Review: Race Face Conspiracy rain gear
Smart and simple apparel from a brand that knows wet weather
Wet weather gear is tricky to pull off. It has to be waterproof enough to keep you dry and warm on descents without feeling like a sauna on the climbs. B.C. brand Race Face takes a smart approach with the Conspiracy line of pants, jacket, shorts and long sleeve. It’s light, waterproof where it needs to be and uses a simple design made to last in rough weather.
With four pieces of the line reviewed here, there’s a lot to get through. It is almost entirely good news, though, so let’s dive in.
Race Face Conspiracy Jacket
The elastic cuff is actually really good at keeping water out
The inner chest pocket is the only jacket pocket, which I like. It has a headphone port, too.
Armpit ventillation looks odd, but works well.
Race Face Conspiracy line: features
Race Face designs the Conspiracy line as lightweight gear for the worst weather. Being based at the foot of North Van’s misty mountains, the Race Face crew knows a fair bit about foul weather. This shows in the simplified but effective design.
The Conspiracy jacket uses 10k breathable material, a waterproof, three-layer construction held together with bonded seams. There’s few adjustments aside from a solid zipper, with underarm ventilation cut to prevent the jacket getting too hot. A single chest pocked is bonded inside the jacket. Rubber overlay protective patches sit on the elbows and a full hood is sized to fit over helmets. The jacket is light and folds up small enough to fit into a hip-pack.
Race Face went for an oddly large logo on the DWR long sleeve, but the grey-on-black is still subtle.
Elbow patches add a little protection for the jersey
The water-resistant coating is great for repelling light rain
DWR long sleeve jersey
This DWRcoated jersey is wind and water-resistant. It has the same bonded overlay elbow patches as the jacket. It uses a lightweight nylon blend with a drop back hem to keep water out when hunched over in a riding position.
Conspiracy Pants and shorts
The pants and shorts use waterproof zippers throughout, which is essential on a waterproof garment. There’s a solid, slightly offset rachet closure to adjust fit and a grip band inside the waist to keep the pants from moving around. The pants are an articulated cut, designed around a riding position. Three-layer waterproof fabric is 15k waterproof with a 10k water vapour (breathability) rating. The outer fabric is a nylon blend for added durability, with a wind and water-resistant DWR coating.
The shorts share all the features of the pants, but cut to a 37-28.5 cm (14.5-15.5 inch) inseam, depending on size.
Tested: Race Face Conspiracy line waterproof in the worst weather
First and foremost, the waterproofing on the pants, shorts and jacket is great. I’ve put them through a ton of mud and rain so far and they’ve been swell through all of it, leaving me cozy and dry. The pants and jacket are breathable enough, toeing a line between warm enough for the cold of January rain and still being cool enough for steady climbing. The fish-gill style armpit vents look odd, but they seem to work well in the woods. Really put in an effort and you’ll start to build up heat, but the jacket breathes well for a garment this waterproof. Race Face’s pants, especially, are up for the worst sleet, wet snow and heavy rain you can throw at them.
Throughout the line, Race Face wisely uses solid zippers and big buckles. This is great for cold hands and for durability. I’m so sick of the tiny zippers on most expensive outdoor jackets. Sure, fancy zippers look sleek, but they always get grit in them and break way sooner than I think they should. This is mountain bike gear for wet weather and Race Face clearly knows every zipper is, somehow, going to get covered dirt and mud. The Conspiracy zippers have stood up well to the combination of grit and cold over a winter of wet weather, even when I haven’t immediately rinsed and cleaned the gear like your supposed to. (Because we all will, at some point, just walk away from a cold winter ride in search of warm and dry, though the Conspiracy gear makes that drive less urgent).
All this makes the pants a great option for wet weather riding. They are comfortable to pedal in for a pant and will keep you dry on the wettest, sloppiest days.
The elbow patches on the jacket and DWR LS jersey are a nice touch. They’ve held up through several lie-downs. The pants have survived a weird string of crashes lately that have been good for testing, if not that great for my body. I did manage to tear a small hole in the thigh of the pant pocket, but that was sliding out on loose rocks over asphalt (in a not-so-glorious parking lot fall). The jacket survived that fall just fine, and both have survived several more since.
