Review: Norrona's Skibotn Gore-Tex Pro Jacket Has Hidden Hand Covers

May 14, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
Norrona skibotn jacket review


Norrona aren't newcomers to the outdoor apparel world – the Norwegian company has been at it for 90 years, ever since Jørgen Jørgensen started making backpacks and tents back in 1929. Tents aren't in their lineup anymore, but there is a wide range of clothing designed for everything from mountaineering to mountain biking.

The skibotn jacket was designed specifically for mountain biking, with a host of unique features that set it apart from the crowd, things like deployable hand covers to keep your gloves from getting soaked, stretch fabric on the shoulders and elbows, and a clever ventilation system that runs down the entire front of the jacket. The jacket is made from Gore-Tex Pro fabric, with fully taped seams and a DWR coating.
skibotn Gore-Tex Pro Details
• Gore-Tex Pro fabric
• Zippered underarm vents, mesh front vent
• 28,000mm waterproof rating
• Zippered chest pocket
• Weight: 344 grams (lrg)
• Color: Caviar Black
• Sizes: S-XL
• $449 USD
www.norrona.com

With a price of $449 USD, this certainly isn't a budget-oriented option (the fact that the color is called "Caviar Black" should be a hint), but it does come with a 5-year warranty.


Norrona skibotn jacket review

Performance

The skibotn isn't a stripped down, bare bones rain shell that you can roll into a ball and stuff into a jersey pocket. It's more of a midweight option, a jacket you'd put on when it's already pouring outside, or when an emergency shell isn't going to cut it. I tested a size large, which worked for my 5'11” height, with room for an extra layer or two underneath. The stretch fabric kept the jacket from feeling too restricting, and the two velcro straps at the lower hem are well placed for fine-tuning the fit.

No matter how breathable a fabric is claimed to be, having actual vents is crucial to avoid getting overheated and turning into a sweaty, soaked mess. Remember, 'breathable' only refers to a fabric's ability to allow water vapor to escape – once you're producing actual drops of sweat the fabric can't do much to help. Luckily, Norrona nailed it with the skibotn's ventilation – there's a vent under each arm, but it's the double zipper in the front that's the star of the show.


Norrona skibotn jacket review
Norrona skibotn jacket review
The skibotn even has a built-in screen door.


Typically, if you open up the front zipper on a jacket to dump some heat it'll end up flapping around or awkwardly bunching up underneath the straps of a pack. With the skibotn, there's a second zipper track that's used to reveal a mesh panel that runs up the center of the jacket. It's not that wide, but it allows for a generous amount of airflow, and when combined with the pit-zips there was enough ventilation that I could keep the jacket on during long climbs without feeling like I was going to melt. The waterproof zippers on the underarm take a firm pull to open, but they've become easier to operate with more use. When it's time to descend, or if things get too breezy, using the other zipper track closes the screen door to fully shut out the wind and rain.

I've been using the skibotn regularly for nearly six months, and the fabric doesn't look any worse for wear. Thankfully, I haven't had any major crashes, but I've ridden through plenty of branches and brambles without any repercussions. The DWR coating is holding strong, and the Gore-Tex Pro membrane is holding up its end of the bargain as well - I've stayed dry and comfortable in some seriously wet conditions.


Norrona skibotn jacket review
Norrona skibotn jacket review
The deployable hand covers might seem silly, until you're caught in a massive downpour.


How about those hand covers? I thought they were a little goofy at first, but it only took one extra-soggy ride until they became my favorite feature. When it's really wet out all, a close encounter with a saturated pine bough is all that's required to soak through a set of gloves, but those covers make that a non-issue. They don't provide full coverage, and your gloves will still get wet in places, but not nearly as wet as they'd be without the covers.

What's missing? Not much, although I wouldn't mind seeing a detachable hood. I don't usually use one while riding, but given this jacket's price it'd be nice to be able to wear it for other activities that don't require a helmet.


Norrona skibotn jacket review
Stretchy fabric is located on the shoulders and elbows to help provide a greater range of motion.


Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe skibotn's price tag is steep, which makes it best suited for riders who spend a good portion of their saddle time out in the rain. For those wet weather warriors this is an excellent option, a jacket that's packed full of well thought out features to help make those soggy rides a little more enjoyable. Mike Kazimer







Want to read about other options? Check out our Ridden & Rated feature for a dozen more possibilities.


98 Comments

  • + 29
 If I lived in a place that justified buying a 450 dollar cagoule, I would be looking for a new country of residence. And it doesn't have a hood?

