Race Face Chute Jacket: Reviewed

Words Pete Roggeman and Jon Harris
Photos Morgan Taylor
Date Jan 29, 2014

Our sport is gear intensive. Even the most minimalist of riders include a good riding jacket among their must-haves, along with bike, helmet, and shoes1. Dealing with heavy rain is far more challenging than the cold – it is easy to make a garment waterproof but breathability is always a challenge. No matter where you live, if you plan to ride as much as possible, a good riding jacket will do more to encourage you to get out the door than any other piece of gear when the weather gets nasty. Some riders refuse to ride in more than a drizzle, so a lightweight jacket that folds down into the size of a grapefruit is all they carry. But if you take that attitude in the Pacific Northwest, you’re going to be riding the couch a lot, so opt for something more substantial if you don’t want to cut a ride short when you get soaked. Race Face’s Chute falls into that category.

This is rain jacket territory.

The Little Black Dress

Words by Pete Roggeman

The Chute’s construction is 3-ply, which is another way of saying it’s got the look and feel of a serious jacket. The 3 layers consist of an outer called Storm Lite fabric with a water-repellent finish, laminated to a middle layer featuring a water-proof/breathable membrane, backed by a lightweight mesh which is the layer you see on the inside of the jacket. All seams are taped and the pit zips and internal MP3 pocket are welded (more indicators that it’s ready for serious duty). The two side pockets are fleece-lined to keep hands warm and, like the main zipper and pit zips, the pulls are easy to use with gloves on (the pit zips stick sometimes when you try to use them one-handed on the bike, but this is a common issue with waterproof zippers). There is a hood which will not easily fit over a helmet (making me question whether it needed to be added) and cinches down when not being used. A cinch on either side of the waist will keep the bottom snug (I found the fit to be tailored perfectly on and off the bike without cinching), and velcro cuffs do the same for your wrists.

The Chute’s cut works well both on and off the bike.

All waterproof/breathable jackets fulfill the first promise better than the second. Allowing the vapors your sweaty body creates to pass through several layers efficiently is far more difficult than merely keeping water out, and any system is only as good as the weakest link. So if you have a good jacket but wear a substandard (ie. non-breathable) layer underneath it, or your jacket is dirty (dirt, grime, campfire residue – these all affect the membrane’s ability to allow vapor to pass through), your system isn’t going to work optimally. The Chute’s water-repellent finish didn’t bead water forever but the jacket has continued keeping water out, and breathes adequately. You will need to use the pit zips and let the main zipper down when climbing or working hard – but that’s no different than with other jackets with similar construction and intended use.

Large zipper pulls and and a full collar.

Notably, the Chute is not as loud and crunchy as many other 3-ply jackets (in garment speak it has nice hand), which is a legit benefit when you wear it for extended periods. In fact, the Chute is so comfortable to wear that I reach for it often – even when I’m not riding. At first I wore it when running errands during typical Vancouver weather (grey, cool, drizzly or outright rain), but then, due to the Chute’s understated but tasteful styling, I also threw it on when I was headed out to a work-related meeting. All of a sudden the Chute was the most worn jacket in my closet; every now and then I’d show up for a meeting with yesterday’s muddy ride splashed across it as evidence that I was using it for double duty.

Two lined front pockets, and pit zips.

It was at this point that I realized the best compliment I could bestow on the Chute was to refer to it as a mountain biker’s LBD (that’s Little Black Dress for those of you that never watched Sex and the City, or hosted your own fashion show). The LBD is a staple of a woman’s closet: the go-to garment for a party, dinner, or other occasion when the dress code straddles the line. For a rider the equivalent is the jacket you can always throw in your riding pack or take with you on a road trip and know you’ll have something to wear out at night2 and not look like a wannabe-sponsored dirtbag (although if logos are your thing, the Chute Team has a larger Race Face logo on each shoulder and does look sharp, albeit more flashy).

Some abrasion resistance at the elbow as well as around the back where your waist strap sits.

My only complaints about the Chute are very small: I would like to see an outer chest pocket large enough for a phone, and the hood needs to be sorted out: is it intended to work over a helmet (and therefore needs to be cut larger) or not (and therefore should be detachable, stowable, or removed altogether). Neither issue prevents me from recommending it as a great all-round jacket for conditions ranging from downpours to moderate winter riding (not to mention the odd casual business meeting).

The Chute’s hood falls short – too small to go over a helmet, and yet it doesn’t stow away or zip off.

1Gloves, you say? Many riders don’t bother. Hydration pack with multi tool, spare tube, chain breaker, food, pump, patch kit, etc? You can bring a bottle and let one of your riding buddies bring the rest, or skip the bottle altogether and dip your hand in a creek every now and again. It doesn’t make you responsible or even all that well-liked, but it will have you fitting in with about half the riders in the Garbonzo zone at Whistler, stuck on the side of the Goat’s Gully trying to bum a tube from a stranger.
2We’re talking about the black version of the Chute here, naturally. The Safety yellow isn’t as versatile off the bike, although it could be worn for a moonlight shift on a road crew or while changing a car tire on the side of the road in the middle of the night.

