WATERPROOF MTB ONESIE GROUP REVIEW
4 OF THE BEST WATERPROOF ONESIES ON THE MARKET GO HEAD-TO-HEAD.
Words by Robert Johnston | Video Footage by Adam McGuire // McGuire Visuals | Photos by Ian Linton
When winter hits, riding motivation tends to drop for the majority of riders. From the reduced temperatures to the rivers running down the trails, and then the arduous clean-up mission following a ride of any length, winter surely challenges the commitment and mettle of riders around the globe. Waterproof riding gear is essential for a solid half of the year in Scotland, and quality waterproofs make a huge difference to rider comfort when grinding out the miles in the darker months of the year. A separate riding jacket and pants do a fairly good job at keeping you protected, but you’ll inevitably end up with mud down your waistband and water getting through the cracks when the weather is truly miserable. Instead, the ultimate in adverse weather performance is provided by the Waterproof Onesie.
First pioneered by Dirtlej with their Dirt Suit range, an increasing number of offerings are popping up to give riders less excuses to bail on the ride when the weather is less than ideal. I’ve been putting four of the best offerings to the test over the Scottish winter, and it’s safe to say that I’ve been very grateful to have them in my kit bag, improving my comfort on the worst days and regularly leaving me smug while others suffer. Let me talk through these options and help you figure out which Waterproof Onesie to buy.
DIRTSUIT CORE EDITION
Material: Dirtlej 3-layer, C6 Short-chain DWR
Waterproof Rating: 18k
Breathability Rating: 15k
Pockets: 1x chest; 2x thigh; 2x butt
Vents: 2x flank; 2x torso; 2x leg; 1x back
Removable Leg: Yes
Hood: Stowable, Three toggles
Adjustment: Velcro Waist, Cuffs
Stretch Panels: Back Panel
Size Range: S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL
Weight: 1,320g (L)
Price: £310 / $390
Color Options: Black, Sand, Blue
As the original pioneers of the mountain bike waterproof onesie, or the dirt suit as they call it, we’ve got to thank Dirtlej for bringing this concept to market and making mountain biking in the least pleasant conditions more enjoyable. The Dirtsuit Core Edition is their durable enduro offering, and Dirtlej offers similarly priced alternatives to cater for more pedal-intensive days or dedicated bikepark with more durable materials. The fit is generous, allowing for layers to be added underneath and movement inside to be relatively unrestricted.
The Dirtlej Dirt Suit Core Edition is undoubtedly the most durable feeling offering on test, and has the second heaviest weight as a result. I opted to test the size large, which was a comfortable fit thanks to a generous cut and useful adjustment at the waist to keep it in place. The arms are very roomy, letting you run elbow pads inside or build a burly set of biceps without issue. The body and legs are quite average in fit, with plenty of room for some torso layers and a set of well protecting knee pads.
The thick material of the Dirt Suit Core Edition carries with it some increased insulation properties compared with the other suits on test. This is fantastic when temperatures go sub-zero, but can lead to increased heat build up when pushing hard when conditions are more mild. It’s not that the breathability is unbearably suffocating, but the temperature build up cannot be ignored. Thankfully, the Dirtlej onesie features the most generous venting of all of the suits on test, and you can zip off the legs and open the front up wide if temperatures climb considerably above the usual remit of a Waterproof Onesie. The flank vents on this suit were the only ones on test that I was able to consistently deploy when in the saddle, thanks to the generous toggles. That said, the waterproof zips did eventually suffer the same “sticky” fate as the other suits after multiple consecutive muddy rides. The DWR coating on the Dirtlej suit never produced quite the same level of water beading as the others, but lasted impressively long and felt to be more of a permanent feature than the other suits tested.
