7mesh is a Canadian brand based out of Squamish, specializing in cycling apparel that holds up to all kinds of weather conditions, and its premium wares tend to come at a premium price. The Skypilot jacket is one of its most lightweight weather-proof outer garments that promises to deliver best-in-class breathability on the trails. In its range, the Skypilot sits at the top, costing $100 more than the mid-range Copilot jacket. What are you getting for when you pay the extra money? Which of the two jackets should you choose if you’re on the fence? Keep reading for a full breakdown of how the Skypilot performs, and whether it’s one of the best MTB jackets you can buy.
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Design and aesthetics
At first sight it’s clear that the 7mesh Skypilot is a beautifully designed and well-made jacket, thanks to its very sleek aesthetic, the quality of the fabric against the skin, and the elegant detailing. It offers a relaxed but close fit, which is surprisingly flattering on a more curvy figure like mine, and there are drawstrings along the bottom hem to help you achieve a more precision fit if you need to. I personally didn’t make much use of these, due to my fuller figure, but I can see them being very handy for others.
The beautiful matte green outer shell is made from Gore-Tex Active 3L (the latter part standing for three-layer), a 30-denier nylon fabric that’s designed to be both robust and lightweight, as well as breathable and protective against the elements. Along the front center runs a watertight Vislon zipper, while two full-size zippered hand pockets provide carrying capacity as well as a very welcome place to shield your hands from the cold.
A large hood is there to cover your helmet when the rain comes, while three draw cords — one on each side, and one at the back — can be used to refine the fit and hold it in place.
The length of the jacket is decent, resting on the hips, while the drop tail hem at the back provides some splash guarding. Dotted throughout the jacket are small reflective elements, which are elegant and subtle.
The sleeves are slightly too long on me, though this is quite normal; proportionally I’m shorter in the top half than I am at the bottom. Even so, they don’t impede my ability to ride, move, or maneuver on the bike. The cuffs are elasticated, sitting flat on the top and ruched beneath, allowing them to sit nicely and comfortably at the wrist.
Due to my body shape, the Skypilot does sit a little tight around my chest, but despite this it offers a comfortable and flattering fit. I wouldn’t be tempted to layer up very much beneath it however, and recommend sizing up if you like to wear lots of layers. I can quite easily and comfortably wear a base layer and thin jersey underneath the jacket, but would hesitate to try anything thicker or thermal.
There’s no stretch in the fabric but the jacket overall has plenty of material to envelop the body and move with it. There is a bit of rustling, which can be a deal-breaker for some, but it’s certainly not bothered me while out riding in it.
Where the Skypilot shines is in its weather protection and sustained comfort. I’ve ridden with it in a range of weather conditions, temperatures and levels of downpour, and have been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s protected me from the elements. More than this, even on days where we seem to experience four different climates in the space of an afternoon, I found it to be extremely breathable and able to release enough heat to stop me from over-boiling. In fact the Skypilot’s ability to breathe and shed heat is excellent, and the waterproofing proved itself on several occasions to be first rate. When testing waterproof jackets in heavy rain I like to put some paper in my pocket and see how it fares after several hours, and that same piece of paper is in its original condition without having gotten even slightly damp, which I credit mostly to the wonders of Gore-Tex Active.
The hood might be a bit divisive for some. I quite like it, and I really like the drawstring toggle at the back that does a great job of securing it in place, however, it isn’t quite long enough to cover my whole helmet. When getting caught out in the rain, this does mean you don’t get full head protection, and the front of my head and hair still got wet.
Another downside to the hood is that there’s no way of tucking it away when not in use. While the Gore-Tex Active fabric provides some great wind proofing, the massive hood can act as a bit of a parachute and wind up pulling you backwards when riding into a headwind. It also just feels a bit bulky and cumbersome, and can get in the way when you’re trying to glance backwards while riding. Elongating the hood to fully cover an MTB helmet with a visor, and providing some way of rolling it up and tucking it away, would greatly improve this jacket.
While it doesn’t come with its own stash pocket like the Copilot does, the Skypilot is still able to pack down relatively small for stashing. It’s not super compact, and there’s nothing to keep it from unraveling, but if you need to quickly shove it into a large pocket or a bag, it’s definitely possible. At 234g, it’s pretty lightweight as well.
The 7mesh Skypilot jacket is well-made, beautiful, and does an excellent job of protecting you from the elements. It’s comfortable to wear, surprisingly flattering, and has lots of nicely thought-out details to help you achieve the best fit possible. It stops you from overheating, provides great splash protection at the rear, has proper, usable pockets (you wouldn’t believe what a rare thing this can be on women’s apparel), and it packs down fairly easily to be shoved inside a large pocket or your best MTB hip pack.
However it is let down by a hood that doesn’t quite measure up and easily gets in the way, providing more hindrance than help when the wind picks up. It also doesn't do much for your visibility in low-light conditions, thanks to some very small reflective details.
Tech Specs: 7mesh Skypilot jacket
- Price: $350 / £300
- Materials: GORE-TEX® Active 3L, 30d 100% nylon plain weave, C-Knit backer
- Sizes: XS-XL (L tested)
- Colors: 2 (Thyme / Crowberry)
- Weight: 234g