Bontrager Lithos Softshell Jacket - Review

Dec 3, 2015
by Mike Levy  
Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test


Fall and winter seem to always arrive regardless of how much time I spend praying they won't, and because I live in southwestern British Columbia, that means I spend a lot of time riding in chilly, damp conditions. In my neck of the woods, if you don't ride in the shit weather, you're probably not riding all that much. Bontrager's $174.99 USD Lithos Softshell jacket has been designed for exactly these sorts of days on the bike, but the Profila Softshell fabric is much more pliable than a full-on rain jacket that's intended for the wettest of the monsoon-level days. The Lithos Softshell is available in either black or blue, and sizes range from extra-small to double extra-large. www.bontrager.com


Lithos Softshell Details

• Profila Softshell fabric
• 5,000mm waterproof
• Semi-fitted cut
• Helmet compatible hood
• Two zippered hand pockets
• Single zippered chest pocket
• Sizes: XS - XXL
• Colours: black, blue
• MSRP: $174.99 USD
Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
The jacket's cut is more casual than race, and there's room for a few layers underneath it if it's really cold outside.
Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
The hood can slip over your helmet and then be snugged down so it won't blow off.


The Lithos' Profila Softshell fabric carries a 5,000mm waterproof, 5,000g/m²/24hr breathability rating, which means that it should withstand some pretty wet conditions before letting any moisture through, even if it's shy of the 10,000mm+ rating that's better suited to biblical rain (they also offer their Stormshell jacket that has a 10,000mm-30,000g/m2/24hr rating). It also doesn't have the taped seams of a heavier duty and less breathable rain jacket, but I'm a fan of staying inside on days when going for a ride presents a drowning danger. Its adjustable hood is large enough to go up and over your helmet, a handy trick if you end up having to stop mid-storm to fix your bike.


Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
The pockets sport a mesh lining that allows them to do double duty as vents.
Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
The Lithos' inside surface is soft to the touch.


The inside surface of the Lithos is soft to the touch, and two hand pockets with mesh liners allow you to warm your paws up against your body while also acting as vents when you need to release some steam. The same can be said of the single zippered chest pocket on the rider's upper left side, a location where you'll also find a small internal port for you to run your headphones up the inside of the jacket. Might as well listen to some good tunes if you're going to be out in the bad weather. As with a lot of jackets, the tail is slightly longer to help keep the mud and spray from going up (or down) your backside, and you can adjust the fit around your waist via elastic pull-straps. The cuffs, however, are elastic and not adjustable.



Performance

There are some jackets that have a cut that's so cycling-specific that it makes them near useless anytime you're off the bike, but the Lithos Softshell isn't one of them. The jacket's fit is slightly snug up under the arms and around the lats, but no so much so that it's restrictive during day to day use. There's certainly some extra material to be found elsewhere that gives it a bit more of a casual fit, especially in the sleeves (maybe it's my pipe-cleaner arms?), but that's also what makes the Lithos so comfortable. The pliable Profila Softshell fabric is also far less restricting than a heavy duty rain jacket, making it feel more like a normal jacket than some sort of thick plastic bag.


Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
  Warm your cold paws up in the mesh lined pockets, or open all three forward-facing pockets for maximum venting. There are no pit vents on the Lithos.


I did pull the hood up and over my helmet a few times when things got really nasty, but I don't think I'd actually ride my bike with it up and over my lid like that - it's more for food breaks and repair stops. That said, it'll stay up there when you're riding if you tug on the elastic pull-straps to snug it down.

Sleeve length felt good as well, but I'd prefer Velcro cuffs that would let me pull the sleeves down over my gloves and then snug them up. Without some Velcro, the elastic cuffs pull up slightly above shorter gloves despite there being plenty of sleeve length. This would expose a small strip of skin to the elements that could be a bit annoying if it was really cold out.
Bontrager Lithos Softshell jacket review test
The hood easily covers your helmet.

And as for warmth, I wore the Lithos Softshell on some below freezing rides with temps in the 25 - 30ºF range, with a long sleeve jersey underneath it, and didn't find that I was cold once I got into the ride. My hands and feet might have been iced up, but I was comfortable underneath the jacket. Breathability is a hard one for me to judge as I'm usually a heavy sweater, and it was no different when I was wearing the Lithos. I'd finish a long or hard ride and find that my jersey was just a touch damp under the jacket from sweating, but I can say the same thing about every single jacket that I've ever used. Most importantly, I was never cold, and no rain ever managed to soak through.



Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesProviding that you aren't going for a pedal in a blizzard or a monsoon, the Lithos Softshell will keep you warm and dry during the kind of rides when a jacket makes sense. It's also able to pull double duty as a casual, everyday kind of jacket for when it's a bit nippy out. - Mike Levy



