The four season Clydesdale. We find that the best way to enjoy the changing seasons is in the saddle. We’re admittedly biased, but Gore Bike Wear’s Element Gore-Tex Active Jacket humors our biases by equipping us with the weatherproof protection necessary to stay in the saddle through late fall and early spring. With the right layering strategy, it also serves as an ideal winter shell, because the Gore-Tex Active membrane is the brand’s most breathable model. That means it keeps the wind, rain, or even snow out while letting internal moisture escape so your thermal layers can do their work to trap body heat in dry comfort. The jacket’s Element fit is more spacious than Gore’s Oxygen and Power models, so it’s appropriate for we Clydesdales in fall and spring but still allows for heavy layering when the temperatures and snow start falling in winter. The adjustable drawstring, elasticized hem seals out cold drafts when you’re riding in especially brisk conditions. Following suit, the front-zip closure sports an underflap to keep cool air from sneaking inside and robbing precious body heat. Adjustable wrists allow a fine-tuned fit over riding gloves or training watches. Reflective piping, print, and logo details brilliantly boost visibility in low-light conditions. Holding riding essentials, the zippered Napoleon pocket makes easy work of storing snacks, extra cash, and keys. For convenient storage and transport, the Element zips into its own roomy rear pocket. • A jacket for recreationalists who ride in all weather • Gore’s Active membrane is its most breathable model • Protects against wind, water, and even snow • Roomy fit for Clydesdales and extra winter layering • Adjustable cuffs and a dropped hem ensure coverage • Stormflap protects against zipper-related drafts and leaks • Napoleon pocket secures essentials • Entire jacket stows in its own rear pocketNote the repeated Clydesdale reference in the Gore marketing blurb. Now that is unique as much of the clothing out there for cyclists is focused on whippet-like athletes who could ride over the Alps while singing opera and simultaneously tracking their wattage output but can barely bench press a crate of large apples. Most high end technical clothing has a snug fit and if you are a ‘full figured’ guy then you just might not be happy getting any of it to fit you. The Element Active jacket is quite the opposite and that was the first thing I noticed when slipping into it. I am 6’2″, 185lbs, with a decent shoulder span, so not a big ‘Clydesdale’ guy but not a wraith either. I take a Large jacket which typically means I have room under it for a base and a jersey but not much more than that. Most jackets will have a pretty form fitting, flap free fit. I like that snugness actually, especially for road work, but there are times that multiple layers add up and then more room in the outer shell is a good thing. And if I was a broader guy or had more ‘middle ground’ to cover up with my jacket, then this fuller cut in the Element Jacket makes a ton of sense. So what else is going on here with the Gore Element Active jacket? Lots. First of all is the great color choice of my sample jacket. It’s a high viz yellow/green with reflective bits on it. Nice. Let’s leave the black rain jackets for those who choose to “blend into the pavement” (obscure movie reference). It is a single layer jacket with no insulation or mesh liners, etc. Still, it is a bit much to scrunch up and stow into a jersey pocket, so it is not a gossamer, minimal wrapper. The cuffs have a velcro tab and some elastic, so they are good for getting over warm gloves and there is some grace for venting up your sleeve. There are two pockets, one on the upper chest, good for phones or glasses or such what, and one big zipped pocket in back that the jacket stows into or, you could carry gloves in there, etc. There is a draw cord on each hem at the sides to pull the jacket in a bit if you need to batten the hatches. The collar is not real tall, but decently so and fits just right to keep draughts out but not enough to restrict or chafe. I suppose if it was really a gully washer I might want it even more snug. If it is a truly nasty day, I typically wear a Buff down around my neck anyway to keep things cozy. The fit on me is generous in the length so my monkey-long arms are happy and shoulder room is great. It is a bit poofy in the mid section and at the ribs, so while that is nice it might let it flap a bit in strong winds (it does). I wore this over many rides, typically with only a long sleeve base layer under it. Once or twice I had a short sleeve base and a thermal jersey under it but it had to be really cold and windy out for that. It was always taken on a ride where I knew I would be in the jacket the whole time since it is a bit bulky to stuff away. Typically conditions were windy and cold, really windy and cold, cold and wet, or just cold. The Good:
- It likely is the most breathable jacket of its kind I have worn. I could heat up in it, and once, on purpose, I did an 8 mile climb in conditions warmer than the jacket should normally be worn. Of course it was sweaty in there, but never oppressive. I never felt trapped in it, and on the fast descent to follow I was never chilled.
