2017 Fall/Winter Gear Guide - 7 Women's Kits Tested

Nov 18, 2017 at 23:19
by Colin Meagher  

Winter arrived with a bang this year in the Pacific Northwest. We went from a ridiculously hot summer with weeks of smoke filled skies to a deluge of rain and below average temperatures within a short period of time; perfect conditions for testing gear. This is our third instalment of Fall/Winter gear reviews for Pinkbike, and you can find a lot of the background and information on waterproof/breathable fabrics, etc. in the last one.

For this year's gear guide, we've reviewed an assortment of kits designed for the changing seasons, with kits from Patagonia, Specialized, Pearl Izumi, Fox Racing, Madison, Showers Pass, and Endura. It’s important to note that these reviews are based on short-term testing. Each kit has a different design philosophy and with that comes different fabrics, different temperature ranges, and different price tags. Since you can't really compare apples to oranges, the focus of these reviews is on fit, comfort, style, and function. We do our best to order the correct size on items we review, but given the complete lack of consistency between size charts, sometimes we are off. This go around I'd say we did pretty well on sizing.

Nikki Portrait
About the tester: Nikki Hollatz stands 5’5” and weighs 135 lbs with a 27.5-inch waist, 37-inch hips, 35-inch chest and wears a size small helmet, size large gloves and EU-41 shoes. She typically falls between a size small and medium, US size 6, depending on the brand. She and Colin Meagher call Hood River, OR home along with her two kids, a dog, and a grumpy cat.

Pearl Izumi’s mission is to ‘make athletes better,’ plain and simple. Their website states that they were one of the first companies to create mountain bike specific apparel and they have a reputation for innovative, well-designed products.

Pearl Izumi Woman s Launch Thermal Jersey and Capri
Pearl Izumi Woman s Launch Thermal Jersey and Capri
Women's Launch Thermal Jersey & Launch Capri pictured with Pearl Izumi Women's Summit Glove, Smith Forefront helmet and Mavic Crossmax SL Pro thermal shoes.

Women’s Launch Thermal Jersey
$75 USD
Sizes: XS-XXL
Colors: Blue Steel/Zest Fracture, Black/ Atlantis Fracture (tested), Monument/Black, Black/Aqua Mint

The Launch Thermal Jersey is Pearl Izumi’s new winter-weight long sleeve jersey. It is constructed with a brushed thermal fabric that’s said to provide superior warmth and moisture wicking and is intended for use in temperatures ranging from 45 to 60 degrees F. The jersey features a V-neck collar design, a hidden optical cloth/google wipe (which I couldn’t find – good job on the hidden part!), and a wide elastic cuff that is tight enough to keep the piece snug on your wrist.

I tested the Launch thermal jersey in a size medium. The jersey fit me spot on with a slim cut and stretchy feel. The website indicates that the jersey is supposed to be loose fitting but there was nothing loose about the size medium on me so I recommend sizing up from what their chart indicates is ideal for you if you want a looser fit.

Pearl Izumi Launch Thermal jersey V-neck cut drop tail and soft thermal fabric.
Pearl Izumi Launch Thermal jersey, V-neck cut, drop tail and soft thermal fabric.

I used this jersey during some early morning rides in brisk fall temps on a recent trip to the Utah high desert. I did not wear a baselayer under it (although I did carry a light shell “just in case” any weather rolled in). It truly is the perfect piece for cold dry fall mornings when you want to keep things simple and stay warm. It offers good breathability and while I got a bit warm on the short punchy climbs, I never felt damp from sweat, and I was never cold enough that I needed to add the jacket. This jersey comes in 4 very attractive designs and is sure to get lots of positive compliments on the trail.

Women’s Launch Capri
$80 USD
Sizes: XS-L
Colors: Black (tested), Purple Wine, Blue Steel

Pearl Izumi makes a variety of shorts but none are really ideal for cool weather riding. Hence the Launch Capri. They feature a wide waistband with belt loops as well as interior elastic waist adjusters, two zippered hand pockets, and a stretch panel on the rear yoke that give the pants a really nice , non-restrictive feel. Note that these are not a winter specific product: there is no DWR coating or insulation; But... with the additional leg coverage, they are a good choice for brisk/precipitation-free fall days (target temperature range is 55-80°F).

I tested the Women’s Launch Capri in size medium. They fit me perfectly, and matched up with the PI size chart. The capris are described as being ideally suited for road or mountain bike riding and as having a semi-form fit. All true: they were almost as comfortable as my favorite yoga pants.

Pearl Izumi Woman s Launch Thermal Jersey and Capri
Pearl Izumi launch capri details
Pearl Izumi Launch Capri wide waistband with belt loops, interior elastic waist adjusters and a stretch panel on the rear yoke.