While I won’t fault the pants for that fall, the stitching on the jacket is a different matter. The elastic hems works surprisingly well to keep the jacket tight where it needs to be. This is great for removing the mess of muddy velcro. But the single stitch used to attach the elastic hem to the fabric it has started to come loose in one or two spots. This looks easy to repair, but also frustratingly simple fix for Race Face to make at their end with a stronger stitch.
DWR LS Jersey
This was the surprise of the bunch. I wasn’t sure how often I’d want a water-resistant jersey, but I’ve been wearing it constantly through a wet, but not freezing Vancouver Island winter. Race Face’s jersey is great on its own for warmer wet days, shoulder-season riding, or for those days when its going to rain off and on. It really shines on its own, but you can wear it with the jacet if you really need to stay warm and dry. March on Vancouver Island is warm and still very wet. The DWR LS has seen a ton of use in this weather.
Pats fit comfortably in the knees, even when pedalling.
The pants taper quite a bit towards the ankle. There's not much stretch, which can make getting them off less easy. But it ftis well on the bike.
Fit: Conspiracy line
Fit is, across the whole line, on the slimmer side. This leaves room to size up, and Race Face offers up to XXL. The slim cut makes the Conspiracy gear inobtrusive to pedal around in. It feels like riding in a normal kit but dryer.
Pants and shorts
The pants fit nice and long. They’re wider in the thighs and knees than some current riding pants, but slim at the ankles to keep water from coming up your leg. The knees are cut so they are comfortable in a riding position, with pads. They’re roomier in the knee, because there isn’t much stretch to them. I could easily fit a range of different knee pads under them without the pants tugging down the pads on long pedals. Race Face’s articulated cut keeps the Conspiracy pants (and shorts) comfortable to pedal in. They’re not as breathable as the jacket, but they are waterproof enough for the worst weather days.
Waterproofing is solid
The elastic cuff is actually really good at keeping water out
But the stitching should be tougher
DWR Jersey and Conspiracy jacket
The jersey and jacket are also slim-cut. The jersey especially is tight through the arms. Race Face uses a drop back cut on the jersey, but not the jacket. This means the jersey will come down to meet the pants, whatever position you are in. The jacket is shorter in the back, which is something to consider when you’re choosing a size.
Race Face leaves more room in the jacket’s arms than the jersey, with elastic cuffs, hoot and waist for fit instead of velcro. This decision keeps the jacket simple and is quite effective at keeping moisture out without the complication of extra zippers. The only downside is the decision to use a single stitch on the elastic, which has started to come loose in one or two places. All the welded seams are staying strong, though.
Review verdict: Race Face Conspiracy gear
Race Face takes a smart approach to wet weather gear: keep it simple. It pays off in spades. The features this gear dose have work well in the conditions they are designed for. Unlike some more boutique (expensive) gear, there aren’t extra or unnecessary bits or a raft of zippers and velcro to manage and maintain.
All of this helps keep the price down, relative to similarly waterproof gear from brands like 7Mesh, Kitsbow. If the stitching on the elastic hems was tougher, it’d be a winner hands down. $280 for the black jacket tested is maybe steep for a simple, but effictive design. That said, it is still the first jacket I reach for more often than not. It’s also impressively waterproof for such a light jacket, making it an easy decision to pack it on days where it might rain or I might not wear it at all.
The Conspiracy line is lightweight and delivers on the water and windproof promise. It is still breathable enough, especially for how waterproof it is, that it is comfortable pedalling uphill and doesn’t feel like riding around in a garbage bag. The pants are a standout, tough enough for the worst weather and comfortable to pedal in.
Not every day is going to be a deluge. The DWR LS jersey and the light jacket are excellent options for a wide range of wet conditions from light rain to epic storms. Likewise, the pants and shorts will keep you dry whether the moisture is falling from above or splashing up from puddles below.
Race Face Conspiracy line – Pricing and availability
All of Race Face’s Conspiracy line is available through the brand’s website or through retailers now.
Only the jacket offers colour options. The black jacket tested here is the most expensive, at $280.00. Red is $210 while the dijon yellow is $250.
Pants – $230.00 (Black – S-XXL)
Jacket – $210.00-$280.00 depending on colour (red, yellow and black – S, M, L, XL, XXL)
DWR Jersey – $130.00 (Black – S-XXL)
Shorts – $200.00 (Black – S-XXL)