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!
Originally a motocross brand, Leatt launched in the UK with the first ever mountain biking neck brace, and its products have tended to aim at the push uphill/bomb downhill end of the market.
Like most manufacturers, Leatt has taken note of the fact that even gravity-loving riders tend to pedal to the top these days, and now produce several “all mountain” ranges of clothing, each including helmets, jerseys, jackets, shorts and kneepads.
All these ranges are dubbed DBX, followed by a number. The gear ascends in price and features as the number increases, so while DBX 1.0 is the value focused end of the range, DBX 5.0 is the top tier, aimed at the rider who wants to splash a bit more cash.
Leatt are marketing the DBX 5.0 All Mountain jacket and shorts at the rider who wants to head out in the most dire conditions. Both are made from Leatt’s own three-layer fabric, dubbed HydraDri, which claims to have a hydrostatic head of 30,000mm – for context, that’s better than most tent flysheets – and have fully taped seams.
Both pieces come in a choice of blue, black or a tasteful dark red, and these colours are carried across the DBX ranges, so, for example, if you want the DBX 2.0 jersey and the DBX 5.0 shorts, they should match perfectly.
Leatt DBX 5.0 All Mountain Waterproof Jacket
The thick material of the DBX 5.0 jacket makes it feel like a rugged bit of clothing, and when you pull it on it definitely creates the sensation that you’re enclosing yourself from the elements.
In the flesh, the blue colour has a pleasing heathered effect, and looks more like a hi-tech form of denim than a shiny technical garment. Leatt also score cool points for not going too mad with its logos. Instead the jacket sports some strong industrial-style graphics, which mostly consist of arrows going forward and down, perhaps intended to indicate the mountain biker’s preferred direction of travel.
The fabric is weighty compared to some waterproofs, and while this affects how packable the jacket is, it also feels like it could survive a pretty hard crash. In addition there are rubberised “brush guards” at strategic points on the front of the shorts and jacket, meaning that even if you like to bash through brambles or scrape against trees, your threads should remain intact.
As you’d expect from clothing at this price point, there are a lot of other neat details. All the zips are waterproof, and I do mean all of them, including the two small rear vent zips, and even the lift pass pocket on the left arm.
The front pockets also feature an interesting design (relatively speaking) where they can be unzipped from the top or the bottom, depending on where the straps of your backpack sit.
Another innovative feature of the jacket is in the hood, which has a pair of built-in magnets. When it’s not up, the magnets automatically clip together, reducing the volume of the hood and stopping it from acting like a windsock.
The jacket is supplied with a third magnet which you can stick to the top of your helmet, and then when you put your hood up, it should snap into place and stay up. It’s possibly a bit of a gimmick, and I managed to lose the third magnet before I could test out the concept, but it’s a clever idea.
Leatt DBX 5.0 All Mountain Waterproof Shorts
Like the jacket, the shorts have fully waterproofed zips. Even the fly of the shorts gets the rubberised treatment, which could be useful for preventing leaks from both directions.
To keep you cool, the shorts feature 8-inch zipped vents at the back of the legs. These aren’t lined so, depending on what you’re wearing underneath, you may find your pasty thighs winking at the sun. I didn’t use them during the test, not due to concerns over modesty, but because they seemed more likely to let water in than heat out.
On The Trail
As I’ve already mentioned, the DBX 5.0 jacket and shorts are heavy duty bits of kit. They’re comfortable enough in use, but there’s not much sign of the four-way stretch that the material is supposed to have, and I found the cut of the jacket slightly tight across the front of my neck.
I found the opposite problem with the shorts, where a medium size was just a tad slack on my 32in waist. There are two hook and loop adjusters on the waistband but even tightening these up, I still experienced a bit of builder’s bum (in a manner of speaking).
As you’d expect from a company that also makes kneepads, the shorts work brilliantly with them. They were also very waterproof indeed. However this was a bit moot when I received a steady dribble of icy water to the bum crack as a result of the loose waist. As with any clothing, you’d be wise to check the sizing before you hit the trails.
In terms of breathability, the DBX 5.0 jacket didn’t cook me sous vide, but nor was it like a second skin. I do tend to run pretty warm but this is not the most breathable jacket I’ve tried, and I did find things got clammy when climbing hard, even on a fairly chilly day. The vent zips on the back of the jacket help, but they’re also small and quite hard to get at.
After a couple of months of use, the jacket and shorts are still shrugging off the rain. There are some slight signs of abrasion on the thighs of the shorts, but nothing that threatens to make it through to the inner layer.
However, although the fabric seems bombproof, the stitching is starting to pull away where the waistband meets the seat. The shorts have had a fair bit of use, but I’d still expect a much longer lifespan from a pair at this price point.
Leatt’s DBX 5.0 shorts and jacket are squarely aimed at the gravity market, and designed to withstand a lot of abuse. They look great and keep the water out, but beware issues with fit, particularly as the fabric is quite heavy and unforgiving.
I haven’t managed to establish if the issue with the stitching on my test shorts is a one-off or common to all, but if you’ve purchased a pair, keep an eye on the waistband and make sure it stays attached.
|Product:||DBX 5.0 All Mountain Jacket and Shorts|
|Price:||Jacket £179.99, Shorts £115.00|
|Tested:||by Antony for 2 months|