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Do you need a waterproof MTB jacket to go cycling in the rain?

You can buy rain jackets that are specifically designed for MTB riders. But what’s the difference between those and other rain jackets, outdoor jackets or clothing for other cycling disciplines? Read on to find out (and learn whether you need one):

During summer, a rain jacket may not be necessary for every mountain bike tour. If you're lucky, you can ride for days without getting caught in the rain. In spring and fall, things look completely different. There will be some nice days, there will be sudden downpours, but you can also get caught in several days of continuous rain. If you still want to go biking then, you’ll need some good cycling clothing. 

… so if you need a MTB rain jacket depends on the season and the weather.

Whether you should take a waterproof rain jacket with you or not depends not only on when you go on your MTB tours, but also on where you are riding. There’s a reason why it’s called mountain biking, and in the mountains quick weather changes are quite common and you shouldn’t count on finding somewhere dry to take shelter. That’s why, for an alpine MTB vacation, you should always pack a rain jacket. 

… a MTB rain jacket makes more sense in some places than others! 

 

Only a MTB rain jacket is comfortable on long rides!

The third reason that will tip the scales towards wearing a real MTB rain jacket is the duration of your tour. The longer you ride, the more worthwhile "real" bike clothing is. Trust us, the wrong clothes will become more uncomfortable by the minute. On the other hand you will see that a MTB rain jacket will go along with your movements, while it’s also built for critical weather conditions, and that makes it all the more fun!

 


Rain jackets for mountainbikers can be light and absolutely waterproof.

 

Are there different MTB rain jackets available?

If you only jump on your MTB when it's sunny, you might not need a rain jacket. Maybe. But it’s possible that you do need one. Just because it's not raining when you set off doesn't mean it will stay that way. 

To be on the safe side, you should have a rain jacket and take it with you too, especially if you're planning on going on a longer tour. If you avoid one more common mistake, there's absolutely nothing that can stop you from having a pleasant day out - even in the rain. Read on to find out what mistake you should avoid when choosing your rain jacket for MTB tours. 

 

Which MTB rain jackets are available?

Most rain jackets for MTBers belong to two categories, there are

  • Softshell jackets
  • Hardshell jackets

 

Hardshell rain jackets are the jackets for the rough stuff

Hardshell jackets are not only absolutely waterproof, they are also very tear-resistant and therefore perfect for mountain bikers. The sturdy fabric won't be torn to shreds by branches or thorns along the trail, it can even protect you when you fall. Lighter hardshell rain jackets only have a single layer, while a multi-layer jacket has an inner lining. In rain jackets for warm, wet weather, you might find a well-ventilated inner lining made of mesh fabric. If the jacket is also intended to keep you warm, the inner lining can be made of thicker fabric, even fleece 3-in-1 jackets are available. The outer shell of a hard shell jacket can be flexible, but often the fabric not elastic.

 

Softshell jackets are super-comfy in not too bad weather

Softshell rain jackets are soft and stretchy, the thickness of the fabric can vary, but apart from keeping you dry, these jackets usually provide you with some warmth too. Often a softshell can’t keep up with hardshell jackets when it comes to waterproofness. 

There is a third type of rain jacket, but these garments are seldom seen in mountain bike sports. Ultralight rain jackets consist of a extremely thin, waterproof layer. They weigh just a few grams and pack down to a tiny bundle. However, they are much more delicate than hard shell rain jackets or softshell jackets. They are not exactly robust and therefore less suitable for mountain bikers as they simply tear too quickly.

 

Why is a non-MTB rain jacket simply the wrong jacket?

There are plenty of rain jackets that are suitable for outdoor sports, does it really matter if the rain jacket was made for mountain biking

It's actually quite simple. Cycling clothing must be designed to be comfortable while you’re sitting on a (mountain) bike. Of course, a "normal" rain jacket is better than no coat at all. But there are better things to wear on your MTB than any ol’ jacket! If you do that, you have to make a difficult decision: Your jacket will either be too big - or do you want it to cut into your shoulders?

A cycling rain jacket ist perfectly adapted to your riding position. The outstretched position of your arms is also always taken into account. An outdoor rain jacket is just as waterproof and comfortable to wear as a MTB rain jacket, but only as long as you don't sit on a bike! It most certainly won’t leave you enough space around your shoulders, the back usually is far too short and the sleeves will hike up your arms too. You could just buy your rain jacket one or two sizes larger and solve the problem that way. Unfortunately this doesn't work either, even if simply buying a larger rain jacket is a good solution at first glance (and a common mistake). If you buy a jacket that is too big, you will have plenty of room to move in all directions, but the excess fabric will flap around in the wind, costing you unnecessary energy. In addition, the extra material of the jacket can get tangled, should that happen, the jacket might tear or pull you off the bike, and you certainly don't want that to happen, do you? With an MTB rain jacket, you're on the safe side! 

