Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (2023)

Cyclingnews Verdict

Perhaps the best gravel-focussed waterproof jacket at this price point. Waterproof, and very breathable too, but with some fit issues

Pros

  • +

    Excellent waterproof levels

  • +

    Very breathable

  • +

    Good value, discounts readily available too

Cons

  • -

    Tight across back and shoulders

  • -

    No internal zip flap

  • -

    Single ended zip

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Cornwall, nestled in the far southwest of England, is perhaps the perfect place to test a waterproof cycling jacket. It is phenomenally damp here; forget everything you see on postcards, the default setting is 'mizzle' (a tasty blend of mist and drizzle), and then it rolls through grades through to “Atlantic gale deluge”. It is also mild, rarely dipping below around 8C/46F, so whatever jacket you wear has to be both waterproof and breathable. Given the absolute soaking Cornwall had over the festive period, I had the perfect opportunity to put some more miles into the best waterproof cycling jackets. Here I’m going to take you through the good and the not-so-good bits that the Endura GV500 waterproof jacket brings to the table.

The Endura GV500 has seen action in the mud, rain, and high winds, but also just in cooler conditions. How does it shape up then? It’s good, especially for the price, and doubly so if you find it on sale which is a fairly regular occurrence.

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Design and aesthetics

Gravel-specific is here to stay I’m afraid. We’ve pushed through the dark days of either using road or MTB products depending on what fits our needs the best, and waterproof jackets are the latest things to be given the GS treatment. The GV500 waterproof jacket is, in simple terms, a pared-back version of Endura’s extremely successful MT500 mountain biking jacket. Fewer features, and a slightly different fabric, but a consequently lower price as well that makes for a compelling package for both gravel and MTB.

Gravel clothing has a decision to make, garment to garment, about where it draws its inspiration. Some gear is road wear with a utilitarian edge, here the aesthetic and build are definitely mountain bike. The cut is boxy, and there is little to no stretch in the face fabric so don’t even think in terms of ‘race fit’. It’s baggy, not to a crazy degree, but enough to accommodate a lightweight down jacket underneath should the need arise. I’d wager though that if you’re needing a down jacket under a waterproof you may be better served by some of the options from our list of the best winter cycling jackets. It’s a slimmer fit than something like the Albion Zoa Rain Shell though, which has a slightly more expeditionary focus.

Compared to the MT500 jacket there are no side pockets and no pit vents. The Exoshell40 waterproof fabric here is the standard option, rather than the “DR” durable version, meaning it’s lighter, packs down smaller, but is a little more fragile. The outer fabric is ripstop nylon, and it feels sturdy and has shrugged off heavy Cornish gorse bushes and my propensity to pick gravel routes that require me to carry my bike on my back with ease.

Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (2)

Sturdy, yes, but the fabric is that classic rustling, noisy material. Inside it’s got a backer similar to Gore-Tex Active, but the whole package feels thinner and more lightweight. The waterproof rating of 20,000mm and breathability of 40,000g/m2/24hr are respectable, particularly at this price point. If you want to understand the ins and outs of waterproof fabrics, ratings etc then be sure to check our ‘waterproof fabrics explained’ article. The membrane itself is fluorine free, meaning the GV500 may not be susceptible to the changes that will come to a huge swathe of waterproof gear once the PFC ban comes into effect.

Zips are something I get quite excited about at times. Here we have a waterproof main zip, but it is unfortunately single-ended. If you ride in a T-shirt with a backpack then this is fine, but if you need to access jersey pockets you’ll need to unzip. The storm flap is, oddly, outside. This gives a clean look but seems to me like it would be more useful inside, particularly in the face box area where the absence of an inside flap means the zip itself sits on your chin when fully zipped up. This is uncomfortable, even on shorter rides.

Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (3)

Bizarrely the chest pocket, what I’d think of as a ‘valuables’ pocket, doesn’t feature a waterproof zip. It does feature a double tabbed zipper though (i.e. there’s a pull tab accessible inside the pocket) for reasons unknown, as you can’t access the pocket other than from the exterior zip. Something to clip your keys to perhaps?

Finally, before the real-world juicy, soggy details, we must discuss fit. I am not a broad man. I am in fact what is usually, grimly, referred to as a ‘cyclist's physique’ in marketing, to the exclusion of every other body type; tall, slim, skinny even. In a small the shoulders were too narrow, feeling tight under the armpits and across the upper back. The more racy your position is the more this feeling will be exacerbated, as the angle your upper arms make with your torso opens up. On the plus side, as a lanky gentleman, the GV500 has refreshingly long arms. Often I will find jackets expose my wrists, but this was never the case here. Sure, you can’t cinch the cuffs, but they’re tight enough, especially if you’re going to wear them over gloves.

