Mission Workshop seems to know a thing or two about foul weather protection. Read on for the full review…
The Merdian Alpine jacket is part of the ACRE Supply collection under the Mission Workshop brand. ACRE Supply is Mission Workshop’s line of technical cycling gear including shorts, jerseys, packs, jackets, and accessories. The Meridian Alpine is their light-weight wind and waterproof shell made specifically for cycling. Constructed of body-temperature reactive Polartec NeoShell fabric and chock full of details, this is the spare no expense breathable, waterproof shell for those who ride in the harshest weather. Or those who just want a sweet riding jacket for the coffee shop. I won’t judge.
The Meridian Alpine is a trim fitting, but full length jacket. Unlike hiking slash outdoorsy waterproof shells I’ve tried riding in, this jacket doesn’t have a ton of extra material hanging around. This does limit your layering options. You’re not going to fit a down jacket under this shell, but two layers of shirts were no problem for me.
The arms are slightly articulated and help keep the jacket from binding or riding up while you’re pedaling. I got in several long (for winter) rides in temps cool enough that I left the jacket on most of the ride and the comfort of the cut was a refreshing change. This is not to suggest that the jacket skimps on coverage either, the lower rear of the jacket features a little extra, much appreciated length to keep you covered even when in full race tuck. Basically, the Meridian Alpine leaves most other riding jackets I’ve owned feeling as trim and refined as a garbage bag.
Keeping with the garbage bag theme, most other riding jackets I’ve owned were also about as breathable as being wrapped in plastic. The super breathable (for a waterproof shell) Polartec Neoshell was again a welcome change, particularly on those days when I needed a jacket for the climb up. If your climb really gets steamy, there are pit zips under each arm to add some extra ventilation. You might note, the zips are not really in the pits but down the arm a bit. This seems to make opening and closing the zippers a little easier.
The Meridian Alpine eschews traditional style hand warmer pockets for a design more useful to cyclists. They’ve moved the would-be hand pockets to the sides of the jacket and created a pair of cargo pockets. This moves the junk food you’re presumably carrying in said pockets out of the way of your gut as you are leaned forward in a pedaling position. In theory you could carry something other than food in these pockets, like a pair of gloves or a hat. I’ll probably stick with Honey Stingers and brownies. The obvious drawback is that actually warming your hands in these pockets is awkward as hell. I guess you can’t have it all.
The internal chest pocket is just about right for a phone and features headphone cable routing. My iPhone 8 was a little snug in its slightly bulky LifeProof case. I think most normal phones with normal sized cases will fit just fine. If you have one of those iPhone Plus sized abominations, plan on making alternate arrangements. Another feature to note is that this jacket is pretty much just a shell. There’s not much fleecy lining or thermal material added. Think waterproof, wind proof, essential pockets.
Details, details, details. It’s evident that considerable thought went into the design of this garment. One of my favorite features is the lack of annoying velcro straps to cinch down the wrists. Instead, Mission Workshop went with a super trim sleeve that let my hands inside insulated size large gloves pass through without a fight, yet are snug enough to keep wind and rain out. They even added thumb loops to ensure the sleeves stay put in case you have to bomb a fast road section or two mid ride.
While we’re talking details, it’s worth noting that the hood is removable via 5 quick, plastic snaps. Honestly, this is one feature that I didn’t really care about. I understand that for wind or riding on the road, there might be days when the hood doesn’t make sense. But, I’m a mountain biker and I live in the rainy PNW and I don’t see myself ever grabbing this jacket without a hood. I might also point out that while most of the jacket is unlined, there is a nice wrap of soft material around the collar which has a nice feel and should keep chafing to a minimum.
With so much praise, there has to be a down side, right? Well, the kicker for me is that this jacket carries a $455 MSRP. I do believe that the quality and functionality justifies the price, but I also believe I’ll end up crashing out and tearing it to bits. That’s not to say the jacket seems fragile, just that I’m highly proficient at crashing. Living where I ride in the rain for a big percentage of the year, the value proposition has me leaning towards “worth it”, but if I were in a more arid climate it would be a tough call. If you happen to commute in foul weather where damaging the jacket is low risk, the Meridian Alpine is probably a solid value. Not so much as a criticism, but something to be aware of, the Meridian Alpine is not in the class of ultra-light packable jackets like a Patagonia Houdini. You could certainly stuff it in a large riding backpack or maybe a large fanny pack, but I typically have to tie it around my waist when not wearing it. Aside from that, the Meridian Alpine is one seriously well designed and functional piece of bad weather protection. If you’re committed to riding no matter what the weather report says, I rather doubt you’d be disappointed in Mission Workshop’s Meridian Alpine.
Web: ACRE Supply
Fabric: 96 g/m2 Polartec® NeoShell®
3 point adjustable hood with anatomic construction and integrated visor
Pockets: 3 outer 1 interior w/ media ports
Custom YKK weatherproof zippers and Prym Snaps
Made in Canada