Back when it was actually raining here on the Central Coast of California we reached out to ACRE to test out one of their coveted cycling specific shells – The Meridian. Around the time it arrived we were finally having a real winter considering that we’ve been in a pretty serious drought. After many a wet weather jaunt on some colder winter mornings and evenings here in Santa Cruz as well as Canada, it’s time to report to you all on how it performed.
• Side-access zippered cargo pockets
• Zippered underarm ventilation
• External access chest pocket
• Internal ported media pocket
• Removable helmet-compatible hood
• Sizes – S, M, L(tested), XL
• Approx. Weight – 320 g (11 oz)
• Made in Vancouver
• $455 US
Shell Fabric — Nylon Ripstop Waterproof / Breathable Polartec® NeoShell®
Center Front Zipper — YKK urethane coated water tight zippers (#5 coil)
Pocket Zippers — YKK (#3 coil)
• Highest rated Air-permeability allows more water-laden air to escape & dry air to enter the interior
• Waterproof 96 g/m2 Polartec® NeoShell® Fabric
• Exterior treated with DWR
• Interior has fully taped seams
Right away we loved the fit of the Meridian. It’s absolutely flawless; trim fitting with a bit of stretch to it unlike most shells. It’s definitely a not a bulky cut, if you plan on wearing heavy layers or prefer a roomy fit then you may want to size up. This is also the first jacket that we’ve found to be comfortable while wearing a short sleeved jersey underneath. Unlike many shells, the lining doesn’t feel like a plastic bag on your skin; it’s soft and pliable. The fit, finish and quality of the jacket is all absolutely top notch. Our 6 foot tall 185 pound tester felt that the size Large was spot on, as it should be.
Everything on the Meridian is all about minimalism and that helps keep the jacket light and packable. There aren’t adjustable cuffs on the sleeves but instead it has an elastic band that fits around your thumb to keep things in place. The waist has no adjustments but it’s form fitting and cut lower out back to prevent drafts.
In terms of functionality, the left side chest pocket was perfect for a smart phone, and the removable hood was just the right size for a helmet, with a bungee to take up the slack. There are a great deal of cool, subtle features yet the jacket retains a really nice, minimalist look. The only thing that stood out as odd were the main pockets at the waist, but there is a method to the madness and their angled opening would make it easier to access them from a riding position. Their rearward placement also kept items inside from getting pinched between your thigh and stomach while in the saddle.
On the Trail
For day to day wet weather rides we appreciated the Meridian’s light weight and compact nature. When the weather was intermittent, the jacket rolled up and fit in our SWAT bibs rather easily. On warmer days we appreciated the armpit zips. We were surprised that the zippers were located a fair way down the arm, not actually on the armpit itself. It wasn’t until we rode with a backpack that we had another “Ah Ha!” moment and realized they were cleverly placed away from the backpack straps to keep them accessible without having to remove the bag. Smart.
Our first few rides were mainly in mist and drizzle with cold weather that was never too threatening. It wasn’t until a few weeks back in Canada that we repeatedly rode in a torrential downpour. This is where the jacket really impressed us. The waterproof zipper kept our phone dry despite the fact that we were sure it was going to get fried on one particular ride. While the waterproofing is top rate, the breathability was an more impressive feat. At $455, it had better do a good job of everything though…and it did. On both warm and cold rides in the wet, the Meridian did an excellent job of managing heat and moisture. It also dried incredibly fast and has held up nicely to abuse. We’ve had quite a few rides with a heavy photo bag and expected some of the waterproofing to degrade from the abrasion but we were proven wrong. All of the taped seams remain fully intact and show no signs of premature delaminating. For how lightweight the Meridian is, it’s an incredibly tough product.
This is the part where as a consumer, you just have to weigh out whether this is for you or not. We can’t make that call. Surely many people will grumble about the price tag, and that’s understandable…But this is a premium product that’s made in Vancouver so the price shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Meridian’s best merits are its design elements and how they tie into riding bikes. ACRE has done an incredible job of crafting a no holds barred shell designed specifically to make the cycling experience much better. They’ve left no stone unturned and literally thought of everything with this jacket. To be honest, we didn’t quite realize why some design elements were incorporated until we were out in the thick of it. Speaking of weather, another highly impressive attribute of the Meridian was just how versatile it is. It’s been a lifesaver in anything from mild to horrendous conditions on both quick, daily rides and multi-day, trail smashing benders. As an investment piece, durability has to be well above average and it’s proven to be a the type of jacket you use year after year. The bottom line is that for a host of reasons our end experience on the trails while wearing the Meridian has been far better than anything else we’ve worn in the past.