Anytime I walk out in capri pants around my dad he asks me if I am preparing for a flood. I remind him that he’s not only old as dirt, but he’s from a different generation and that “capris” are both stylish and popular. At 5’5” I guess I’m borderline too short to pull the look off in his mind, but that being said, I know plenty of women that would love the added length, fit, and style of these riding pants. I tested these with a pair of G-form knee guards underneath and a bib liner. The capris easily fit over the knee guards and interacted well. You could rock these on all day riding adventures in the summer, or pair them with a nice blouse and show up to work and no one would realize that they are cycling specific. There is a look for everyone, so if you are looking for a lightweight, multipurpose, super comfortable and well-designed riding capri, I think these fit the bill.

Specialized has a simple mission – to be the brand of choice for discerning riders. I’m not so sure I’d categorize most the mountain bikers I know as “discerning riders”, but hey, we all have goals. Regardless, we all know that Specialized makes top-notch, innovative products and I came away from this review massively impressed with the gear I was able to put my hands on.

Specialized Women s Therminal MTN Jersey and Andorra Pro Short
Specialized Women s Therminal MTN Jersey and Andorra Pro Short
Specialized Women's Therminal Mountain Jersey and Women's Andorra Pro Shorts pictured with Specialized Women's LoDown Gloves, Women's 2FO Cliplite MTB shoe, Atlas Knee Guards, Ambush Comp Helmet and the Merino Tall Socks.

Women’s Therminal™ Mountain Jersey
$120 USD
Sizes: XS-XL
Colors: Black Ruby (tested), Black Teal

I tested the Women’s Therminal Mountain Jersey in size medium. The jacket utilizes a Therminal™ fabric which offers insulating properties, good breathability and moisture control with a soft fleece feel against the skin. The jacket features a full-length front zipper, two front hand pockets and one zippered side pocket, thumb holes on wrist cuffs, and a three-panel hood that fits under a helmet if necessary.

Specialized Women s Therminal MTN Jersey and Andorra Pro Short
Specialized Women s Therminal MTN Jersey and Andorra Pro Short
Specialized Women's Therminal Mountain Jersey drop tail, and Specialized drirelease Merino Neck Gaiter.

Specialized sized the jersey with a “standard fit”, which Specialized describes as “close to the body without being constricting.” I could easily wear a thin jersey or simple baselayer under this piece, but probably not a heavy mid layer. This style jersey, like the Pearl Izumi jersey, is designed you keep you warm in cold temperatures but offers minimal protection against rain.

I test drove the Therminal Jersey in the Utah desert where the temperatures were chilly but dry. It is a really well-designed piece. It didn’t restrict any of my riding movements, and offered good breathability when I was pushing hard. It also looks really good and I didn’t need to take it off when we went to a local coffee shop after our ride. Really, if you consider a piece like this a heavy mid-layer and throw a shell over it, you‘re then at a point where you can handle just about any nasty winter weather riding conditions short of a blizzard.

Women’s Andorra Pro Shorts
$51.99 USD
Sizes: XS-L
Colors: Black (tested), Neon Coral

The shorts are meant for hard riding in messy conditions. They feature the Specialized four-way stretch VaporRize™ fabric (water repellent coating). This fabric functions similar to a DWR but rather than using a coating to repel liquids – it wicks moisture away from the body, keeping the rider cooler and drier, (much like wool) with the goal of preventing a hot and soggy mess under the shorts. The Andorra shorts also include a soft, brushed interior waistband, a stretchy rear yoke, adjustable waist tabs, laser-cut ventilation holes on the inner thigh, two front zippered pockets, a side zippered pocket, and a 12.25” inseam (size M). The inseam was in the mid-length range of all the shorts I tested but it was designed with a wider lower hem and played nicely with a variety of knee guards I tested.

Specialized Women s Andorra Pro shorts with the integrated Mountain liner shorts with SWAT. Laser ventilation on the Andorra Pro shorts. Up close and personal with the SWAT technology side leg pockets on the Mountain liner
Specialized Women's Andorra Pro shorts with the integrated Mountain liner shorts with SWAT technology: Storage, Water, Air, and Tools. Laser ventilation on the Andorra Pro shorts. Up close and personal with the SWAT technology (side leg pockets on the Mountain liner)

I used the Women’s Andorra Pro Shorts paired with the Women’s Mountain Liner Shorts with SWAT™ in both size small and medium. While the size small fit my waist, the shorts were a bit tight in the butt and hips, so I focused on testing the size medium. The shorts come with a removable liner with storage pockets (Storage) that clips into the shorts. The chamois was comfortable and got the job done on long rides. It also integrates nicely with the shorts offering “pass-through” zippers for direct access to the two integrated SWAT pockets on the lower thigh of the liner.

I tested these shorts both in Utah and back at home in the rainy PNW. Bottom line, I really like them. Someone put a lot of thought into the design and function of these women’s specific shorts. The Vaporize™ fabric handled the rain sufficiently, the pockets were well placed and usable, the laser venting added a nice bit of breathability, and the integration with the SWAT pockets on the mountain liner is a really cool idea for riders who want to carry riding essentials without bulk or bags. Last point…. branding is minimal and the big question is, can you wear Specialized gear if you don’t ride a Specialized bike? I say yes!