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48 Comments

  • + 27
 Come on pinkbike this is winter I want reviews on grips and multi tools.
  • + 11
 waterproof socks and thermal underwear too. maybe insulated water bottles?
  • + 19
 I would like to see more suspension tuning articles this winter. Big Grin
  • + 13
 I think we're short on wheelsize debate, and of course, more industry standards are required
  • + 4
 I want reviews on esoteric bike-packing equipment.
  • + 42
 @gnarbar - No joke, I have a review of some waterproof socks coming up soon.
  • + 4
 Let's do it!!!! ... my feet are cold.
  • + 4
 Darn Tough, best socks ever made period. Keep your feet warm when wet. Last years instead of months. @gnarbar @mikelevy
  • + 4
 E-Bike racing will warm up the winter
  • + 3
 How about some $35 stance boxer briefs?
This jacket almost nailed it...add back vent, pit zips or removable sleeves-vest and I'm in at $150. Otherwise a $50 job will suffice.
  • + 5
 @jrocksdh Trash bags are really cheap too.
  • + 3
 ... Beer review !!
  • + 1
 Lack of pit zips is surprising but this looks decent otherwise. I'd go with black - I wonder if this blue will look dingy and stained after a few muddy winter rides. Grit can get embedded in soft shell material.
  • + 5
 Well I'm going to buy one. My clothing department is lacking and bontragers stuff has been super solid for me the last few years, from clothing to tires, bars and of course, bikes.
  • + 2
 Honestly, don't. For the price and lack of pit zips and Velcro cuffs. There have gotta be better options out there!
  • + 3
 I agree with EDBProductions. We have one at the shop I work at and I'm not overly impressed with it. There are more technical jackets out there for the same price if not less that will do a better job.
  • + 1
 Bontrager's guarantee is pretty outstanding, though. If it doesn't work, take it back @T-woot
  • + 6
 Marmot precip best jacket 90$ at rei.
  • + 2
 Love the Marmot precip.
  • + 1
 Marmot and mountain hardware-can't go wrong with their stuff.
  • + 1
 I got one about a month ago and bike commute in it daily. Best bike clothing purchase I've made in years.
  • + 2
 Just bought this and while it wasn't designed for mtb, it is perfect for what we encounter in the PNW. Probably the most features on a jacket for the weight and is very reasonably priced.. It has Goretex Paclite as well which is awesome!
www.outdoorresearch.com/en/mens-foray-jacket-32502.html
  • + 6
 That looks great. I'd certainly go with a dedicated outerwear company over trek's in house component brand.
  • + 1
 Yeah, for sure! They are Seattle company so they definitely know what we encounter up here.
  • + 2
 Outdoor Research backs up their products amazingly as well. If your gear blows out you just send an email and they'll ship you a new one, no questions asked- once the replacement shows up at your door you mail back the defective item and they give it away to charity. I use a couple different pairs of their gloves for snowboarding/touring. I'd 10/10 recommend any product they sold.
  • + 1
 You can get it for $136 on Amazon. Much better jacket and price compared to what is being reviewed.
  • + 3
 No mountain biker in their right mind would buy that jacket for winter riding. It would be dirty as hell after one ride and never come clean.
  • + 1
 Looks good and about right for the price, but I would steer clear of 5000 waterproof and breathability. As mentioned, that's not enough for any significant rain, but more importantly when biking, that's not breathable enough for much physical exertion. You can end up even more wet and cold when you wear something that doesn't breath. Anyone know of any bike gear made with 37.5 (formerly Cocona) material? My Homeschool Snowboarding jacket uses it and it's insanely breathable. For example this piece that is 15000mm and 30000g on sale for $125. www.evo.com/outlet/shell-jackets/homeschool-snowboarding-ghost-25l-light-jacket.aspx

I've also had pretty good luck with gore tex but you pay so much, you hate to go down and shred your $500 rain jacket.
  • + 1
 I have a similar jacket to this (the Royal Apline) and I love the thing. I beat the crap out of my first one for a few years and just bought a new one a few months ago. It has a similar waterproof/breathabiliy rating as this one and I have no problems with it. If it gets a little too warm I just unzip the under am vents and all is good. If this is at all like the Alpine its a great jacket. I wear mine everywhere, on and off the bike.
  • + 3
 @BiNARYBiKE Bontrager Lithos Stormshell - 37.5 tech, 10,000 waterproof, 30,000 breathability :-)
  • + 1
 Ask and ye shall receive! Cool. It's good stuff.
  • + 1
 @sino428 I paid $72 for the cyan one and $120 for the black one last weekend. That's actually cheaper isn't it? Also, for anyone in the vancouver area Sugoi, Sombrio and Pearl Izumi are having a huge warehouse sale this weekend on the Shore.
  • + 1
 Of course, there are always good deals to be had if you can find them. My point was that just in general, garments like the one you pointed, with full on waterproofing like Neoshell are just a higher level of jacket than a softshell like the one reviewed here. And those type of garments generally carry a much higher price tag. Just saying that its two different classes of jacket, and that a comparison of the two generally isn't fair. If you can find a great deal on the higher end stuff than hell yea, go for it.
  • + 0
 Honestly, I've been a huge fan of Bontrager stuff the past 2 years. I have a few of their jackets and pretty much all my trail riding gear is from them, and I've never been let down. Their apparel game is super during this year also.
  • + 1
 A word of warning if you're buying a jacket with a hood that is designed to go over a helmet ... unless you use the hood over a helmet then the hood will be a terrible fit on your head
  • + 1
 I like soft shell jackets. But mine look casual. And they look good not like a nerdy bike jacket. This looks a nerdy bike jacket. Goes great with a pyjama looking kit. Very enduro!
  • + 1
 Ive been riding in a 7mesh jacket, owned 3 or 4 bike jackets in my time, 7mesh is definitely the best one yet....that being said, i'd like to try this sucker out.
  • + 1
 I've got two westcomb jackets, but I can't bring myself to wear them while riding in fear of trashing them. They're just too nice!
  • + 2
 Going for a bit of the Stoic look i see. Looks good, i'll throw it on the christmas list!
  • + 1
 the western european style
  • + 1
 Where are the rub-resistant shoulder peaces, that protect the material from the chafing that the backpack causes?
  • + 1
 I was so cold on my ride today I couldn't feel my face, hands, or feet. It might be smart to buy one of these.
  • + 9
 Well it might be a good buy but this won't cover you face, hands or feet
  • + 1
 good point. hadn't thought of that Wink
  • + 3
 Thats a full on neoshell waterproof jacket thats twice the price. Of course its going to be better.
  • + 1
 You can find it on amazon for half the price.
  • + 1
 My all weather riding jacket is from Westcomb. Made right in Vancouver BC.

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