7Mesh WTV Chilco jacket (‘Wind, Thermal, Ventilation’) is a big new thing from top-notch clothing company.
WTV a new fabric combo that promises to stop the wind and keep you warm, while still being extremely breathable. There’s a level of water resistance too, but that’s not the remit of WTV. It’s intended mostly for those cold, clear days with a biting wind. The 7Mesh Chilco WTV ‘anorak’ is a smock-style jacket aimed at keeping mountain bikers warm in those cold, dryish conditions.
- Brand: 7Mesh
- Price: £170
- Tested: By Chipps for 3 months
Three Things I Loved
- The instant comfort and warmth putting it on
- Excellent fit, particularly around the arms/armpits
- The ‘quiet’ fabric that’s soft to wear and doesn’t scream ‘I’m a cyclist!’
Three Things That Could Be Improved
- Make the handwarmer pocket actually warm your hands
- Some way of keeping the hood out of the way when not in use
- Hopefully 7Mesh will make a full zip jacket soon. Not everyone loves a smock
Cold, windy and mostly dry are the kind of conditions that the original softshells of the previous decade were designed for. While they worked very effectively, in general they were heavy and rigid-feeling, so the WTV fabric is intended to take that idea and make it better.
The WTV outer fabric is tightly woven and blocks the wind completely. It has a lovely handle and is fairly resistant to thorns and the general rough-play world of mountain biking. There’s a built-in hood (that’s not stowable), a high, zip-up smock collar that comes up just under the nose and there’s a front pouch pocket made of a very stretchy material. Apart from that, it’s light in other features. The cuffs have a small dart of the stretch fabric in, but generally, like all of 7Mesh’s kit that I’ve tried, it relies on excellent tailoring to ensure a great fit, without needing excess straps, buckles and Velcro to keep things in place.
Inside the jacket is simply a very lovely place to be. There’s a super plush, waffle fleece lining the entire body and arms. There’s an instant feeling of warmth and calm when slipping it on. The waffle is soft enough to wear on bare skin, with a short sleeve base layer, perhaps, and it’s also smooth enough that you can pull it on without much of a struggle (unlike some first-gen softshells I have where you need a solid grip on your base layer sleeve to stop it from ending up around your elbows when putting a jacket on).
I’ve had this Chilco anorak for a few months, but it’s only recently got cold enough to give it a proper workout. I tried it back in October, but it still wasn’t cold enough and I roasted myself. I would say that you only want to get this out of the drawer when the temperatures are well into single figures and below. And this brings me on to my main criticism of the Chilco jacket – it’s simply too hot most of the time!: it has a solid operating range of temperatures (from minus whatever you want, I reckon, to about plus 8°C for me, at least) but above that, you’re going to be hot and uncomfortable. The only temperature regulation is from the 1/3 chest zip, and that’s it. There’s no provision to loosen or roll up the sleeves or open any vents anywhere. However, as long as you’re somewhere chilly, you’re going to have a great time. If you’re after the thermal benefit with a bit more versatility, though, there is a WTV Vest.
I’ve used the 7Mesh WTV Chilco jacket for several, frigid, mountain bike rides and remained comfortable throughout. The cut of 7Mesh clothing has always impressed me, with the arm length designed for riding, a long back and arms/shoulders that allow for a wide range of movement without any drafts coming in.
For e-bike riding, the Chilco excels. E-bike riding doesn’t produce as much heat on the climbs, yet you still get all the chill of the descents. The WTV fabric’s ‘instant on’ thermal properties allow for a comfortable ride from start to finish. Even when I’ve stopped off for some trail foliage clearing, the jacket has continued to keep me warm, even after the sun had set and the temperatures started plummeting.
I found the single front pocket near-on useless, mind. The fabric is thin and stretchy, and the two hand zips open into a large cavernous space. At best, it would be OK to keep a map in, but tools or keys would rattle around and anything heavier than a pair of gloves would droop down. It’s what would be called a ‘handwarmer’ pocket, except the thin front of the pocket has no thermal value whatsoever, so you won’t find any warming in there at all. If only the zips penetrated the fleecy warm layer below, but they don’t.
The hood is great, though. It will just go over a helmet if needed, or is slim enough to wear under a helmet if you’ve got some adjustment. For lunch and puncture stops, it’s got that instant warmth feel to it and made me forgive its lack of stowage, though don’t blame me if you get a hood full of snow and dirt when playing in the woods.
The 7Mesh WTV Chilco is a great jacket for your winter arsenal, on the proviso that the temperatures are low enough; once you get hot in this, there’s nowhere to go. The WTV fabric has a great, comforting, non-rustling feel and the outer face fabric is rugged enough for most conditions. It’ll shrug off showers and splashes and is fairly thornproof. It’s also a smart enough jacket to wear to the pub without looking like a mid-ride cyclist. Try doing that in your old softshell.
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|Product:||Chilco WTV Anorak|
|Tested:||by Chipps for 4 months|