Mountain biker turned gravel enthusiast James Malone has been reviewing the dhb Trail waterproof jacket as part of our winter waterproof group test.
Since 2004, dhb has been Wiggle’s in-house answer to an affordable outdoor pursuit brand, aimed at all levels of rider that doesn’t compromise on performance and quality. Founders Mitch Dall, Harvey Jones and Paul Balwell have been heavily involved in the product testing and design so it’s very much a ‘by riders, for riders’ style of brand. That certainly comes across with the jacket, but more of that later.
I tested the dhb Trail waterproof jacket on both gravel and MTB rides through classic British winter conditions, down to around three degrees Celsius and of course heavy and persistent rain. It has to be noted that I’m very much a “don’t worry, ya skin’s waterproof” kind of rider and don’t mind the muck, but for the benefit of this test, I wore the jacket religiously and it quickly became my chosen all weather garment for the duration of all my outdoor activities.
In short, this is a warm, waterproof and windproof jacket which is incredibly robust.
The Trail jacket has a waterproof rating of 20,000mm and a breathability rating 20,000g/m/24hr. Though not as breathable as Gore-Tex or Pertex, I didn’t find myself overheating too rapidly. The water beads off of a brand new jacket is always satisfying, so much so that you can pretty much shake off all of the moisture in one swift flick on the first few weeks of wear.
First impressions on the fit are that its roomy without being overly baggy or possessing those parachute qualities that kill your KOMs (or QOMs). The arm length is ample with a nice form-fitting cuff detail that I don’t think I really thought would ever be necessary, but was comfortable and really made me feel well protected from the elements in a way that a good pair of gloves does.
For this great detail, there is also a lack of adjustability in that you can’t tighten the cuff. It’s something you don’t think you’d miss until you do, and on zippy or persistent descents, you get a blast of cold air up the sleeves and the sleeves can creep up the forearms.
Sized large, I found this was ample and gave me plenty of room to layer up on coffee stops and when hauling the bike over terrain and pushing back up the steeps. I also ride with a camera bag 95% of the time and I felt I had plenty of room around the shoulders for movement. The jacket spec does mention specially placed silicone grippers on the shoulders to prevent bag slip but I can’t say I even really noticed this as an issue or an improvement on any other jacket I’ve had.
On three occasions, I’ve fallen off or lifted a bike over a barbed wire fence and there hasn’t even been so much as a scuff on the material, so no need for bodged trail side or home repairs. This is down to the 3 layer, mid-weight fabric with some stretch, which dhb claim themselves should stand up to scrapes and knocks when out on the shred. This is a key factor for me, as I can’t afford to buy kit that doesn’t last, and at a 150 quid you want a jacket that can take a pounding, but keep taking them too.
I washed the jacket twice after two very muddy trips to Cannock Chase and I can’t say that has affected the waterproofing at all, nor did it stain, and if looked after, there should be no reason why it shouldn’t survive a full winter or even longer without need for reproofing treatment given its laminated nylon material and fully taped seams.
There were a couple of neat features on the jacket that I really loved, including the stiffened panels on the back dropped hem that seemed odd at first but did a great job at directing the water away from my shorts. The hood peak is also stiffened and I found there was plenty of room for a peaked or road helmet in there too. You can also stow the hood away by rolling it back on itself and secure with a simple but effective button.
Two very large side pockets are lined with mesh to function as vents if needed in warmer conditions, however, you can’t store your valuables in here when trying to cool down. I personally try not to store too much in my shorts for fear of damaging a phone or keys (or getting damaged by them), so a designated phone pocket in addition to these large vented pockets would be a great addition. The quality YKK waterproof zippers were chunky enough to avoid any cold thumb/slow talking day faffs that are oh so common on wet December rides.
The dhb Trail waterproof jacket is a great looking, smart option available in black for those ‘gram conscious steezonaires and the bright blue featured here for those who’d rather they were seen on the mountains and roads. The women’s equivalent is available in black only. There is also some small reflective details on the small logos and trim but these aren’t particularly overbearing. The jacket looks and feels tough yet is comfortable on the skin.
The dhb Trail waterproof verdict
There isn’t a jacket I’ve tried that can beat this offering from dhb in terms of toughness, and that’s something that really matters to me as I have a hard time staying rubber side down in the winter months when things get slick.
Can it be improved? Yes, a phone pocket and adjustable cuffs would be a pretty decent addition and in my mind, and should be a standard on most winter garments and for £150. Although not astronomical, that’s a chunky enough price tag to warrant a couple more must-have features. I would certainly recommend this jacket to friends and get the impression that it’ll last for seasons to come.
All photos shot by James, check out more at @woah_malone.
Last modified: 21st December 2020