Patagonia is a name that needs no introduction. Their sustainable approach to smart, functional designs spans nearly every aspect of outdoor adventure and sport, so their stealthy re-entry back into the mountain bike apparel world (they had some baggy shorts well over a decade ago) should be taken seriously. I’m familiar with Patagonia’s Dirt Craft short (released last year), and I have to say that I wasn’t really a fan; but I’ve always been pro-Patagucci with my outdoor sports gear and I knew that as part of this gear guide, I was going to be lucky enough to test some of their soon-to-be-released mountain bike gear. Needless to say, I was more than excited to see what kind of follow up they would do to their distinctly XC oriented first offering.

Patagonia Wmn s Storm Racer Jacket and Wmn s Dirt Roamer Shorts with Endless Ride Liner
Patagonia Wmn s Storm Racer Jacket and Wmn s Dirt Roamer Shorts with Endless Ride Liner
Patagonia Women's Storm Racer Jacket and Dirt Roamer Shorts pictured with Giro Pivot 2.0 Gloves, Smith Forefront Helmet, and Specialized 2FO Cliplite MTB Shoes.

Patagonia Women’s Storm Racer Jacket
$249.00 USD
Sizes: XXS-XL
Colors: Cave Coral, Black

The Storm Racer jacket is Patagonia’s bike oriented all-weather shell and utilizes Patagonia’s H2No® technology which includes a 3-layer, 1.74-oz 12-denier 100% nylon ripstop shell with a 7-denier tricot backer, waterproof/breathable barrier and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Patagonia states on their website that their 3-layer H2No® fabrics are completely waterproof, windproof and breathable; the addition of the DWR finish keeps the outer fabric from wetting out, which allows the breathable barrier to do its job. The H2No fabric is 20,000 MM before their rigorous testing and 10,000 MM after (10,000 is the industry base level to be considered waterproof). The jacket features a zippered chest pocket that converts to a stuff sack, half-elastic cuffs, and an adjustable hood that fits over a helmet.

Patagonia s Storm Racer Jacket features including full helmet coverage zippered chest pocket drop tail and half-elastic wrist cuff.
Patagonia's Storm Racer Jacket features, including full helmet coverage, zippered chest pocket, drop tail and half-elastic wrist cuff.

I tested a Storm Racer Jacket in Cave Coral. The jacket has a slim design and their size small fits my frame perfectly. Rather than the size charts common on nearly ever clothing manufacturers website, Patagonia offers a ‘Fit Finder’, which asks you a handful of questions and then recommends a size. Funny enough the fit finder always recommends a medium for me, but I find I’m a fairly consistent size small in all Patagonia apparel. Sized accordingly, the jacket is just loose enough to fit over a vest or light mid-layer without being excessively baggy; and the sleeve and torso lengths offer full coverage without restricting movements

I wore the jacket with a mix of light mid-layers and base-layers in a variety of conditions from cooler (40°F/4°C) moody PNW weather to heavy rain. The shell kept me dry in damp, misty weather and kept me warm in cold, windy conditions. On one particularly long ride (read “epic”), I was caught in a torrential rainfall with a couple hours of riding still to go; despite heavy pedaling during the remainder of the ride, the jacket more than exceeded my expectations, keeping me warm and dry with great breathability. I have punished this lightweight (156 g /5.5 oz) shell and came away more than stoked with its performance. Add the fact that it stuffs down really small into just about any bag or hip pack, and this is an excellent “go-to” piece for every season.

Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Shorts - available January 1st, 2018
$99 USD
Sizes: 0 - 14
Colors: Forge Grey

The Dirt Roamer shorts are Patagonia’s new premium, lightweight yet durable bike short. It’s made with a highly breathable, super stretchy fabric (4-way stretch) finished off with a DWR coating. The design philosophy was to keep these as streamlined and functional, yet as comfortable as possible. The shorts feature a small secured zip pocket at the right hip, snap loops that fit with the amazingly comfortable liner short, a 11.75” inseam, a curved waistband, and sonic-welded seams (i.e. no stitching on seams).

Patagonia Wmn s Storm Racer Jacket and Wmn s Dirt Roamer Shorts with Endless Ride Liner
Patagonia Wmn s Storm Racer Jacket and Wmn s Dirt Roamer Shorts with Endless Ride Liner
Patagonia Dirt Roamer short OppoSet adjustable waist and detachable Endless Ride liner short.

I tested the size 6 Women’s Dirt Roamer shorts, paired with a size small Endless Ride liner short (sold separately for $79). The shorts fit me perfectly. The waist was comfortable and the cut around the hips and quads was close and contoured without being restrictive. I find that the 0 – 14 sizing option versus the XS-XL offers a more exacting fit, which removes the need for elasticity or Velcro waist adjusters. However, Patagonia has created a new mountain-bike-specific OppoSet™ adjustable waist ‘thingy’ that gives you just a teeny tiny bit of adjustability if you fall between sizes.

