As part of our winter waterproof jacket group test, John put the TSG Drop Rain Jacket to the test in all weathers.
For those of you who haven’t heard of TSG before, the German company dates back over 30 years, headed up by former pro snowboarders and avid freeskiers, skateboarders, BMXers, and mountain bikers with a penchant for product design. The mainstay of their offering revolves around protection (hence the name Technical Safety Gear): helmets, kneepads etc, but they also make some great technical riding wear.
At £119.99, this jacket is at the cheaper end of the waterproof jacket price spectrum. For sure, that’s still a considerable amount, but when you compare it to the £500+ price tags of high-end brands like Arcteryx, it’s not so bad.
This jacket has some features that you’d expect from some pricier jackets like laser cut vents on the front of the collar, and vents on the back of the jacket.
One of the other first things I noticed is the faux leather patch on the upper left arm. I’ve always thought that unnecessary stitching on a waterproof jacket is a foolish thing to do, as you then need to add more seam sealing tape to the back of the stitching. In all the waterproof jackets I have had, the seam tape is where they usually start to let water in first after a season or two of hard use. Why add more for the sake of a patch purely for aesthetics? The incurred cost could be spent on more of the printed reflective details that this jacket has, which serve a purpose, and most importantly do not compromise the waterproofing of the jacket!
Sizing and fit
At 6’2”, 90kg and with a length of arm that would probably look more at home on a chimp, I often end up opting for size L – XL clothes. Having consulted the size guide I was planning on getting the XL jacket, but I was advised that TSG kit sizes up quite big, so opted for the size L.
Once it arrived I found the fit to be long in the torso and arms with plenty of room for movement, and the fabric has a certain amount of stretch to it, great stuff. Therefore, if you’re between sizes or a bit undecided, I’d too recommend going for the smaller size. The jacket is available in sizes XS to XL.
The hood is large enough to be worn over a helmet, but with enough adjustment that it can be used without, if a little baggy. On the top of the hood, a simple, wide velcro tab acts as a volume reducer, helping to achieve a closer fit.
There’s a level of adjustability in the cuffs too, with velcro tabs adding to the stretch ribbed cuff. A greater range of fit would be handy here, as even cinched down to the maximum the velcro allows, the cuffs were still a bit baggy.
Around the lower hem, an elastic drawcord helps to achieve a more snug fit to keep the worst of the weather out.
Waterproof and breathable?
TSG quote on their website that the polyester jacket material has a 5,000 mm water resistance. This is measured using a long pipe placed vertically on top of the material, and filled with water until the water starts to leak through. In this case, the water filled 5 metres of that pipe, what that means in the real world is that this jacket should withstand driving wind and rain without letting water through the material. Thankfully, I can confirm that this really is the case.
The level of breathability is usually the place where you really notice the difference between jackets. TSG quote the breathability of their jacket’s material at 3,000 g/m²/24h, so that’s 3 litres of sweat vapour moving through a metre square of the material over a 24 hour period.
That doesn’t mean much to me, but what I found was every time I used the jacket there was condensation on the inside. I tested the TSG Drop Rain jacket with a combination of baselayers and midlayers like Hellyhansen lifa, Icebreaker merino and GT, Polartec fleeces, all designed to shift sweat and keep you warm, yet despite this I often ended up wet with sweat and getting cold.
Since getting the jacket I opened the pit zips and basically left them open apart from on two very wet commutes, and even with these open and the large mesh back vent, the jacket still doesn’t shift the sweat vapour fast enough to stop the boil in the bag effect, which many of us are all too familiar with.
The jacket sports pit zips and a back vent for breathability, two low, zipped hand pockets, a left upper arm pocket (although I have no idea what this is for and have never used it), and a chest pocket with a hole to get your headphone wire through. This may seem pointless to the bluetooth headphone users, however for cheapskates like me, it’s incredibly useful.
Unfortunately, I found the positioning of the hand pockets to be too low on the torso. If using a rucksack, the hipbelt runs straight over the zips rendering them useless while you’re wearing the pack. Their low positioning also means once you put anything in them, the contents tend to bounce around on your thighs as you pedal. Other jackets such as the Endura MT500 or the Alpkit Balance seem to have mastered this, with the lateral zipped pockets higher up on the chest.
I’m a big fan of the reflective logos on the TSG Drop Rain jacket, be safe, be seen and all that. You’ll find these on the right chest, right upper back and the back of the left hip. Appearing as grey under daylight, they don’t stand out until there’s light shone on the jacket, so retain an understated look the rest of the time.
Otherwise the black colourway is a classic, and should last longer than paler coloured jackets when it comes to winter’s worst mud staining.
The TSG Drop Rain Jacket verdict
The TSG Drop Rain jacket has certainly stood up to all of the abuse I have put it through in the test period. I’ve fallen off multiple times guinea pigging questionable trails and bashed through plenty of undergrowth, with no holes in the fabric and still no rain getting through.
There’s some really neat features here, although others could do with improvement: moving the zipped pockets higher up the torso, increasing cuff adjustability and crucially improving breathability for more pedally rides.
If you want a tough jacket that won’t break the bank, will stand up to abuse, and still keep the rain out, this wouldn’t be a bad one to go for.
TSG Drop Rain Jacket£119.99 €139.95
Last modified: 2nd February 2021