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Review

7mesh Guardian Jacket in the Wet

Words Andrew Major
Photos Dave Smith
Date Nov 20, 2017

#outsideiswet

7mesh has quickly gained a reputation for designing no compromise riding gear for inclement weather - with the price tag to match. The first riding jacket released by 7mesh, the Revelation, was so cycling specific that  your midriff debuted if you raised both hands above your head. Thankfully, as Brian Goldstone (marketing at 7mesh) told us, there aren't many stick-ups on mountain bike trails. The slim-fitting Revelation was forced to do double duty on and off road but the Guardian is aimed at mountain bikers with sizing that allows you to conceal your body armour, or anything else you'd like to hide.

Local riding takes place in a temperate rainforest, meaning the rain often comes with slightly warmer temperatures, so a good waterproof breathable jacket is paramount. If it's an option then drop the coin on a great one because it may be the difference between going out and staying home. 

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The 7mesh Guardian is made of Gore-Tex Active material and has a unique, generous, cut. It's ready to battle in the corners of the high performance rain jacket game. 

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This is my favourite time of year to ride. Cold, dank, dark, primeval, rooted, callous, misty and moist. The rain comes and goes like a cat's affection.

Guardian Sizing

The 7mesh Guardian has a fit that I would describe as not roadie. It's different from most everything else on the market. My size medium generously swallows a mid-layer and maintains a full range of motion with a light set of Troy Lee elbow pads under the sleeves. It never hurts to be able to add a bit of protection in the greasy winter months. 

If the Guardian was a frame it would be a medium-large. And like that frame this jacket would not quite be long enough in the body for folks looking for a large jacket while being a bit big for someone that's a true medium. Basically it's Andrew-sized and I'm pumped that for once someone thought of ME while designing a jacket. 

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The crew at 7mesh cut their teeth making foul weather gear at Arc'Teryx - and they hail from Squamish - so they have perfect testing weather. 

Simplicity & Breathability

The Guardian lacks two features that I've generally always looked for in rainshells. The first is a removable hood and the other a generous pair of arm pit vents. Forgoing these features simplifies the jacket, making it lighter and in theory more durable, with the potential negative side affects of horse-fly like annoyance buzzing around my ears and drowning in my own sweat. 

Putting the 7mesh jacket on at the trailhead I could tell the hood is not an issue. The simple hood management system is easily adjusted with a single gloved hand and when the hood is up the cut makes motion and visibility excellent. I wear a pack 99% of rides and though the hood is generally down it hasn't bothered me once. 

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Excellent range of motion and visibility when conditions turn ark-building biblical. 

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One-handed hood management from a simple but effective single rear facing full cord. 

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I generally ride with the top down, only lifting the hood for rainy mechanicals or #flaskfriday breaks.  

While I was on the trail with Dave collecting some photos the sun unexpectedly appeared, quickly twisting the temp from crispy cool to ferns-a-steamin'. After hammering a hard climb Dave' was curious; "how's the breathability now?"

It turns out the Guardian doesn't need pit-zips. I've worn equally waterproof jackets for half the price but I would have been wishing for vents from my wrists to my waist in those. 7mesh could include the zips, just in case, but that would add weight and complexity and anything more than a short arm zip will take away from the magical maneuverability so I'm trusting their judgement. I've been out in some muggy rain events and have yet to feel like I've become excessively wet from my bodily precipitation.

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Gore-Tex Active is the fastest breathing material in their repertoire. It's very lightweight and also the most comfortable waterproof material I've worn next to skin. 

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It's amazing what you notice when you stop riding for a second and listen, smell and see the forest. #nogarminnorules

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The long sleeves and stretch cuffs are awesome. No merino slaying Velcro here! 

Aside from the excellent breathability the Guardian is a very comfortable garment to wear. It's fairly quiet versus the crinkly plastic noise most rain jackets make, it's very soft to the touch and flexible and the cut is generous enough for the non-greyhound. The zippers also move easily compared to many waterproof models I've used.

Fear & Clothing... 

