Gore Pro Jacket
Gore invented the breathable, three-layer sandwich that quickly became the basis for nearly all waterproof performance gear. For those not up to speed on the concept, a thin layer of porous foam is bonded between two layers of fabric. The holes in the sandwich layer are small enough to allow water vapor to pass through, but not water in liquid form. Jackets made from the stuff can keep a sweaty athlete dry inside, while managing to ward off the elements from the outside.
Exactly how and from what the Gore-Tex composite layers are constructed has a lot to do with how well the garment will perform that magic. Today's review item: the One Gore-Tex Pro Jacket, is built from that brand's elite level material by the same name, and constructed using every trick in the foul-weather handbook. It's available in black only and in small, medium, large, X-large and double-X, with a wallet-blistering MSRP of $500 USD.
Construction Pro Jacket Details:
• Gore-Tex Pro laminate: waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable
• Polyamide fabric outer layer for durability
• Two front zip-pockets
• Fold-away drop tail
• Reflective elements on hood and sleeves
• Adjustable cuffs
• Dual=adjustable hood
• Two side-zip ventilation openings
• Fleece-lined, high collar
• Napoleon phone pocket with zip
• Black only, in sizes: small, medium, large, X and XX-large
• MSRP: $500 USD
• Contact: Gore Apparel
From the outside, Gore's showcase jacket looks simple - almost plain - but inspect the inside of the garment and you will see how well it has been constructed and marvel at its impeccable detail work. The taped seams, sealed zipper treatments and shock-cord hood and waist adjustments are so accurately applied that they appear to be graphic treatments, and everywhere there might be a wear point or a buildup of stress, you'll find a bar-tack or a reinforcement patch.
This jacket is designed as an outer layer to ward off rain and snow and as such, has no insulation. The outer fabric is a Polyamide (the generic name for Nylon) material crafted to resist abrasion and treated to bead off water. The rear panel of the jacket is dropped slightly and inside, there is a snap-up flap that extends the back by another three inches (75mm). The non-detachable hood has a reflective visor, and is designed to fit under a helmet. The hood can be adjusted independently from each side with small shock-cord draw-strings to maximize peripheral vision. The shock cord waist adjustments are inside the zip side pockets and both the hood and waist cords are designed so that they cannot be pulled through, either by errant use or a persistent washing machine.
The zip-up turtle-neck has a comfortable, velvet-like material inside and a waterproof outer. It is tall enough to hide under a full-face helmet to keep water from dribbling down your neck, and also to insulate it from any contact from the flapping hood when that is not deployed.
Should you produce more moisture than the Gore-Tex Pro material can expel, or simply need to reduce the temperature inside the jacket, two large side zippers are placed where the open panels will deflect wind-blown rain or snow, while maximizing ventilation. In theory, the breathable Gore-Tex material that the jacket is made from would provide more than adequate moisture control, leaving the vents to function as temperature regulators. If more ventilation is needed, however, the jacket's main zipper has two pulls to direct air from above or below the front panels.
Gore's designers minimized the external features to the essentials, with two side zip-pockets and a convenient phone pocket that is protected by a flap mid-way down the jacket's front zipper. The fit is listed as "comfort" - a looser cut than what you'll find on, say, a racing jacket - but it is
tailored for elite-level athletes and thus, may be a tighter fit for North American riders who tend to be chubbier than their European counterparts. Gore officials say that the fit is designed to be looser than a road or a cross-country racing jacket, but it is intended to be on the snug side to assist the transfer of moisture from the inner garment through the Gore-Tex barrier. Ride Report
I had the opportunity to review the jacket without any preconceptions. A friend was in town. A winter storm was raging, I had committed to a long ride in the mountains, and there was no alternative date. Both of my go-to jackets were unavailable, so I opened my drawer of review items, grabbed the first jacket I found, ripped it from its plastic sheath and threw it into my gear bag.
We started in blowing rain and snow, descended a thousand meters with a few extended climbs tossed in to keep us honest, and through it all, I was never out of my comfort zone. I opened the side vents on one of the first climbs and left them open for much of the splash-fest, which should have drenched my base-layer - but my core stayed dry from beginning to end. I never overheated - which was a first for me. I was drenched to the bone everywhere else, but when I removed the jacket, my base layers were dry.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once and a while. I could have been lucky that day and worn exactly the right combinations of base-layers under a mediocre rain jacket. Successive storms and abnormally low temperatures for California, however, afforded me the opportunity to try the jacket in a wider range of conditions - all of which ended with similar results. Impressed and curious, I looked up the jacket on the Gore web page and was not all that surprised to discover I had been wearing their five-hundred-dollar flagship rain jacket.
Technically, I found little to complain about. I would not have chosen a jacket with a non-detachable hood, and I prefer the hood to fit over my helmet. The Pro jacket's extended "turtle neck," however, eliminated any sensation that the hood was back there and over time, I came to appreciate wearing the hood under my helmet. Wearing the hood on the outside often creates scoops on either side of my neck that funnel frigid air towards my ears. The Gore jacket didn't do that. I liked the simplicity of the elastic draw strings at the hood and waist, but I found it difficult at times to operate the hood's hidden, cord-release tabs (they are concealed between two layers of fabric) with numb fingers. I liked the jacket's more tailored fit. I wear medium everything and the medium size moved well, both while I was climbing and when I was pushing my luck on the descents. Considering its sticker price, I would still advise non-professional athletes to try before they buy.Pinkbike's Take:
|I won't lie to you. Five hundred bucks is a lot to pay for a rain jacket. That said, I was discussing the Pro jacket with a friend who designed climbing gear. He said that, 'all the top brands make one cost-is-no-object jacket to show their stuff. They don't sell a lot of them, but as you discovered: when you use the best materials and construction techniques, the end product is pretty damn awesome.' That sums it up for me. - RC|