Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Intrepid Apparel Freedom gilet review

Posted by Matt | January 13, 2016 | 12 comments so far

Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet

Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet

Back in the autumn of 2013 I got my hands on my favourite piece of Intrepid clothing to date – their softshell Freedom gilet. It’s a great idea, offering warmth where you need it and plenty of flexibility for layering.

This is the perfect piece of clothing for three season riding – initially I thought this would mean autumn, winter (at the milder end of the temperature spectrum) and spring. This logic was perfectly sound until we were visited by the Great Precipitation of 2013/2014 which decimated the riding plans of many a Mountain Biker that winter and spring. At times nothing short of full rain gear could even be considered.

So it’s possible that the third season may now include summer instead!

That aside, this IS a very useful addition to the wardrobe. The Intrepid Freedom gilet, made from a windproof (and largely waterproof) softshell fabric manages to keep your core lovely and warm when used over a jersey or baselayer. Crisp autumn mornings, mildly cold winter days and chilly spring evenings suit this perfectly, allowing just the right amount of temperature control via the unprotected arms to make riding very comfortable. The Freedom gilt has become my go-to outer layer when it’s not hosing it down as a result.

Not having the shoulders and arms restricted unnecessarily means no over-heating on those 3-4° and upward days and is especially noticeable if there’s a bit of humidity around.

If you’re working hard you will eventually get a bit of moisture build up but you only really notice it when you get back from a ride and it’s never significant. As an aside, I have found a couple of other softshell full jackets that I own suffer from limited breathability which seems to be a feature of this sort of fabric. It’s one reason why I’ve started to move away from using full softshells.

Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet chest pocket

Intrepid Apparel Freedom Gilet chest pocket

The fabric itself is quite thick but retains plenty of flexibility without that horrible ‘rustling’ you get from some jackets – think fat bird in corduroys as Billy Connolly once memorably riffed on. It’s complemented by a brushed inner surface which helps with the comfort but also means an extra bit of insulation, which makes the gilet useable down to surprisingly low temperatures.

Chunky zips – an Intrepid trademark – are present and correct, with a Napoleon pocket at the front and a side pocket to the rear which provides space of money, keys (secured with a carabiner) and gels etc. without being so voluminous that you pack more than you need. The Napoleon pocket is my preferred location for a mobile and I avoid jackets without one these days.

There’s also the odd design detail that we’ve come to expect from Intrepid. Despite being largely black with white zips and a white logo embroidered on the rear of the collar, the gilet manages to surprise with bright red seams inside and a red rear zip. These little things mark out the discerning gentleman dresser and I think they are discrete but individual.

In short, you should seriously consider this gilet – it will block the wind and keep you warm on many days when a full jacket is too much (which in Surrey is most days), but will let you layer up underneath if you need to. A long sleeved baselayer plus the gilet is warm, with a long sleeve jersey on as well you will be toasty down to very low temperatures provided it stays dry.

After riding with it for nearly two years as a core wardrobe item, mine remains pretty much as good as new.

Filed under Clothing, Reviews in January 2016


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 12 comments on ‘Intrepid Apparel Freedom gilet review’

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  1. Kev says:

    Looks a nice bit of kit and I am in the market for a gilet.
    Intrepid have these reduced from £69 to £25 at the mo as well!

    • JR says:

      Unfortunately they have sold out of Small size Freedom Gilets, perhaps due to the favourable review.

      They still have small sized Pioneer Gilets reduced to £30, but we don’t yet have Matt’s endorsement of those as one of this season’s must haves.

  2. Kev says:

    Just out of interest, what size is your gilet?

  3. Lloyd says:

    Their sizing guide is then way out as you would seem to fit large per size guide. I was thinking large for me but not so sure now. Matt is your medium or small?

  4. Matt says:

    OK, so having led everyone astray I’ve just specifically looked and my Freedom gilet is small, as Andrew correctly pointed out. It’s snug, not loose or flappy, but not restrictive either.

    Lloyd, being taller medium should be fine for you. I’m surprised that Andrew thinks a small would fit him even though he is admittedly pretty lean. Kev, you’re about my size so would probably best suit a small but you may get away with medium.

    Ironically, I also have the Pioneer gilet as John mentioned. I’ll review that separately but interestingly it’s a medium and fits me well but was too tight for DC. The main difference is slightly less thermal properties but a greater level of ‘waterproofness’.

    The sizing of Intrepid is the biggest issue I have, but the Pioneer is a more recent product and that suggests they’ve corrected their non-standard sizing to something more conventional. I can’t be sure though.

  5. Kev says:

    I have ordered a Pioneer gilet in medium seeing as everything on Intrepid’s web site seems to be slashed in price! 🙂

    Lets wait and see if it fits tho’ ……

  6. Tony says:

    This is one of my favourite pieces of kit although it has to be quite cold to wear it. Absolutely great quality too.

  7. Kev says:

    The Pioneer gilet has arrived and I can confirm that the size medium fits my finely tuned athletic body perfectly! 🙂

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