Review: Intrepid Apparel Ultimate MTB Softshell Jacket
November 1st, 2012
With such a wet summer behind us and with winter quickly setting in, many people will begin their hibernation and shy away from the fun you can have with numb fingers and a runny nose on wet, muddy hillside. But now’s not the time to shy away from the season ahead or procrastinate over next season… Braving the great outdoors over the next two seasons is not for the faint hearted, but if you ride bikes in the UK, it’s just part and part of what we do and something that needs a slightly different approach. Packing the right gear for the job is half the battle, and one you can easily win with the right tools for the job…
Following our review earlier in the year of the Intrepid Apparel short and jersey we were obviously keen to take a closer look at their technical outerwear over the coming months, but one item stood out; the Ultimate MTB softshell jacket. After meeting up with Intrepid’s Jason at the World Champs in Leogang and after a quick chat about this awesome bit of kit, we couldn’t wait to get back to Blighty and play in the mud.
Intrepid really think things through with their product and the Ultimate softshell is no exception. Cut from a fine blend of Polyester and Spandex, the Intrepid is a pure breed winter cycling jacket; breathable, shower proof and wind resistant. This we could tell from the off. Slightly longer of arm and with a rear ‘drop-tail’ design, it caters to your position on the bike perfectly leaving no chilly spots and with thumb loops neatly tucked away within the sleeves, it stays anchored when in attack mode as well.
A variation of lighter material on the inside of the elbow joints and just enough stretch further enhances the fit, allowing free movement when hammering the trail. This all results in a jacket that covers all styles of riding, be it all day epics or shredding the downhill tracks. One point worth considering though is the sizing. Usually being a small in most brands, we opted for a medium finding the small a little snug when layered up.
Packed full of tech, the Intrepid boasts a plethora of features to keep you warm and comfortable out on the trail. Let’s start from the top on this one: Firstly the jacket is fully microfleece lined, which keeps you toasty warm, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will hold water and suffocate you, oh no, this thing dries so quick you barely notice you got wet in the first instance and once you are up to temperature, it breathes very well indeed.
Now, the pockets. We all like a pocket or two when out riding and most of us will have keys, phone, money and possibly an energy supplement. Fear not, you are in safe hands (excuse the pun). Adorning the front you have two generously sized pockets, on the left sleeve, a conveniently sized lift pass pocket and on the rear, a large cargo pocket containing a fleecy phone pouch and a karabiner for you keys to stop them smashing about on your back. All of these use Intrepid’s signature chunky ‘tree’ zip – aside from the sleeve, that will not pinch or clog up with mud. Using these zips with gloves on is a joy with plenty to grab hold of and finished off with some lovely detailing in the form of the rubber logo tassels.
The chunky zips follow suit on the main front zipper spanning from the bottom hem all the way up to the chin. Intrepid’s attention to detail ensures your cold chin won’t get a pinch in that over-sized zip, with a small pocket for the zipper to nestle in. This combined with the full-length internal insulating flap behind the zip results in complete closure on those particularly cold and wet rides. Intrepid have even catered for the commuter by adding a small strip of Velcro on the hood to fix a light stick, following the feedback of their customers might we add!
The life you ask? Well, riding kit takes some stick and you want it to last yeah? Well we can tell you this jacket is going to last. Since picking it up it has literately been worn everyday, washed numerous times and caked in some of the finest dirt this land has to offer. Yet it still look and functions like new. We have commuted in the rain comfortably, been on long epics and sessioned downhill and yet not a mark or pull can be found.
All in it is very difficult to look past the Intrepid if you’re in the market for a winter jacket, it is impeccably well finished and of a superior quality. There are a couple of minor points that we can get out of the way now. Firstly, a vent or two would have been nice for when the day warms up, but it is after all, a winter jacket. Of course, this also means it’s by no means a lightweight jacket, albeit not heavy, don’t expect it a fold down to nothing and fit in your pack. Still, it is that good it will be used multi-season.
Priced at £135, the Ultimate Softshell sits well within the current crop of premium jackets and looking this good and performing this well you would be a fool to let it sway your decision. You can wear the Intrepid anywhere, on or off the bike, even for a swift one down the local sans bike, and you know come Monday morning when it’s clean and dry again it will look like you just picked up a new one. Go on, pop it on your Christmas list.
Intrepid Apparel is sold via their website, so hit the logo below and have a mooch. Bring on the winter!