Interested to see what more amphibious riders think.
  • + 16
 On the contrary. A country that justifies a jacket like that must be properly wet. Which implies that it is accepted to ride the trails in the wet because they're adapted to that. As opposed to trails in a drier climate. If it is wet, you shouldn't ride them as you'll cause damage that will be very hard to fix once everything has dried again. So basically in a place like that, you can always ride. What's not to like? Just get a cheaper bike and you can buy the better jacket Smile .
  • + 5
 Well I hate hoods on bike specific jackets. I tend to put a Gore-Tex roadie hat under my helmet when it rains which I find is the best compromise for full visibility etc. It looks like a nice jacket, but damn, I would be paranoid about damaging it. It is almost too expensive to use.
  • + 8
 If you are in a financial position to think ahead a little, a good Goretex jacket makes sense - I have had a bunch of 100/200 Euro jackets and nearly all of them are dead after a year, whereas my Goretex jackets keep going year after year (with a little TLC). My Norrona goretex jacket has been going since 2013 and still holds up well, although it needs recoating more frequently these days, and that is with the lighter goretex fabric - the pro fabric is incredible and much tougher.

(And this is in the south of France.)
  • + 2
 @mattwragg: Around here and where you are, you'd have to ride every wet day of the year to wear out jackets at such a rate no? Are you in a microclimate or something?
Maybe I find it hard to believe that people would willingly choose to ride in the rain for other than professional reasons.
  • + 8
 I prefer to use rock climbing jackets for riding rather than bike specific models. The hoods are designed to fit under helmets, more durable, long sleeves and arms and the water proofing materials are far superior. For £200 you can find a pro shell gore Tex jacket that will last you.

Norrona is one of the most expensive brand, up there with arcteryx so that's why the price tag is outrageous
  • + 4
 @vinay: also, at 450 bucks I would hate to crash with it on. Intending to keep it for 10 years will not fix any damage sustained.
  • - 1
 @BenPea: Look, I still don't have a rain jacket for mountainbiking. My skin does an amazing job at keeping the rain out. I'm looking at jackets but I still haven't decided. I don't want to wear anything that will make me worried about damaging it. But 200 euro is still a lot for something that will only live for a single season or so. I hate to dispose of something that's otherwise fine but there is just enough wear from my backpack that they water will seep through the shoulders and a repair would be too expensive. I'd rather get something that actually lasts and that they'll actually repair it for you or have patch kits or something. I thought Gore Bike Wear does that, but the sleeves are too narrow for my elbow pads. So yeah, if it lasts, performs and can be repaired I'd be willing more than twice what I'd otherwise pay for a jacket that lasts only one or two seasons and can't be repaired.
  • + 2
 @BenPea: Depends. I play golf once a week. So I have a full Goretex rain suit, rain bag, rain gloves. I only get to play once a week, so I'm going even if it's raining.
Sunday I ride. And I only get to ride once a week. But I'm yet to buy any rain specific mountainbike stuff as I get a lot warmer on the bike than I do wandering round a golf course. It's on my list though!
  • + 2
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: fair enough. We don't all have a choice.
  • + 2
 @BenPea: riding in the rain is fun! plus, i still gotta get to work
  • + 1
 @DonkeyTeeth: na, rain was only invented to calm down the dust.
  • + 1
 @DonkeyTeeth: and I'm thinking of your wallet mate, nobody should be exploited
  • + 5
 @BenPea Riding in BC is some of the best in the world - yet having a rain jacket for riding much of BC is an absolute necessity. And you'd be willing to move away from that, over the price of a jacket?
  • + 0
 @ratedgg13: yep, I go to pieces when it's slippy and wash my bike only in an emergency. It's ok, I'm in the Alps. It's not bad here either. You've totally put me off BC though!
  • + 2
 @felimocl: Do you have a specific recommendation?
  • + 2
 @BenPea: That's the beauty of BC. It's wet but it's not that slippy. In fact I've liked a lot of the trails better when they're wet.
  • + 2
 Like the hand covers, no hood no deal.
  • + 2
 Cagoule. Had to look that one up.
  • + 0
 @slovenian6474: ok, and what's the charcuterie like?
  • + 1
 @jhtopilko: I wear north face or montane jackets because they fit me perfectly. It's sizing and fit that matters for individuals
  • + 0
 @felimocl: yes, using touristic/outdoor specific equipment! It is far ahead in development for price / brathability / water-resistant.
  • - 1
 Went to REI a few years back in spring and got a Marmot Goretex Minimalist jacket for 50% off when they were blowing out all of the winter stuff (it was $130). Best jacket I’ve ever had for rain. Cheap, it held up, still waterproof and I’ve done zero maintenance. I use it to fish, hike, sports, etc. not for riding though. Could I use it for riding? I don’t see how a $500 jacket is going to work better. Anyway, If it’s raining, I don’t ride, what for? It’s not fun, the bike takes a lot of wear and tear, and where I live the trails take a beating when they’re wet. If there’s rain in the forecast, I leave the jacket home and get wet if the rain starts while I’m in the woods, it’s part of riding.
  • + 0
 @BenPea: Riding in the rain actually is fun! But it's better for it to be raining properly than for the ground to start drying out, the grip is better when it's still raining.
  • + 2
 @BenPea: ever been to Squamish? Trails are better when it rains, about 200 days per year. I’m not professional and I really enjoy riding in the rain.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: ya well the 2013 model probably has an advantage of using older dwr coating that is now banned but lasted much longer then the current options companies have.