The Fluorescent Beacon

Words by Jonathan Harris

After the shock of the retina-searing fluorescent yellow wore off, I slipped off my trusty Raceface Aquanot jacket and tried on the Chute. Unlike Pete I won’t be wearing this jacket out for anything other than sporting style endeavors – subtle it is not.

You won’t be missed in fluorescent yellow!

I’ve had my Aquanot for a few years now and it has been my go to winter jacket. The Aquanot isn’t without its drawbacks but it’s a tough jacket that has stood up to the role very well. My main qualm about the Aquanot is that it is made from a pretty stiff and not super breathable material. Basically it is a bit “crunchy”. The Chute isn’t that. The material is lighter, even though it has added an extra 0.5 of ply to it – 3 versus the Aquanot’s 2.5 – and it is more breathable.

The Chute’s cuff straps are more traditional than the Aquanot it replaced.

The little things that irk me about the Aquanot have been addressed. The neoprene cuffs which got in the way are gone. The little flaps either side of the main zipper that occasionally got in the way of zipping the jacket up are gone. These are good things.

Sealed mp3 player pocket on the left side, and a huge non-zippered pocket on both sides.

Sadly the “gone” theme carries into some of the features I did like. The ability to zip the hood away into the collar was one of those, as was the ability to zip the jacket into its own pouch which made storing it in a pack just that much easier. Another big change is the cut. My Aquanot was also a large but the cut on the Chute has a more relaxed fit, so much so that I could probably drop a size to a medium. I’m also with Pete about the hood, not big enough to go over a helmet and too big without.

The small hood is one of the Chute’s only real downfalls.

Still, a tough jacket that overall is well thought out and a good piece of gear for the biking wardrobe.

Considering Pete likened the Chute to a dress, and Jonathan will only ride in his, I think it’s pretty clear who the “she said” is in this review… MSRP is $199 CAD / $189 USD.

Trending on NSMB


-C-  - Feb. 1, 2014, 1:23 a.m.

A jacket that: 10,000mm; 5,000g/m2 (from the RF site) is properly low end on the waterproofability/breathability scale.

To call it a technical jacket, is stretching the truth a little.

There are other jackets with well over double the ratings for a similar price. Twice as waterproof, & multiple times more breathable sounds much better to me


Bradical  - Jan. 30, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

Perhaps most issues occurred on last years batch?

I like mine, enough pockets to ride without a pack and still carry the essentials.
No pack allows for the side vents to do there job .
This jacket must breathe as it's the first jacket that I can climb in without over heating, next to my Gore jacket. My Gore ….which I also like due it it's breathability doesn't see much action because it has zero packets, no vents , only a media pocket.

The Chute is my " go to " jacket.


Oldfart  - Jan. 30, 2014, 7:22 p.m.

I will say that I liked the zippers. I have lots of failures with coil zippers. $200 for a technical jacket is cheap boys. Cheap. Less than that at regular price is questionable.


bornslippy  - Jan. 30, 2014, 11:59 a.m.

Well now reading about the issue with the waterproofing and the fabric pilling is concerning me. The price yes I think it's on the high side but I bought mine way cheaper in the USA. I live5 mins away from the Raceface office and I have to go to Belllingham or on-line to get a way cheaper price on their stuff.


-C-  - Jan. 30, 2014, 6:41 a.m.

Agreed, I got given one of these, and still didn't wear it. It was a terrible coat.

My list of issues included:

Hood was too big for head, but too small for over helmet, without the jacket looking like a crop top.
Zip was too stiff on the front and bunched & bulged badly.
Not actually that waterproof (compared to proper hi value waterproof coats)
Breathability was virtually non existent.
One of the seams on the sleeve wasn't even attached to the other panel, I had to iron them together.
No chest pocket
Pilling occurred almost immediately.
Odd sizing. The medium was way too small and the large was very generous.

Lastly the price! Were they on crack?

Using a Montane now. Fit aside, as that's personal, it's better in every way.


+1 mudrunner
boot  - Jan. 29, 2014, 8:01 p.m.

I was also very disappointed and returned Chute for a full refund. Nice cut and pockets, but yes as Oldfart says this jacket will fall apart in a few months. DWR gone, waterproof useless. Extremely clammy inside, and both pit zippers failed because you actually have to take the jacket off to open or close them. Crappy sections of fabric will pill, look frail and leak.


Oldfart  - Jan. 29, 2014, 6:48 p.m.

I used one last winter. Great cut and features. I don't care for a hood and collar especially if the hood is not detachable. But the fabric is poor. The DWR wore away really quickly and started to pill too. Then the waist cord detached and became useless. It was repaired at no charge though.

