MUC-OFF WATERPROOF APPAREL REVIEW
Review by Robert Johnston
As the go-to bike wash brand for many, Muc-Off have earned their place in the home of many mountain bikers. Over the last few years they’ve been looking to capitalize on their dependable reputation by carrying their wet and muddy weather expertise to new categories, including the recent addition of an apparel line to protect your body from the muddy wrath of mother nature’s trails. We were given their waterproof mountain bike jacket and shorts to put to the test on the sloppy trails of the Scottish Spring, and now it’s time to share our findings.
Mountain Bike Jacket
Muc-Off designed their mountain bike jacket to offer the ultimate in protection from the harshest of weather conditions. Not satisfied with off-the-shelf material options, they opted to design their own proprietary M.O.D 94 3-layer waterproof and breathable fabric. This offers a 15k waterproof rating, with a 20k breathability rating to keep you comfortable when laying down the power and taped seams to prevent any leak-through. An engineered stretch in the fabric combines with an ergonomic fit to offer the important freedom of movement, and there’s a two-way YKK waterproof zipper to pull it together. There are 2 generous side pockets and a chest pocket, all featuring waterproof zips to keep your essential cargo safe from the rain. There’s a large hood designed to go over the helmet, which features 3-point adjustment to snug it down in windy conditions. This hood is attached to the jacket with poppers, allowing for removal if a hoodless jacket is preferred. Rounding out the features are the zippered underarm vents; soft collar lining; reflective graphics for night visibility and hook and loop arm patch. The Muc-Off mountain bike jacket is available in a choice of black or green in a wide XS-XXL size range, and retails for £174.99.
Mountain Bike Shorts
The Muc-Off mountain bike shorts are designed to resist the elements as you go about your life in the saddle. They are constructed from the same DWR-treated M.O.D 94 3-layer 15k waterproof and 20k breathable fabric, with a rear stretch panel to aid their flexibility as you pedal and a cut that should play nicely with knee pads. Keeping them comfortable and secure are the elastic hook and loop waist adjusters, with a zipped fly and double button/velcro combo up front to keep them together. There are two side pockets with YKK waterproof zippers, and a slide-in storage pocket designed for a mobile phone with a simple popper fastener. Unique to the Muc-Off shorts are the Molle webbing straps on the rear, which can be used to connect the Muc-Off Essentials case (available separately) to further boost their cargo carrying capacity. The same hook and loop patch system can be found on the right leg, offering some customization of the look. Muc-Off offers their mountain bike short in sizes XS-XXL in the same black or green colors as their jacket, with a retail price of £99.99.
At the discretion of the Muc-Off team, I ended up with a size larger for the jacket than I’d usually go for, and the larger of the two sizes I typically fall in between for the shorts. This had me concerned that I’d end up with an ultra-baggy nightmare, but the fit and materials used left me on the roomier end of perfect. The jacket is generously proportioned, with long sleeves with ample room for all but the burliest of arms, and enough length of the body to keep things covered when in the saddle. The body isn’t overly wide, keeping it safe from being a sail in the wind, but with enough “give” in the fabric that riders sitting on the larger end of the selected size should have enough flexibility to move unhindered. With the shorts cinched up to the absolute maximum, I was comfortable and secure, and there was enough room to fit my relatively large legs with a variety of different knee pads and ample length to remove any possibility of the dreaded gaper gap. The 3-layer materials used include a soft inner layer that feels comfortable against the skin, meaning you can happily wear the jacket with just a thin vest and the shorts without a liner. The hood is generously sized and usefully adjustable, and I forgot it was removable until writing this so clearly the poppers go about their job in silence. The pit vents are a little basic, and when opened the stiffness of the zip lets you feel them occasionally as you move, but they do the job at letting some heat out when needed.
As I write this, I’ve just finished cleaning up after a frankly apocalyptic ride. The kind of ride that has your buddies plucking excuses out of thin air, finding any reason to avoid putting on a brave face and getting out in it. This left me on my own in this instance, but undeterred I donned my Muc-Off apparel and went for it. The forecast for the ride was one that made choosing the right outfit seemingly impossible, with gusty wind, “light rain showers”, and a 13 Celsius (55F) air temperature that would be boosted by occasional sunshine. I knew I’d be a fool not to equip myself with some serious waterproofing, as “light showers” in Scotland can be anything but light, but previous rides in the Muc-Off apparel had made me aware that it’s not an ultra-light, “barely there” outfit. Instead it provides some real weatherproofing and warmth, which isn’t often a positive thing for ride apparel in my eyes. I tend to run very much on the hot side and had sweated out the inside of the Muc-Off apparel on previous rides to the point that I ended up just as wet as if I’d not worn a waterproof. But this time round, with some legitimate rain falling sporadically and wind to keep out, it proved to be just the ticket with a thin mesh vest beneath. If you’ve ever been out in laughably wet and wild conditions but remained comfortable thanks to an appropriate outfit, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I was smug as I continued to lap the now deserted trails. Reaching an equilibrium where I was certainly sweaty inside (this would occur regardless of the outfit), but had sufficient weatherproofing and breathability to keep the cold out without the temperature inside getting unbearable, I was left to focus on the now loose and wild trails. This kept a huge smile on my face throughout the sun-cloud-downpour-sun cycle, and instantly validated the performance of Muc-Off’s kit.
It’s not perfect, though. The Muc-Off kit was regularly the wrong call for less wet and wild rides with air temperatures around the 13-16 Celsius (55-60F) mark, so it would be worth adding a lighter weight option to your wardrobe for keeping summer showers off. It’s not that the breathability is terrible – it’s fairly average – but the relatively thick 3-layer material has some insulating qualities that can’t be ignored. I have to point out the ridiculous patch concept they use for the “personalisation” of both items. It’s not like the patches are expensive, or that the performance is notably hindered by the presence of the thick velcro rectangles, but I just can’t wrap my head around how the idea was approved. It’s silly. The velcro used for these patches would have instead been more useful at the sleeve cuffs, where the absence of any way to cinch them down can let more wind and rain up the sleeves than I’d have liked. There’s a small portion of elastic on the cuff, but the opening is so large that I struggle to see who’s going to be filling it to the point that the elastic is useful.
I didn’t make use of the Molle webbing straps as I wasn’t provided with anything to attach to them, but they offer an interesting option for carrying lighter weight spares without having to deal with the extra strap of a fanny pack. For me on the lower limit of sizing, I’d be concerned about the ability to cinch the shorts down hard enough to take any extra load, but for most other riders this shouldn’t be an issue. The “phone pocket” on the outside of the short leg looks and feels like an afterthought, sticking out from the otherwise clean look of the shorts, and becoming wet through long before the rest of the shorts due to its non-waterproof material. Don’t get me wrong, it will accept most phones and hold them without much complaint, but I can’t help but feeling it should have been integrated a bit cleaner. The value proposition isn’t incredible for the unproven Muc-Off apparel, but it packs enough performance to match that price tag.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Outside of the summer heat, the Muc-Off mountain bike jacket and shorts provide a comfortable outfit to protect you from the wettest and wildest conditions mother earth can throw at you. There are a few design quirks that I didn’t love, but nothing that stopped me from throwing on the black and pink kit and getting after it.
Jacket – £174.99
Shorts – £99.99