- The fuller cut does allow for some of that breathing room, but I could draw the jacket around me with the hem closures.
- The tail is cut very long…nice for keeping the butt dry.
- Wind? What wind?
- There are no vents, pit zips, etc, so you only have the main zip, the sleeve openings, and the fuller hem to get that accomplished. It is pretty much the fabric doing the heavy lifting as far as keeping body moisture in control.
- Once, in a crazy cross wind, I had it flap a bit at the rib section, so if you are looking to cheat the wind and be as aero as can be, this is not it, but then Gore already told you that in so many words.
- Ah…hmmmm…must be something else. Or not.
“Made for all activities in changeable conditions, this GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Glove is ergonomically designed to aid your dexterity when you’re out in the elements, allowing you to focus on where you are and where you’re going.” Reflective logo GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Product: Versatile, medium thermal protection, totally windproof Water repellent fabric Pre-shaped fingers reduce bunching of material Optimized for gloves-on use with touchscreen devices Grippy silicone print on thumbs, forefingers, and palmI wore these gloves on rides ranging from temperatures just below freezing to upwards of 40°F in windy and sometimes snowy conditions. Rides ranged from shorter commutes in the city to long, multi-hour gravel road rides. Fit: GORE is kind of an odd company for me in terms of sizing. These gloves illustrate this well. Typically I wear a size Large glove, but we had GORE send out a size XL because we knew they ran small. GORE sells these up through a size XXL, so if you are a looking at these, perhaps consider sizing up a notch, as I did. I was pleased with the way they fit, snug, but not constricting. Plenty of finger length, but I didn’t have floppy material at the ends of each digit. The cuffs are long enough that you can overlap with a jacket to help seal out cold breezes. They don’t have padding, which I happen to prefer. Overall, I liked the fit and form of the GORE glove. Function: First off, GORE Windstopper fabric works. I never felt any air coming through these gloves at all. However; these gloves are made with a thin material that doesn’t really have any insulation. So, if the air temperature is cold, and your hands tend to be cold anyway, these won’t do much for you at all in terms of keeping your hands warm. The material will take on the ambient air temperature, and unless you have hands that get warm easily, I suspect your range of temperatures you could use these in will be higher than mine was. (GORE recommended temperature range is 41°-59°F) I was pleased as punch with the Windstopper effect, but other features were missing or did not work for me. Foremost of these is a “nose wiper” section on the back of the thumb area, which many gloves have. I think if you wear these gloves in the conditions they were meant for, that feature is really glaringly absent on the M Windstopper gloves. Secondly, the claimed ability to use these with a smart phone simply wasn’t there. I ended up having to peel a glove off to answer calls or swipe to see text messages. Frustrating. But to be fair, many gloves that claim this feature really don’t work well for me. So, take that with a grain of salt. Final Thoughts: The GORE M Windstopper Gloves fit well, are comfy, thin, and dexterity is very good while wearing them. They block the wind like an NFL lineman and layer well with a jacket. However; for the stated use of the gloves, I felt that the lack of a “nose-wiper” section was a serious oversight. Also, I couldn’t get a smart phone or touch screen to work while wearing these, although your mileage may vary with that. MSRP $54.99
NOTE- GORE sent over the jackets and gloves for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we always strive to give you our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. Also- The Shake Dry jacket review is forthcoming. Stay tuned.