The Best Men's MTB Jackets

We tested jackets from well-known companies and picked them according to their brand reputation, price, fabric, weight, and compressibility. The jackets ranged between $100 to $300 although price did not necessarily dictate an overall difference in quality. Fabric was either polyester or nylon and four of the five jackets had hoods. A premium was placed on comfort and effectiveness as it related to doing its job. All five in the test excelled in different areas, and any one of them would be a welcome addition on a cool, blustery, and possibly wet ride.

The Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody, though not necessarily known as a cycling-centric brand, edged out the Pearl Izumi MTB WRX by a mere point due to it testing better on breathability. The Specialized Deflect H20 Mountain Jacket, while certainly a solid piece, scored a touch lower in all categories despite being the most expensive. The Louis Garneau—our one hoodless jacket—while more broadly known as a road biking brand was a standout on comfort, while the Gore Element was a disappointment considering the price and brand reputation.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
90
Weathershedding 8
Breathability 8
Function 8
Fit/Comfort 8
Packability 9
Durability 9

Ultra-lightweight

Durable

Great breathability

Compressible

Limited pockets

Price

Hood doesn’t stow

MSRP
$159.00
BEST DEAL
Pearl Izumi MTB WRX
88
Weathershedding 9
Breathability 7
Function 8
Fit/Comfort 9
Packability 7
Durability 8

Great against wind & rain

Durable

Built in room at elbows for pads

No pockets

Doesn’t breathe as well

No reflective features

MSRP
$175.00
BEST DEAL
Louis Garneau Torrent RTR
87
Weathershedding 7
Breathability 8
Function 8
Fit/Comfort 9
Packability 8
Durability 7

Breathable

Reflective features

Packs into its back pocket

Stretchy fabric

Left-handed front zipper

Heavier rain soaked through

Marginal durability

MSRP
$189.99
BEST DEAL
Gore Element GT Paclite Jacket
85
Weathershedding 9
Breathability 7
Function 8
Fit/Comfort 7
Packability 7
Durability 7

Lightweight

Compressible

Great against the elements

Limited pockets

A little fragile

Doesn’t breathe as well as others in the test

Hood doesn’t pack

MSRP
$199.99
BEST DEAL
Specialized Deflect H2O Mountain Jacket
84
Weathershedding 8
Breathability 8
Function 7
Fit/Comfort 7
Packability 6
Durability 8

Great against elements

Durable

Built in room at elbows for pads

Several pocket options

Sizes large

Noisy fabric

Inner mesh lining stuck to skin

No reflective features

MSRP
$200.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody

The Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody wasn’t designed specifically for mountain biking but it fit the bill better than the other jackets in this test. It was the lightest jacket in the group and blended protection and breathability better than its competitors. The fit was a little more relaxed than riders in the test preferred but sizing down a notch offered a more athletic fit. Compressible fiber allowed for easy packing into a jersey pocket.

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Pearl Izumi MTB WRX

The Pearl Izumi MTB WRX Jacket is as durable and water resistant as any jacket in the test group but it didn’t breathe well, which left riders feeling sticky on climbs and chilled on descents. It is light and packs tightly, though not as well as the best in class piece. Riders preferred the semi-form fitting cut over other jackets in the test, due to its overall comfort and capacity to stretch without compromising movement or protection from elements.

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Louis Garneau Torrent RTR

The Louis Garneau Torrent RTR Jacket is clean and simple with excellent breathability and solid protection against the elements. It became a favorite in the test group, primarily due to its lightness and breathability, although it did not fair as well as others in providing protection from the rain. Riders preferred the RTR semi-form fitting cut over others in the test due to its overall comfort and capacity to stretch without compromising protection against the elements.

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Gore Element GT Paclite Jacket

The Gore Element GT Paclite Jacket was specifically designed for cyclists and it stacked up well against others in the test group. It was light and compressible, but riders felt it didn’t breathe as well as it should have for the price. Though not advertised as waterproof, it stood up to hard rain as if it were. The cut and fit were comfortable though a few features were less than ideal. Testers found it a little fragile when brushing past vegetation.

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Specialized Deflect H2O Mountain Jacket

The Specialized Deflect H2O Mountain Jacket performed admirably well against the elements without sacrificing breathability. It was durable, comfortable, and intelligently designed with ample pockets and a packable hood with a drawstring. The fit ran larger than riders preferred and the fabric (though functional), was noisy and a bit bulky. It was not the best overall performing jacket in the test but it was highly functional as an everyday shell across moderately cool to warm temperatures and weather.

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What Is A Mountain Biking Jacket?

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In the world of mountain biking, as with most things, taste and preference evolve with experience. As we tested mountain biking jackets we put experience at a premium by cramming as much riding in as possible, quickly developing strong opinions through a wet and cold late winter in Southern California.

The Most Common MTB Jacket: The Windbreaker

A windbreaker, which offers that extra layer of protection from the cold as well as some amount of precipitation, is a staple for any rider. But since rain and dirt and biking aren’t the best companions, many mountain bikers won’t invest in a solid windbreaker piece (much less a waterproof jacket), in the way their “roadie” counterparts do.

Windbreakers aren’t rain jackets that imprison body heat, move stiffly, and protect your body from all outside moisture. They are manufactured more as a shell that breathes well but can still cut cold air and wind, while effectively repelling most forms of water like fog, mist, light rain, and in some cases even heavy downpours.

MTB Jacket Trends

Riders in the test group noticed several trends from these pieces. From a functionality perspective there was a lack of pockets in all of the jackets except the Specialized Deflect, which had several intuitive pocket options. All the jackets tout an athletic, aerodynamic cut, which riders felt were more comfortable than older, baggier styles. Finally, hoods were a much debated topic among riders in the test. All but the Louis Garneau had hoods, and while the opinions varied on whether to go with or without a hood, the conclusion was if a jacket had a hood, it must have an option to stow within itself so as to avoid unwanted flapping in the wind when not in use.