As noted above, I tested the Dirt Roamers in a variety of “autumn-ish” weather conditions. The shorts have a shorter inseam in comparison to other “enduro” style shorts - they fall to the top of my low profile knee guards when standing - and consequently, there tends to be a wee bit of a gap when pedaling or descending. But that’s not a bother to me—I’m more of a function over fashion type, so I really don’t mind the gap. However, I wouldn’t recommend beefy knee guards with these shorts as the fitted nature around the knees might not play nicely with anything bulkier than G-forms or Fox Launch Enduro knee guards.

Overall, I was super impressed with Patagonia’s Dirt Roamers. They have a nice, lightweight feel and get 5 stars for comfort. I could easily see myself choosing them for all day adventures in mild weather. However, this is probably not the ideal short for pedaling during a snow or heavy rainstorm; but they are a fantastic choice for long days in the saddle.

Fox Racing (aka Fox Head) has been consistently nailing it with their MTB line of clothing since before I was born. Well... maybe not that long ago, but the point being that they know how to create quality cycling apparel. When I heard that they were designing a new ladies jacket, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it!

Fox Women s Ripley short and Attack Water Jacket
Fox Women s Ripley short and Attack Water Jacket
Fox Women's Attack Water Jacket, Ripley Shorts, Fox Attack Water Gloves, Fox Launch knee guards, Fox 8 Inch CREO Trail Socks, Giro Montara helmet, and Specialized 2FO Cliplite MTB Shoes.

Women’s Attack Water Jacket
Sizes: S-XL
Colors: Sage (tested), Black

This is what us ladies have been waiting for – i.e. Fox to offer a high end riding jacket that actually compares with the men’s line. The Attack Water jacket uses a TruSeal™ waterproof fabric with a 10k/10k membrane and a DWR exterior coating. The jacket is seam sealed and features two front mesh lined pockets, an effective drop tail, a drawcord that offers cinching at the hem, and underarm side vents.

Fox Head Women s Attack Water Jacket features mesh zippered pockets underarm ventilation and a drop tail.
Fox Head Women's Attack Water Jacket features mesh zippered pockets, underarm ventilation and a drop tail.

I tested Fox’s new women's specific Attack Water Jacket in size medium. While I am technically a medium based on parts of the Fox size chart, the jacket had a fairly loose fit, with a bit of extra material in the chest/torso area and on the sleeves. I would definitely size down to a small if I were to order one of these, so I recommend trying one on if you have the opportunity. And boy do I have a love-hate relationship with size charts.

I wore the Fox jacket in a mix of cold and wet conditions, typically with a long sleeve baselayer and mid-layer vest underneath. The jacket offers excellent breathability and moisture control – I never got damp as I busted out laps on my favorite pedal-heavy local trail. It also kept me dry as a bone while I watched raindrops bead up on the fabric. Overall I was stoked on this product (and the Attack Water gloves). It has an attractive design, it’s comfortable, and it’s functional for riding in wet and muddy conditions. Add a mid-layer and it should also keep you warm in temperatures hovering around the freezing level.

Women’s Ripley Short
$79.95 USD
Sizes: S-XL
Colors: Plum (tested)

The Ripley Short features a mid-weight 2-way stretch fabric, an adjustable interior waistband, hand pockets and they come with a detachable liner short. I’m a big fan of the Fox women’s specific EVO chamois that comes stock with their riding liner and at $79.95, this is a ripping deal! The shorts do have a rather short inseam, 8.25” is the number listed on their website. However, I did test these with a pair of the Launch Enduro knee pads and the two interacted nicely.

Fox Women s Ripley short and Attack Water Jacket
Fox Women s Ripley short and Attack Water Jacket
Fox Ripley shorts updated with hand pockets and the detachable liner.

I wore the Ripley short in size medium. The last time I tested this short was spring/summer of 2016. Between then and now, Fox has removed the small zipper that was located on the rear waist and added two non-zipped hand pockets on the hips – props to them for making some positive updates! Sizing wise, I still fall between a size small and medium on the Fox brand shorts, but since I prefer the looser fit, the medium works well for me without having to use the waist adjusters much.

I tested the shorts in the same wet and muddy conditions as the jacket. While there is no DWR coating on the fabric or waterproof material used, they handled the occasional water spray fine, and thanks to the awesome drop seat cut on the jacket, I stayed fairly dry on the bum while riding. I’d recommend saving these for damp fall days or brisk dry weather conditions, and avoid all day epics in conditions that make me want to hide. On that note, I can’t wait until Fox adds a women’s version of the Attack water shorts to their line! Pretty please.

I had never actually heard of Madison as a clothing line until I saw the kit review on Pinkbike earlier this year and had an “AHA!” moment. While we are all familiar with the Madison-Saracen name (which goes way back), the company launched its clothing line in 2009 with a commitment to creating high-quality cycling apparel that all types of cyclist will want to wear at a price that won’t break the bank. Whooo! And here they are now, one of the leading cycling distributors in the UK.

