Forgive me if March seems a little tardy to be reviewing a full-blown rain jacket. But really – who are you trying to kid? A jacket like this can be a handy wardrobe addition during any month of the year in the UK. Additionally, I didn’t want to rush this review – I wanted to make sure we could give this MT500 a thorough winter pasting before we gave our final verdict on it. And given that winter doesn’t seem quite ready to depart the 2018 party just yet, there’s been plenty of opportunity to get loads of use out of it.
Endura’s popular MT500 Waterproof Jacket is something that many British mountain bikers will already be familiar with. Andi tested and reviewed the latest version just last year, and came away thoroughly impressed with the breathability and performance of its tough ExoShell waterproof fabric.
The jacket shown here is essentially the same thing, but rejigs the construction and fit into a ‘Pullover’ style. That means there’s no front zipper to split the jacket in half, and instead you pull it over your head just as you would with a jumper. Without that front zipper running all the way down your belly, the MT500 Pullover purports to be a little lighter and a more comfortable option.
Endura MT500 Waterproof Pullover Jacket Features
- Made from ExoShell60™ 3-Layer waterproof fabric
- Fully seam sealed
- Durable shoulders with silicone grip
- Ergonomically positioned stretch panels
- 3D adjustment on hood
- Full length underarm ventilation with two-way zipper
- Water repellent 1/2 length VISLON® zip with storm flap
- Front zippered pockets
- Kangaroo pouch pocket with media port and glasses wipe
- Internal stretch cuff
- Adjustable cuff and hem
- Reflective trim
- Sizes: Small (tested), Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
- Colours: Black, Khaki (tested)
- RRP: £189.99
Foul Weather Protection
Style and comfort claims aside, a waterproof jacket is nothing without its ability to shield you from the elements.
Like the regular MT500 Waterproof jacket, the Pullover version uses Endura’s own ExoShell60™ fabric. According to Endura, this is a bit of an exclusive wonder fabric that comes with some pretty big claims, including a waterproof rating of 18,000mm (really good), and a breathability rating of 64,000g/m²/24hr (really really good). The secret to this ExoShell60™ 3-layer construction is its thinner, ultrafine membrane, which creates a lighter and more packable fabric. Some other witchcraft has been applied in order to increase the transfer of sweat vapour from the inside through to the outside of the jacket, and therefore jacking up that breathability rating.
To keep everything watertight, Endura has sealed each seam internally, and all of the pockets and vents are guarded by chunky waterproof zippers. The fabric itself is medium-weight and feels a little crispy to the touch. It’s definitely not jersey-pocket packable, but it won’t take up a heap of room inside your backpack.
As the MT500 Pullover is designed to be worn as an external weatherproof shell, there isn’t a soft fleecy face fabric on the inside, so it’s a BYO insulation job. I’ve either been wearing it with a lightweight merino base layer underneath on warmer days, or with several layers underneath during sub-zero conditions.
On the note of fit, the MT500 Pullover fits relatively snugly – just like the regular MT500 Waterproof Jacket. I like this, because you don’t end up with excess fabric bunching up around the arms and tummy, and when the wind is up, your torso doesn’t immediately turn into a sail. However, if you like layering up and you want a more relaxed fit, or you’re simply on the border of two sizes, I’d consider upsizing rather than downsizing.
There’s an integrated hood, which is just big enough to fit over a trail helmet. You certainly don’t have to worry about the hood coming off on its own, and with the front zip done up, flappage is all but eliminated. If the conditions are particularly blustery, the hood can be rolled up and stowed inside the neck collar. When rolled up however, the hood can feel a little bulky and stiff around the back of your neck.
I generally prefer a fully removable hood (like the one on Endura’s lightweight MTR jacket I reviewed recently), though I will admit that it has been reassuring knowing that you always have the MT500’s hood permanently stowed and at the ready for an emergency downpour.
On the front you’ll find two vertical zippers that reveal a spacious kangaroo pocket that is ideal for warming up cold and damp hands. Above that is a horizontal stash pocket that’s big enough for a small phone or a music player, but not quite big enough for a ginormous iPhone 7 Plus. That said, weighty objects tend to sag uncomfortably in the pocket anyway, and I personally wouldn’t want anything hard or sharp in there as it sits right over your sternum. I do like the little glasses wipe that sits inside there on its own elastic cord though.
On The Trail
Because of the lack of front zipper, the MT500 Pullover is a jacket that you have to commit to wearing. It’s trickier to take off during a ride (you’ll have to take your helmet and glasses off too), so I generally just wore it from start to finish on every ride.
Without that front zipper though, it’s less restrictive and more comfortable overall compared to the regular MT500 jacket. And despite the slimmer fit, the stretch panels on the sides and around the back of the shoulders do well to help with flexibility and ease of movement. It is crispier compared to something like the ION Vario jacket, but it does feel tougher, and it has proven to be super hard wearing too.
Just as with the regular MT500 jacket, one thing I remain unsure of is the sleeves. A soft and stretchy fabric is used at the end of each cuff, which your bare hand goes through first, before you stick it into your glove. Adjustable Velcro straps allow you to tighten down each cuff to sit snugly over the top of your gloves for a near-weatherproof fit.
Once on, the configuration works well, but with bulky winter gloves, the fit is a little awkward and quite tight. And after a few months of riding, the soft fabric on the stretch cuffs is already showing some signs of wear, so I’m not so sure they’ll last as long as the rest of the jacket.
The other option is not to stick your hands through the stretch cuffs, but then the jacket sleeve tends to ride up and expose the internal cuffs to moisture. And once those cuffs get wet, they’ll draw moisture up onto your arms. On one ride, bizarrely I ended up with wet shoulders, because my merino long sleeve base layer had drawn water all the way up the arms.
Waterproofing is otherwise excellent, and even in the face of some pretty horrible conditions including recent snow and sleet, the MT500 has proved its worth. My only critique is that I reckon the hem could be a little lower at the rear for more bum coverage.
Breathability is good, but I don’t think it’s quite as amazing as Endura claims. Then again, I’m always dubious of any manufacturers’ claims of breathability for their latest wonder-membrane, mostly because that testing occurs in lab conditions, and that isn’t always applicable to real-world riding conditions.
If you’re riding up a steep hill for half an hour, the reality is that you’re going to warm up, and you’re going to start sweating – fancy fabric or not. And while the ExoShell60™ fabric does breathe well, a properly-placed vent is still your best solution for heat exhaustion, and the MT500 Pullover has two enormous openings that can be drawn upon. Starting underneath each armpit, a zip travels all the way down to the hem of the jacket, providing as much or as little venting as required. These waterproof zippers are stiff though, so you need a good old tug on the zip to open or close it, which wasn’t always possible to do while riding. Once open, they’re highly effective at bringing in fresh air, and their side placement means your front is still shielded from muddy spray off the front wheel.
So, is the Pullover version of Endura’s MT500 Waterproof Jacket the one to go for?
Personally, I quite like the added comfort of the Pullover jacket, and I really like the kangaroo pocket. Both jackets have excellent waterproofing capabilities, and large zippered vents makes it easy to exhaust warm air and keep cool air coming into the jacket as need.
In use the Pullover jacket is a little trickier to take on or off than the regular MT500 though, so that makes it a garment that you have to commit to wearing for longer durations at a time. If you’re fine with that though, you’ll get a comfortable and high-quality waterproof jacket that’s just as effective off the bike as it is on it.
|Product:||MT500 Waterproof Pullover Jacket|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 4 months|