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Endura Pro SL Shell II Jacket review

A lightweight, waterproof, packable shell jacket that works as part of a modular system

Endura Pro SL Shell II
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

The Endura Pro SL II is perfect for a very wet and somewhat cold ride. It gets overwhelmed when the temperature rises but it’s small enough to pack in a jersey pocket. When things get colder there’s room for a mid-layer to extend the usability of both pieces.

For

  • External pocket for gels
  • Completely waterproof
  • Long droptail design
  • Doesn't contain eco-harmful Fluorine

Against

  • Small zipper
  • Can't be unzipped from the bottom

There's a well-known story about how Inuit cultures have hundreds of words for snow. The idea is that because it's such a big part of daily life there's a complex language to describe it. Rain is like that too, plus temperatures are a variable. Cyclists who spend a lot of time in the rain know that picking just the right jacket for a ride can be tricky. Over time, your vocabulary and also your wardrobe options can become complex.

There are different options for nearly every type of rain riding. Is it going to be heavy, warm rain? Or maybe light but cold rain? What about sleet or drizzle? There are so many options and the Endura Pro SL II jacket slots into the mix in a very specific way. Keep reading to see how we think it fits in the list of best waterproof cycling jackets, and what our favourite ways to ride with it are. 

Endura Pro SL Shell II

At the rear, there's plenty of length to handle road spray (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics 

The Endura Pro SL Shell II Jacket feels like a classic rain jacket. The bulk of the body is a conventional feeling rain shell. It has taped seams, no stretch, and it is absolutely waterproof with no leaking no matter how hard the rain is coming down. The zipper is a small-tooth, single-sided piece with a flap in front of it and behind it. The neckline is high and there's a piece of neoprene that sits at the base of the skull. It does not leak, even a little, anywhere. 

The fabric at play is ExoShell40 Waterproof Fabric. Exoshell40 is a three-layer design weighing in at a very light 70gsm. Sandwiched between two facing layers is an ultrafine, fluorine-free membrane, which means it doesn't contain harmful chemicals usually used in waterproof garments that eventually find their way into the environment. There is a PFC-free DWR (durable water repellent) in use, but the primary waterproofing is a membrane that works mechanically. The holes in it are big enough to let water vapour out, but too small to let water droplets in. It's a similar strategy to that employed by brands such as Gore and Assos. 

The upper back and a small section at the base of each side has a little more stretch, though not highly so, and the lower section is further enhanced by the elastic at the bottom edge. At the end of the sleeves, one side is a small square of neoprene to give a bit of stretch there as well. 

Endura Pro SL Shell II

Taped seams are just one piece of what makes sure the Endura Pro SL Shell II is completely waterproof (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Making a garment work when it has very little stretch requires careful thought with the design. Endura refers to it as a "multi-panel construction" and what that really means is the addition of a side panel, so that stretch can be incorporated strategically for comfort, and kept away where it's not needed. Stretch panels are found at the side under the arms as well as in the upper back only.

All this careful construction, with targeted stretch, results in a design that just works. It's better at keeping water out and it allows you to move, while at the same time making sure there's no flapping in the wind. The shoulders in particular are always a difficult area for a jacket like this, but Endura makes it all work in the Pro SL Shell II. 

Aside from the fabric there are some thoughtful touches at play to make wearing it more pleasant. The stripes at the front are reflective to help with visibility in low light as is the small panel in the centre of the back. On the left side there's a small pocket to carry gels and on the right side there's a zipper that opens to reveal access to jersey pockets. Available colours include black or a bright blue referred to as Kingfisher.

Endura Pro SL Shell II

A pocket designed for easy access to gels makes the Endura Pro SL Shell II a workable race day option (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Ride experience 

That's a straightforward design. There's no long list of proprietary fabrics and complicated technologies. Instead, you've got a simple design that's impeccably executed, and that works well for a very particular type of riding: when it's rainy and cold for your whole ride. 

Just like the design is simple, so is the way it works on the bike. Being completely and totally waterproof always comes at the cost of breathability, and that's the case here. If it starts to heat up, you will soak the inside. Flip that around though, and it's impressively warm. Pair it with a long sleeve jersey and you can handle weather that dips a lot lower than you'd expect. If you get unexpectedly nice weather, it is packable, although that’s not the real focus of the design. 

Part of what makes the Pro SL Shell II special is the fit. I’m prone to diving deep into the technical aspects of a piece of riding clothing but it’s always important to step back and remember no matter how technical, it’s clothing too and it needs to work as such. Endura took extra time to carefully tailor the fit while also keeping it low stretch, and it has paid off. You can move your shoulders easily but there’s no noise caused by wind hitting loose fabric. There’s room for movement both above and below the shoulder, with extra space across the chest as well. It's a generous cut that makes the Assos Mille GT Ultraz Evo Winter Softshell and Castelli Idro Pro 2 feel like they are running a size smaller. This generous cut leads to a feature that you don't typically see in cycling clothing, and that is modularity. 

The Pro SL Shell II is a hardshell jacket with enough room to pair it with an insulating layer. Endura offers the Pro SL Primaloft Jacket II and the two work wonderfully together. There's nothing that limits you to wearing Endura underneath though. It works equally well as a protective hardshell for another brand's softshell piece. You can use it to protect a softshell from mud and grime and you can also use it to turn any mid-layer you have into a completely waterproof system.

I’ve spent a lot of time riding with it at temperatures hovering near 10C/50F. It’s best with a layer of fabric between your skin and the jacket, and it’s designed to make use of jersey pockets. So, grab your best cycling jersey and don't let rain so hard it makes seeing difficult stop you from getting outside. It’s a favourite of mine to grab when I want to spend time riding on unpaved roads without worrying about ruining a softshell. 

Endura Pro SL Shell II

For anything bigger than a gel there's a zippered closure allowing access to jersey pockets (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Verdict

Although it's almost as packable as an emergency jacket, the Endura Pro SL Shell II jacket is not designed for stowing. The fabric is completely waterproof and will not soak through over time, and it's best in heavy rain and cooler weather. Being a hardshell, dirt and grime aren't an issue, and there's a pocket for food plus access to jersey pockets. 

The best thing about the Endura Pro SL is a generous cut and a design with an eye towards modularity. Although it's excellent on its own, there's room for more flexibility. Pair it with the Endura Pro SL Primaloft II, or any mid-layer you have, and you can cover an impressively wide range of temperatures and weather. 

Tech Specs: Endura Pro SL Shell II

  • Materials: Polyester 2%, Elastane 8%, Nylon 90%
  • Size availability: XS-XXL
  • Colour Options: Black, Kingfisher
  • Price: £169.99 / $224.99 / €199.99 / AU$305