Madison Women s DTE Hybrid Jacket and Women s DTE Waterproof Short
Madison Women s DTE Hybrid Jacket and Women s DTE Waterproof Short
Madison DTE Women's Hybrid Jacket and DTE Waterproof shorts pictured with Madison Avalanche Women's Waterproof Gloves, Giro Merino Wool Socks, Giro Montara Helmet, and Northwave Outcross Plus Women's Shoes.

DTE Women’s Hybrid Jacket
Sizes: 8-16
Colors: Black, Blue (tested), Purple

I tested the DTE Women’s Hybrid jacket in size 12. The jacket features two hand pockets, a chest pocket, a fitted ninja hood (to go under the helmet), a stretch thermal Roubaix fabric along the underarms, back, and hood, and Thinsulate Platinum fabric on the insulated chest panels to ward off icy wind.

Madison Women s DTE Hybrid Jacket and Women s DTE Waterproof Short
Madison Women s DTE Hybrid Jacket and Women s DTE Waterproof Short
Madison DTE Women's Hybrid Jacket stretch thermal Roubaix farbic and Thinsulate Platinum fabric.

The jacket fit me “smashing” (as I think the Brits would say). The jacket is super comfy and has a relaxed cut and style. It is designed for riding in miserably frigid cycling conditions (minus patrols north of the arctic circle), and is compact enough it would fit under most loose fitting shells for protection from the wet.

With the help my fellow lady shredder Bekah, we tested this jacket in a mixture of conditions including below freezing temps with snow falling, as well as the more typical PNW autumn conditions: temps about 40F and drizzly. The jacket worked really well at freezing temps and with the dry snowfall, but was a wee bit too warm for prolonged climbs above the 40F degree temp range. For those of you who live where sub-freezing is the normal winter riding temp, and not the damp, temperate climate of the PNW, this might be the perfect insulating jacket to add to the collection. The nice thing about this jacket is that with solid color options and minimal branding, you can wear it to the pub after riding and it fits right in with all the other puffy jacket wearing yuppies – it's attractive and comfortable and toasty warm!

DTE Women’s Waterproof Shorts
Sizes: 8-16
Colors: Black, Blue, Purple

I tested a pair of the blue DTE women’s waterproof shorts in size 10. The shorts are made from a 2.5 layer fabric with a 3-layer laminate on the rear panel, inner thigh and knees to avoid wear. They have fully taped seams and are 100% waterproof with a 10K/10K rating on the 2.5L fabric and a 20K/20K rating on the 3L fabric. Both have a DWR coating to keep the fabrics from saturating, too.

Madison Women s DTE Hybrid Jacket and Women s DTE Waterproof Short

These are absolutely bomber waterproof shorts and the size 10 fit me perfectly. The shorts have a really long inseam and an over-the-knee, articulated cut that helps keep water out without restricting pedaling movements. They feature velcro waist adjusters, two zippered pockets, and a silicone gripper on the inside waistband to keep the shorts from sliding around.

Bekah and I both tested these shorts (as with the jacket) in temperatures ranging from slightly below freezing to mid-40’s, with as well as rain and snow. They offered the most complete protection from the elements of any of the shorts I have tested over the past three years, including the Endura Women's MT500 spray baggy shorts. They kept our legs warm in the snow and dry in the pissing rain. The long, yet slimmer cut of the shorts, ensures that they stay in place when pedaling. They fit easily over a variety of knee guards, without any problems. If you don’t want to splurge on a pair of winter riding pants, these are probably the best thing you can wear to stay comfortable when riding in horrific conditions.

“Endura was founded in Scotland in 1993 with a no-nonsense commitment to advancing the performance and function of cycle apparel for all.” They partner with a wide range of professional athletes and teams that include both men and women on the pro road, World Cup mtb and triathlon circuits, and their ethical stance includes policies to reduce their environmental impact as well as social responsibility. Most importantly for this gear guide, the Scots' have mastered the art of riding in the rain.

Showers Pass Women s IMBA Jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pant
Showers Pass Women s IMBA Jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pant
The Endura Women's MT500 Waterproof Jacket II and MT500 Spray Trouser.

WMS MT500 Waterproof Jacket II
$299.99 USD
Sizes: XS-L
Colors: Cobalt Blue (tested)

The newly released WMS MT500 Waterproof Jacket II features a 3-layer exceptionally breathable waterproof fabric called ExoShell60™. The ExoShell60™ fabric has a waterproof/breathability rating of 18K/64K and uses an impressive lightweight and durable technology to achieve one of the highest breathability ratings of any of the hardshell jackets I’ve tested to date. Like most hardshells, this jacket also includes a DWR coating. Kudos to Endura for using a PFC-free DWR! In my 9-5 job as an Environmental Health Specialist, I see direct impacts on public and private water systems from specific products used to keep our winter gear waterproofed.

Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II featuring thumb holes underarm ventilation and an over or under the helmet hood.
Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket II featuring thumb holes, underarm ventilation and an over or under the helmet hood.

The main features of the jacket aside from the fabric are; fully sealed seams, an adjustable hood that fits over a helmet, front pockets that double as vents, additional underarm 2-way zippered vents, an internal stretch cuff with thumb holes, and ergonomically positioned stretch panels. The jacket also has a nice drop tail that keeps mud and water from splashing up on the backside.

2017 Fall Winter Gear Guide Women s

I choose to review the WMS MT500 Waterproof Jacket II in size small. The jacket sizing was a perfect fit for my frame and was consistent with the Endura size chart. I was able to easily wear a base-layer and mid-layer under the jacket without being restricted in the shoulders or elbows.

I tested this jacket in low 40 degree temps in full on nuking rain with Endura’s long-sleeved Baabaa merino base-layer underneath. I stayed dry and warm and never felt like I was sweating between the two layers, although I made sure to use the zip vents to “air out” when I was climbing. Despite the biblical rainfall during the two-hour ride, the face fabric of the jacket never wetted through, keeping the breathability exceptionally high. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the technology and the design of this piece: it looks good, it’s super functional and wears well. In short, of all the foul weather jackets on the market this year, the WMS MT500 Waterproof Jacket II exceeded my expectations and hit the mark for being one my top picks for riding during the dark months of the year.

WMS MT500 Spray Trouser
$169.99 USD
Sizes: XS – L
Colors: Black (tested)

If there is a nearly perfect match for the WMS MT500 Jacket II, it’d be the WMS MT500 Spray Trouser. The MT500 Spray Trousers feature a lightweight, durable, 4-way stretch front panel with a DWR finish and a durable 3-layer waterproof rear panel for extra protection from the wet. The trousers have an adjustable waist, zippered thigh vents with mesh inserts, zipped hand pockets, and an outer ankle zip with gusset. These are not touted to feature ExoShell60™ in their construction, but they do feature a PFC-free DWR coating and a 20K/10K rating on the MT500 fabric (focusing on durability over breathability).

Endura Women s MT500 Spray trouser featuring adjustable waist zippered and laser cut ventilation and click-fast compatible liner system.
Endura Women's MT500 Spray trouser, featuring adjustable waist, zippered and laser-cut ventilation and click-fast compatible liner system.

I chose to test the WMS MT500 Spray Trouser in size small. Everything about the pants fit me great – the waist, the cut, and the length; and they worked well over a variety of knee guards. There was also plenty of room for someone with longer legs, as it was designed to fit s a reasonable range of leg lengths. One thing I would recommend is that when you look at the Endura sizing guide waist measurements and check out the picture of where to measure your size and consider it more of a true measure of where you wear your pant waist size vs. some other companies.

I used these pants and the jacket in conditions that I normally wouldn’t ride in - rain that made me want to go sit by a fire with a book and glass of whiskey. That being said, when it was all said and done, I walked away mostly dry and toasty warm. The trousers (pants as I call them) were fantastic. They kept me warm but not sweaty, and even better, I stayed mud-free on the interior. They did “wet out” around the ankles by the end of the ride, but by that point, we were pretty much riding through small rivers anyway, as the trail is the low point and water runs downhill. (I find it interesting that the pants don’t utilize the same waterproof fabrics as the jacket does, but I also have found that a DWR coating seems to be good enough for staying mostly dry. To step it up to full waterproof protection, one needs to pony up $30 more and get the MT500 Waterproof Trouser II, which is not available in women’s sizing…. Hint, hint, Endura…. Hint, hint.)

Pardon my French, but these are the shit. I am officially a convert to riding pants for the winter months. Add a pair of base-layer bottoms and I think these could be one of my go-to options for fat biking in the snow. But since we supposedly don’t really know what cold is here in the PNW, I’m only giving you my humble opinion.

“Showers Pass makes technically advanced active apparel and gear to inspire and enable the pursuit of outdoor adventure.” A Portland, Oregon based company, these guys are close to home; meaning I have faith that they have the perfect weather for creating waterproof and breathable active apparel (i.e. rain gear).
Showers Pass Women s IMBA Jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pant

Showers Pass Women s IMBA Jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pant
Showers Pass Women s IMBA Jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pant
Shower's Pass Women's IMBA jacket and Club Convertible 2 Pants pictured with Mavic Crossmax SL Pro Thermo shoes and Gore Power Trail Windstopper Light Gloves.

Women’s IMBA Jacket
$199 USD
Sizes: XS-CCL
Colors: Night Ride, Mandarin (tested)

The IMBA Jacket is Showers Pass’ top of the line, "I'm going to ride out a hurricane" jacket. It features a removable, adjustable hood that fits over a helmet or stows away in a pocket if not needed (I love the fact that you can zip the hood off!) It also features core vents, a cinching hem, tethered goggle wipe, front hand warmer pockets and an interior chest pocket with an audio port. The jacket uses an Artex 2.5 layer double charcoal print waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric that has a 10K/10K rating, as well as taped seams, waterproof zippers and an eco-friendly short-chain C6 DWR coating.

