11 Packable Mountain Bike Jackets, Tested

We recently tested out a spectrum of packable jackets, from windbreakers for cool morning and evening riding to full-on rain shells.

Packable mountain bike jackets are not exactly “on the brain” for most riders in the heat of summer and early autumn. Blackberry scrapes and clean alpine lakes hold our attention far better, as the sprinkles of spring are easily forgotten. Those of us who ride in the high alpine know that summer storms can turn cold and nasty without notice, regardless of the season, and having a lightweight packable mtb jacket can make the difference between a miserable or memorable adventure.

We tested a spectrum of packable mountain bike jackets, from windbreakers for cool morning and evening riding to full-on rain shells, exploring many choices that are designed solely around packability and slightly sturdier options.

Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Jacket

The Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Jacket is specifically designed for mountain biking and allows you to ride confidently during changing weather and windy temperature drops.

The 100% recycled nylon fabric is surprisingly breathable which is a refreshing surprise compared to other windshell jackets. With a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, this jacket is meant to keep you dry during misty mornings or if you’re caught in a drizzle out on the trails. Throughout the interior of the jacket, you’ll also find reinforced seams to keep things dry.

The jacket is form-fitting and follows the body shape nicely while the longer rear hem prevents air or debris from going up your back. It’s also flexible enough to allow unrestricted movement while riding. I cannot emphasize enough, that it’s very important to check the sizing guide for each item you purchase. I opted for the large size by following the sizing guide. The fit is described as ‘standard fit’ and can also fit over a long sleeve base layer for colder temperature rides. 

At a Glance:

  • Pockets: 1 external small zippered pocket at back
  • Fabric:  100% Recycled Nylon
  • Distinguishing features: weighs 201g, DWR finish
  • Fit: regular, true to size
  • Colors: Steller Blue (tested), Camp Green, Smolder Blue

The Dirt Roamer jacket features a helmet-compatible hood with a semi hidden elastic adjuster to lock in place. The hood can be rolled up and tucked out of the way with a hook-and-loop stow system. I wouldn’t zip this all the way up during a ride, but it’s nice to know that it zips up to your chin for optimum coverage from the wind. Following the trend with windshell jackets, the rear zippered pocket doubles as a storage pocket when you’re ready to pack it away for your next ride.

Patagonia uses recycled nylon which is made from post-industrial waste fiber and discards from weaving mills and post-consumer fishing nets. Using recycled nylon fabrics aids in reducing CO2 emissions when compared to virgin nylon fabrics. Patagonia reports this has resulted in over 3.5 million pounds of CO2 emission avoided as of fall 2020. 

The Dirt Roamer misses out on the convenient, two-way zipper that’s featured on other comparable windshells. This will be my go-to for this upcoming fall season in Northern California.

Dainese AWA Wind Jacket

  • Price: $109.99
  • Available at Dainese

The AWA Wind Jacket from Dainese is about as packable as they come, fitting in a space far smaller than a balled fist. The 100% nylon fabric is somewhat breathable but decidedly windproof. This emergency layer will make your mountain-top evacuation far more pleasant as you run from or wait out the clouds.

The AWA fits true to size and is generally tight in the arms and torso to prevent the material from snagging and flapping noisily about. The sturdy YKK zipper, lined collar, and standout color make it a great option for a brisk night ride, provided you don’t snag it on anything too sharp. While the AWA material isn’t the most fragile, it is easier to tear than any heavier weight rain shell, as are all packable jackets.

  • Actual weight: 73g
  • Packed dimensions: 4x3x2.5 inches (30in3)
  • Colors: Cherry Tomato (Shown) or Black Iris
  • DWR coated for water repellency
  • Self-stow pocket for tidy packing
  • Can I wear it to the office/bar? You will for sure look like a cyclist. It’s translucent.

PNW Components Lander Jacket

  • MSRP: $90
  • Colors: Supernova (pictured), Neutron
  • Available at PNW Components.

