New generation waterproof jacket from Gore Bike Wear, claims to be their best yet, but is it just the best (full stop)?
by Nick Coley
Its been quite hard to test a waterproof jacket over the last month or so, which would normally be fantastic as it means no rain and loads of sun, but for once I was hoping for a little rain as the new Gore One Active jacket had landed on my desk. After seeing the jacket last December when it was released in super limited numbers, I was glad to see its return this autumn and was even happier when I was given the chance to try it out. The first thing you notice when you pick it up is how light it is: just 105g for a small (and 133g for a large).
But how does it perform?
Well, high 20’s and not a cloud in sight means resorting to a hose in order to check how the jacket handles some spray. As expected the water just beads off like it should, and like many other jackets do when they are new.
But there is more to this jacket, well in fact there is actually less to it…
The new Gore One Active jacket is a 2 layer construction, unlike most other waterproof jackets that are constructed from 3 layers. Most such jackets have an outer fabric layer, glued to a waterproof membrane which is then glued to an inner, protective layer.
The Gore One Active jacket removes the outer fabric layer meaning that the exposed outer layer is in fact the waterproof membrane, Gore-Tex. Removing this outer layer does a few things:
- It allows for permanent beading of water off the jacket, no need to ever re-proof the jacket.
- No outer fabric layer means no layer to absorb water, otherwise known as ‘wetting out’. When a waterproof garment wets out, its outer layer has stopped beading water, instead absorbing it and making the jacket feel heavy and cold as a result.
- One less layer of fabric and one less layer of glue means the jacket’s breathability is increased. Breathability (or rather lack thereof) is the number one reason of moisture build-up inside the jacket. If your body produces moisture faster than the jacket can breath, moisture will condense inside the jacket and make for a wet rider no matter how ‘waterproof’ the middle layer may be.
- One less layer of fabric means the jacket is lighter in weight.
So with all of these benefits the jacket ‘should’ be pretty darn good, right?
Finally an opportunity to test it in the rain arises – drizzle on my commute. However, it’s still 17 degrees and to be honest I wouldn’t normally opt for a waterproof jacket in those temperatures (below 10 degrees is normally OK as long as there is no big efforts which result in overheating). However within minutes the rain is getting heavier and the temperature drops a little so I pull over and don the jacket. “Man it’s so light.”
I’m majorly impressed with the beading properties. Despite the jacket having been stored very compactly for a week (you reverse the jacket’s pocket and it zips up into a small bag) there is no wetting out of the jacket, no areas where the DWR coating has been disturbed or the amount of water has become too much for it. In combination with this, what makes the Gore One Active a real game changer (and seems to be the downfall of every waterproof jacket I’ve ever used before) is its improved breathability.
Waterproof jackets are only any good when they are beading water plus allow the rider’s heat to escape. I understand a longer term test would be good to see how it performs after continuous use but with the way it’s designed and constructed I’m quite confident that wetting out and, as a result, feeling wet and cold inside the jacket from condensation, shouldn’t ever be an issue with the Gore One Active.
Certainly, after having been riding in this jacket for over an hour and a half now in the hammering rain, I’m not over heating. The water is beading off the jacket and my sweat vapor is allowed to escape, granted not at its fastest at 15 degrees, but fast enough to avoid overheating. I’m warm but not sweating. In my eyes this is what puts this jacket head and shoulders above the rest. Even my other Gore-Tex jacket.
The fit of the jacket is true to size and compared with other Gore Bike Wear clothing I already own – a size small in the Gore One Active fits well. Although, if I was to load up my rear jersey pockets quite heavily, I may find the fit a bit too snug. Aside from that the shoulder and arm fit is great for a waterproof jacket, no restriction and plenty of length in the sleeves.
I know it’s quite an investment and I will come back with a longer term review in a few months time for those seeking yet more detail, but for now, I’m impressed to say the least.
To conclude, the Gore One Active jacket gives you the weight and packability benefits of a simple ‘rain shell’ jacket yet with more breathability and much better protection. It doesn’t wet out and shouldn’t ever wet out meaning a consistently top performing jacket. I think that has well and truly ticked all my boxes.
>> Take a closer look at this top-performing road cycling jacket by Gore Bike Wear on the Evans Cycles website or enquire within selected stores. <<
Nick Coley heads up the Evans Cycles training department and has tested a myriad of waterproof cycling jackets, be it on his 35 mile commute from the south coast or when racing.