ENDURA MT500 WATERPROOF JACKET & SHORTS REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam Lievesley
Mountain biking in Scotland outside of summer requires a special breed of human. Temperatures will hang around freezing for months on end over the Winter, and though it may not rain every day, it sure can feel like it does. The trails don’t typically lose their saturation until Spring either, meaning that you get wet regardless of what’s happening above you. This means that waterproofs are a necessity, and good ones at that. Scotland-based apparel brand Endura has used these testing conditions to their advantage, crafting a range of waterproof apparel that has left us very impressed. Read on to find out why we liked the Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket and Shorts so much.
MT500 WATERPROOF JACKET II
Endura’s flagship waterproof mountain bike jacket, the MT500 Waterproof Jacket II, is designed to make mountain biking in the most testing conditions pleasurable. Endura uses their ExoShell40DR 3-layer fabric for this jacket, which packs impressive class-leading 40k ( 40,000g/m²/24hr) breathability with 20k ( 20,000g/m²/24hr) waterproofing, and is designed to be extra-durable for a tough life in the mountains. This should ensure great waterproofing in the heaviest of rain, without giving the dreaded “plastic bag” feeling inside. This fabric is MadeKind certified, with no toxic PFC’s, and is given an environmentally-friendly DWR coating to further aid in keeping the water off.
The jacket is cut for life on the bike, with generous sleeve length and a long body with a dropped tail. There are internal toggles to cinch down the jacket body, and velcro adjusters on the sleeves. There are two long pockets on the front with two-way waterproof zippers, which double up as front vents when opened. A further internal pocket plus lift pass pocket on the wrist and eyewear wipe add further bike functionality. The flanks are given long underarm vents too, which are designed to retain breathability with a pack on. There’s stretch panels built in around the shoulders to ensure free movement, and silicon grippers to keep pack straps stuck in place when things get wet. The front zipper is waterproof and further protected by a storm flap, and extends up high enough to tuck your chin in for true weather protection. The hood is extra large to fully cover a trail lid, with a flap over the brow to keep rain off the face and 3D adjustment to tailor it to a helmet or bare head. The Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II is available in 7 mens colors in a huge XS-XXXL size range, or 3 womens colors in XS-XXL, with a retail price of £229.99/$329.99. As with all of the Endura MT500 line, there’s a 90 day satisfaction guarantee, where you can get your money back if you’re not satisfied with the performance.
MT500 WATERPROOF SHORT II
Designed to be the perfect accompaniment to the MT500 Waterproof Jacket, the MT500 Waterproof Short II is made with the same ExoShell40DR 3-layer waterproof fabric as the jacket, with the durability further bolstered by an extra durable seat panel and the same non-toxic DWR coating applied. This waterproof baggy short is cut for wet conditions in the saddle, with a pre-shaped fit and stretch panels incorporated to ensure restriction-free pedaling. The short is extra-long to ensure there’s no chance of pad-gap, with a slightly roomier fit than the non-waterproof counterparts to allow for a thermal layer underneath and to further improve movement.
There are two water resistant hand pockets to carry the essentials, and Clickfast poppers within to accept their liner shorts. The waistband is elasticated, with belt loops to give the most secure adjustment in wet conditions, and a zipped fly and popper. The MT500 Waterproof Short II is available in Black or Nutmeg colorways in sizes S-XXL, with a retail price of £99.99/$139.99.
The MT500 Waterproof Jacket was impressive from the get-go, for both testers – Robert and Dario – in far separated testing grounds (Tweed Valley, Scotland vs Bellingham, Washington) though similar climates. Wet. Both are on the large end of a size large jacket normally, though with slightly different builds it’s reassuring that both found the jacket a very good fit. The body is middling in size, with enough room to fit a layer or two beneath but no issues with being overly large and baggy. The sleeves are generous and had both of their disproportionately long arms covered, and the body is long enough to cover things comfortably when seated. The slight stretch built in around the shoulders meant there was never a hint of restriction, and the internal toggles did a good job at cinching the body down to keep the worst of storms out and the jacket firmly in place.
The hood was one of the most enjoyed parts of the Endura jacket. Its size allowed it to easily fit over a variety of trail lids, with enough overhang from the brim to keep rain off the face on the climbs. The toggles allow for the hood to be cinched tight to a helmet, or shrunk down to sit on a bare head comfortably. When the front zipper was fully done up, the soft cloth section around the chin was appreciated and kept things comfortable and free from irritation when trying to hide from the elements inside the jacket. Though neither testers opt to run a pack for the majority of their ride time, when there was no alternative the silicon grippers made a notable improvement to the “stick” of the bag straps, removing the need to cinch them down ultra tight to keep the bag in place. When using the chest zippers for their primary purpose – storing items – their size and volume proved to be very useful, fitting in a whole range of items from gloves and a map to a full size burrito.
