The Liv Energize Off-Road Rain Jacket is great at protecting you during short, sudden downpours. A generous fit and an over-the-helmet hood mean you can pull it on in absolutely no time, staying dry until the shower's passed or you've made it home. While it's designed for off-road outings, it doubles up well as a commuting jacket.
My first impressions were that the jacket was way too big and I'd need to size down. However, after a couple of outings I quickly realised the benefit of such a roomy jacket.
It's well proportioned throughout – good sleeve length and plenty of length in the body, with slightly more at the rear to protect your lower back. The toggle-operated drawcord here is useful for holding the jacket snug to the body, keeping draughts out and preventing flapping.
The fabric is stretchy and really allows for full, unrestricted movement on the bike. It also makes pulling on the jacket easy. Bulky kit under it is no problem – there is sufficient room and stretch for pads, should be you wearing any for mountain biking. The wrist bands have Velcro adjusters, which tighten over thick winter gloves easily.
The over-the-helmet hood prioritises keeping your entirety dry; no need to waste time taking your helmet off. Using the cord is an absolute must to prevent the hood from blowing off. The toggles are easy to use, and zipping the jacket up fully helps to hold everything in place too. To get decent peripheral vision it's best to have a visor on your helmet; the hood actually has a lip designed to hook over one. I did try using the hood under the helmet too, and as long as you take time to position it well and tighten your helmet it works fine.
The Energize is made from Pro Textura fabric, which "is engineered to protect you from wet, windy conditions with durable water-repellent finishes and laminations". In the promo video Liv claims 'Seam sealed waterproofing (10,000mm H2O)'.
I've been using it for both commuting and off-road rides to get a decent feel of just how much it can repel (my off-road jaunts are normally under a tree canopy, so the jacket isn't being consistently rained on). I would peel the jacket off after my 40-minute commutes and hunt for dampness inside but there simply wasn't any. I normally associate a soft and stretchy fabric with very little water resistance, but Pro Textura has impressed.
On longer outings in heavy, persistent rain the fabric does eventually relent, though it continues to shield you from wind chill.
The jacket is pretty breathable, too – I never felt I was sweating excessively. The loose fit helps with airflow, as does the large back ventilation slot.
Drying out the jacket after a ride isn't the easiest of tasks because of the massive hood and the soft, 'floppy' fabric. It tends to cling to itself unless fully spread out. If it isn't dried out completely, it tends to quit repelling rain sooner on the next use. The best 'hanger' I came up with was my handlebar, with the hood extending over the top tube.
While the jacket is relatively lightweight, it's only just possible to fit it in a rear pocket, and it needs to be a very generous pocket. A frame pack or rucksack is a better option, plus there's no chance of it working loose and falling out as you ride. Because it's so soft it's easy to stuff in something, and you can do this without folding or taking much care – it moulds to whatever you stuff it into.
Liv has included small reflective logos on the front and rear, but I'd have liked something bigger. While black is practical on the trails, it's not so great for visibility if you take in roads en route to them. Pictures and promo stuff on the website seem to suggest that the jacket is available in blue, but black is the only current option to buy.
The front pocket is really useful; the length of the jacket makes it a hassle to lift up and access a rear jersey pocket (especially if you've pulled the cord tight), so having keys secure and to hand there is ideal.
The Energize is actually quite versatile and I had it stuffed in my rucksack for a few walks. Admittedly, the hood is pretty useless unless you have a very thick bobble hat on! But it's definitely not limited to use on the bike. It's a decent, casual looking jacket that won't make you stand out as a cyclist if you ride to the pub.
I've had the jacket on test for four weeks and have actually had very little reason to wash it – dirt brushes off it pretty well. I've put it through the suggested hand wash cycle on my machine a few times and its performance hasn't deteriorated yet.
At £125, the Energize doesn't look badly priced against the competition. Findra's Stroma Technical Jacket, which Lara tested back in June, costs £160 and has the same waterproof rating.
If you want more rain protection, over on off.road.cc Rachael describes the Dakine Arsenal 3L as 'super waterproof', though it'll also set you back £160. Rachael also rated Showers Pass's Imba Jacket, but that's still another £25 over the Liv.
You can get cheaper 'emergency' jackets than the Energize – for example, dhb's Lightweight Packable Shell Jacket is £25 less, albeit perhaps with less breathability and attention to cut/fit.
Liv does offer a similar road-specific jacket, the Delphin, with ProTextura Plus technology for £89.99. It's a 'club fit', and in pink is likely to make you a little more visible... We're hoping to put one through its paces soon.
The Energize Jacket is designed to be thrown on in a hurry over bulky kit with minimal faff. It does a great job of fending off light to moderate rain for a decent period of time without making you sweat excessively. It's light and can easily be stuffed into a bag once the showers have passed. It'll prove equally useful for anyone who commutes.
Functional emergency layer for off-roading and commuting, great at fending off showers and wind
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Liv Energize Off-Road Rain jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Liv says, "There's no need to wait out rain showers under a tree when you're miles deep into an off-road ride. Just slip on the light in weight but strong in rain protection Energize Rain Jacket and keep on pedalling. The cut-for-comfort fit is spacious enough to keep protective gear or additional layers covered."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
*Liv Relaxed Fit
*ProTextura™ fabric on both the front and back
*Longer back fabric length for added coverage in cycling position
*Front zipper pocket
*Back Venting design
*Adjustable collar, drawstring hem and cuff design for your comfort fit
*Full length front zipper
*Reflective details for added safety in low light or fog
*UPF 50 sun protection
Great protection from showers and breathable.
All good so far. Its stretch seems to make it more tolerant than some.
It's pretty water repellent.
Vent at rear helps.
Very generous to allow for bulky kit and potential padding. Don't expect a 'road fit' garment.
If you have no intention of having pads or bulky kit under it, I'd say size down.
It's a decent price for what you're getting – you can pay more for more waterproofing, or less for less breathability.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Cold wash. Its performance hasn't been affected (yet).
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does what it claims: great in showers and breathable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Decent protection. Versatile. Not a fight to get on and off because of the soft, stretchy fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Trying to get it fully dried out after a ride!
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes, offers surprisingly good protection.
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, it's a really good emergency jacket with a practical design for off-roading that doubles up well for commuting or general 'utility' rides. It offers great protection and breathability, at a decent price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…