Mission Workshop, the boutique brand from San Francisco, USA, is renowned for making top-quality kit with impressive lifespans, and has an awesome after-sales policy that offers to repair or replace items that have failed as a result of defects in materials or workmanship for life.
And you’re right to hope that that level of support is available, considering the price tag of the majority of its kit.
The Sans waterproof jacket is no exception and is touted as one of the lightest waterproof jackets in the world, but with absolutely no compromises, Mission Workshop hopes. I put The Sans through its paces, to test out whether it’s as good as Mission Workshop claims, in the soggy climes of the UK .
Mission Workshop The Sans waterproof jacket details and specification
At just 169g, and easily packable into a pint glass, The Sans is an impressive-looking piece of kit.
It’s Entrant fabric is developed especially for Mission Workshop by Toray in Japan, and like other breathable waterproof fabrics, Toray’s Entrant has a microporous structure that blocks rainwater but allows humidity to escape due to the droplets being different sizes.
The Sans has a three-layer construction and Mission Workshop says that it should feel like a full jacket rather than an emergency-only waterproof.
It has a full-length one-way zipper and a zipped breast pocket that’s big enough to fit a large phone. The hood has two elastic tightening toggles but isn’t designed to fit over helmets.
The material is slightly stretchy which means it doesn’t restrict movement when your in the riding position. Steve Behr
There’s a dropped tail but the jacket’s cut is universal rather than cycling-specific. You also get fully taped seams, but the cuffs don’t have a dedicated closing system, instead there’s a small ‘v’ cut to help with fitting and save weight. There are underarm vents – in the form of small perforations – that remain open at all times, too.
The jacket’s overall construction is slightly elasticated, and both the cuffs and hem are wrapped in a thicker section of material to help brush off wear and tear.
The cuffs are big enough to pull over gloves but not so baggy that water and air gets in. Steve Behr
Mission Workshop claims The Sans has a moisture vapour transition rate (MVTR) of over 30,000 and a water column rating – how waterproof it is – of 30,000, too; making it a top-rated waterproof fabric.
Mission Workshop The Sans waterproof jacket performance
While the cut of the jacket isn’t cycling-specific, I didn’t notice any tension or stretching across the back panel when climbing seated, stretching forwards or in attack mode riding downhill. This is likely down to the jacket’s slightly stretchy construction working hard to not inhibit any movement.
The dropped tail did help to keep splashes and mud splatters from heading upwards onto my back, especially when seated, but because the aperture can’t be tightened, some mud did get underneath the jacket.
The Sans looks fantastic on and off the trail. Steve Behr
The jacket has a relatively tight fit, but it was possible to wear a thin baselayer and hoody underneath it comfortably without feeling like I was trying to squeeze into it.
The beauty of the jacket lies in its weight or, rather, lack of. When folded it’s small enough to pack into a generous shorts pocket and it’s a true companion for those who like to roll the dice with the weather.
It’s is impressively waterproof, exceeding my expectations for a jacket of this weight. When subjected to a constant flow of 10 litres of water a minute for five minutes (50 litres of water in total), the jacket’s hood, arms, torso and pocket all resisted liquid penetration and my grey baselayer remained dry.
This level of water flow simulated an exceptionally heavy downpour but did highlight a small flaw in the jacket’s design: the constantly open armpit vents can allow some water to seep through as it runs off the jacket’s shoulder panel and down the arms.
This was exacerbated by the standing position I had to adopt during the downpour experiment, but when riding seated or standing I didn’t notice it to be as much of an issue in similarly wet conditions.
The armpit perforations let heat escape, but in my lab test also allow water in. Steve Behr
Impressively, even when wearing a bag, water refused to seep through the pressurised fabric under the shoulder straps – something I normally experience with other jackets.
Breathability was good too, provided I was wearing the correct number of layers underneath. If I wore too many, my sweat soaked the garments beneath the jacket and gave the impression it wasn’t as breathable as it is.
A single baselayer proved to be more than adequate in most scenarios – except the coldest of days – and the jacket impressed with how much perspiration it allowed to escape before it reached its limit.
Water just beads on the Toray fabric. Steve Behr
So long as I was wearing a long sleeve top underneath, the jacket remained comfortable even when I pushed it beyond its limits – I didn’t like the feeling of the jacket’s cold fabric on my bare skin, although this isn’t an exclusive problem to this jacket.
The hood’s pull cords secured it tightly over my head and, when the hood was off, closing them also had the benefit of tightening the neck opening, which helped reduce water and muck getting thrown inside the jacket.
The relatively baggy cuffs are a breeze to slide over gloves and I didn’t feel like they gaped open, allowing wind and water to travel upwards when riding.
Mission Workshop The Sans waterproof jacket bottom line
In my deluge test, the jacket’s material remained watertight under a very heavy flow of water. Steve Behr
Given its price, it should come as no surprise that The Sans jacket is an incredible lightweight, waterproof and breathable bit of kit. It excels in particularly grotty conditions and offers plenty of protection considering how packable it is – Mission Workshop is right to claim that it feels like a ‘proper’ jacket despite its light 169g weight.
The armpit vents did compromise the waterproofing in my deluge lab test, but in less extreme, real world conditions I didn’t experience the same issue.
Once you’ve decided to splash out on this jacket, the biggest problem you’ll face is not wanting to sully it in the wet, sloppy and gritty conditions it excels so well in.