Shoulder Covers for Shoulder Season by Greg Gentle

Shoulder Covers for Shoulder Season

There is nothing worse than being under dressed for a long day in the saddle.  It is often the defining factor whether you’re going to enjoy the day or not. Last month I presented you with a few options to keep your lower half high and dry during the shoulder season.  This week I have a couple of options to consider for keeping your upper half warm and dry. In the past few months, I’ve been wearing and testing out two jackets from GORE WEAR and Showers Pass. Here are the details.

GORE WEAR-C5 GORE-TEX Trail Hooded Jacket ($280)

First up we have the C5 GORE-TEX Trail Hooded Jacket from GORE WEAR. The $280 hooded C5 Trail Jacket is one of GORE’s premier packable foul weather offerings.  The C5 Trail is suitable for multi-sports but is truly designed for mountain biking.

The GORE-TEX PACLITE fabric is made with a number of high-tech features that will keep you dry under the most demanding conditions.  The C5 Trail is made with a Gore-Tex inner membrane designed with billions of tiny pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. This translates to an ultra-efficient performance fabric. Of equal importance is the fabrics ability to breath so you’re not streaming on the inside while it is raining outside.  I rode this jacket throughout the late spring and fall wet seasons and found it to perform as advertised. Water shed off consistently keeping me dry and did not leave me feeling sweat soaked like some jackets. 

What I like about the C5 Trail jacket is the “regular” fit and thoughtfully designed features. It is designed for mountain bike riders so it fits accordingly. This jacket is incredibly light at 8.5 ounces and is extremely packable. When I had to get my gear together for a four-day bike packing trip last summer, the C5 Trail jacket was the first thing I grabbed because I knew it would pack down well. The hood is designed to accommodate a helmet, but not so big that it buries your head if you’re not wearing one. The sleeves are cut with a longer tab across the top of your wrist to keep water from sneaking in and the tail is generously cut to give you some extra splash cover for your backside. The C5 jacket is available in new colors season (Fireball Red/Gray, Orbit Blue/Gray, Black/Gray. They do not offer it in the Yellow/Gray combination I am testing which is too bad because I like the added visibility it provides.

Additional features:

  • GORE-TEX PACLITE® Plus product: extremely breathable, ultralight and packable while durably waterproof, windproof and robust
  • GORE-TEX Active material on torso, hood and arms for max breathability
  • Fully taped seams for added rain protection
  • Rugged and robust jacket with a mountain bike specific cut
  • Adjustable hood with built-in visor and cord-stopper adjustment
  • Dropped tail for splash protection
  • Waist hem adjustment with drawcord
  • Seam placement designed to work with backpack
  • Napoleon pocket with zip
  • Full length zip with under flap and zipper garage
  • Reflective details

If I have any complaints of the C5 Trail Jacket is that the fabric is noisy when you’re moving. However, the outstanding weather protection and light weight put that concern to rest.

Recommended Use: Mountain Biking, Bike Packing, Hiking, Snowshoeing (late season)

Showers Pass: Cloudburst Jacket ($189)  

Next up we have the Cloudburst Jacket from our friends at Showers Pass. Let’s face it, located in the Pacific Northwest, Showers Pass knows a thing or two about in climate weather. Portland’s annual rainfall is about 43 inches. You need gear that holds up to the torrent.  

New to the Showers Pass lineup, the Cloud Burst introduces a revolutionary new eliteAIR™ fabric technology. Soft and flexible, the fabric has a whopping 43K breathability raising the bar for waterproof protection.   Product designer, George Dolak, describes it this way, “Our new fabric had to offer total freedom of movement with no restrictions, while utilizing fully seam-sealed construction for protection against wind and rain.”

The Cloudburst Jacket is soft and very comfortable. The fabric is significant departure from anything I’ve seen or worn. With that said, this jacket does not share the same fit and features of most cycling specific jackets. The sleeves are not quite long enough to provide full cover while reaching for the brake levers like other jacket in this feature. The back features a single zippered pocket for storing a few items, but it is too big to contain a few small items. I found myself fumbling around trying grab a Gu packet during a test ride. While the jacket can be stuffed away in the rear pocket, I prefer a smaller pocket on the back or multiple pockets to keep things sorted out. The Cloudburst Jacket is available in Mandarin Orange and Titanium Gray.

Product Details:

  • 3-layer eliteAIR™ fabric 43,000 breathable / 10,200 waterproof (gsm/24hr / mmH20)
  • 4-way stretch fabric is soft to the touch inside and out and moves with your body
  • Fully taped seam
  • Low profile front zipper with storm flap
  • Reflective trim
  • Large core vents double as mesh pockets
  • Partially elasticized cuff for a sleek trim fit
  • Large back pocket
  • Jacket packs down to fit inside back pocket
  • Double cinch cord at hem for a custom fit
  • Soft moisture-wicking lining at collar
  • Trim tailored fit
  • Weight:8.1 oz (medium)

The fit, features, performance, and craftsmanship on this jacket is excellent. I like the subtle design. You can easily wear this jacket around town on drippy days without announcing your allegiance to the bike culture. Like the GORE C5 Trail jacket, the Cloudburst is very light at 8.1 oz. Yet for the money, I can’t recommend this one for riding. Yes-It will keep you protected from the elements, but I think there are better options out there if you’re looking for a bike specific jacket for the shoulder season.

Recommended Use: Running, hiking, XC Skiing (late season)

The Final Word

Both of these jackets come from highly reputable names. Showers Pass and GORE WEAR know their stuff. The Cloudburst is a really nice jacket, but it is better suited for runners. I can’t recommend it for riding. Between the two, the C5 Trail jacket is a much better choice for shoulder season cycling.

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Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.