A piece of kit has to be pretty damn special to score a perfect 10 in our tests, and the 7Mesh Chilco anorak delivers on all fronts.
When you spot a fellow product tester, who can pick and choose whatever clothing they want, always riding in the same top, you pay attention. And when that same writer and colleague – Guy Kesteven – also raves on about this Chilco anorak’s “miraculous” performance, you get on the phone to 7Mesh and get one in yourself to review.
The Chilco uses a new fabric that 7Mesh calls WTV (wind/thermal/ventilation), which is essentially a single layer engineered with different inner and outer faces. It’s part of a new breed of soft-shell riding jackets with fleece textured fabrics to boost warmth and shift heat and sweat away from the body fast. A stretchy, woven exterior provides a breathable and wind-resistant shell that shrugs off light rain and splashes, while a waffled interior insulates and draws away excess moisture.
The result seems to be a single layer that works more like multiple layers, as there’s a bit of ventilation (what the brand calls, ‘air permeability’, at just the right level to expel hot, moist air while allowing cool air in) to remain airy, but the Chilco also keeps you really warm against chill winds, even on the coldest days. The interior fabric’s shaping traps moisture and excess internal heat build-up, so you never get too clammy and then cold, and the whole thing dries so quickly that you can ride in the same outfit all day.
Obviously, Guy knows his stuff, but I was blown away by the Chilco’s performance over a wide temperature range; it managed to keep me warm, but not too warm, in all weathers, and it dries unbelievably fast. The secret appears to be the deep waffle pattern acting much like a radiator, and the just-permeable-enough shell that’s often completely dry again at the bottom of long descents; even if I sweated a lot and built a head of steam on the way up.
The Chilco’s relaxed fit is comfy, the styling is great, and the lined hood is also toasty and will fit either under or over your helmet. One of the only things I’m not overly keen on is the big front kangaroo pocket. It’s great for storing gloves and bits and pieces, but the thin fabric allows stuff to flap about inside.
I lived in a Mission Workshop merino hoody for years until I literally wore it away, but this Chilco is even better. I won’t ride without it. It’s hard to know what voodoo is going on, or whether this anorak has an inbuilt secret thermostat, but it has kept me drier and warmer than any other kit I’ve tried, which is a massive deal. While I’m reluctant to give any top that costs £170 a perfect 10/10, I genuinely think the performance is worth the investment.