Though even a 40k breathability rating isn’t perfect, the ExoShell40DR manages heat and moisture buildup very well, only faltering when things really heat up inside or when the jacket outer is saturated. It wasn’t until temperatures around the 15 degree celsius mark (60F) that the heat was notably uncomfortable. The DWR coating does a great job at preventing moisture sticking to the fabric, but did lose effectiveness on Robert’s jacket after a decent and arduous testing period, requiring re-treatment to prevent the fabric surface wetting-out. The most impressive thing here though was how resistant the MT500 Jacket was to letting water through, long after this DWR coating had worn out. Reproofing quickly had the MT500 back to its initial glory, but Robert was quite happy running the jacket prior to the retreatment, only relying slightly more on the generous and very effective venting offered by the chest and flank zippers. The chest provided a more obvious and immediate ingress of air to the jacket, but it was when teamed up with the flank vents that the air flow was exceptional, though the waterproofing suffers when they’re open as you may expect.
Durability of the MT500 jacket has proved to be excellent, fending off countless brushes with trees and bush, a few spills, and ride after ride in abrasive muddy conditions without showing much hurt. The zippers eventually got rough and sticky from the grit, but a good clean and wax had them running smooth in no time. Judging by the performance over an extended test period, the MT500 Waterproof Jacket II will provide stellar performance for the long haul, and so the only negative either tester could really find was the relatively high price. But in this case, you really get what you pay for, and then some. If you regularly ride in terrible weather, this is a fantastic option to add to your wardrobe.
The MT500 jacket has your torso covered, but there’s still your lower half to worry about. The MT500 Waterproof Shorts II unsurprisingly pack many of the same excellent performance characteristics as the jacket, from their durability to their impressive breathability and waterproofing. However, there’s one thing we don’t like, which we’ll get on to…
The cut of the MT500 Waterproof shorts is a little baggier than the MT500 Spray or standard shorts like the Singletrack, but not to the extent of being problematic. This aids in their maneuverability, which when combined with the stretch paneling makes the shorts impressively free from restriction, especially given their ability to protect from the elements. The leg length is exceptionally long, coming down over the knee cap to ensure there’s no chance of any pad gap, and preventing rain from above from hitting your knee and rolling down your leg. The elasticated waist doesn’t quite have the staying power for riders who are below the maximum threshold for sizing, so you’ll likely need to make use of the belt loops to keep them up, but this is very smart for riding in the wettest and wildest conditions. Velcro can saturate and lose its sticking power in the most crazy conditions, so the belt loops are a more reliable solution here that we’re on board with.
What don’t we like? Well, aside from the classic waterproof “rustle” as you pedal, which isn’t as bad as we’ve experienced but certainly notable, there’s the biggest question we have: Why would you not go for their full length equivalent? After all, the shorts provide the biggest benefit when things are extra wet, and so the bottom half of your knee pads, your calves and your ankles will get wet and uncomfortable. On one notable ride, Robert was comfortable, warm and dry all over, aside from ice-cold shins that were bad enough to detract from the ride experience. The conditions on this ride were truly horrific, but it stands to reason that the full-length MT500 Waterproof Pant would have been the ticket here. If you understand why the shorts are the way to go in the wet, then this Endura offering will likely serve you very well as the cut and the fabric is excellent, but we’d rather take the full-lengther.
The Wolf’s Last Word
You can tell that Endura is based in an area where waterproofs need to be taken seriously, as there’s no messing around with their MT500 Waterproof Jacket and Short combination. The waterproofing is outstanding, the cut tailored well to wet weather riding, and they breathe well enough to keep things comfortable up to mild temperatures. They’re made well, with tough materials that have fended off spills, scuffs and abrasive gritty mud on the saddle impressively too. The jacket is not cheap, but the Endura kit is in it for the long haul and seems like great value when you’re comfortable in the worst conditions for ride after ride. We’d choose the Waterproof Pants, though.
MT500 Waterproof Jacket: £229.99 / $329.99 / € 269.99
MT500 Waterproof Shorts – £99.99 / $139.99 / €119.99
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