7Mesh Strategy softshell jacket - review - Road Cycling UK

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7Mesh Strategy softshell jacket – review

Excellent softshell for cold conditions but let down by the fit

The 7Mesh Strategy is a very effective softshell jacket for colder conditions, but pays the price for trying to straddle both road and trail use.

If you’re not familiar with 7Mesh, it’s a Canadian company based in British Columbia, where it’s pretty cold and wet, and all of its founding members were formerly from renowned outdoors brand Arc’teryx. So while 7Mesh may be relative newcomers to the cycling scene having launched in 2014, they should know a thing or two about making clothing for inclement weather.

A decent softshell jacket can be a wonderful thing. A flexible yet hardwearing layer between you and the elements, it can make the difference between feeling unbeatable as wind is rebuffed and rain showers are kept at bay, and being defeated by a short downpour as you slowly get soggier and colder.

The 7Mesh Strategy softshell jacket does a good job at keeping wind and rain showers out
  • Specification

  • Price: £180
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Colours: Ash (grey)
  • Website: 7Mesh

With 7Mesh’s Strategy jacket, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the technology in the fabric itself. So, you’ll find two kinds of Windstopper fabric within the body of the jacket: a tougher version on the front, wind-facing parts, and a lighter, stretchier version in areas like under the arms.

It makes for a breathable jacket, allowing sweat to escape without compromising wind resistance. The fabric is also waster resistant and works in tandem with a waterproof front zip to keep out light rain and showers, making the Strategy an option as an outer layer on days when there’s a change of rain, though perhaps not prolonged wet stuff. On top of that, the interior of the Strategy jacket is paneled with high-loft fleece over key areas of the body that are susceptible to wind exposure and heat loss – shoulders, chest and kidneys – for added warmth and protection.

In practice, the windproof paneling is excellent, certainly good enough for days when there’s a high wind-chill factor, without trapping in excess moisture that will eventually cause you to get cold anyway. I was happy to use it on longer rides in conditions in mid-low single figures, feeling protected from a wind which was close to freezing.

It’s a practical jacket, too. You’ve one open central pocket for easy access, flanked by two zipped pockets with a diagonal pull-string zipper. To be honest, they’re a little fiddly to get a grip of in full-fingered gloves, and you need to pull them in line with the zip track in order to undo them. Once undone, they’re also a little tricky to pull closed again while on the move, in part because of the flexibility of the softshell fabric, and also because of the angle you have to pull the zipper at.

The Strategy jacket is made from Gore’s excellent Windstopper fabric

That aside, zipped pockets provide the security of knowing any valuable possessions aren’t in danger of falling out, and the zips themselves are sturdy and hardwearing, so won’t end up working loose on a ride.

All-in-all, then, the Strategy jacket has a practical construction with great performing fabrics and secure pockets. Throw in taped internal seams and comfortable elasticated hems at the waist and wrists, and this is one well-engineered garment.

The jacket’s hems are elasticated at the wrists and waist

However, it’s not all good news. The cut of the jacket, despite claims of a close fit, is baggy around the upper arms, and is a touch short at the back. That means, should you come to rely upon it to protect you from road spray, you’re going to get a very wet rear. The front is, by contrast, generous in its sizing – which for those who aren’t rakish thin means that the zip folds over in front of you as you adopt most road riding positions. It’s not a disaster, but worth noting if you’re a particularly thin build, and a warning to watch out for the sizing if you’re a road rider.

Conclusion

This is a well-made and well-engineered jacket with fabrics that perform their roles brilliantly, but it’s let down slightly by the cut, which appears to be a compromise between road and trail use.

Pros

  • Top notch technology and fabrics
  • Well thought-out paneling
  • Comfortable hems and seam

Cons

  • The tech will cost you
  • The cut appears a compromise between road and trail fit
  • Baggy upper arms reduce aero appeal

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