My last 2 a North face hyvent 2.0 (trash after a year.
Showers pass refuge ( trash after a year) and the showers pass really pissed me off had it on last week and wetted out in seconds then despite no holes in the arms and shoulders leaked getting me wet.

Companies need to start offering some sort of deer respray/recoat service.
Because the dwr options for consumers are all subpar.

There's is a guy in England that sells/makes a water spray that I would like to try but he won't ship it overseas.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: *dwr respray
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: *wader spray....smashing phone Frown
  • + 1
 @syncro: don't worry, I think I'm a reptile
  • + 1
 @BenPea: La grenouille de Grenoble. Ceci est vrai pour un homme français.
  • + 1
 @reverend27: That's why Gore-tex has a guaranteed to keep you dry policy and is one of the things you pay for with the extra $$$ that Gore-Tex stuff costs. If it's still leaking after a consumer DWR application, they'll replace it.
  • + 1
 @ratedgg13: io non capito.
  • + 2
 @slovenian6474: right on I'll be looking at some gore Tex then.
  • + 1
 @reverend27: I've actually used this before on a 4 year old pair of motorcycle boots. The boots still had life left in them but leaked. Gore-Tex sent me a brand new pair of shoes.
  • + 1
 @slovenian6474: gore tex losses breathability in mud conditions, that's major flaw
  • + 1
 @nickmalysh: Cake anything in mud and it's going to lose breathability.
  • + 1
 @slovenian6474: You guys end up with so much area of your rainjackets caked in mud that loss of breathability becomes an issue? You need heavier rains to wash them clean again Wink .
  • + 1
 The mud probably clogs up the membrane? Washing it doesn't help?
  • + 1
 @Primoz: Nikwash has stuff to clean technical clothing like that.
  • + 1
 @slovenian6474: that's the whole difference btw 450$ and 100$ jacket
  • + 1
 @slovenian6474: can you list some of the companies I'm having trouble finding them?
  • + 14
 Over the years I have bought so-called waterproof jackets from Raceface, Sombrio, MEC, etc...they're all utter trash and barely lasted one season. The Sombrio jacket didn't even last a single day. Wetted through in less than 20 minutes on a hiking trip and I was cold and miserable for three days. Contacted Sombrio customer service to complain how their advertising is way off, or maybe I had a lemon of a product. Never heard from them. I've spent way more on these garbage products than the cost of this Norrona jacket. These more expensive jackets from Endura, Arcteryx, Norrona, Gore, Patagonia, etc, are worth every penny when you're stuck in the cold rain for hours/days. And most have a lifetime warranty. Bunch of my ski friends who bought a high end shell 15 years ago either still have it or they've gotten replacements for free if they ever did fail in any way. I bought an Endura MT500 this spring and it's a million times better than anything else I've owned, and honestly not even that much more expensive. I'll be grabbing an Arcteryx shell for the ski season too.
  • + 2
 That is true. I went over so many snowboard (+ backcountry) jackets until I got arcteryx. It was hard to justify the price at first, but now I do not regret it at all.
  • + 1
 I use my Norrona jacket for biking now. I bought it for ski touring 4 years back - It's super light, very breathable and water repellent, but the zip is a f*cking disaster for a jacket that's only four years old, and definitely NOT to be trusted in a winter backcountry scenario. Biking, I can handle it if the zip comes open, I'm never that far from civilization that waterproof becomes life threatening. Maybe I got a bad one ? My friend has couple of Norrona jackets and hasn't had the same problems ( that I'm aware of ) - love the brand, like their style but won't be buying again.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33 which Race Face jacket did you have? I have the Agent one and it delayered badly in the past two years of (mostly winter) use with the inner layer tearing under the armpits as well. It is my first and for now only rain jacket, it still works in light rain, but i'll have to start thinking about something new very soon.
  • + 1
 @benhg: Try to get in touch with them, I have no isses whatsoever. You might get a replacement or at least a fix.
  • + 1
 @Primoz: Yeah the Agent jacket and shorts have to be some of the worst MTB specific gear ever. So terrible. Also a regrettable buy was a pair of Royal Matrix "waterproof" shorts. Basically just really heavy material that isn't waterproof. So it just takes longer for the water to reach your body, I guess? Everything gets a little waterproof by applying some DWR spray but it's hardly as effective as an actual waterproof shell.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: I actually like the agent shorts apart from a few details. They are the only pair of waterproof shorts i've ever owned, but as far as i did the market research, they are more or less the only one with a decent liner (mesh on the inside), so can be standalone. Most of the other ones that are only a thin shell appear to be only an overshort?
  • + 1
 Oh, i have to add, i'm a bit specific when it comes to shorts as i'm fairly tall (190 cm) with fairly long legs (apparently, 91 cm inseam), but i'm of a small frame and mostly wear M clothing. It's very hard for me to find shorts that are long enough to come to the pad with the only offerings that i currently own coming from Race Face (Ambush and Agent) and a set of Dakine Derails. I'm preparing to get a set of Norrona's Fjoras, though those have a bit of an over the knee design so i'll see how that works out. Ideally i'd like a 16 or 17 inch inseam with a straight fit without any over the knee malarkey, that would actually be over the pad design for me, still not over the knee (a 15 inch inseam, standing up, comes to just a bit higher than my knee, on the bike it's much worse).
  • + 2
 @Primoz: I'm 6'5 (196cm), so I know exactly what you're talking about. My knees are always out.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: Please tell me if you find any good shorts. I can report on the Norronas, but i think it will take over a month to get them.
  • + 1
 @Primoz: raceface trigger are the longest shorts I've owned. They're super light weight though and not at all waterproof if you're looking for something to wear in the rain.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: I have the Agents to be waterproof. And they do work, i'm dry in them (have been in the rain in them for a few hours and can't fault them). The jacket is not as good in my opinion, but it also might be sweat that makes me clammy in it, not completely sure.