PNW dropped their first-ever clothing line recently and the Lander Jacket is a sweet part of that new offering. The heavyweight, water-resistant shell is DWR coated, and several riding friends have commented on how sturdy the construction appears. The orange or black layer stretches all four ways, and it keeps you relatively dry in a light rain. I wouldn’t recommend this jacket for folks living in the PNW unless you have a true rain layer to pair it with, as it’s not the jacket you want to throw on for a truly soggy pedal. The length is perfect to overlap pants, and the hood is large enough to fit over most half-shell helmets. The two torso pockets and one at the rear are mesh-lined to let it breathe, and all three are fairly large, with space for a 150-page paperback.

The thick material is cut to fit tight enough that it doesn’t flap in the wind while leaving room for an extra layer underneath. The men’s version has some of the most flattering fits of all the jackets I tested here, and the women’s jackets look to be just as well-tailored. I like the over-helmet hood design a little mroe than the under version because the material doesn’t become bound up and annoying under your lid, and I like that it keeps my helmet cleaner. The jacket will have to be washed after the ride either way, so why not use it to keep other stuff mudless?

Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket

The Ultralight Wind Jacket from Showers Pass is as packable as the minimalist AWA from Dianese, with a few more features worth mentioning. Breathable mesh material along the arms and torso lets in a good amount of fresh air, helping the jacket move sweat through comfortably. Reflective accents across the shoulders kick it into the night-ride category, and the dropped tail has a silicone strip to keep it in place while riders focus on what the headlight scares up.

The Ultralight wind jacket fits considerably tight. If you need to squeeze a back protector beneath it I would recommend one size larger. The highly stretchy mesh panels give the jacket a comfortable fit that goes beyond the realm of an emergency shell, and still packs up like one.

  • Actual weight: 125g
  • Packable dimensions: 5x4x3 (60in3)
  • Colors: Red Orange or Sky Blue (shown)
  • PFC-free DWR coating
  • Stuff sack included
  • Reflective accents
  • Can I wear it to the office/bar? Sure, let your coworkers know you’re an athlete.

Mission Workshop Interval Jacket

The material designers at Mission Workshop have stretched the aesthetic possibilities of packable jackets with the Interval wind shell. If looking stylish on the trail is important for you, this is undoubtedly the right jacket. The 89% Nylon and 11% Spandex shell construction has an “athletic” but comfortable fit, with just enough flex to render it unnoticeably light and comfortable. I found space for a back protector beneath the shell, but for folks who like a roomier fit, a size larger may be in order.  

The hood packs tightly into the jacket’s collar and can be worn beneath a helmet for a little extra warmth. Thumb hooks on either wrist opening keep the sleeves securely in place under a pair of gloves.

  • Actual weight: 132g
  • Packable dimensions: 5×3.5×3.5 (61.25in3)
  • Colors: Black, sutro camp, fog, burgundy (shown), orange
  • Water and wind repellent
  • Anti-odor properties
  • Convertible hood
  • Can I wear it to the office/bar? Yup, this one looks good anywhere.

Ion Shelter Jacket

  • Price: $139.99
  • Available from Ion

When the summer sky reads rain, the Shelter Jacket from Ion is a good one to have along. It is the most waterproof of the packable jackets I tested, and includes a hood to protect your dome from the mud that makes its way through helmet vents. The 52% Polyurethane and 48% polyester shell has a 2-way stretch quality that allows it to move with your body, and to give a little before snagging on anything.

The Shelter’s fit is a little roomier than most of the jackets above, with plenty room for a back protector and a thin set of elbow pads underneath.

  • Actual weight: 133g
  • Packable dimensions: 5x3x3.5 (52.5in3)
  • Color: “Clear” with printed Ion logo
  • Windproof, waterproof
  • Taped seams
  • Slim hood with elastic hem
  • Can I wear it to the office/bar? Discoteque, definitely!

The jackets below offer more functionality, additional rain and windproofing technology, and will take up a bit more space. Each of them is more packable than the lion’s share of rain shells on the market, but they occupy more than the fist-and-a-half space measurement that was allotted to the shells listed above.

