James Stockhausen has had the MT500 waterproof jacket from Endura on test as part of our winter waterproof group test.
The MT500 range from Scottish brand Endura has been a go to for many British mountain bikers for years. Known for their quality, hardwearing products, the brand has been manufacturing (some but not all products) in-house for over 25 years and are big on sustainability.
I tested the black Endura MT500 II waterproof jacket over a particularly soggy late autumn and early winter in the South West of the UK, both on sloppy gravel rides and singletrack sessioning on the mountain bike.
The MT500 waterproof jacket has been around for a while, and version II receives a few updates, most notably the move away from PFCs: man-made chemicals which have been used for years in waterproofing clothes. These nasty chemicals can rub off of waterproof gear and will remain in the environment for years, so not ideal. Endura have also been PTFE (another man-made nasty) free since 2014. Also worth mentioning is the brand’s commitment to plant 1 million trees every year, using biodegradable proofers (which come included with the range) and a non-warranty repair service (more on that later). All in all, Endura sure seem to be taking the environmental impact of their products very seriously. Nice!
Endura MT500 on test
Fit and features
Onto the jacket itself. I managed to get my hands on the black version, although available in more vibrant colours (that yellowish ‘nutmeg’ is popping, plus grey and teal). Sizes range generously from XS to XXXL in the men’s cut and XS to XXL in women’s, so should cater for a very wide range of riders. Now I am a skinny 5’11” and after consulting the size chart opted for the small. Upon arrival I was slightly concerned the jacket was lacking length wise, but a couple of rides dispelled this. The cut is definitely bike oriented and the short front reduces the chances of it getting caught on the saddle. The sleeves are a good length for a variety of handlebar types and seated positions without any unnecessary bagginess. Adjustable cuffs allow plenty of room for winter gloves, an elasticated inner layer fitting nice and snug around the wrists to prevent draughts and water ingress.
Pockets are plentiful and double up as ventilation. Two large front pockets become giant ventilation slits for when things get inevitably sweaty. Not ideal if there are plenty of things already in the pockets, mind you, but I wouldn’t be using these if it was pouring anyway. Super thoughtful feature alert: there is a goggle or glasses wipe attached to the inside of one of the front pockets. Cute! Finally, there’s a tiny pocket on the wrist which Endura thought would be nice to put your lift pass in. With no chance of a lift pass to anywhere right now, I found this a useful empty wrapper storage.
Waterproofing and breathability
The quest for ultimate breathability continues under each armpit, where sturdy zips extend much of the way down the jacket. These were my go to vents and I was able to have these partially open when things got sweaty without compromising on water resistance too much.
Speaking of getting sweaty, the soft inner layer is designed to draw moisture away, keeping things dry inside. During testing, a post-ride check would reveal some dampness present in places where the jacket stays close to the skin, such as the back panel and sleeves, but it was not too noticeable whilst riding and never became cold and clammy.
Is it waterproof? Yes, I would say so. ExoShell40DR; a 3-Layer waterproof fabric rated waterproof to 20,000 mm and an astounding 40,000 breathability in a fully seam-sealed construction, does a great job of keeping the moisture on the outside of the jacket. I couldn’t find fault with the effectiveness of this material throughout testing. After a run through the washing machine with a dash of the supplied cleaner and re-proofer, the jacket appears as new, with no loss of water repellency.
On really miserable gravel rides when the rain would be trying it’s best to enter every nook and cranny, I really appreciated the hood which will happily envelope a helmet and stay there, thanks to the 3-way adjustability. I had yet to find a hood which actually did what it claimed regarding helmet coverage, but the MT500 delivered. Battening down the hatches induced a very real sense of luxuriance and safety, contrary to whichever form of UK weather was inflicting itself upon me.
Speaking of durability, I did suffer a wee crash during testing… Sleeves met concrete, resulting in a few small holes and scratches. I can’t really blame the construction or materials in this instance, as it was a long slide along a particularly gritty road. Other coats have not fared so well. All things considered I thought it did a pretty good job of protecting my arms. A chance to use the repair service then! For £20 including postage to the UK, my maimed waterproof was patched up and sent back to me in the space of around 3 weeks. Endura states it should take around 2 weeks, but I suspect something beginning with C and ending in 19 had something to do with the increased lead time.
Back in action, I completed my testing with some foul conditions mountain biking in the Quantocks and Mendip Hills. Slicing through sloppy singletrack, it quickly became apparent that this jacket is made for movement on the bike. The stretchy panels allowed me to pull all sorts of shapes unhindered, in an effort to stay rubber down. One more crash for good luck, this time an over-the-bars courtesy of a boggy patch of grass. With little excess material to snag on the bike I could get on with the job of falling off and the mud remained on the outside due to the excellent fit.
I would have loved to have used this jacket on a wet and wild multi-day bikepacking trip, but alas, due to restrictions there are no plans for a while on that front. Expectations are high, but testing will have to wait.
Endura have kept the aesthetics nice and simple with the MT500 jacket; subtle branding with the odd touch of reflective logos. A nice touch for added safety on the roads, without being too garish. The black option is a safe bet for keeping things incognito, but I would go for the classy flash of nutmeg yellow/orange in a heartbeat. Obviously it’s a popular choice, as they flew off the shelves before I could get my hands on one!
The Endura MT500 waterproof II verdict
The MT500 Waterproof Jacket II is a very well thought out, sturdy bit of kit, made for many winters of UK off-road riding. Endura’s top tier offering has become my default riding jacket this winter. It does the job of keeping you dry without much fuss, but it really stands out when it comes to the fit and features, meaning you can stay out warmer and happier for longer.
At a hefty £229.99, you’d hope it would do all of these things! All the better, then, that you can keep your investment going for longer, thanks to an effective repair service and the inclusion of an environmentally friendly re-proofer with your purchase.
Last modified: 23rd December 2020