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Performance

The short version is that if you’re looking for a jacket that’ll keep you dry out on the gravelly trails then this is definitely worth considering. The DWR (durable water repellent) has held up admirably so far, even in the face of some staggeringly heavy and prolonged rain. For some context, the trail to the coast that I usually take was a foot deep underwater at points (R.I.P. to my bearings).

Despite the downpours, the sleeves especially did maintain a healthy bead, even when more expensive items have wetted out. I’m not one for gloves unless it’s deathly cold, but the longer sleeves did at least help keep my wrists a little dryer.

The hood I wasn’t overly fond of, or I should say the hood-facebox combo. With the hood up over a helmet it clamps the face box against your shin. Yet, this means it stops water pouring in, but without a flap internally you end up eating the zipper or having it rub your chin. The fit didn’t bother me too much in the real world. Yes, it was a little too tight in the shoulders, but while riding off-road, with a constantly changing body position, it didn’t really give me second thoughts. On road sections, in the drops, the thing that bothered me the most was the baggy chest. With my phone in the chest pocket, it was constantly clattered by my knees. If you’re a more broad-set rider though it’s worth considering trying one on before you buy. As I said before, it’s more of an issue in more stretched-out positions, which isn’t really what it’s designed for.

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A hill I will die on is that all hooded cycling jackets should have some way of stowing the hood. The hood is a wind sock, and when it’s not tipping it down and I’m either using the jacket as a windbreaker or just accepting a damp head for temperature reasons, the hood flaps about my neck and ears and becomes extremely irritating. This isn’t a problem unique to this jacket, but it seems to be an issue with all cycling waterproofs.

Breathability is, for me at least, the true test of a waterproof cycling jacket. I run hot, Cornwall is mild and incredibly humid on the coast when the air is full of sea spray (it’s also bloody murder for bike parts, but that’s another story…). A breathability rating of 40,000g/m2/24hr looks good on paper, but what does it mean in real life? Actually this was probably what impressed me the most; yes the jacket kept me dry, besides the usually accepted slight ingress at the hem/neck/cuffs, but I could happily carry a heavy bike up a long, steep staircase (high effort, no wind cooling effect) without anything more than unzipping the neck a little. If you run hot it’s a good option, and felt noticeably more breathable than the dhb Trail Waterproof Jacket.

The flipside to this breathability is that, when stopped, it doesn’t feel so cosy. My benchmark for the goldilocks zone is the Albion Zoa, which is both extremely breathable and feels protective enough to not really give a second thought to stopping for a while in the elements. With the GV500 jacket though it’s definitely a little more chilly when you stop.

I suspect, as well as weight savings, this is why the mountain bike version uses thicker fabric. Perhaps Endura feels mountain bikers are more likely to be exposed to the elements than their gravelly counterparts.

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Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (11)

Value

I’ve tested a lot of waterproof jackets this winter and will continue to do so until the climatic conditions improve (please, send towels). It’s easy to get hung up on what is the absolute best when you’re constantly going out in the rain and lose sight of the cost and what is a ‘normal’ use case. The Endura GV500 sits at what is probably the upper level of ‘budget’, at a retail price of £159.99.

If you want the best then this isn’t it, but at this price point, the GV500 is I suspect one of, if not the best in its class. It’s regularly discounted too - seemingly in a price war with the similarly priced dhb Trail Waterproof - making for an even more compelling offering that represents great value considering the performance on offer.

Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (12)

Verdict

The Endura GV500 waterproof jacket provides good protection from the elements, and comes in at an attractive price point for those riders looking to step up from ‘rain averse’ to ‘deluge curious’. It’s not the cream of the crop, but it’s probably the best of the bunch at this price point. It’s only really let down by slight fit issues and zip details, which, for intermittent use, you can definitely look past.

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Testing scorecard and notes
AttributesNotesRating
FitLong sleeves are good, but it's a little baggy up front and tight across the shoulders and upper back7/10
ProtectionIt's about as waterproof as anyone would need for day riding. Not expedition-tier, but it doesn't try to be 9/10
FeaturesWhile it doesn't proport to be a feature rich jacket, the features that are present aren't always well executed; I'm talking zips, mostly7/10
BreathabilityI'm a sweaty boy. It did very well in keeping me cool9/10
ValueConsidering the protection you get it's very good value, especially considering it's regularly discounted9/10
Overall ratingRow 5 - Cell 1 82%

Endura GV500 waterproof cycling jacket review: It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best of the budget bunch (13)

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Will Jones

Reviews Writer, Cyclingnews

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.

Height: 182cm

Weight: 72Kg

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross

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