Shower s Pass Women s IMBA jacket features a detachable zippered hood reinforced shoulder panels side ventilation and zippered hand pockets.
Shower's Pass Women's IMBA jacket features a detachable zippered hood, reinforced shoulder panels, side ventilation and zippered hand pockets.

I tested the Women’s IMBA jacket in size small. True to the size chart, the jacket fit great and there was ample room for a long sleeve base layer and light mid layer underneath

Bekah Rottenburg, who is a taller, thinner version of me, did the majority of test riding with this jacket as I had the unfortunate luck of having all four of my wisdom teeth removed just before I was going to really test this piece. She used it in a mix of wind and rain in the mid-40 degree F range. From her perspective, the jacket was “bomber” and did its part to keep her dry while still offering excellent breathability. She really appreciated that the vents were located where she could access them while pedaling, and how effective they were at allowing her to shed excess heat on long uphill slogs.

Overall we both were impressed with this jacket. It feels lightweight and less starchy (restrictive) than some of the other hardshells I have tested. Additionally, It doesn’t bunch up in weird places and it looks damn good. To top off the ‘you should buy this jacket’ list, Showers Pass offers 5% of the net profit from the sales of this $200 garment to support International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). This is an awesome way to invest in a high-end product while doing your part to give back to trail advocacy!

Women’s Club Convertible 2 Pant
$150 USD
Sizes: XS-XXL
Colors: Black

The Women’s Club Convertible 2 Pant feature a more hardy 3-layer Artex fabric than the IMBA jacket, yet is ultra lightweight, durable, and still waterproof/breathable (a 10K/10K rating). They feature a zip off lower leg and compatibility with suspenders if you like to look like a Portland hipster and wear knickers ;-D. It also has taped seams, awesome velcro adjusters to cinch the pants down around the lower leg, ankle zips so you can pull them on/off over most cycling shoes, and hand pockets.

Shower s Pass Women s Club Convertible 2 Pants velcro adjustments zip off knickers and integrated suspender system.
Shower's Pass Women's Club Convertible 2 Pants: velcro adjustments, zip off knickers and integrated suspender system.

I wore the Women’s Club Convertible 2 Pant in size small. The pants fit great – good length, tight enough in the waist that they don’t slip down when pedaling and super adjustable around the lower leg.

Bekah tested these pants in low temperates and rain and came away really appreciating them, too. While she didn’t ride with knee protection, we checked the fit of the pants with G-form and TLD knee guards; and - survey says? “No worries." The pants kept her dry and clean, and she didn’t notice any restrictive or uncomfortable chaffing issues. We both loved the Velcro adjusters on the lower legs as they offered lots of different configurations for cinching the pants down around the ankles and shoes. Breathability-wise the fabric apparently did its job; she didn’t mention any major sweating under the pants despite the fact that they offer no vents with the exception of the mesh hand pockets.

The takeaway on these is that if you are looking for an awesome pant that you can commute in and hit the trail with and a guarantee that you will stay dry and warm, these are a great option. Considering the hefty price tag on most high-end riding shells nowadays, these have an approachable price point and should work well through multiple riding seasons with the appropriate maintenance (think the occasional tech wash and re-application of a DWR coating like Nik Wax’s TX Direct).

bigquotesDet finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær. (There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.)An old Norwegian saying


  • 10 1
 " In my 9-5 job as an Environmental Health Specialist, I see direct impacts on public and private water systems from specific products used to keep our winter gear waterproofed. "

I've never heard of or considered this. Where should I look to learn more?
  • 4 1
 Patagonia is always a good go-to on environmental topics. Here is a link to an overview (a good place to get started) - it explains why there is no easy solution: www.patagonia.com/blog/2015/09/our-dwr-problem-updated
  • 4 0
 it shocked me when shopping for a snowboard jacket in California that they had a tag saying "this jacket contains chemicals that are known to the state of California to be cancirogens" :/
  • 3 2
 Another thing I learned recently is that a large part of the plastic soup in the ocean comes from washing low quality synthetic clothing which releases fibres in the washing machine which are then flushed through the sewer. Now as I live in a relatively mild climate (The Netherlands) I am usually fine with a cotton T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Obviously this is not going to work for those in tougher climates like those in the UK. But maybe then still (merino) wool would be a more environmental friendly choice for the layers close to your skin.
  • 3 1
 Look up PFOS and PFOA contamination. These chemicals have mostly been phased out of being put on clothing but were also used in firefighting foam, leading to contamination in soil and water.
  • 8 0
 @ismasan: EVERYTHING sold in Cali has a Prop 65 warning, even cups of coffee. It borders hilarity.
  • 4 0
 That's the most Hood River job ever
  • 3 0
 @chrisclifford: the desk job or the riding bikes job? it’s actually a rarity to find people who work full time and do t live off their inherited trust funds.
  • 1 2
 that could be a headline for The Onion LMFAO
  • 2 0
 @mungbean: except corn dogs and cinnabons, that probably should too lol
  • 2 0
 @nkrohan: I was talking about the desk job, but good point. I guess the most Hood River job would be not having a job. For what it's worth though I didn't mean my original comment in a bad way, just that Hood River is a very eco-conscious community
  • 1 0
 Vaude as well is pretty eco-conscious: csr-report.vaude.com
  • 1 0
 @chrisclifford: That and drone builder /designer
  • 10 0
 "with a 27.5-inch waist"

next year model comes also in 29, right?

