky than some, and the massive vents mitigate sweat well enough.

In terms of waterproof capabilities, there are few other options I would consider for cold weather rides. I wore the MT500 II while covering an EWS race on the frigid slopes in Zermatt, Switzerland this season, and I was the warmest rider on the trail by a long shot. The vent zips allowed me to regulate my temperature and to keep from sweating while the burly waterproof layers kept my core warm and free of external fluids. The hood can be cinched tight over a helmet and I am able to situate it far enough back that it doesn’t block my peripheral vision while the fortified bill keeps my head dry. Standing on a ski slope shooting race photos in rain that’s on the cusp of snow would be a harsh test for any rain jacket, and this one performed impressively.

The MT500 II fits on the looser side, but not so loose that the fabric will catch on the saddle or trailside plants. There’s ample room to layer up underneath. I have even worn a puffy jacket under this when headed to check out stars on an alpine night ride. The waist, hood, and sleeve openings are all adjustable to your desired fit.

  • Price: $329.99. €269.99 (available at Backcountry and other online retailers)
  • Weight: 470g
  • Three pockets
  • Main material: EXOSHELL40DR™
  • Three-layer waterproof fabric
  • Fixed, adjustable, over-helmet hood
  • Left wrist lift pass pocket

This isn’t the most packable jacket, and it’s not intended to be. It feels decidedly durable, with silicone grippers on the elbows and external fabric that will undoubtedly withstand a few dirt-naps. It’s for rides that start and finish with splashing puddles. While not the least expensive option here, the MT500 II is one of the best layers for folks who like to — or have to — ride in the rain.

Pearl Izumi Vortex WxB Hooded Jacket

photo: Leah Barber

The $300 Pearl Izumi Vortex WxB Hooded Jacket is designed like a fortress against outside moisture. The jacket features three layer construction, fully taped seams, and waterproof zippers to keep rain and spray at bay. According to Pearl Izumi, the majority of the fabric used is made from recycled material, which is a nice touch.

Starting at the top, there’s a helmet-compatible hood for days when dryness and heat management are crucial. The hood includes an elastic cincher to keep it from flapping in the wind, good side coverage, and a bit of a brimmed visor to minimize exposure.

At the front, the main zipper is chunky and robust, and is said to be waterproof as well. Pulls at the top and bottom make it easy to vent from both the neck and the bottom to regulate temperature. Two zippered vents on the sides can be opened as well for additional air flow. The Vortex WxB boasts a 10k/25k waterproof/breathability rating so even fully zipped, it does offer a measure of air flow through the fabric itself.

Velcro wrist closures provide a tight barrier against gale-force winds. In the back, there’s a zippered pocket for stashing small items and a stretchy, drop tail for keeping butts dryish. Reflective details can be found on the front and back of the jacket for maximum visibility.

  • Price: $300 (available at Amazon and Performance Bike)
  • Weight: 340g (size large)
  • One rear pocket
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Three layer construction

I’m 6’3″ tall and weigh about 160lbs, and the size large is a good fit for me. Overall the jacket has a fit that moves well on the bike. At 340g for my test sample, this is a stout jacket that unfortunately is not packable. The Pearl Izumi Vortex WxB Hooded Jacket is offered in the Pine/Grass color shown and also Black/Turbulence, and in sizes small through extra, extra large.

photo: Leah Barber

Showers Pass Elements Jacket

Last only by alphabetical proximity, the Showers Pass Elements Jacket is a new model from the Portland-based brand that will compete with the performance and durability of the MT500 above. The pair of hand warming pockets are zipped alongside two 34-inch-long vents for ample ventilation, and the material itself is more breathable than a lot of similar rain shells.

With reinforced shoulders and sturdy external fabric, the Elements jacket should hold up as long as any of the competition. While it is warm and dry inside, the internal fabric feels better than most against the skin, opening it up to rides when you just need a short sleeve jersey beneath. The hood fits nicely over a half shell helmet, and like the MT500, it can be cinched back out of the rider’s field of view. The hood is also removable, and there’s a pouch inside the jacket to keep track of it. This is a welcomed feature, as it’s a rare case when I need to use the hood on a riding jacket.

The Elements jacket has a comfortable amount of space underneath, with room for a few layers and a back protector when necessary. The sleeves are long and can easily overlap glove cuffs when it’s really raining hard. The front hem is just the right height for my torso, and taller riders with long torsos might want to size up with this jacket for ample coverage.

  • Price: $199 / €171.36 (available at REI and other online retailers)
  • Weight: 447g
  • Three pockets
  • Two-point-five layer waterproof fabric
  • Removable, adjustable, over-helmet hood
  • Internal pocket with media port

Both of the hand pockets are mesh-lined to increase air flow, and the waterproof chest pocket is accessed internally to keep your media devices dry and functioning. Given the price, build quality, and timeless aesthetic, this jacket would be toward the top of my winter gear list. It’s comfortable, warm, and should last through multiple seasons of wet fun.

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