The main pockets on the Core Edition suit are well placed and generous in size, but I do question the need for the two non-zippered pockets on the rear of the suit. It seems to me as if these will only add a potential hazard for hooking on the saddle during particularly dynamic movements on the bike, with no real usefulness gained. Perhaps frequent trail builders or home mechanics would find value in them, but I’d prefer them to be removed. The hood is large and effective at keeping the elements out thanks to the multi-way adjustability.
The Dirtlej Core Edition onesie proved to be highly durable over the testing period, shaking off multiple spills, tangles with shrubbery and a lot of miles on a gritty saddle without showing any concerning wear and tear. And should the worst happen, for riders in continental Europe Dirtlej has a repair service who are dedicated to fixing your Dirt Suit to prolong its life if you have any issues. Overall the Dirtlej suit is a great durable offering that would be best suited as a compromise for an even split of pedaling and shuttling.
SINGLETRACK ONE PIECE
Material: Exoshell 20 w/PFC-Free DWR
Waterproof Rating: 10k
Breathability Rating: 20k
Pockets: 1x chest; 2x thigh
Vents: 2x flank
Removable Leg: No
Hood: Stowable, No adjustment
Adjustment: Velcro Cuffs
Stretch Panels: No
Size Range: XS-XXL
Weight: 730g (L)
Price: £220 / $300
Color Options: Black, Lime, Blue
The Singletrack One Piece is the affordable onesie offering of the Endura range, and depending on where you’re located may be the cheapest onesie on the market. The fit is fairly slim through the arms, body and thighs, and limited adjustment with no stretch means you need to get the fit spot-on. The material is very light compared to the other onesies tested, which is comfortable but may suffer in durability.
The Endura Singletrack One Piece Suit is the lightest suit on test by a large margin, and feels very comfortable and airy when first worn as a result. The lack of stretch around the suit; limited adjustability of the fit, and relatively slim profile overall mean prospective customers need to be careful when selecting the size. The Large size tested was comfortable for the vast majority of the time, and only showed its limited flexibility on some particularly dynamic movements when hanging off of the back of the bike in steep terrain. For this reason, I’d suggest either sizing up, or reserving the Singletrack onesie for the less aggressive rides.
Although the venting options are minimal, heat management was great with the Singletrack suit until pushing very hard. The material is decently breathable, and its thin construction feels to insulate less than the others on test, but you can definitely “fill” the suit with hot and humid air when pushing hard. The flank vents go some ways to dealing with this, and unzipping the main zipper will let plentiful air into the front of the torso, but the unvented legs leave humidity with nowhere to go once you work up a real sweat. At the beginning of the test water would bead up nicely and mud would fall off the Singletrack onesie quite easily, but after 8 or so big rides and cold water rinses the DWR coating had lost its effectiveness – a drawback of their eco-friendly coating, but one that can be fixed with Endura’s reproofer.
The three pockets in place on the Endura Singletrack One Piece Suit are sufficient for carrying the basics, but aren’t the largest. The hood stows away nicely, but you’ll struggle to get it wrapped up and secured on the move. It isn’t as generous in size as the other onesies, so riders with larger helmets may not get full coverage or may struggle with maneuverability when the hood is up. For more average sized helmets though it’s sufficient and stays put adequately.
The thin material doesn’t give the same notions of durability as the rest of the onesies on test, but surprisingly shrugged off a number of tumbles with the foliage and a couple of spills along the way without any issues. That said, I’d expect the Endura Singletrack suit to suffer the most when it comes to crashing and general wear and tear. As a lighter duty suit for trail riding and limited crashing though, it’s a great simple and comfortable option that still does an excellent job at keeping you sheltered from inclement weather.