i'll see myself out, thanks.
  • 7 1
 Ever just think how wonderful the women's kit colours are and wish that they did it in unisex so everyone could rock turquoise and cyan?
  • 2 0
 I like all-black-everything as much as the next rider, but I'd love men's gear to have some more vivid colour options in solid, minimal designs.
  • 6 1
 Good insight since women don't have near the selection of riding clothes that men do! Nice to hear it from somebody who isn't just representing one brand.
  • 5 0
 Awesome gear review! I have been waiting for this, as I have been back and forth on a few gear choices. Thanks!!
  • 1 0
 Thanks a lot for this review. I used your previous article as sizing reference for the IXS kit Smile By the way, it would be helpful to mention if a jersey can accommodate elbow protectors or not (may be more relevant for summer kit, but still). For some reason most women's jerseys have too narrow sleeves for that, which makes them practically useless for me... #ionlyridepark
  • 2 0
 My wife feels that a full set of skiing closes, skiing helmet and gogles works best for winter commuting and weekend riding in Saskatoon )
  • 1 0
 Those Madison shorts look a hell of a lot better on you than they do on the website. Yikes. Thanks for being a stellar model!
  • 5 3
 Waki, you are a force of nature.
  • 1 0
 How the heck can you get Madison stuff in the states? Last I checked they didn't ship outside the EU from their site. Frown
  • 1 0
 It's missing the Dirtlej TrailScout Waterproof (dirtlej.com/trailscout-waterproof)
  • 2 1
 Great review. We need more of these. How does one become a gear tester?
  • 26 7
 How to become a tester.

Create instagram and facebook accounts. Create unique looks and become a very talkative person. Big tattoos are back in fashion recently. Find someone weird enough to be wiling to photograph you often. No bigger photographic skills needed. Create events where people come to ride with you. Inform people about your events through Facebook. Steal a few pictures of people riding fast, add colorful text written with weird fonts, post on FB. Go to the event, make your photographer take lots of pictures of you with people. If they showed up to your event it means they highly probably suck so you come out as a teacher who knows what it's all about. Post pictures on Facebook and instagram afterwards, with appropriate captions like: "great day with crazy people on bikes". It is good to suck up to a local shop or two, so they help you with your social media coverage through their channel. Show up to shop rides. They may even give you a 30% discount in March while others have to wait until September. So you can call yourself sponsored. Ride a lot with your photographer, post pictures from your rides. Do not post pictures of your riding, after all since you don't get clothing for free, you suck at riding. So keep people in doubt, make them believe you can. So post pictures of you looking far away, fixing a puncture, being covered in mud etc. Every second week, post an inspirational meme with landscape in the background. Like: we don't escape to nature, we come back to it. Or: "money don't buy happyness but they buy bikes and thats..." (sorry I almost threw up in my mouth...) elfies, lots of selfies. And then the most important bit: the hashtags... billions an billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of hashtags. Off course nobody clicks any of them but it makes you look like a pro rider.

Here. Key to success. Now it's time to write to a company of your choice and say what you are doing, how motivated and passionate you are so they send you stuff to "test". It may be easier to just buy them, but then you don't get your moment of fame
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Haha spot on. Is that how you got your gig?
  • 8 5
 @cky78: no. I got my gig with persistence, in putting random words together to form billions of meaningless sentences merely relatedto the subject of the article. By now I believe that I wrote more words on Pinkbike than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: at least the stars have a purpose. Wink
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: yeah, when do you find time for this? I mean, you must be super organised or type really fast.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Oh and this becomes my motto "money don't buy happyness but they buy bikes"
  • 1 1
 @Slabrung: I'm not organized. But writing this takes quite little time. After all my deepest, most spiritual posts were created from the the toilet seat.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: That's the secret then... I think my diet is too good to be a prolific writer then... More time for the bike though.
  • 2 1
 @Slabrung: I am Quite sure that the most charismatic posts of social justice warriors are being created between the poop and the pornhub
  • 1 0
 It's pretty much 100% who you know.
  • 1 0
 The purple shorts are nice
  • 1 0
 Great review, thanks!
  • 2 4
 Is this rock climbing/hiking/mtn’ering or mtb’ing??? Wtf not cute at all
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