It’s been a wet and gritty winter here in Calderdale, which has provided idyllic conditions for testing waterproof riding gear. With jackets and bottoms from Endura, Leatt and Fox, our local two-wheeled adventurer has been putting three waterproof riding combos to the test. Over to Antony for the review!
It’s a sorry mark of how closed-minded I am that until this year, I never even considered going mountain biking in trousers. I always thought that long legwear was strictly for folk at the downhill track who wanted something that would look moto. The idea of pants you can pedal in was never really on my radar. Gradually though, we’re starting to see more riding trousers aimed at folk who like to go up and down.
I’ve recently been testing a few different waterproof outfits from various manufacturers, and wasn’t quite sure what to do when Fox sent us their Attack Water jacket paired with the equivalent pants. However in the spirit of enquiry I decided to give them a go. Apart from anything else, I was curious whether I would enjoy my trip to Trouser Town, or find out that riding pants were… well, pants.
First things first though: let’s talk about the more conventional half of the outfit.
Fox Attack Waterproof Jacket
The Fox Attack Water jacket is constructed from a proprietary three-layer fabric dubbed Truseal, which has a softshell-like feel but is still waterproof to 10,000mm. Waterproofing is topped up with an additional DWR coating and all the seams are fully taped.
The jacket is available in plain old black, as well as the colour tested here, and four sizes from Small through to X-Large.
The cut is fairly slim, but sizing of the medium was spot on for me, at 5’10 with a 38in chest, and there was enough length in the arms to keep my wrists warm, even without any inner cuffs.
The jacket has minimal detailing, with just two mesh-lined front pockets. Rather than pit zips, ventilation is provided by a couple of downwards flaps behind the armpits, positioned on the outside so they work with a backpack.
There’s no hood but the collar has a fleece layer and a beard guard for a bit of additional comfort. There are some small reflective details on the cuffs and waterproof zips on the pockets. I’m not convinced that the large Fox logo across the back adds anything to the aesthetics or the breathability, but overall the Attack Water jacket is a very smart looking bit of kit.
Fox Attack Water Pants
The Attack Water pants are constructed in exactly the same way as the jacket, from TruSeal fabric with taped seams. They’re only available in plain old black, in waist sizes from 28in to 38in.
One of the drawbacks of riding in trousers is the potential for an interface with your bike’s drivetrain. The Attack Water pants get around this by having an extremely tapered cut, with thick elasticated cuffs that keep them in place and stop them riding up.
Above the ankle, the pants are roomy enough that you don’t feel like you’ve borrowed your Emo friend’s jeans. You can also fit slim kneepads under them – for example I was able to ride comfortably with a set of G-Form Pro X pads without feeling like I had gout.
There are two zipped front pockets that are slightly on the shallow side for hand warming or cargo carrying duties. However I don’t tend to carry things next to my thighs when riding – it would be a recipe for severe hurtyness in the event of a crash.
The waist of the pants is also extremely simple, with just a ratchet strap and buckle. It’s simple but effective, and gets a perfect fit with no faffing about with Velcro tabs. The pants are finished off with a large reflective Fox logo.
On The Bike
The Attack Water jacket and pants were extremely comfortable out on the trail. The fabric is very soft and forgiving, and never seemed to restrict movement.
The pants in particular are a revelation. Normally with waterproof shorts their effectiveness is innately limited. Water splashes up your legs or gets down the back, and you end up riding with a slightly soggy bum, regardless of how well the fabric works. With the Attack Water pants there was none of that, and my lower half stayed much drier.
Standing around in the cold and wet while your mate fixes a puncture is suddenly much less of an issue. As a bonus, they also save you from scrubbing dried mud off your shins in the shower.
The downside is that the combination of pants and jacket is pretty warm, even with minimal layering underneath. I put out a fair bit of heat when I ride, and there are some vicious hills on my local loops, so I tended to only use them for rides where the temperature was less than 5°C. In proper wintry conditions though, they were hard to beat.
Surprisingly for such a soft material the jacket and pants also seem plenty tough. I didn’t have any huge crashes during the test period, but things like pedal pins catching the legs haven’t resulted in any discernible damage. However the Fox logo is also starting to peel off the pants After a dozen washes, the jacket is also starting to show signs of being less waterproof, which I’d put down to the DWR coating wearing away. Both pieces of clothing will probably need regular reproofing to keep working, but for now I’m very happy.
There are definitely more waterproof waterproofs out there, but the Attack Water range looks good and performs well. The jacket is quite basic for the price tag, but it’s comfortable, reasonably packable, and seems less fragile than some.
And having tried riding trousers at long last, I’m sold! But only for colder days – the jacket and pants breathe well but still keep a lot of heat in. For dreich winter days though, or rides where a bit of waiting around is anticipated, the extra warmth is really welcome. If you prefer, the Attack Water range also includes regular shorts. But if you’re determined to keep mountain biking through the winter, going long in the leg could be a good move.
|Product:||Attack Water Jacket, Attack Water Shorts|
|Price:||Jacket £170.00, Pants £135.00|
|Tested:||by Antony for 2 months|