Endura MT500 Kit Review: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
Endura’s MT500 collection is designed to offer rugged trail performance, and a good selection of the products in this range also feature a waterproof design. Or, at the very minimum, some water repellency for light rain and mud. Miles spent the winter commuting by bike on British Columbia’s mild and rainy west coast, and here’s his review of the MT500 Waterproof Jacket, MT500 Spray Trouser II, and the MT500 Plus Overshoe.
Looking back, I imagined an easy and carefree winter of bike commuting when I made the decision to house sit in western Canada. Sure, I understood that this coastal region receives its fair share of precipitation, but I wasn’t prepared for the relatively long commutes I ended up with. More specifically, I wasn’t prepared to stay dry. I’ve ridden in subzero temperatures on fat bikes before, both when bikepacking and commuting, but I was new to temperatures that lingered around 0°C, lots of rain, and a compulsive desire to outfit every bike around me with full-coverage fenders.
Wet winter weather is a force to be reckoned with, so I quickly got my hands on a few Endura pieces to help combat the damp conditions. I’ve been using the updated Endura MT500 Spray Trouser, MT500 Waterproof Jacket, and MT500 Plus Overshoes for about four months now for a mix of light trail riding and plenty foul weather commutes. Read on for my thoughts on each…
Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket
In 2018, Endura updated the popular MT500 Waterproof Jacket that promised to offer “everything mountain bikers could want from a waterproof-breathable jacket.” A bold claim, but it was by far my favourite piece of the kit, and it packs in plenty of features that are applicable to day rides, bikepacking, and commuting. The jacket is based around an ExoShell60 3-layer waterproof fabric, boasting fantastic breathability and a fully seam-sealed construction. Ventilation comes from two large front pockets, plus the huge two-way zippered underarm vents that extend all the way to the back. All pocket and vents use waterproof zippers, while the main front opening utilizes a water-resistant Vislon zip and interior storm flap. There are stretch panels in key areas like under the arms and behind the head to ensure complete range of motion, and reflective details on the hood, cuffs, and rear tail help keep you visible in low-light conditions.
The MT500 Waterproof Jacket’s breathability is a definite showstopper in my opinion. It’s damn good. The fabric itself feels much more like a lightweight softshell than a waterproof jacket, making it more comfortable to wear next to skin, yet it still seemed to keep the weather out on rides anywhere from one to two hours in heavy rain. On milder rainy days, thoughtfully placed vents keep the air moving, but still prevents any weather from entering the jacket. The ‘mango’ colour that I tested provided great visibility in daylight and loaned a bit of character to my usually black riding kit. The front is raised just enough to be comfortable while riding, unlike a non-cycling-specific jacket, but isn’t annoying while off the bike, a feature I sometimes get frustrated with when wearing cycling-specific tops. As far as I understand, the hood on the jacket is designed to fit over helmets as well, but I had no such luck when using my Smith Session mountain bike helmet. In a true downpour, I’d likely toss my helmet over the hood, or simply rely on my waxed canvas Randi Jo Fabrications cap to keep my head warm. The hood fit better over my Specialized road helmet, and the raised neck does a great job at keeping things sealed and dry under the chin. The MT500 jacket was by far my favourite piece of the kit I tested, and will be my go to rain jacket for the foreseeable future, both on and off the bike.
- Model/Size Tested Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket / Large
- Breathability Rating 64,000 gm²/24 hours
- Price $299
- Material 3-Layer Waterproof Nylon
- Manufacturer’s Details EnduraSport.com
Endura MT500 Spray Trouser II
I was originally interested in checking out the MT500 Waterproof Trouser, which would be the matching bottom to the jacket I enjoyed so much. However, I ended up with the MT500 Spray Trouser II, a water-resistant and super durable cycling pant designed to easily shed mud, dirt, and light rain. Although there were quite a few days this winter where I could have benefited from completely waterproof pants, I think I tested the Spray Trousers to their absolute limit, and ended up wearing them non-stop over the past three months.
I’m picky about wearing pants while cycling. Waterproof pants are often way too baggy, even the cycling-specific ones. Plus, moisture control becomes an even greater task when dealing with cold temperatures, so great breathability is important. In the past, I’d opt for a trusty pair of Salomon nordic ski pants for most of my winter riding. They have a slim fit, offer some insulation, and shed snow nicely. This winter didn’t really call for any insulation, though, as it rarely dropped below -5°C (23°F), so the Endura MT500 Spray Trousers were the next best thing. Unlike a lot of waterproof pants, the Spray Trouser’s softshell material is extremely comfortable and durable, even when worn next to skin. The gusseted crotch and back of the pants incorporate a full waterproof panel and taped seams to ensure key parts stay dry when riding in the muck, and the remainder of the pants shed light rain effectively thanks to a DWR finish.
I really like the fit of the pants, as they’re quite tight around the ankles, keeping things clear around the drivetrain and pedals, yet still roomy enough on the thighs and waist to allow normal movement. Best of all, you can wear them off the bike and not look like a total dork. There are zippered vents on the front of the legs, just below the pockets, that help keep the air moving when riding in warmer weather.
- Model/Size Tested Endura MT500 Spray Trouser II / Medium
- Price $169
- Material 4-Way Stretch Nylon with 3-Layer Waterproof Panels
- Manufacturer’s Details EnduraSport.com
Endura MT500 Plus Overshoe
I’ve had subpar results with shoe covers fairly consistently, and from my time working in outdoor gear and cycling retailers, it seems I’m not alone. The bottoms are often not reinforced enough to handle the rigours of mountain biking, let alone bikepacking. They’re usually difficult to get on and off. And lastly, it’s tricky to hone in on the appropriate weight or thickness since ventilation options are limited. I think the durability issue was the most troublesome for me. These things aren’t cheap, so it’s a huge red flag if they can’t handle a few mountain bike rides.
That’s where the Endura MT500 Plus Overshoe really stands out. Durability wise, they are the best I’ve ever used or seen. The sole is made with an extremely heavy duty rubber, with its own tread to provide grip. The cleat cutout is spacious enough that things didn’t interfere with my pedal of choice, the Shimano XT M8000s. The main body of the shoe covers is made of neoprene with a nylon face, so they hold up pretty well in the rain, but are better suited to cold weather and messy trails. The large open sole is suited for both flat or clipless riding. A single velcro closure on the back of the heel keeps things snug, and an overall hard wearing design was great for when things got rowdy. They were excellent for keeping my feet warm during a few sub zero rides this winter, but on warmer, wet rides, I was quick to overheat and then eventually sweat, rendering the overshoes useless. With that said, if I was heading into a shoulder season bikepacking trip with a high chance for rain, I’d gladly bring the MT500 Plus Overshoes along for the ride.
- Model/Size Tested Endura MT500 Plus Overshoe / X-Large
- Price $64.99
- Material Neoprene Upper, Rubber Sole
- Manufacturer’s Details EnduraSport.com
Being wet sucks. Rain is a common deterrent for commuters, weekend warriors, and bikepackers alike. Once you have the right gear and the mindset to overcome it, though, it can be quite enjoyable. Although it unquestionably comes at a cost, there’s definitely something to be said for high quality cycling-specific rain gear. Endura was founded over 25 years ago in Scotland, a place recognized for damper than average conditions, so they’ve drawn from a wealth of experience in developing the MT500 line. And I think the items I tested reflect what good quality cycling gear should look like. The price may seem high at first, but after a pretty extensive testing period with plenty of foul weather, I have to say that they’re well worth it.