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My primary goal for the summer was to dial in my riding kit to be as lightweight, compact, and as dependable as possible. One of the key pieces of gear that I had to revamp in my lineup was my rain jacket.

My previous rain jacket was dependable and durable, but it didn’t pack down at all–in fact, carrying that rain jacket around with me necessitates using a backpack, and the jacket almost takes up an entire pack. So, I got in touch with Nadine at Endura, and she recommended that I give the MTR Emergency Shell a try.

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Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Specs

The MTR Emergency Shell is made from 100% nylon and features a fully seam-sealed, totally waterproof construction. The fit is very trim, to keep from flapping in the wind when riding, and to use as little fabric as possible. The cuffs are stretchy and waterproof though, allowing them to go over something as large and bulky as a GPS wrist unit.

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Photo: Ben F.

Of course, the key is how packable and lightweight this jacket is. Thanks to a small strap behind the collar, this jacket can be rolled down tightly and secured with the strap, compressing the jacket into a ball that can easily be stuffed in a jersey pocket. Also, this shell doesn’t include a hood, which keeps it lighter and more packable.

I weighed this jacket at a mere 160g / 0.35lbs–it’s feathery-light!

It packs down into a small ball

It packs down into a small ball

Smaller than my hand

Smaller than my hand

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Out on the Trail

From the moment I rolled the shell into its small little ball, I knew that this was exactly the piece of gear I was looking for: lightweight and compact. But how would it handle the elements?

Over the course of a full summer of testing, I unfortunately didn’t get to test the jacket in a full-blown deluge–for which I’m actually pretty grateful. However, I have used it in sprinkles, moderate rain, and in cold temperatures as a warm layer.

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

In all of the wet weather conditions that I used the jacket in, it performed perfectly! All the water that hit the jacket beaded right up, and I have no doubt that in even heavier rain it would continue to do so. I’m still a little skeptical about weathering a severe storm without a hood, but as I reflected on past experiences, I realized that a hood rarely–if ever–stays in place when I’m riding with a helmet. Also, the name of this rain jacket is critical: “Emergency Shell.” This jacket isn’t designed for bikepacking in the backcountry for weeks on end, it’s designed to take care of you in an emergency situation–and it does just that.

Water beading

Water beading

More than for rain protection, I found myself using the MTR for warmth this summer. During the summer months, even above tree line on the Continental Divide the MTR was all I carried for additional layers. On one ride on the Monarch Crest in particular, the temps were in the low 50s for the entire ride, and we seemingly wove our way between storm clouds as the chilly wind battered us. I honestly didn’t plan as well as I should have, so aside from my short-sleeve bike jersey, I only had the MTR for warmth and as a shield from the elements. However, that was plenty of protection! I was warm and toasty the entire ride, and wouldn’t have used an additional layer, even if I’d brought it.

The one potential downside to using the MTR for warmth is the possibility of crashing while wearing it. The fabric, while waterproof and warm, is very thin to keep that weight down to 160g and the packed size as small as it is. I knew that if I was ever to crash hard while wearing the shell, that the outcome wouldn’t be good. And just the other day, I did just that: crashed hard on a jump while wearing the MTR. Honestly, it was one of the hardest crashes I’ve taken all year: I’m still stiff and bruised about a week later.

Despite the severity of the crash, the MTR held up reasonably well. Yes, I did tear a couple of holes in it, but after examining the holes, I think they are quite minimal, considering how hard I hit the ground and slid across the gravel.

hole 1

hole 2Evernote Camera Roll 20151026 162501

The moral of the story? Don’t crash when wearing expensive rain gear! But despite punching a few holes in this shell, I plan to patch them up, and keep using this jacket for–hopefully–years to come! The MTR is exactly what I was looking for, and it has exceeded my expectations!

MSRP: £89.99, approx. $138 USD

Thanks to Endura for providing the MTR Emergency Shell for review.

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