MT500 WATERPROOF ONE PIECE
Material: Exoshell 40DR w/PFC-Free DWR
Waterproof Rating: 20k
Breathability Rating: 40k
Pockets: 1x chest; 2x thigh; 1x arm
Vents: 2x flank; 2x torso; 2x leg
Removable Leg: Yes
Hood: Non-stowable, 3D adjustable
Adjustment: Belt Loops, Cuffs
Stretch Panels: Shoulders; Legs
Size Range: S-XXL
Weight: 1100g (L)
Price: £440 / $550
Color Options: Black
The MT500 waterproof one piece is Endura’s flagship onesie, and the most expensive on the market. There are stretch segments in key areas, meaning that the relatively slim fit for the upper body and thighs is not restricting. The MT500 is the only onesie on test with belt loops at the waist, which is great for getting the suit snugged down.
The Endura MT500 One Piece Suit sits in the middle of the range for sizing. The Large size tested was comfortable for me at 6’2” and 210lbs (189cm / 96kg), giving no restriction of movement without being overly baggy. The lower legs are the only exception to this, with a particularly wide cut that left a lot of excess material. While this does allow the lower legs to slide over your shoes if you unzip them, I’d much rather a tighter and more slimline cut here. Otherwise, the mid-weight material combines with the cut to make the MT500 One Piece a very comfortable item to ride in, especially when combined with a belt to cinch up the waist and keep it in place.
The Exoshell 40DR material used in the Endura MT500 onesie is excellent, giving a great blend of characteristics all round that kept me dry throughout the duration of the test and offered impressive breathability that meant I was able to leave it until the latest moment before deploying the vents. Once the vents were called into action, a combination of the large intake ports through the front pockets and the exhaust vents in the flanks mean you can get a good amount of air through the MT500 One Piece to release built up humidity effectively. The DWR coating seemed to do a slightly better job at staying put on the MT500 compared with the cheaper Singletrack but this was far from scientific. Still, after 10 rides and rinses the coating had lost its effectiveness and required reproofing. Again, a drawback of their eco-friendly coating that can be fixed with their reproofer easily.
In terms of storage during your ride, the Endura MT500 One Piece Suit has you well covered. The long torso pocket/vents let you stow a healthy amount of snacks without issue, though you’ll have to remember not to run the vents open for a descent else you risk losing them. The leg pockets are of a reasonable size, but can be a little tricky to access when seated in the saddle. The hood is large and will cover most helmets without issue, and the elasticated toggles allow you to get the fit dialed in easily to keep it in place. The MT500 is the only onesie without provisions to stow or secure the hood in place when not in use, but it didn’t bother me personally.
In terms of durability, previous experience with the separate MT500 jacket taught me that Endura’s Exoshell 40DR fabric is very damage resistant, and the One Piece proved to be no exception. Extra reinforcement at the seat panel ensures that the duress of a grit-covered saddle shouldn’t cause any issues in the long term, and the standard material has proved to fend off a serious amount of abuse without any issue. The zips on this did end up getting sticky before the others, though it’s quite possible that it saw the most direct spray of mud and grime during testing. It’s certainly worth paying particular attention to keeping the waterproof zippers clean and running smoothly to prolong their life. The MT500 is the best all-rounder in my eyes, packing the durability needed for aggressive use in the most abrasive conditions with the pedal-friendliness for long stints in the saddle at high output.
5.0 MONO SUIT
Material: HydraDri MAX
Waterproof Rating: 30k
Breathability Rating: 30k
Pockets: 2x torso; 2x thigh; 1x arm
Vents: 2x flank; 2x torso; 4x leg
Removable Leg: No
Hood: RaHD, Magnetic placekeeper for stow and on helmet
Adjustment: Internal Suspenders; Velcro waist, Cuffs, Climbvent
Stretch Panels: Material has 360 stretch
Size Range: XS-XXXL
Weight: 1,330g (L)
Price: £370 / $400
Color Options: Black, Lava
The 5.0 Mono suit is Leatt’s brand new premium offering to the onesie market, with some unique features to set it apart. The soft-lined material has some stretch to it, meaning you can get away with a tighter fit, and there’s an internal suspender system to keep the suit in place at all times. The fit is quite slim in the legs and long in the body, so it’s worth trying the Leatt Mono Suit on before you buy.