Here's what off road riders need. Good fabric. Big cuffs that will take in air when your climbing slowly but cinch down. No inner cuffs. Wasted material that just adds complexity where none is needed. Pit zips or better front vents. Zipped outer chest pocket for keys, phone etc. and you know those are pockets? Don't. Just don't put them on a jacket as they are useless. You need two hands to operate the ones I have on jackets. Or at least in one direction and who wants a set of keys on your shoulder or wrist to bump on trees or the ground. Cord pulls need to be internal so you don't snag the loop on a bush or tree.


Oldfart  - Jan. 29, 2014, 10:40 p.m.

Arm pockets. I meant to type arm pockets. Useless as tits on a nun.


BonkTonk  - Jan. 29, 2014, 4:59 p.m.

I have the Yellow Chute and I use it for my 30+ km bike commute to work (roundtrip) - I find the jacket very breathable from the Aquanot jacket (worn up to acquiring the Chute). Plus its been great for visablity during the foggy spell Vancouver has been experiencing for the last few weeks. Temperature management is ok with the pit zips and smart clothing choices for the under the jacket layer. Its a great performing jacket that I find exceeds what I would expect at that pricepoint.


semaj  - Jan. 29, 2014, noon

I commute wearing an Aquanot in XL right now. I'm also not a fan of the neoprene cuffs, the too snug fit or the sweat factor of it, but I love the waterproofness.
I am torn between a black Chute or neon Chute right now…I know I will like the more relaxed fit and lack of neoprene cuff, but I cannot decide if I'd rather be more visible while commuting or not look like an alien weirdo at the mall or safeway. This coming from a guy who owns 3 pairs of Nike shoes with day-glo on them.


Jon-boy  - Jan. 29, 2014, 2:34 p.m.

The neon yellow is seriously bright, so much so that Morgan struggled to take a good picture of it. For visibility it is great, for blending in, not so much. If you want to do double duty with commuting just wear some reflective cuffs and such like and go for the black.


Morgan Taylor  - Jan. 29, 2014, 11:42 a.m.

I also had an Aquanot prior to getting a Chute, and now use them for trail building and "little black dress" respectively (Arc'teryx SL/FL for riding; I find both of the RaceFace jackets too warm for the majority of conditions). I know a good number of people who use the Chute for riding and love it; I just prefer a thinner jacket for outdoor activities.

The Chute is far more breathable, which is a big plus as the Aquanot (which I did use for riding a few years back) is a sweat bag. Both jackets are a combination lifestyle/riding piece, which means there are some compromises. I actually like the Aquanot's neoprene cuffs but the thumb holes are not in the right place. The Chute in black is a classy little number; as Pete mentions it's suitable for a wide range of situations - and its lined pockets are great. I prefer the implementation of the Aquanot's stowaway hood but the Chute's softer material makes its hood more comfortable. As you can tell I like both jackets but if I had to choose one it would be the Chute for breathability and versatility.


Andrew Major  - Jan. 29, 2014, 1:36 p.m.

I also found the Chute too warm for most riding, even with the zips open. I am running a (similarly priced to the Chute) Gore jacket that is much better, but still only bearable in torrential conditions… otherwise I just get wet in wool.

I was going to ask you how much better the Arcteryx SL is compared to the Chute, and Gore offerings you have tried, but -- while I love nice things -- the thought of crashing my bike in a $750, super-super light Gore material, jacket gives me heart palpitations. I really don't think it is reasonable to compare a good jacket that is relatively affordable for the majority of riders as a go-to piece (Chute) to Arcteryx's absolutely #1 top-end product!




reegs  - Jan. 30, 2014, 8:09 a.m.

He did say Arcteryx "SL", which in the case of the Alpha (hip length, a bit longer in the back that makes it perfect for cycling), is $280. Considering some of the comments here about poor construction of the Chute, I'd say the extra $80 for a dead bird gore-tex piece, albeit it the paclite fabric, is more than worthwhile. The FL is $450.

http://arcteryx.com/product.aspx?language=EN&gender=mens&category=Shell_Jackets&model =Alpha-SL- Jacket


bornslippy  - Jan. 29, 2014, 11:19 a.m.

love my chute jacket. one complain is no zippered outer chest pocket


Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 29, 2014, 10:50 a.m.

It's true that the hood never gets in the way, so it isn't an annoyance. However, since it doesn't fit over a helmet, I never use it riding. Different story off the bike, when I flip it up often. It does not detract from what is overall a very well thought out jacket that performs well and looks good.


Brett Watkins  - Jan. 29, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

Personally, I like the hood attached, no need for it to be detachable. Fit is great, as the reviewer mentioned a phone sleeve on the front is a good idea. Perhaps a clear bag pull out, so that one can use look at the phone in the rain.


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