Gore Power Trail Jacket - Gore-Tex Active vs Windstopper (Thermium)
November 3rd, 2016
November 3rd, 2016
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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Gore have almost cornered the market on branded technical clothing with well-known windproof and waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex and Windstopper amidst their clothing range. Gore-Tex offers waterproofing, whereas Windstopper offers protection from windchill, so in good old Blighty, when the weather is all over the place, which do you choose? Well, let's look at the products individually first:
Power Trail Gore Windstopper Jacket (One Thermiun)
The Gore Power Trail Windstopper Jacket on test here is the ladies' option, which is a curvier cut than the mens' new One Gore Thermium, but is exactly the same. The jacket has a close fit with a high collar to engulf your body in protection. This jacket is constructed out of Gore's Windstopper® fabric, which is designed to maximise protection from wind, but the new Power Trail Windstopper Lady comes with PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Active. In test, the jacket looks pretty casual, and would easily double as a very technical pub jacket, but don't let the casual appearance fool you, this is quite a pleasure to ride in. As the jacket does not have any heavy waxes or coatings, it is far from stiff or restrictive, and was as freely moveable as a thick long sleeve jersey or fleece. There are pockets all over the place and a touch of reflective writing too, but not so much that it looks like a road worker's jacket. The addition of PrimaLoft Gold insulation means that the coat is rather toasty. I got very warm very quickly when riding, but I never found the jacket to get stuffy or clammy on the inside either, just very, very warm. The soft nature of the fabrics and inner lining meant that even when I worked up a proper sweat, moisture was wicked away into the jacket and I was never left facing that wet flappy feeling that can come from a single-layer jacket. So, even when damp on the inside, I certainly didn't feel cold or irritated. he real selling point of this jacket is that PrimaLoft is one of few insulated fibres that is itself water-repellant, and it manages to stay warm even when wet, unlike most other fabrics, including down. So combining this weather resistant warmth with protection from wind chill is the key aim of this jacket.
Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Jacket
The Gore-Tex jacket is a staple of Gore's Bike Wear collection. Being a coat made for an absolutely dry cycling experience, even in heavy rain, it's easy to understand why this is such a popular jacket. Gore-Tex is designed to be totally waterproof (not water-resistant; there's a difference) and also windproof. In my time, I have warn cheap walking coats, and expensive Gore-Tex jackets, and even when walking to the shops I notice the difference; the cheap ones let in cold wind and also cause a stuffy feeling from not being breathable. This is what you pay to avoid when you get a Gore-Tex garments. In test, Gore-Tex is certainly the gold standard of waterproofing and, if you've ever worn one of those plastic ponchos at a theme park, you'll be a good way to understanding why it's worth paying a touch extra for an item that you will actually be exercising in. No one likes that boil-in-a-bag feeling, or finding you're just as wet on the inside as you are on the outside from sweat. The Power Trail Gore-Tex Jacket is small and light; not pack-a-mac small, but packable enough to fit into a small backpack, and light enough to not make you think twice about bringing it or riding in it, though the real feature here is being able to watch water bead off of you. Pictured here is the Power Active Gore-Tex jacket. The Power Trail Gore-Tex Active jacket comes with a hood and a more relaxed aesthetic. New for 2016/17 is the Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Lady, which I'm delighted to now own, as it's a lovely fit for movement. I love how the hood sticks to the coat via magnets to stop it flapping in the wind or getting in the way. I also like that the cuffs extend on the outside of the wrists, and the neck zips right up over my chin and up to my lips to stop any water getting in anywhere.
Gore-Tex vs Windstopper
So, we've learned that Gore-Tex is lightweight, breathable, durable, waterproof and also windproof, so on paper it would seem an obvious choice over Windstoppper, which is all of the above, but with weaker waterproofing qualities. Yet, in test I know for sure that Windstopper's breathability far outweighs Gor-Tex, and this could be just as crucial to you on a ride than staying dry. So, in short, Gore-Tex is breathable, but not to the extent of Windstopper, and Windstopper is water-repellant, but not to the standard of Gore-Tex. Plus the PrimaLoft jacket comes with the added benefit of insulation that stays warm when wet. So, two great fabrics, two slightly different aims, but which do you choose?
Gore-Tex is breathable, but not to the extent of Windstopper, and Windstopper is water-repellant, but not to the standard of Gore-Tex
Well, surely you would have predicted this response, but, it really depends. If you prefer to stay dry and don't mind a little clamminess inside, then Gore-Tex is your bag, but if you prefer to stay warm and don't mind getting a little damp, then Windstopper is your thing. In an ideal world we would have both qualities, but obviously, Gore-Tex cannot be fully waterproof and still be as breathable as something that isn't, and Windstopper could not breath so well if it were waterproof, so it really is 'horses for courses', or in this case, jackets for cyclists. Over the years I've come to find that staying warm and breathable is the key to keeping up the energy and limiting irritations on long winter rides. Riding in the rain can be a pleasure, but only if I don't get cold, so that's what I try to avoid. I find waterproof stuff to be somewhat cold, especially if they are a single-layer garment, as they are only as warm as the lining or the undergarments we wear with them, and even then, regulation becomes hard. So I've become accustom to wearing clothing that doesn't repel water, but instead stays warm even when it is wet. It's this feeling that has catapulted PrimaLoft into many cycling garments recently. For long bike rides, warmth and freedom of movement is precious to me, however; on short commutes to the office, or for mucky mountain bike rides that need hosing off at the end of the day, I will reach for the Gore-Tex jacket and trousers every time.
The Power Active Gore-Tex Jacket (the green one on test) retails at £179.99 or £199.99 for the hooded Power Trail version. The Power Trail Lady Gore Windstopper (on test with PrimalLoft) retails at £224.99. The men's equivalent Power Trail Windstopper is £169.99 but comes with fleece lining, not insulation.