Leatt riding gear tends to come up slightly slimmer in profile than many in the industry. Because of this, the Leatt 5.0 Mono Suit was the only suit on test where I wore an XL size on their recommendation. This gave ample room in the legs and the shoulders to wear a layer below on the colder days, but with some excess material in the torso due to my relatively short upper body. With the stretch in the Hydradri MAX material, I was left wondering if I could have benefitted from the tighter fit of the large size. Nevertheless, the internal suspender system in the Leatt onesie ensured it stayed in place and was comfortable during riding. This suspender system is particularly helpful when off the bike, whether it be chilling in the suit, walking with the bike or standing on the pedals, but I’m not convinced it does much when seated. If you’re lucky and find that the Leatt suit is a perfect fit for your body, it’s possible to remove the suspenders and shed a bit of weight and heat if you’d prefer.
There are two real standouts of the Leatt suit: the soft inner lining of the material which makes it exceptionally comfortable when worn, even without anything underneath; and the internal suspender system that gives a very different, more “snowsports” feel. This material is excellent and feels very premium, in fact the entire suit feels like the most premium offering all round. That said, the textured matt finish of the material proved to hold onto dirt the most of the onesies on test, and the seat panel showed signs of wear before the others that leaves me mildly concerned for its durability over numerous winters. Leatt tends to be very good at customer service from my experience though, so I’m sure if any issues were to crop up then your investment would be safe with a replacement provided.
The Hydradri MAX material performs very well, resisting the buildup of moisture inside until you push it hard, though it does run a little hotter overall than the Endura offerings. How much of that is down to the suspender system I’m not sure, but when temperatures climbed it was quite obvious. That said, I didn’t tend to run any of these suits without any clothing underneath, yet the Leatt suit is the only one that would remain comfortable when doing so, potentially beating the lot when it comes to warm weather performance. The DWR coating did a great job at beading water, and lasted a reasonable amount of time. The ventilation is ample, if not quite so effective at dumping the heat, unless you make use of their Climbvent feature by unzipping the front and using the little popper to keep it together in the center of the chest. This does leave the suit wide open and prone to flapping on the descents though, which I suppose is why they call it climbvent.
Storage in the Leatt 5.0 Mono Suit is the best on test, with lots of storage space on the legs and in the long dual-purpose chest pockets / vents. The RaHD hood is pretty neat too, giving lots of option to tailor the level of protection to the conditions at hand; offering great coverage; and staying in put well without having to rely on tension around the chin thanks to the magnet system. I found that the magnet used to fix the hood in place when not in use was hard to find at times, but it didn’t cause too much stress.
In terms of durability, I’d suggest the Leatt material to be slightly more susceptible to damage than the MT500 or Dirtlej suits, but that’s only based on the seat panel wear. It certainly doesn’t feel like a fragile suit and the overall construction is of a high quality, but the material just doesn’t feel to be quite so resistant. That said, the brush guard patches in the most likely wear areas should keep the Leatt suit looking fresh for a long while. Overall the Leatt 5.0 Mono Suit is certainly a premium offering, and will suit riders who value the comfortable feel of the suit when worn and its unique features as an all-rounder.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Overall, for inclement weather riding, it’s safe to say that a Waterproof onesie is the ultimate piece of gear to have at your disposal. If you’re not the kind of rider that itches to go out riding when others are happy staying at home, then it may not be a worthwhile investment. If you want to ride your bike through the winter in a climate such as the UK or PNW though, I’d suggest there’s few better things to spend your money on.
All of the offerings tested are good quality pieces of kit, but they all have their pros and cons that are worth considering to ensure you get the best performing suit for how you ride. One thing is for sure though, I’ve been very grateful to Dirtlej, Endura and Leatt for supplying these suits to test this winter past and the comfort that they’ve provided me when riding.
OUR WATERPROOF ONESIE RECOMMENDATIONS
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