A couple of our crew wear Gore bibs and jerseys and this year, Greg Gentle and I are working together on a review of the new Winter line. We published a first look at the lineup here and I interviewed Amy Evans from GORE® WEAR here. I have to say that the new generation of fabrics that we get to review continues to improve when compared to winter ride gear from just five years ago. GoreTex Infinium takes breathability to the next level.
Gore-Tex Infinium Phantom Jacket
This is the piece of new kit that I’ve been testing that has blown me away. The Phantom Jacket blurs the lines between Jersey/Mid-Layer/Jacket. The piece feels and weighs like a mid-layer. It’s totally windproof so it can act as both a mid-layer and shell down to about 25 degrees. The remarkable thing about the Infinium fabric is how it breaths. This might sound weird, but the phantom doesn’t keep me warm. However, it continuously keeps me cool and comfortable, regardless of how many watts that I’m cranking out on the pedals. I just don’t seem to overheat and within 25-40 degrees, I don’t get cold. The Infinium fabric does all of this with very little bulk.
The Phantom isn’t a waterproof shell. So if it’s raining or snowing heavily, you would need to add a waterproof breathable shell. But for all your other time in the saddle, the phantom is a great way to stay comfortable while you’re cranking out the miles. A couple of seasons back, I gave up on wearing shells because of overheating and moisture management. I switched to merino wool or Windstopper Fleece as my outer-layer. There are times with that set-up, where I wished that I had worn a shell. The Phantom Jacket seems to be that perfect hybrid that breaths extremely well and blocks the wind like some sort of climate-controlled force field. In colder temps, I try to carry a hooded puffy jacket for long stops or emergencies. The temp ratings that I mention (above) reflect time spent turning the pedals. If you want to stop for a beverage or fix a flat, I think you would get cold in just a base layer and the phantom (at say 27 degrees F with gusty winds under a steel-gray sky). That’s where a stuffable puffy jacket comes in handy. I frequently get asked what I carry in my ubiquitous big fat frame bag – Tools-Tube-Pump-Puffy Jacket-Gloves-Hat
The sleeves zip off of the Phantom Jacket and reveal a short-sleeved jersey. I haven’t had a situation where I’ve wanted or needed to make that change mid-ride but I can imagine that happening when things start to get towards spring. The zip-off sleeves also build a lot of functionality for multi day trips. Because the jacket can convert to a short-sleeved jersey the phantom can handle temps from 25-65 F. And it does all of that with the bulk of a mid-layer. I can’t say enough good things about this piece. I think it’s the ‘Crown Jewel’ of all of the Gore Wear that we’re reviewing.
I can’t do a review of the Phantom Jacket without mentioning the snug athletic fit. If you like your apparel a little baggy, you should probably stop reading and go for a bike ride. If you like to gear up, somewhat like a superhero when you go for a ride and appreciate the benefits of both comfort and a slightly more aerodynamic silhouette – please read on. The jacket fits true to size. I tested a size L and in general at 5’11” – 185lbs, I wear a size Large in US sized bike gear and an XL in European brands. I really don’t know how many gnomes to award the Phantom Jacket, because it’s such a unique convertible piece of cycling apparel. (dramatic pause) The Phantom knows…(insert diabolical laughter)
C5 Thermo Bib Tights+
The C5 Thermo Bib Tights+ are the second pair of Gore winter tights that I’ve reviewed. These tights feature DWR (Durably Water Repellant) and WINDSTOPPER® fabric in the crotch area to shield from cold and road spray while insulating and supporting all of the essential motor components.
I used to wear knickers and tall socks and I have to say that I like full-length tights better. It makes the sock situation so much easier. The C5 chamois is nice and comfy. I’d pick these tights for a century ride. One of my favorite features of the Gore bibs that I’ve tested is the straps. The C5 Thermo Bibs rock an updated shoulder strap that is made with a more structured mesh material that replaces the seamless tubular lycra straps of the previous generation. I like the new straps. They added just the right amount of structure without sacrificing comfort.
I wear these with an outer pair of ride shorts down to 35 F. In temps below freezing, I’d add a Softshell Layer and that’s good down to the single digits. I really like Gore bibs. My favorite pair of ride shorts are Gore C7 Two in One Bibs and now my favorite pair of winter bibs are these C5 Thermo Bib Tights+. I used to wear a lot of Pearl Izumi bike apparel and I think that Gore has taken over that part of my closet. These things have been through dozens of laundry cycles. (machine wash and hang dry) and still, look new. They get all five gnomes – in my book.
C5 Thermal LS Jersey – by Greg Gentle
I’ve been a fan of GORE Wear’s products over the years, so it comes as no surprise that the C7 Thermal Jersey quickly made it into heavy rotation for my winter riding this year. I should point out that the fit of this jersey is firmly in the “fit” category. If you lean towards the Clydesdale end of the fitting spectrum the C7 Thermal might not be right for you. Sizing runs a little small in GORE Wear. I typically wear Medium jerseys, but I have to size up in GORE products. Keep that in mind if you make a purchase. I personally like the snug fit, but I found the front to be very short in comparison to my other winter jerseys.
The ultra-light weight, fleece lined fabric partners well with a base layer and vest for 40F degree days. Add a shell over that combo and you are good for temperatures down to 10F degrees. The backside of the jersey includes three pockets and a side zip stash pocket that are easy to access. The C7 Thermal Jersey checks a number of boxes for me: good fit, good thermals, good fit, good price. If you’re looking to add to your cold weather collection, I would give the C7 Thermal strong consideration.
Gore Windstopper Base Layer – by gomez
The Gore Windstopper Base Layer has found a permanent place in my base layer drawer. Couple one of these with a Gore Jersey and the Phantom Jacket and you have a thin set of windproof breathable armor that will take you comfortably down to 25 F with 20 mph whip & chill. I really appreciates the tailored cut of this (IMHO) what I considers to be the pinnacle of hi-tech t’s. It’s kind of got that tunic of Spartacus thing goin’z for it. I add some wool arm warmers to this piece sometimes to gets a long-sleeved vibe going. (a quick ode to Squirrely Dan). Attention to detail, cutting edge fabric science, and quality manufacturing are some of the hallmarks of Gore Wear.
That’s our review of the The Gore Wear C5 Collection. At this juncture, I’d like to offer a friendly reminder that you can always wear the Gore hi-tech fabrics under a wool lumberjack shirt/jack so you’s don’t look like some kind of a gosh darn roadie, and yet…still reap the benefits of Gore-Tex Infinium. But (to be fair) you might want to seriously take stock of your life, if you’re looking to this short-haired, riding gnome for style pointers. ¡Felices Caminos Amigos!