...and lost wages. I used to be truly paranoid about crashing and tearing a high end jacket until it happened a number of years back on a lame gravel descent at high speed. A 'couple few' Gore-Tex patches later and it functioned as good as new for another season and a half before being relegated to second-jacket status.

In my experience the cost-benefit of suffering through a crappy garbage-bag jacket isn't worth the risk of rendering a high end one inoperable. It's pretty amazing what can be fixed for cheap. I for one am sweaty enough that a great jacket makes a huge difference to enjoying rides on our often warmish rainy days.

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The Guardian is even pleasant to wear as a fall windbreaker when the sun comes out. 

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Did I mention the awesome stretch cuffs? Velcro-free cycling gear for the win!

Quibbles

If it isn't obvious, I really like the 7mesh Guardian. It is not as breathable as my NeoShell jacket but it is very close and so much more waterproof that it's become my go-to anytime I know a ride is going to be wet. That said, it isn't perfect. 7mesh has endeavoured to make the pockets compatible with a nominal backpack while at the same time ensuring that the less-flexible zipper-and-taped openings go un-noticed during riding. They absolutely succeeded.

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Guardian Good : Absolutely everything except the front pockets.

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Guardian Bad : Absolutely nothing except the front pockets. 


The problem is that the zipped slashes are so short that even my Trumpian hands struggle to make them usable for the basic function of pockets. I love how the Guardian rides but would prefer the same performance with no pockets. I'm told, however, that front pockets on jackets are a bit like frames with only below-the-down-tube water bottle bosses. It doesn't matter if they suck to use - they absolutely have to be there. 

If I had to stretch for one more complaint I lost one of the little green knoted zipper pull-tabs in the wash. I've temporarily replaced it with a zip-tie (immediately devaluing the jacket by 83%) until it bothers me enough to find a suitable gauge of replacement rope. 

Treat Yourself

I'm all-in for discussing min-maxing of bikes and gear. I find for most areas of a bike I can get 95% of the performance for half the price. Weatherproof jackets, and hydration packs however, do not follow that trend.

Case in point, in the riding photo below I'm grinning ear-to-ear on a rig that shares a frame with a complete bike you can pick up for $1550 US while at the same time loving a $475 CDN/$400 US jacket. Given the option I'll keep my 11spd GX drivetrain, Race Face Aeffect cranks and X-Fusion dropper post and spend any upgrade money with 7mesh.  

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The balance of waterproofing and breathability is the best I've tried. 

The upfront cost is high but the Guardian presents the quality and performance to ride, hike and commute enough in the slop to achieve an excellent pennies/use ratio. In other words it's on the user to get extra-sweaty outside in the pissing rain enough times to create value for their  $475 CDN/$400 US investment.

7mesh has just posted the Guardian jacket online for the first time - check it here

Comments

legbacon
0
legbacon  - Nov. 20, 2017, 6:30 a.m.

It sounds pretty good, but not as breathable as Neoshell and no pit zips?  I will stick with my EMS Helix Neoshell, that I picked up for 60% of that price.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 7:35 a.m.

I love my NeoShell jacket and have always accepted it soaking much quicker from the outside in exchange for the best in class breathability - compared to any other weatherproof material. I prefer not having it raining sweat on the inside.

In my case - a few year old Vancouver Made Mission jacket, so also a high end piece - the face fabric and cut also allow great movement (my Mission is a large mind you).

The Guardian is a notably more waterproof jacket that I also don’t swamp hence becoming my go too when it’s definitely going to rain. Less sweaty folks would definitely be better served locally by Gore Active. 

For a little Shore misting/drizzle and residual water on the trees, splashing through puddles the day after a storm and getting caught out in unexpected rain and having a shell in my pack the NeoShell jacket wins. More sweaty folks will probably want to go NeoShell and accept it soaks through faster. 

Relative sweatiness of mountain bikers... there’s a gross Monday morning thought.

Thanks,

Reply

legbacon
0
legbacon  - Nov. 20, 2017, 8:23 a.m.

Well I am quite sweaty, probably a 6-7 out of 10.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 8:35 a.m.

Hahahaha... ah... I hope readers qualifying their relative sweatiness doesn’t become a trend!

