When raving about the borderline miraculous ‘best jacket ever’ all-weather performance of the Chilco anorak from 7Mesh, my only complaint was the baggy fit and belly pocket. “Oh, did you not see our Seton jersey and vest?” said Paul their PR dude.
A few days later I was pulling on a snug-fitting vest that made their WTV fabric work even better and also had the best back pocket system I’ve had the pleasure of stuffing. I’ve barely taken it off either since so what’s the secret to their Squamish-bred ‘super fabric’.
To recap, WTV is their own fabric which has a stretch woven face for windproofing, and squares of Polartec Alpha style ‘lofted’ fabric woven on the inside. It’s 34 percent recycled, Bluesign approved, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, and PFC and PFAS-free.
Back of shoulder shaping helps the stretch fabric fit closely where you’ll normally see gilets/vests flapping and gaping too. Silicon strips on the bottom hem keep that anchored and the neck is nice and tall to keep draughts out. A YKK zipper gives easy pull fastener reliability, but it’s not dual-directional if you like the option of a belly breeze.
The rear pockets sit on a separate section of stretch fabric that’s stitched high up on the side to spread the load but ‘floats’ over the lower back to aid mobility and wicking. It also lets the three open-topped pockets swallow a lot more stuff than I expected. Valuables can be slid into the two side zipped under pockets that meet in the middle under the outer pockets. It comes in black, blue, or a vivid neon yellow for safety too.
I’ve gone into why I prefer fleeces/softshells over hardshell jackets in depth here but the WTV is definitely my new benchmark for versatile fabric performance. It’s got the eerie ability of wool to be the right temperature whether you’re working hard on a climb or freezing on a descent. It retains its warmth when wet like wool and it smells a lot better than most synthetics after several days on the bike as well. Unlike wool, it wicks and dries extremely well either as an outer or mid layer so you won’t get soggy and chilly if the weather or work rate changes dramatically.
As a result I’ve been comfortable in the Seton vest and a light baselayer everywhere from double digit, spring sunshine cruises to lashing rain and block headwinds that have dropped ‘feels like’ temps to freezing. The close cut and lack of flapping really helps insulation when things get grim too and while the matching Seton WTV neck warmer (£30) is unnecessary with this vest, it’s a lovely addition to other tops. Snug fit and rapid sweat shifting make the vest a great core heater underneath a shell in really miserable weather too.
While I’ve definitely used similar layouts before the exact fabric, layout, and attachment strategy of the back pockets on the Seton have had me babbling like a madman about how good they are to anyone who’ll listen.
Because there’s no membrane or DWR treatment there’s nothing that’ll wash off or break down so performance won’t degrade over time. Unlike Polartec Neoshell the inner fleece isn’t a separate layer so it doesn’t tear easily when being transported/washed and it’s also retaining the fleece microfibres a lot better so far too. Apart from the usual ’no fabric conditioner’ advice it’s not fussy about how it’s washed either, though a cool wash is always better for the planet.
I’m actually starting to worry how ridiculous I sound when expounding the virtues of 7Mesh’s WTV gear. After all, even a basic fleece or woolly jumper can provide decent core warmth for a fraction of the cost. Invest in the Seton though and you’re not just getting superlative best in class all weather warmth and wicking performance, but also a brilliant snug yet unrestrictive fit and the best interpretation of the classic three rear pocket system I’ve ever used.
Everyone I trust who’s used a Seton or Chilco has said exactly the same and it’s mid or outer layer MTB/gravel/road versatility, toughness, and ease of care adds more justification for the high initial investment.
Tech specs: 7Mesh Seton vest
- Price: $160 / £130 / €150
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Options: Midnight blue (tested), black, zest yellow
- Weight: 205g (small with a bit of mud on)