7Mesh has a reputation for nailing mountain bike-specific detailing and the Guardian, which has become something of a classic, does not disappoint.
With an RRP of £352 / €350 / $400 you’d hope it wouldn’t, and after one ride you’ll go from feeling guilty that you spent so much on a jacket to being happy with your investment.
The Guardian has all the details that matter and even some that you didn’t know you needed. For example, the pockets are not your usual stick-your-hand-in warmer style but are angled backwards so that you can access them when reaching across with your opposite arm. This not only makes for a more comfortable and natural action, but the angle means stuff is less likely to fall out too.
Long zip-pulls, water-resistant zips and a lined collar all add to the jacket’s ease of use and comfort, but there is a refinement of construction that puts the Guardian in a class of its own.
This is underlined by the bonded hems, which give a smooth high-tech finish. Again, this is something you’d might not think you’d need but contribute to the jacket being less bulky and quiet to wear.
The cut is impeccable too, from the generous helmet-friendly hood right down to the dropped back hem, it sits just right when on the bike and it doesn’t matter what you do with your arms, the body stays solid.
When wearing a waterproof you’re all too often aware of that extra outer layer, but not so much with The Guardian as it moves with you in much the same way a jersey does.
The Gore-Tex Active fabric is guaranteed waterproof, highly breathable and lightweight. I’ve worn this jacket in all conditions and it’s always performed well and never leaked.
I’ve found myself not bothering with my regular windproof on otherwise dry days and just reaching for the Guardian instead. It’s such a comfortable all-round jacket and I haven’t found it at all sweaty.
The highest accolade I can give any jacket is that you don’t know you’re wearing it. That’s a tough call for a waterproof, but that’s how I feel about this jacket and it’s the one that I most frequently select from a very full jacket cupboard.