If you’re a fan of gear blogs featuring technical apparel, you’re probably already familiar with the Schoeller label. For those new to the brand, the Swiss fabric mill specializes in the development and manufacturing of some of the most cutting edge, innovative fabrics available today.
Unfortunately, these technologies come at a cost, and with a retail price of around $60/ yard, gear cut with the Schoeller label comes at a premium at the register. It takes about two yards of fabric to make a jacket or a pair of pants, so you’re looking at over $100 in materials alone for the latest in gear made from this wonder material.
Is it worth it? At the moment I’ve got a set of shorts and knickers (that I picked up on sale) from various manufacturers made from Schoeller fabrics and they’re nice. They’re comfortable and have been holding up well. They’re good basics, but they aren’t amazing. That said, they so pricey I haven’t really actually done anything in them, short of wearing them to work and pedaling around the city.
I’ve already got several pairs of shorts constructed from generic four-way stretch materials with similar qualities, and I can’t honestly say I like the fancy Schoeller pieces better. When it comes to a high wear item like shorts, I’m not sure it is worth the added cost.
When it comes to jackets though, it’s a completely different equation. I recently acquired a pre-production sample of one of Mission Workshop’s new jackets from their Acre line. My sample looks to be a version with construction is based on a model called the Trigger and has features showing the evolution into the latest model, the Meridian.
Normally I’d consider a soft-shell suitable for casual commuting, mellow riding, or shuttling and wouldn’t expect it to perform on an actual trail ride, because they get too hot and sweaty. It’s the same issue I have with my hardshell jackets as well. While they keep water out, you end up swimming in moisture from the inside out. This is where the magic of the Schoeller soft-shell fabric comes in.
One of the most technical softshell fabrics available, it’s a durable stretch fabric designed and engineered to be both waterproof as well as breathable. The concept behind the Swiss designed fabric is simple enough: react to changes in temperature, and allow moisture and heat to escape. Amazingly enough, it works. On rides where I expect to be drenched in sweat, I’ll just unzip the front of the jacket to cool off.
I’m often asked, “is it warm?” Ironically, it actually isn’t that warm— the material is thin for a softshell, which adds to the comfort level. For cold mornings I’ve been layering it with a form fitting light weight vest, peeling it off once I’m warmed up. The clean cut and aesthetic of the jacket receives quite a few compliments, and it has a fitted appearance that is still comfortable. The sleeves are cut for cycling, and wrist coverage while stretched out is good. I often find myself bouncing back and forth between small and medium tops in general, but the size medium fits well, while still having a bit of room to layer. The jacket looks great and the clean and minimal aesthetic goes with everything.
I do find myself missing pouch pockets, but the lack of bulk helps the jacket from looking baggy and flapping around. My preproduction sample lacks the chest pockets of the Meridian, but features the double-zippered stow pocket in the back. The rear pocket openings are placed to be compatible with hydration packs, but first choice lately has been to leave the pack at home, relying on a water bottle and dispersing my gear using pockets in my shorts, jerseys and the jacket.
I was concerned about durability at first, but after a few incidents sliding out and laying my ride down in a few aggressive turns, I’m happy to report the material has held up quite well. Dirt comes off easily, and cleaning thus far has been performed with a wet towl and a bit of Febreeze.
Although the Meridian is pricey even compared to its predecessor, it features an upgraded version of the softshell material, Schoeller c_change, and adds even more performance and wicking capacity. Assuming it performs as promised, its the kind of jacket you’ll be wearing for years. Whether its on a trail riding, or riding to work, I’ve worn the jacket on rides where others comment I’m going to get far too hot, and it never fails to impress.
I’m not sure I need shorts made from top of the line fabrics, but as a go-to piece of outerwear, I’m stoked every time I put it on. It’s one of my favorite articles of clothing.
At $385, it’s definitely an investment though, and probably more than most of us are willing to spend on a single piece of riding gear. Me, I’m just stoked I have one in the closet.
Check it out: Acre Meridian Jacket by Mission Workshop
List price: $385
Size worn: medium (I’m a 38.5″ jacket)
Made in Vancouver