Thanks for reading and engaging :-)

Reply

bart
0
bart  - Nov. 20, 2017, 9:04 a.m.

Being at least a 7 myself this could be quite helpful - opinions of reviewers in the 1-2 range... well how can you take them seriously?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 9:06 a.m.

Hmmm... see I would have scored myself an 8/10 but now I’m not sure...

Reply

bart
+1
bart  - Nov. 20, 2017, 2:10 p.m.

Well nobody really wants to admit they are a perfect 10 in this case.....so I might have been a bit reserved..... I mean I do own a Sweat Gutr' so I know I am up high on the scale!  and for the record it doesn't live up to it's expectations.

Reply

brad-sedola
+2
Brad Sedola  - Nov. 20, 2017, 10:57 a.m.

I've been looking forward to this jacket for quite some time now. I find it pretty awesome that 7mesh developed this with rider input in mind. I bought a Sugoi Neoshell a few years ago, but for where I live Gore-Tex wins. Sure the Neoshell breathes better than any other jacket I own, but the under the helmet hood drives me insane and the Neoshell just doesn't keep the kind of rain we get out for the whole ride.

I bought the 7mesh Gore-Tex shorts last year and swear by them. The next wish on my list is pants.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 11:13 a.m.

Agreed on the under the helmet hood. That’s a total dealbreaker for me even if it’s removable. Anytime I’m pulling up a good conditions are ugly and I’m not faffing about with resorting the rest of my kit.

You’re based in the Sea-To-Sky? The Gore Active vs. NeoShell discussion is excellent. I’ve been an absolute NeoShell convert until trying this jacket in a downpour.

Reply

brad-sedola
0
Brad Sedola  - Nov. 20, 2017, 1:12 p.m.

North Vancouver Island actually. I hate the fact of taking the helmet off every time you want to put the hood on/off. Restricted movement. Difficult to regulate your temperature too.

Must have been when 7mesh just released the Revelation jacket, that I remember them chiming in on the review forums. They were very open to input regarding their design.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 2:31 p.m.

The average rainy ride North Island is definitely colder than here in Vancouver so I can appreciate where NeoShell wouldn’t cut it even great layering.

Reply

brian
+3
Brian Goldstone  - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:39 p.m.

Even though we can't be as active in conversations as we like sometimes we still are very open to hearing people's thoughts on product - good and especially the bad ones. The redesign of the Revelation came out of listening to riders concerns regarding the length and the fit around the hips while the Guardian was designed for the riders asking for an over-the-helmet. Glad you're liking the Revo Shorts!

Reply

paulc
0
paulc  - Nov. 22, 2017, 10:26 p.m.

How about making an over-the-helmet hood as an optional purchase for the Revelation? Having the choice of an under-the-helmet for road, over-the-helmet for mountain and no hood at all seems to be the most versatile way to go.

Reply

LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Nov. 20, 2017, 12:35 p.m.

my shovel is cheaper.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 2:31 p.m.

Irrefutably.

Reply

JSinclair
+1
JSinclair  - Nov. 20, 2017, 2:59 p.m.

But does your shovel get you chix at the bar?

Reply

LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:19 p.m.

I get big muscles from fixing all the trenches from people riding in the rain.... so yes.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 20, 2017, 12:56 p.m.

What are the waterproofness/breathability numbers on this jacket?    Can't find this on their website or in the article.. maybe I missed it?     Just picked up an Endura MT500 II jacket ($429 MSRP) that claims 18,000/64,000 waterproofness/breathability numbers... impressive but yet to get it out into the wild.   My only quibble with any cycling jacket is that when you are built more like a linebacker than a ballerina the fit is hard to get right...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 2:04 p.m.

I wrote most of a response comparing waterproofing/breathability claims to 90’s bike weights, but actually any idiot with a scale could figure out their stock aluminum hardtail didn’t weight 19.99lbs. Not even with the wheels off. 

Anyways, in my experience H2O / O2 numbers (or should I say H20 / H20 numbers - since really it’s about keeping rain out while letting moisture escape) for a lot of products don’t hold up in competitive testing. 

