When it comes to apparel designed for unfavorable weather conditions, Gore is one of the most recognized brand all over the world. The American company pioneered outdoor wear utilizing a breathable membrane, and progressively raised the performance of such clothing to unimaginable heights. This technology is primarily used in jackets, enabling the kit repeal moisture and wind, while releasing the moisture from the inside, hence allowing our skin to literally “breathe”. Generally we find the Gore brand name – most notably “Gore-Tex” – on various manufacturers’ apparel, since the American patent holder supplies the special fabric to the industry at large. Gore also manufactures their own line of outdoor wear featuring premium technival fabrics with top-notch design and craftsmanship. They are available under the “Gore Wear” name. The brand produces a large range of cycling apparel, from which we have previously reviewed quite a few models. The local distributor for Gore kindly sent us the new C5 Gore-Tex Active Jacket for testing, which is said to be fully windproof and waterproof, making it an ideal top layer for autumn-spring riding and possible in mild winter conditions as well.
Gore manufactures their Gore Wear apparel employing different fabrics, with specific properties that provide the best performance for the given application. Within their cycling range is a variety of garments for all and weather conditions, essentially covering the entire cycling clothing range. Since the Gore brand is associated with clothing for severe weather conditions, we were naturally are more interesting their more protective apparel. These models employ the brand’s proprietary membrane technology, sometimes varieties that are not (yet) available to other manufacturers. Protective cycling wear is where technology plays a major role. Keeping out the cold, the rain and the wind, while still allowing the moisture to escape during rigorous exercise is the miracle that few clothing brands have been able to pull off. So this is where expertise in designs and technology truly make a difference, and it’s fair to say, that no one doubts that Gore has what it takes to make top-notch clothing.
The C5 Gore-Tex Active jacket’s model name reflects all the features the model has to offer. The “C” refers to cycling, “5” is the level of performance (3 active, 5 advanced, 7 professional category), and Gore-Tex defines the special fabric technology which is both wind and water resistant. It is worth to mention that the Gore-Tex membrane is a special material with an incredible number of small openings (over 1.3 billion pores per square centimeters) which are in effect 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water. On the other hand, they are 700 times bigger than a water drop, hence water cannot penetrate it, but the steam from the body moisture is small enough to pass through. So in effect the special technical fabric with a Gore-Tex membrane is both water resistant and breathable, it possesses two previously exclusive properties at the same time. (Mind you, this is a basic explanation how the technology works, there are many aspects we simply cannot delve into in this review!).
The C5 Gore-Tex Active jacket doesn’t offer a heat-retaining layer, its main job is to protect from the rain and the wind. It can be combined with a warm base layer to provide added warmth in cold weather, without it the temperature range specified by Gore is 5 to 15 degrees Celsius. This makes the jacket ideal for autumn and spring, but since our country is increasingly characterized by mild winters, we may perhaps characterize it as a 3-season model.
The manufacturer paid special attention to the waterproof aspect of the jacket. The weak point of cycling apparel is generally the seam, and Gore has solved this problem by welding a waterproof layer inside to the seams, so moisture is guaranteed to stay outside.
There is no question that in wet conditions visibility on the road is compromised. So Gore went to great lengths to assure maximum visibility for this jacket: the fluorescent yellow arms and back panels are hard not to see, and there is plenty of contrast to highlight the rider. Additionally, the reflective inscriptions on the jacket enhance visibility from headlights in dark conditions. We’ll definitely be noticed even from a great distance!
The C5 Gore-Tex Active’s fabric is not elastic, so it’s important to find the size that fits you. It shouldn’t be too tight since it would compromise freedom of movement or too loose which results in flapping causing by additional wind resistance. Fortunately I experienced no major fit problems with this garment. The neck cuff was fine, the waist was long enough., only the arms were a bit oversized, due to my arms being shorter than average. The cut is cycling specific with a long back and arms, it the jacket fortunately fits much better while riding than standing for the photo shoot. (We’ll deal with this question later on in the article.)
The weather this fall was unusually friendly, there were only a few a days when the jacket’s protection could be put to an ultimate test. Then winter hit us rear hard with severe freezing temperatures which were generally too cold for the C5 Gore-Tex Active to cope with. In years past, this jacket would have been perfect for the wet, windy and gloomy conditions that characterized fall and early winter, but this year I failed to put in a proper mileage in this piece of cycling apparel. I was looking and hoping that the “weather gods” might come up with something that resembles a “real” autumn, but it just didn’t come. There were a few days with rain or strong winds, when I immediately went out for a ride – even though I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I suppose in places like the British Isles cyclist would be wearing this jacket on almost daily basis from early autumn till late spring, maybe even on some wet and cold summer days. Our climate is different, less wet and windy with generally more days warmer than 15 degrees and colder than five. So the C5 Gore-Tex Active might not be a staple bike apparel for Central Europe, but certainly a nice a piece to have in the closet!