It works fine the other way round, by the way! You can always wear your MTB jacket – on the bike of course, but also when hiking, on the way to the office or when you’re walking the dog. The sleeves may be a little long and the helmet hood is huge, but a bike rain jacket always fits. Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way around.

 

Waterproof or water-repellent? Which rain jacket do you need for MTB tours?

To help you choose the right MTB rain jacket, let’s talk about the difference between "waterproof" and "water-repellent"!

Tests can verify how waterproof a rain jacket really is. This involves testing how much water pressure the fabric can withstand before the water seeps in and is measured in "mm waterproof". Unfortunately it is difficult to specify any particular figures for waterproofness as manufacturers, testers or even countries define their own definitions. 

But here are some guidelines: If the inside of a garment (or a tent or umbrella) remains dry in light rain for a while, but gradually soaks through, it is said to be water-repellent. Those garments have a low hydrostatic head. If a rain jacket remains waterproof even in constant rain, it is waterproof. Usually (depending on the manufacturer or region) garments with a water column of 8000 mm or more are considered waterproof. For MTB rain jackets or rain pants, you should therefore make sure that the figure referring to the waterproofness is as high as possible. Platzangst rain jackets have a water column of 10,000 mm and therefore offer a very high level of protection against moisture. 

This protection remains active even after a few cycles in the washing machine. If after a while you notice that your jacket becomes heavier in the rain because it absorbs water or allows rainwater to penetrate, you can re-proof it after washing. 

 

What makes a MTB rain jacket waterproof?

There are two different processes to make fabric waterproof, and we don’t want to go into detail too much. But either the fabric itself is waterproof, or it is sealed chemically – usually a jacket features a bit of both. A combination of both often makes a jacket, rain suit or cycling trousers particularly waterproof, while still allowing moisture to evaporate to the outside.

It is particularly important that the shoulders and neck of a jacket are waterproof, as this is where the rain really hits heavily and a backpack can also rub the moisture through the fabric. 

  • Also make sure that your mountain bike rain jacket has sealed seams. The seams are taped to prevent water from entering. 
  • Zippers can also help water to leak into your mtb rain jacket. Most outdoor coats have waterproof zippers or flaps that cover the zipper. 
  • If you want to keep your phone or money dry in your pocket, your rain jacket should have pockets with waterproof zippers or flaps

 

You can expect a good MTB rain jacket to…

If you want to get rolling on your MTB, your jacket needs to do much more than just keep the rain out. Here are a few more features that Platzangst MTB rain jackets have to make them particularly practical, comfortable and, of course, waterproof:

  • Breathable: A good rain jacket is waterproof on the outside, but moisture can evaporate from the inside. 
  • Easy to launder: MTB jackets in particular are able to withstand many washing cycles, because MTB territory is rarely clean.
  • Quick-drying 1: After cleaning, your rain jacket must be dry and ready for use again quickly. This is why fabrics developed for sportswear do not absorb moisture, they are back on track in no time.
  • Quick-drying 2: Riding your MTB can turn into quite a workout, and that means you’ll get sweaty. That’s why your jacket has to dry quickly, if you don’t want to be riding in soaking wet garments.
  • If you fall or get too close to nature, a good MTB rain jacket has to be tear-resistant, that is why we use particularly robust fabrics for Platzangst.
  • Wearing a waterproof cycling jacket is great, but the rain dripping down your back from your helmet can ruin your day in the bike park! That's why most rain jackets for mountain bikers have a hood that fits over your helmet.
  • Windproof: A fabric that keeps the rain out usually also works in windy conditions. Rain jackets are therefore often also windproof. 
  • Platzangst rain jackets feature ventilation zippers, a pocket for bike goggles and other practical details.




Too much flapping fabric is rather uncomfortable on the bike. That's why MTB rain jackets are comfortable and casual, but cut close to the body.

 

Buyer’s guide: What size should your waterproof MTB rain jacket be?

Our Platzangst rain jackets for men are sized regular, they usually fit over a t-shirt and a long-sleeved jersey or sweatshirt. If you like your bike jackets particularly slim, you can order a smaller size. If you like to have a little more room or wear several layers under your jacket in winter, simply order a larger size. If you want to wear body armor under your jacket, you should buy a rain jacket in a larger size.