The new Critical jacket has been developed in conjunction with Nukeproof’s World Cup race team and has the kind of neat features you’d expect from a product designed under the critical eyes of pro riders.
There’s a removable section at the top of the spine protector to allow for Leatt neck braces. In fact, the whole backplate is removable (the waist strap then zips together tidily at the rear) which opens the Critical up to gravity enduro riders, who are more likely to wear a pack all day. The pads themselves are made from Sas-Tec foam, which offers high levels of impact absorption while remaining malleable, eliminating that ‘plastic warrior’ feel.
One of the biggest plus points is the Critical’s breathability. There are substantial cutaways under each arm, and the meshed base layer body keeps the pads in place and does a great job at allowing heat to vent. You’ll still get warm but the Critical is one of the coolest sets of pads we’ve worn.
That manoeuvrability and breathability sold us on the Critical. Add in the price and the compatibility with a neck brace, and you’re heading towards one of the best sets of body armour we’ve used. The Critical is also available as a vest, but we reckon it’s well worth going the whole hog for £40 more.