ION is slowly but surely becoming an established name in mountain biking. The company started in 2004 as a collection of fun sports enthusiasts who mainly came from water sports: surfers, wakeboarders and kitesurfers. This is also reflected in their motto: “Surfing the Trails”! Since 2012, they have been stirring up the bike sector and have gradually expanded it. In the meantime, functional clothing has also been introduced, making the cold and dark seasons on the bike more bearable. As such, we wanted to know whether ION’s outerwear could already compete with the big companies. So Michael tested a complete MTB outfit from ION!
What does ION’s OUTERWEAR offer?
“With the Hybrid Jacket Traze, ION has developed a rain jacket that should offer exeptional breathability. Many rain jackets unfortunately have the problem that, while they keep the rain out, you yourself start to sweat in them quickly. That moisture cannot be transported to the outside and leaves you with the immediate feeling of riding in a plastic bag — and the jacket then uncomfortably sticks to your skin.
The Hybrid_Console principle, as ION calls it, combines three-layer laminate with double fabric. This allows two different types of material to be used: a waterproof fabric on the back, hood and arms as well as a breathable softshell fabric on the front. There are lasered ventilation holes under the arms and on the neck to provide the necessary ventilation. The jacket features two breast pockets in the front and a practical cleaning cloth for glasses in the left pocket. The Flex_Hood is particularly flexible thanks to stretch inserts and automatically adapts itself to each helmet form.
In order to test whether everything works as ION promises, I threw myself on my bike at 10 °C outside temperature. I only wore a long functional undershirt and a thin long-sleeved jersey under the jacket, which was entirely sufficient. In my older rain jacket it would have been too cold under these conditions, but with the Hybrid Jacket Traze you are much more flexible. I think you can wear the jacket up to 0°C.
Part 1: The Jacket
The processing quality of the jacket is very high — there are no loose threads or unclean seams. The zippers all look very good and the fabric feels quite comfortable to wear. With a body height of 1.80m, I chose the size M, which fit me well, except for the length of the jacket. For my taste it could be 5 cm longer, as I found it a bit short for my body size. The length of the sleeves however was perfect. Once you sit on the bike for a few minutes and start to sweat, you’ll notice that the jacket is actually better ventilated than a rain jacket. The material mix seems to have a clear advantage here.
After 20 minutes of riding, the hoped for weather change came — as if ordered on command — and it started to rain. It wasn’t a cloudburst, but the jacket was completely sealed for the hour I was out in the rain — you could just see the water running down the fabric! The hood fitted over my not exactly small helmet without any problems and I felt really well wrapped and protected. Unfortunately, ION doesn’t specify a water column here, which would certainly interest some potential buyers.
Part 2: Shorts stories
Breathable bike shorts that also protect you from mud, dirt and rain — that’s what ION promises with the 3 Layer Shorts Traze AMP. The very flexible 4way_Strech material is supposed to keep all moisture out thanks to a 20,000 mm water column and still offer maximum freedom of movement. As always, the practical ION-Waist_Adjustment is on board so that the width of the waistband can be adjusted using Velcro fasteners. In addition, the pants feature two pockets on the left and right — with an extra pocket on the right for your mobile phone.
Waterproof MTB shorts?
I got into my pants and went off to the woods. With my hip circumference of about 93cm I had to make the shorts in size M a little tighter via waistband, in order to have them fit perfectly. I probably should have paid more attention to the ION size chart, which put me in S!
The pants’ fabric feels very soft and pleasant on the skin. While pedaling, nothing rubs, you don’t feel any seams or other things that could disturb you. Since the shorts are very light, you can hardly notice them. The protective pouch for your mobile phone is quite nice in principle, but a bit small. Many modern, larger smartphones won’t fit into it, including mine, unfortunately.
On the trail, it’s always the best feedback from shorts when I realize that I’m not even thinking about them. They’re just there and do what they’re supposed to. This is also the case with the ION 3 Layer Shorts Traze AMP. After an hour of riding through mud and rain everything was still dry; the shorts mastered the conditions on the trail with flying colours. As with the jacket, I could literally watch the water running down the pants.
My ION OUTERWEAR conclusion
In summary, I can say that the jacket perfectly manages the balancing act of being a rain jacket and a softshell jacket at the same time. As such, it unites the best of both worlds. Many people probably have a rain jacket hanging in their closet at home as well as a separate softshell jacket. With the Hybrid Jacket Traze you can eliminate one of them.
The same goes for the pants: You don’t sweat in them like in some other rain pants. The “plastic bag effect”, as I like to call it, is fortunately missing. Even if it doesn’t rain, the pants cut a good figure — thanks to the breathability of the material. You really have to ask yourself whether it still makes sense to have rain shorts together with normal shorts hanging in your closet. The 3 Layer Shorts Traze AMP is a pair of pants for all weather conditions, no matter if rain or sun.
As far as the price-performance ratio is concerned, I have mixed feelings. For the performance of the jacket, the price of 199.95 Euro is justified. It ranks itself in the upper midfield, as you can get a lot out of it thanks to its robustness. The shorts however — even if they are functional rain shorts — are a little too expensive with the price of 169.95 Euro. It surely delivers top performance, but the price is higher than one for GORE Wear products with original WINDSTOPPER. That seems too high to me.”