7Mesh is a relatively new brand in the world of cycle clothing. Formed by ex-Arc’teryx employees as a cycle-specific brand and being based in Squamish, a cycling mecca, they have the right credentials to produce some pretty great kit. 7Mesh pride themselves on attention to detail, high quality fabrics, and a simple but effective design language. Since inception their kit has improved year on year, and they continue to knock it out of the park with amazing technical cycling gear for road, gravel, and mountain biking. Today we’re here to talk about their new trail shorts, the Slab, and the Desperado Merino Henley shirt.
For a while now the Glidepath has been a flagship trail/enduro short — tough and baggy, yet light enough for year-round use. It’s a great short and a favorite of many. This year 7Mesh introduced a new short to sit alongside the Glidepath called the Slab. The Slab is meant to be a super lightweight and simple complement the Glidepath. The Slab is centered around a great fit, light and stretchy fabrics for mobility on the bike, and simplicity. For these reasons and more, it’s been my go-to short during warmer-weather and higher-intensity rides. Keep reading to find out why.
The Slab uses a DWR-coated fabric with 4-way stretch. The short features some pretty large pieces of elastic integrated in the sides of the waist and a waistband with a locking buckle to dial the fit at the front that’s pretty easy to use. All of this combined with lightweight fabric makes the Slab super comfortable to wear, and the fit is great with no chafing or bunching. It also doesn’t snag on my seat.
The Slab also has plenty of coverage to keep you warm through the shoulder season. The legs are compatible with knee pads, with plenty of room around the knees and just long enough to cover the top of the pads with no awkward gap. The cut is a little interesting and looks strange off the bike with a bit of a crotchless look. But, that means there’s no excess fabric to get caught on your seat, which is a bonus.
Onto features, in this case, less is definitely more. The Slab has only one pocket, large enough for a phone and car keys. It’s zippered shut and sits at the side of the right thigh so that your phone isn’t constantly bouncing around on your leg as you’re pedaling. I don’t like to have anything in my pockets while riding, however, I need to carry a few things like my car keys. I can deal with a single pocket for how simple and comfortable the shorts are. The DWR is water repellant enough for moist trails but it’s definitely not a wet-weather short. The Slab is best for those warm summer days and nice shoulder-season rides.
The Slab comes in a men’s and women’s fit in sizes XS to XXL to fit most riders, and two colors for each: Grateful Red (pictured) and Charcoal in the men’s, and Black and Pebble Grey for women’s. Retailing at $130 USD (available from local bike shops like Steed and also online retailers including Backcountry and REI), these are not a cheap option, but having ridden this short all summer long I can say that you’re getting great quality for your money.
The Slab short pairs well with the Desperado Merino Henley also here on test. The Desperado is a multi-use garment prioritizing simplicity and a great fit over features, much like the Slab. The shirt is designed to be a great all-around piece and it definitely covers a couple of seasons. Made from a 47/53% merino-polyester blend, it’s supposed to give the benefits of both of these materials. The combination of materials and fit means that this has once again become one of my go-to items this year since it works in a whole bunch of different conditions.
In terms of fit, the Desperado is relaxed and comfortable, but not baggy, similar to the Slab. It’s easy to wear, and though the fit is pretty relaxed, it’s never a hindrance on the trail. It’s casual enough to wear it at the pub after riding but technical enough to be great on the bike. It has a dropped back and a cut around the shoulders so that when you’re in the attack position it fits well.
It has those magical properties of Merino that means that it feels light to wear when it’s hot and keeps the chill off a little on the cooler days, whilst wicking well and never developing much of a smell. It’s great either on its own or as a base layer under a long sleeve jersey. The poly-blend also adds a little durability. While I did rip it under the arm pretty early on, I’ve had plenty of rides since and the hole hasn’t grown.
While the Desperado is a high-quality design, it’s low on features. It has no pockets and no zippers. There’s nothing to rub, chafe, or feel uncomfortable. It has a snap neck with three neat and low-profile snappers built in that open up really easily if you need to get some air. They don’t snap together quite as easily as snaps but you also can’t feel them against the skin, and they have a quality feel which gives me confidence that they won’t give out easily. The design is clean and understated with small, smart logos, nothing flashy, much like the rest of the 7Mesh line. It works well for the clean, casual look.
Available in sizes XS-XXL and three colours, the Desperado comes in at $80 USD (available online from Moosejaw, Competitive Cyclist, and Steed). It is also available in a women’s fit, but with different colors and 3/4 sleeves for $75 USD. Again, while 7Mesh apparel commands a premium price, I believe that it’s worth the money to get something with an intelligent design, quality materials, and manufacturing that means you never need to worry about having a wardrobe malfunction.
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