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509 Evolve Jacket and Bib Shell Review

The 509 Evolve Jacket and Bib Shell are claimed to be for aggressive backcountry snowmobilers and made with industry-leading durable water-repellent material.

They’re promoted as a ‘team favourite’ and ‘best seller’ on the tag, and that makes it almost sound like the perfect outerwear. But does the product live up to its bold claims? Let’s find out. Here’s my 509 Evolve Jacket and Bib review.


REVIEW OVERVIEW

509 Evolve Jacket and Bib Shell Review
6/10
Waterproofness
8/10
Comfort
7/10
Breathability
10/10
Toughness
9/10
Style
8 Plenty Warm and Lookin' Classy
It will keep you plenty warm and looking classy for when the ladies drive by, but its waterproof and breathable ratings might leave you wanting more. But I do feel pretty confident saying that this outerwear is built to last. Given that they both come with a 3-year warranty, 509 must also feel pretty confident in their product.

Last winter I tested a monosuit for the first time and soon realized that they’re very comfortable and great at keeping snow out. But after wearing the Evolve Jacket and Bib Shell, I can definitively say that a jacket and bib pants is the best combination for me personally.

The two-piece combination is extremely comfortable. With bib coverage that reaches high up, you’ll never get snow down your back. And you can still take the top off when needed without the arms dangling down, dragging on the ground.

Fit

509 Evolve Bib Shell

I’m probably taller and slimmer than your average rider coming in at 193 cm (6’4”) tall and 85 kg (186 lb.). For this review, I choose to wear size large bibs and XL jacket.

I really like the fit of these bib pants; I would say they’re almost perfect. With a base layer mid-layer and a light down jacket on underneath, the bibs are comfortably snug around the rib cage, leaving me feeling like I’m wrapped in a blanket—very nice!

The suspenders have a good amount of adjustment, stretch and positioning which means I can forget about them all together when I’m riding.

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My only criticism with the fit would be that the boot cuffs are a bit larger then I needed. There’s no change in the width of the material from the thigh all the way down to the boot, like a giant tube sock. 509 did provide an adjustable cuff circumference, which kind of helps I suppose, but I’d like less of a ‘90s rapper look and more of a modern fit.

2021 Yamaha Mountain Max 165 LE Featured_
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509 Evolve Jacket Shell

As for the jacket I’m not as impressed with the fit. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still comfortable enough and does feel good while wearing it. But there’s room for improvement.

First off, someone at 509 must like short and tight neck collars because all of their outerwear seems to have it. I get why they do this, for ”better” movement so your helmet doesn’t get caught on the jacket when we’re out there getting stuck thinking we can ride like Caleb Kesterke. But, the down side of having a short and tight collar is you’re left with a really cold neck on the trail when the tempertures drop. I’ve also experienced a noticeable rubbing of the Adam’s apple, and that’s even with a balaclava to cover my neck. Maybe I’m just soft though, who knows.

To get the sleeve and back length I wanted from the jacket, a size XL was needed, even though I’m not that big around. The arms are a slimmer-style design, which I like—not too tight but not huge either.

Because of the XL size needed to accommodate my arm length, the waist width is damn near big enough for my wife to get in there with me. We actually tried this, and we would have been able to do the zipper up if it wasn’t for her large chestacles. Sure you can cinch in the waist elastic a bit but that still leaves a bunch of extra material.  However, if your gut looks like you drink 12 beers a day, then the XL this could be the perfect size for you!

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Waterproofness and Breathability

509 uses their proprietary 5TECH fabric construction for this gear which claims to be 10K waterproof and 10K breathable.  A 10K rating is pretty basic. GORE-TEX 3L for example is rated at 28K/17K.

To put this into perspective, 80% of the time you’d probably be fine wearing 10K-rated outerwear. But on mild days when it’s snowing hard or if you spend more time in the snow then on the snow, you’ll start to feel the moisture coming through.

Durability

If you’re concerned about durability and are after a tough product that can withstand years of abuse then look no further. These things could take some serious abuse—tree branches, handlebars, sparks from a fire—these all would be no issue.