As for the Ambush shorts i have, they are also supposed to be DWR. I think one of the first rides was coming home in the rain for literally the last 200 meters and the drops went straight through. 'DWR'...

FYI, Triggers have a 13 inch inseam. The Ambush and Agents are 15 inch, so is Dakine's Derail. But the Derail and Ambush don't appear to be in the 2019 lineup for some reason...
  • + 6
 After having lots of different clothing from Norrøna over the years, I am done with it. The zippers and zipper attachment to the fabric has always been an issue and the fabric discolours after a few washes. For the price you would expect good quality, but it just isn´t.
  • + 4
 Have you given them feedback? I have my first Norrøna jacket for just over a year now of nearly every day use from just going to work to MTB, to hiking, etc. And it's holding up very fine.
  • + 1
 Skier with 3 of them. Exact opposite feeling.
  • + 5
 Yup. Is there a Norwegian zipper tax or something?—with their snow jackets, too: unlike ArcTeryx, who’ll use an indestructible one-way zipper, these guys go double two-way dainty with it. Norrona’s Zipper Manager must be shady. Something going on over there.
I just got some skibotn mtb shorts. They’re the worst shorts I’ve ridden in...maybe ever. Got the flimsy two-way zippers down the outseam, and the rear pockets were only good for snagging on my saddle. Material was good but everything else was way off.
The skibotn merino tshirt is fantastic though. Zipper guy wasn’t allowed to chime in on that one.
  • + 2
 wow! Just saw this after typing my essay above - so I'm not alone with the crappy Norrona zipper syndrome Smile
  • + 6
 "The skibotn's price tag is steep, which makes it best suited for riders who spend a good portion of their saddle time running from Starbucks to Google or from their helipad to their Goldman Sachs corner office."
  • + 7
 I have hidden hand covers on my jacket too. I call them 'pockets'. Sure riding the trails becomes more of a challenge, but my hands stay dry.
  • + 4
 Why buy new? Especially with expensive price tag and risk of being damaged in a spill. I've gotten a few Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Black Diamond, Marmot Gore-tex jackets "pre-loved" for under $100 and they have been in fantastic condition. Small soak and spray with NikWax they are good to go and have often, lasted years. AND if you ruin the darn thing in a spill, your not out a wad of cash.
  • + 1
 And WHEN I ruin it in a spill. I’m only allowed to wear trash bags now
  • + 1
 There's also Last Hunt, Altitude Sports, Sporting Life, etc that quite often have Arcteryx gear anywhere from 30-50% off. Also ski resorts are a great place to check out towards the end of their season. Silverstar had all their Arcteryx stuff at 50% off in March. There's even the Arcteryx outlet in North van. You can get the good stuff for solid deals if you look around.
  • + 1
 @rwjones4:
Fat fingers accidentally neg propped you, sorry!

