Now that shuttles are back on the menu, my interest in downhill-appropriate protection has increased somewhat. It doesn’t need to be ultra-lightweight or ultra-breathable, because, well, I’m not pedaling up hills in it. Of course, it’s nice if it ticks those boxes too, but its primary function is to keep me as safe as possible when my front wheel washes out in that loose corner, or I hug a tree I could’ve sworn wasn’t there before.

SixSixOne, kindly sent along with their best offering for women (there’s a men’s cut too); the 661 EVO Women’s Jacket and EVO Women’s Shorts. Packing a significant number of D3O pads, EVA Foam, and some interconnected features to prevent pad migration, we felt pretty safe testing this kit out on our local downhill tracks. Here’s how we got on with it.

Review: 661 EVO Women’s Jacket and Shorts

661 evo jacket womens mtb evo short back elbow shoulder hip protection

The combined weight of the 661 EVO Women’s Jacket and EVO Shorts, in size small, is 1.3 kg. Photo by Finlay Anderson

Though it may look a bit like a onesie, what you see here is actually a three-piece ensemble; the 661 EVO Jacket, Shorts, and Recon Advanced Knee Pads. They are designed to link up to one another via a PadLock System of poppers.

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The PadLock System poppers connecting the EVO Jacket to the EVO Shorts to prevent pad migration on impact. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

The idea is that the interconnectivity, between the jacket and shorts, and shorts and knee pads, prevents pad migration both before and during an impact. Fair enough, there’s no point going to such lengths if your knee pads are just going to slip down when you hit the deck, leaving you unprotected.

What protection is on offer?

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Between the EVO Jacket and EVO Shorts, there are no fewer than seven bright orange D3O pads, covering the back, shoulders, elbows and hips. All are Level 1 certified. The back protector is broad at the top, reaching across the shoulder blades, extending to the mid to lower back region where it narrows slightly.

661 evo womens jacket mtb protection chest padding shoulder

My bra size is 34C; I found the small (US 6) 661 EVO Women’s Jacket to be a good fit – I didn’t feel squashed by the EVA padding around the chest. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

Adding to the protection offered by the D3O pads is a bunch of EVA foam, strategically located for extra protection on the chest and sides on the EVO Jacket. On the EVO Shorts these are seen on the rear, near the top of the pelvis, and down the sides of each leg, below the D3O pads.

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Additional laminated EVA foam protection is seen at the rear of the 661 EVO Women’s Shorts above the chamois…

661 evo womens shorts eva foam hip protection mtb

…and on the outside of each leg, just below the D3O pad. Photos by Finlay Anderson.

On the Tracks

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The pocket that holds the back protector also serves as a pocket for a hydration bladder, with a port at the top right allowing a hose to escape. There was nowhere to clip the hose onto around the front of the jacket, however, there is a loop over the left shoulder to guide it through to the front. We thought this was pretty excessive for an MTB Protection Jacket that you’re only really going to wear for downhill. That said, I can imagine some folks doing big lift-accessed alpine days in Europe might make use of this feature. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

There’s no getting around it; this get-up does feel fairly bulky to an enduro rider who only occasionally feels the need to wear this level of protection. That said, it is the D3O pads themselves that make up much of the 1.3 kg combined weight of the SixSixOne EVO Women’s Jacket and EVO Shorts. Weighing the seven D3O pads separately tots up to over 0.7 kg; that weight is essential for this protection to be, well, protective.

The rest of the weight comes from the non-removable EVA pads and the fabric, zip, seams, poppers, and velcro that hold everything together. Credit where it’s due, that fabric of the EVO Jacket is very light and breathable, with varying degrees of perforation on the back panel and chest area to help moisture escape. 

661 evo womens mtb protection jacket elbow pad strap

SixSixOne has made further efforts to keep the rider cool with ventilation holes at the elbows and at the armpits. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

What’s the fit like?

On the whole, pretty good. The 661 EVO Women’s Jacket is true to size, with each D3O pad naturally resting exactly where it is meant to. The elbow pad region gets a velcro strap to help cinch the pad down, preventing it from moving around during an impact. I can confirm that it’s fairly essential. On one ride, I’d forgotten to tighten these straps up, something I only discovered when the pad slipped upwards upon impact when I super-manned over the top of a berm having failed to turn the corner.

The PadLock System does prevent the wearer from tucking the jacket into shorts, but its use is optional of course. The pads in the shorts are barely noticeable when riding, making the EVO Shorts a bit of a no-brainer if you’re headed out to push your limits. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

What about the EVO Women’s Shorts? These get a women’s specific chamois that I can confirm is very comfortable. Of course, I haven’t done any super long rides in these as I consider them overkill for enduro, but the few times I did pedal in them I found the chamois to be perfectly acceptable; quite thick and supportive, without a tendency to fold in all the wrong places. I did have one small complaint, however.

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Connecting the 661 EVO Shorts with the 661 Recon Advance Knee Pads. Photo by Finlay Anderson.

The cuff of the legs have a silicon strip that interfaces with the rider’s skin to prevent the shorts riding up when pedaling. I found this area to be super tight, not quite cutting off the blood supply to my legs, but tight enough to be pretty uncomfortable. I only complain about it as I found the shorts to be a good fit in all the other areas. Considering the elasticated waistband of the EVO Shorts, I probably could have up-sized to get a more comfortable fit at the thigh.

Forgoing the use of the EVO Shorts, and thus the Padlock System, my preference would be for the EVO Womens Jacket to be a bit longer so that it can be tucked into riding shorts; this would make it a lot more comfortable. At the minute, with the jacket, shorts and Recon Advance D3O knee pads combined, there are a lot of seams and stitched joins that are pretty uncomfortable to wear for anything more than a day of shuttling. 

At $189.99 USD, SixSixOne’s offering for back, shoulder and elbow protection stands up as relatively affordable when compared the Bluegrass Seamless range, in which the Back and Shoulder protection alone is near twice that at $300 USD. Despite some gripes with the fit of the EVO Shorts and the all-day comfort of the EVO Women’s Jacket, we do consider them a reasonably priced package for those looking for solid protection for downhill mountain biking.

Pricing & Availability

The 661 EVO Womens Jacket is available now in sizes S-XL (US 4-12), retailing at $189.99 USD. The EVO Women’s Shorts are available in sizes S-XL (US 4-12) and will set you back $99.99 USD.

WEARING 661 EVO JACKET SHORTS UNDERNEATH JERSEY PANTS

The bulk of the 661 EVO Womens Jacket does warrant wearing a slightly baggier jersey than usual

SixSixOne.com

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