I feel pretty confident saying both the 509 Evolve Jacket Shell and Bib Shell are built to last. Given that they both come with a 3-year warranty, 509 must also feel pretty confident in their product.

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Venting

The Evolve lineup is a non-insulated shell designed to be worn with base layers for comfort. However they may just be the thickest shell I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing; so thick I would almost call them insulated. I found myself taking layers off before the trail had even ended, then wishing I’d worn less to begin with.

So while there’s a lot to like about the Evolve Bib, I feel that 509 sacrificed venting too much in this outerwear. You’re going to get a good sweat going in these at some point and there’s not much you can do about it, because there’s no thigh vents.

An inside leg/crotch vent is a pretty key feature for outerwear, but these bibs lack that option or any other actual vents.

I guess that’s the trade-off for an outerwear that is designed to be more durable and versatile than the more mountain-specific Stoke outerwear line.

There are, however, outside leg zippers designed to ease putting the pants on over your boots or knee protection. You could open these from the top to let the sweat out, but they’re not great vents because if you ride with them unzipped you’re guaranteed to have snow come in and get wet legs.

Pockets

The Evolve Jacket Shell has your standard hand pockets on the lower front and a single chest pocket, all with fully taped seems to keep your items dry. The locations are good as you can still access them while wearing a backpack—convenient for when you need a quick power stick or piece of pocket meat.

There’s also a few inside pockets, removable hood, snow skirt, and vents on the arm pits. All things you would expect and want in a jacket.

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The Evolve Bib Shell offers two front thigh pockets which are very similar in size to your typical jean pants pockets. On most snow pants I own, the pockets are generally huge and my phone always ends up sideways and uncomfortable in the pocket. Not on these though. The perfect pocket size keeps things where you want them. Ahh, the small things.

The bib chest pocket is large enough to fit a transceiver comfortably, or a nicely-sized emergency stash of shit tickets.

Features I Like

There’s lots of nice features on both the Evolve Jacket and Bib, but here are a few standouts for me.

Removable knee pads. They keep you warmer on the trail and chances are you won’t even notice them until you hit something and it doesn’t hurt too much. Sure, they’re no replacement for actual kneepads, but when you forget yours at home, they are a great back up.

509 Evolve Jacket Bib Shell Review

Bib fly. This unzips from both top and bottom, making for easy access when it’s time to set your morning coffee free. Seems like a no-brainer, but not all of the options out there have this feature.

509 Evolve Jacket Bib Shell Review

Elastic ”side panels” on the bibs. They allow for a slimmer and more flexible fit and these are what provide that nice hug feeling.

Colour options. Both the jacket and bibs have four colour options to choose from, with modern design, color layout and stitch lines, which all means they look great!

Things That Could Be Improved

The lack of vents is a big letdown for me, that’s really the only thing I can really complain about on the bibs.

As for the jacket there’s a few things that could be improved upon in my opinion. The sleeve cuffs are slightly too small, meaning it’s a bit of a struggle getting my gloves underneath them. Riders who wear over-the-cuff gloves will not be fazed.

509 Evolve Jacket Bib Shell Review

As for the overall fit, I’m sure it’s hard to design for the masses. But still, I feel the body of the jacket could be slimmed down a bit and the neck of the jacket brought up higher, with a larger diameter.

509 Evolve Jacket and Bib Review

The 509 Evolve Jacket and Bib combination is by no means bad, but I also wouldn’t call it great—it’s a solid, in-the-middle good.

It will keep you plenty warm and looking classy for when the ladies drive by, but its waterproof and breathable ratings might leave you wanting more. If you spend long days in the mountains sledding hard or sweat a lot, think about spending a bit more money to get the 509 Stoke Jacket to go with the Evolve bibs (you sweat less ‘down there’, hopefully). The Stoke Jacket offers 20K waterproofing and breathability and is a more appropriate shell thickness for mountain riding.

But, if you ride trees all day and your current gear has duct tape covering all the rips in it, or if you spend as much time shooting the breeze with your buddies as you do riding snowmobiles, then I can fully recommend the Evolve Jacket and Bib.

 

– Sean

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Looking for a second opinion? Check out a previous Evolve Jacket and Bib outerwear review by another Mountain Sledder tester right here.