Good point for a mtb shell. Between dirt sprayed up, tree and rock scrapes and actually crashes they have a tough life.
  • + 3
 I love Norrona products. Yes they are expensive but I find they last way longer than any other gear I have had in the past and so arent really expensive in the long term. If you buy crap you will just keep replacing it. My favourites right now are the newest Fjora shorts. Also if there's any chance of rain I stick the bitihorn gore-tex active jacket in the back of my bib shorts, it's an insanely light jacket that its unnoticeable to carry and is very waterproof and durable. If you think you cant afford Norrona products go on to the outlet on their website and try it out, you wont ever go back to cheaply made gear again.
  • + 1
 They are expensive but the quality shines through out. I have a couple of their mountain biking shorts that have taken an absolute beating for the past two years and are still going strong. The outlet is the way to go, good bargains!
  • + 5
 Hood over helmet when its properly pissing down, especially when the jacket doubles up for commuting.
  • + 1
 I use mammoth jacket for 100$+-; 5years in a row, and it starts to gave up recently, it was used for all kind of outdoor activity;

Unfortunately bike specific clothes far behind in development comparing to ski/outdoor specific.

Only recently, Fox and looseriders introduce some compatible stuff to the market
  • + 3
 I came here only to read the 'a plastic bag is all you need' and 'I buy my stuff at the thrift store' comments... *grabs beer and popcorn*
  • + 1
 I bought a leather jacket from a company that was going out of business, for a good deal, and every time I wear it I'm thinking, "Holy guacamole who the heck is this fricking guy!!!". I feel like a f*cking tool, but I really shouldn't I guess.
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer pine BOUGH, unless you've been wandering the forest constructing medieval weapons and self flagellating with them...
  • + 2
 as someone who sweats a lot, especially while riding, aside from a huge downpour, i cant imagine many scenarios where a rainjacket would keep me dry from the rain, but not super wet inside from sweat anyways.
  • + 3
 Scroll to price, immediately head to comments for the show.
  • + 3
 MTB specific jacket with ski in the name?
  • + 2
 Have skiing and biking stuff from Norona.. For me one of the best brands on the planet. Worth of any penny..
  • + 3
 Sometimes I hate having a jacket fetish.
  • + 1
 Only sometimes though. This is a beauty. Just had a Madison DTE replaced under warranty and that is a beauty too!
  • + 1
 oh, i am not the only one who has more jackets than the wife shoes Big Grin
  • + 1
 I bought the old model of the gore c5 trail jacket for a bargain price and it arrived just today. Can't wait to test the legendary goretex
  • + 1
 Too bad it doesn't have a hood, because at that price i would use it both for biking and hiking.
  • + 1
 I keep a $5 hooded pancho in my bag for the rare cases it rains hard during a ride.
  • + 2
 That is some price. Is this is made from real Skibotn skin?
  • + 2
 Why would you buy this over an Endura MT500 which is better in every way!?
  • + 4
 It's more waterproof (on paper) and guaranteed to stay that way.
  • + 1
 I bought an endura mt500 this year and I love it so far. Unsure how it would last compared to gore tex pro but crc had it on sale for $250 cad.
  • + 0
 Lamenting the lack of a detachable hood eliminates all credibility. Removable / stowaway hoods are not acceptable. Ever.
  • + 1
 Removable hoods are way different than stowaway hoods. The hoods on both of my ski jackets are removable and I see no performance drawbacks ( I actually had to go check to make sure the second was removable).
  • - 1
 @MarcusBrody: BOTH ARE UN AC CEP TA BLE thank you for your time
  • + 2
 @owl-X: You're an odd bird, owl-X.
  • + 0
 @MarcusBrody: YOU CHECKED YOUR CLOSET TO BACK UP YOUR COMMENT so actually good job you got me
  • + 1
 dentist jackets are coming.
  • + 1
 Why are you reviewing this now when it almost summer?
  • + 3
 So that he has actually had the opportunity to use it properly? He could use one in Whistler during July and August and release a review in October just in time for us on the northern hemisphere. But it just wouldn't be the same.
  • + 1
 Good time to get a deal on rain jackets, no?
  • + 2
 @THE-GUNT, where I live it can rain any time of the year. In fact, it's pouring outside right now.
  • + 1
 Good point @mikekazimer:
  • + 1
 Those hand straps will be the first thing to rip off. And a no hood?
  • + 1
 Mike ive seen you look better

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