Not having any experience regarding how additional clothing was needed for the given temperature, it was somewhat difficult to get properly dressed for the first time riding in the jacket. I started out with a thin base layer under the C5 Gore-Tex Active in 8 degrees Celsius, with the forecast of higher temperature midday. This in fact proved to be the perfect setup for the day. Once out on the road I felt a bit chilly, but quickly warmed up, and was fully comfortable after about 10 minutes. As the jacket features a full membrane, ventilation was a crucial factor for all day comfort. If such a garment does not allow your body to “breathe” properly, you’ll literally drown in your own sweat. You’ll not only be uncomfortable, but feel much colder due to water’s dismal heat insulation. Here I experienced no such problems, this jacket can truly walk the tightrope in this respect. Even after a two hours of riding in rising temperatures, my base layer stayed mostly dry, getting only a little damp in places where I tend to sweat a lot. The fabric of the jacket was also dry on the inside. It’s really a wonder how the C5 Gore-Tex Active provides so much protection while allowing moisture to escape from inside.
Talking about safeguarding against the weather, I didn’t have a chance to ride in pouring rain, since we had no such meteorological condition in the weeks had this jacket. Nevertheless I tested its waterproofing qualities by standing under the shower which is actually a good imitation of the circumstances. It passed the test flawlessly, as not a single drop of water penetrated through the fabric, and the neck cuff also proved to be well sealed. This comes without much surprise since Gore products are known to offer supreme protection, but the real treat is how this is achieved while offering excellent ventilation – as we have discussed in the previous paragraph.
It performed admirably on my training rides, I felt no sweat buildup inside, even during high intensity sessions. I’m a rider who tends to overheat, so I wouldn’t wear the C5 Gore-Tex Active above 10 degrees, save for a massive downpour in warmer weather. Maybe it will be different for other riders with better heat tolerance and less sweat. On the other end of the temperature spectrum, my experience was that the jacket performs quite well below the recommended minimum by Gore, especially if the rider is wearing a winter-specific base layer. I was quite comfortable around freezing temperatures, I didn’t feel any cold at 2-3 degrees. This of course depends greatly on how well your body tolerates the cold, or how strenuous your ride is. During competitions this jacket might do just fine with just a thin base layer.
The moisture evaporation of the C5 Gore-Tex Active is phenomenal, this was the first jacket with which I had absolutely no issues with getting sweaty while riding. I tested in autumn weather and wintertime, when I generally never ride with outmost intensity on the bike – it’s just not that time of the year! So I decided to try something different: running! It was just to see how it performs when my body is doing some great efforts with very little wind to assist cooling. We tend to sweat more in such conditions, and I’m especially prone to this. I normally wear summer apparel during my autumn and winter run training. After the first meters it became clear that the C5 Gore-Tex Active is not a running jacket, since it has an awkward cut for upright body position. In any other jacket employing a membrane I would have been soaking in sweat after the first 10 minutes, but in this case the process was much slower. With a thin base layer underneath in 0 degree temperature I was quite comfortable for the complete hour, and since the undergarment did not became soaked, heat management was also well-controlled. At the end of the run my back was wet, so this is about the limit of what the C5 Gore-Tex Active can do in the way of moisture evaporation. During the run I pulled the zipper at the neck, but actually closed the vent near the end of training to avoid getting cold. Though it was a rather windy day I felt well-protected, much more than with any of my running thermos jerseys in these conditions.
Rainy and windy autumn or spring would be the ideal setting for this jersey. We have less of these in our neck of the woods than other parts of the world, but this does not mean that the C5 Gore-Tex Active would rest forever in the closet. I can imagine situations when the C5 would certainly come in handy, and might even save the day. For example during last year’s Szilvásvárad MTB Marathon the temperature was a mere 6 degrees with pouring rain. Half the riders gave up this important race since they didn’t have proper clothing for such weather conditions. They got “frostbite” riding downhill, when a jacket like this would have kept them dry and properly protected from the nasty conditions. The same is true for road riding in the high mountains, when it can get seriously cold, especially if the weather is also wet with clouds getting stuck in the middle of the high elevation points. The downhill sections in these conditions can be devastating to the cyclist. As a bonus, this jacket also enhances visibility, which is another common problem when cycling on the twisty mountains roads.
The Gore C5 Gore-Tex Active jacket is certainly not cheap. But for those who ride all year around in all weather conditions, it can certainly provide effective protection against rain and wind. On a fine day the bike and the components tend to influence the ride experience the most, but in harsh weather the cyclist’s apparel becomes the most significant piece of gear. Hence high performance clothing becomes essential, it determines how good you feel on the bike, how well you can ride – be it base training or just a cycling adventure to escape the confinement of indoors. So if you don’t want to freeze after 20 minutes, or soak in your own sweat after first big effort, you’ll be better off spending some extra money on quality clothes employing the latest fabric technology. These will serve for years, paying dividends in the long run. So the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Active is a worthwhile investment, especially as the American manufacturer’s products are renowned for their durability as well as their superiority in technology.
Recommended retail price: HUF 61,990
More information about the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Active here,
you can also find this model on the manufacturer’s international website.