It’s like lumens on lights. I can’t say whether a light is 1500 lumens or not but I can tell when it’s half as bright as a unit claiming the same number.

I found a number for Gore Active claiming waterproofness >28,000mm and breathability >20,000 (GM/M2/24hr) but to go back to my 90’s bike weight analogy I think they’re pulling a Cannondale and between truthful numbers that look meh and lying to look competitive they’re choosing to do neither.

I am trying to confirm.

Re. Cut of the Guardian. Give one a try on if you have a chance. Fit is unique in a it’s great to have more options way.

Reply

brian
+1
Brian Goldstone  - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:53 p.m.

Those numbers are pretty accurate.  We (7mesh) don't list the ratings as we actually have never been able to get them from Gore-Tex (officially). Gore believes the ratings don't reflect real world usage (and anything over 10,000 is considered waterproof so 30,000 doesn't make it 3x as waterproof). Their focus is on durability of waterproofness, not just out-of-the-box - so they don't like the lab game where everyone uses a test that gives them a nice number, but it often doesn't hold up in the real world of rain/snow/dirt/oil/contaminants etc.

This is a good resource regarding waterproof fabrics - http://www.paddypallin.com.au/blog/all-about-waterproof-fabrics/

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

Thank you for chiming in Brian and also for the link.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 5:06 p.m.

Hi Brian,

If you are able to say, I've had a couple of inquiries on whether 7mesh will be making a women's version of the Guardian?

Thanks,

Reply

brian
+1
Brian Goldstone  - Nov. 20, 2017, 9:35 p.m.

There will be but for a variety of reasons it won't be coming out until next Fall.

Reply

earleb
0
earle.b  - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:17 p.m.

Here's another to consider for some min-maxing. Patagonia Cloud Ridge at $299 cad. It's the most breathable fully waterproof shell I've owned. I have not owned a Neoshell so can't compare the two. It's no budget jacket, but Patagonia saves on the material not having it "branded" and paying a licensing fee as they would if it was Gore/Neo. Hood is cut to fit over a climbing helmet and it fits good over a bike helmet. A mild eco upside in it's production and fabrics compared to the alternatives.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 3:53 p.m.

Very interesting - in the past when I’ve tried to adopt non-cycling jackets I’ve always found the sleeves much too short. And I have T-Rex’s ape index.

Curious if you had to upsize the jacket or compromise on sleeve length?!

Otherwise a very interesting option!

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Nov. 20, 2017, 8:21 p.m.

My wet riding jacket is an Outdoor Research alpine climbing one.

Designed for axes above your head, so no T-Rex issues. Helmet inside the hood, pit zips, front pockets accessible when wearing a pack... 

Probably heavier than the tested unit, but very satisfying for splashing about in the forest.

Reply

jmo
0
jmo  - Nov. 20, 2017, 5:14 p.m.

What bike are you riding in the last picture? The one that can be bought for $1500 usd.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 20, 2017, 5:51 p.m.

Hi jmo,

My personal parts test mule is a Marin Rift Zone 29’er - which shares a common frame through the line. 

I picked it up after having a really positive experience testing the $1500 US Hawk Hill last year. Essentially the same bikes except wheel size.

Mine has a mix of my personal parts and stuff I’m testing.

Reply

vicep3
0
vicep3  - Nov. 20, 2017, 5:22 p.m.

This latest breed of waterproof but very breathable jackets really do perform as touted. I was thinking this yesterday as I was riding in the pouring rain for a solid couple of hours. I've had good experience with the Polartec NeoShell technology, it was completely dry inside when I finished riding. I have a feeling people confuse the soaking outside as not waterproof. It doesn't appear that there is a DWR coating on the surface fabric, which then allows the material to breathe better. This is the first jacket that I have owned that actually lives up to the marketing claims.

Reply

Rcowie
0
Ryan Cowie  - Nov. 22, 2017, 5:16 p.m.

I wear a super thin lightweight Norrona Bitihorn jacket, never had any trouble in Scottish rain and is very breathable. Its super light weight so i always just pack it and bring it everywhere.

Reply

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