The Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet was released by the Surrey based clothing company during last year’s dire autumn. With a number of positive technical features and a well thought out design, I was keen to give it a whirl.
It was however initially met with minor speculation. Where would this fit in to my riding wardrobe? It’s fleece lined and has no ventilation on the back, “If it’s that cold I’ll wear a soft shell, warmer than that and it’s a jersey with a base layer" I thought. Jason, Intrepid’s founder, assured me that I would be impressed and that you didn’t need the back aerated. So for the autumn season I said I would give it a go.
Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet
You can tell this is rider designed as soon as you put it on; the fit is bang-on. The length is good too on the back and it isn’t loose around the shoulders (or too tight for that matter). In my opinion, many other gilets are designed far too ‘snug’. The pockets are well placed with a breast pocket for coffee shop money and a rear pocket for larger items. And there’s no need to worry about your Garmin or phone getting scratched by a multi tool or keys – there’s a separated section within the rear pocket for that. A nice touch.
The other key attention to detail is the zip. It’s army grade – super thick and designed not to break. It won’t come apart, meaning you won’t feel dejected after wrecking yet another piece of expensive riding wear. At the top of the zip a well thought out cover keeps this beefy zipper away from catching your chin. The collar can come up to keep the chill off your neck or can be folded down out of the way.
While it is pretty heavy duty for a reason, I do find it a bit tricky to engage the zip when I put it on. It just takes a little wiggle to slot things in place, so it's not the end of the world, but it can be slightly annoying. When asked, Intrepid's Jason said this was a trait of the army standard zip.
On the bike
On the first ride in low figure conditions it completely outperformed other gilets I’ve worn and got me wondering if you need a softshell most of the time. Really, your arms are moving about so much when you ride a mountain bike that they are always kept warm, it’s your core that needs insulating.
The Freedom did such a good job of this that most of the time (when it’s dry) I’ve been pairing it up only with a merino base layer, even in the just-above-freezing-point temperatures we’ve had. Even with a pack on the softshell material is breathable enough that it doesn’t leave your back saturated, as I previously suspected it would. The pocket at the back is also large enough to have a tube, multi-tool etc. if you don’t want to ride with a pack.
After only planning on being able to wear the Freedom gilet for a short time, it’s shown to be effective in a range of conditions. How about saving the weight on your arms and invest in one of these? It comes highly recommended.
Paired with a quality base layer, it’s warm enough in most conditions
Less restrictive than a full-length armed top
Main zip can be a little tricky to do up
Price: £69.00 (currently £62.10)
More information: Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet
What Intrepid Apparel say about the Freedom Gilet:
The Intrepid Gilet is the perfect choice for winter rides. Packed with technical features, a microfleece lining with contrasting red detailing and an extremely breathable softshell outer fabric, this Gilet is a thing of beauty.
Intrepid's Gilet has an exceptional fit with a tailored shape.
One large rear cargo pocket makes this an ideal riding Gilet for longer rides or when you don't want to carry a pack. The pocket contains an iPhone pouch and plenty of room for your additional valuables.
Boasting stylish features inside and out, you won't want to leave this Gilet behind when the conditions turn gnarly!