7Mesh Northwoods wind shell

Every rider should carry a wind shell in their backpack or hip pack. These highly packable jackets take up little space and weigh next to nothing yet can absolutely save the day when weather conditions change or your ride runs into the early evening hours. Packable, featherweight, comfortable, stylish, and sporting a good hood, 7Mesh’s Northwoods Windshell ticks all the boxes for me. 

Weighing barely more than 100g, this rather understated outer layer packs some thoughtful features, including a drop tail, drawstrings around the hem and the hood, a soft lining around the chin and brim of the hood, and a pocket with a key loop. It keeps the wind out without becoming a sweatbox, and the rich, port red color and generous hood make for a good-looking jacket. My only critique about this jacket is that the fit is a tad roomy, and the sizable hood is quite the wind catcher. The hood can easily fit over the helmet, but I do wish it could be tucked away when not in use. 

Pearl Izumi Men’s Summit PRO Barrier Jacket

I know Pearl Izumi says that this jacket is made for inclement weather, but just look at how happy I am wearing it in the fall sun. I’ve also found it hard to take off during work and while lounging on the couch. This 100% polyester jacket is thin, lightweight, breathable, and very comfortable. The Summit Pro Barrier jacket will fit in a water bottle pouch on a fanny pack if it’s balled up, or in a hydration pack nook, making it a no-brainer to take on rides where rain or cold temps are in the forecast.

The Summit Pro Barrier also straps to a bike and has a 2-way zipper for easier access to jersey pockets. Riding with the jacket is a great choice when the temperatures start to dip. I’ve found that on 35-45° days, throwing this over a long-sleeve jersey is a great option to stay warm, and you can peel it off and stuff it away if the temperature warms up. For the price, the Summit Pro Barrier jacket is excellent.

POC All-Weather vest

When you’re out to push the pace, and most warmth will come from within, the POC All-Weather Vest might be just the right layer. The stretchy DWR-coated fabric covers the main splatter zone while keeping you relatively cool with the wind wafting through your arm hairs. The front uses a two-way zipper closure and there’s a pair of flapped holes and a zippered one over the lumbar to access jersey pockets for folks who ride in traditional three-pocket shirts.

The All-Weather Vest is relatively tight fitting, clearly designed to work with your drop-bar kit as much as trail apparel. It works well over a long-sleeve wool shirt on drier days around 50°F.

Specialized Trail SWAT Jacket

  • MSRP: $140
  • Colors: Smoke (pictured), Black
  • Available at Specialized.

For rides where you just need a jersey and jacket to stay warm, the Specialized Trail SWAT Jacket is ideal. It’s thinner and more breathable than any other in this roundup, and the abrasion-resistant forearm patches, paired with somewhat stretchy material, will do well to keep it from ripping on impact. It’s plenty warm for rides around 50°F when the clouds are keeping their tears at bay. It will deal with trail spray, but I wouldn’t want to leave for a rainy ride with this shell on. There’s one phone-sized breast pocket and the elastic hood fits nicely under a helmet without much bunching.

The Trail SWAT Jacket has a tighter fit, with no excess material flapping in the wind. There’s space beneath for an extra layer or two, so long as they are form-fitting shirts. The cuffs are stretchy enough to easily get them over gloves, but since you won’t likely ride with this in the rain it’s kind of a moot point.

Velocio Ultralight Hooded Jacket

The Velocio Ultralight Jacket might be the perfect coverup garment for spring, and when they say Ultralight, they mean it. The jacket is made from 50% recycled content, it’s super thin, breathable, and coughs up some good wet weather protection. The Ultralight Jacket is made from a mini-ripstop nylon, it has a rear zippered pocket for small items, and is treated with DWR for water resistance.

Due to the the light and breathable nature of the Velocio jacket, it’s not the right cover if you’re under torrential downpour. For riders who want something they can throw in a shorts pocket or hip pack because they might be caught in a spring storm on a lunch ride, this is the jacket. Should you need something light to cover up with on a spring morning ride that doesn’t feel like a sauna, this will work great as well.

Our 5’8″, 160lb tester found that the size medium worked perfectly. The Ultralight Jacket is available in three colors, sizes XS-XXXXL.