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Which Gore cycling clothing products should I buy this winter?

Gore winter cycling kit
(Image credit: Gore)

When the company changed from Gore Bikewear to Gore Wear, some of the Gore winter cycling kit range strayed a bit too far into all-purpose run/XC ski/bike territory and showing off new tech rather than targeting actual on-bike performance. The brand's winter cycling offering for 2021 is definitely more focused towards life in the saddle though, with both fresh designs and updates on favourite classics.

Gore has fully committed to its ‘Infinium' concept now, which essentially means it's letting itself mix up different fabrics and technologies from its various ranges so fully waterproof GoreTex now rubs seams with Windstopper or stretch jersey materials to create best-of-both-worlds wearable composites. Gore has also slimmed the range down from its previously vast panorama of similar garments and grouped sizing/styling into three main families: C7 for bony high-performance types, C5 for keen riders who want performance without having their occasional overeating moments punished and more relaxed C3 for riders who are as much about the mid-ride cake as the climbs either side.

Gore winter cycling kit

(Image credit: Gore)

Gore C7 Shakedry Stretch jacket

Gore’s ultimate protective performance fabric gets the fit it deserves

RRP £: £279.99 | Fabric: Gore-Tex Shake Dry

Fantastic breathability
Shake off waterproofing
Super packable
Excellent fit (finally)
Expensive
Very fragile

We’ve already covered the state of the art mix of the magical Shakedry laminate and snug-fitting waterproof stretch panels in our Gore C7 Shakedry Stretch jacket review, but it’s worth stating again that the exceptional breathability, rain shrugging inclement weather indifference, flap free fit and (finally) a useful rear pocket make it a benchmark foul-weather shell for those with a lot of otherwise miserable miles ahead. It will shred your wallet though and also shred itself just as easily if you so much as show it a shrub. 

Gore winter cycling kit

(Image credit: Gore)

Gore Phantom Jacket

Evergreen super versatile any ride, any weather favourite gets slight tweaks

RRP £: £149.99 | Fabric: Gore-Tex Windstopper mix

Excellent protection/ventilation fabric combo
Zip off sleeve versatility
Short sub sleeves are genius
Works for any riding genre
Arm release zips can be awkward to reach

We’re always worried when one of our wardrobe staples gets ‘improved’ but Gore hasn’t done anything drastic with the legendary uber-versatile Phantom converta-jacket. It’s still mostly Windstopper for gale and shower shrugging nonchalance, but the back of the sleeves and side panels are now a stretchier semi- mesh version that we first saw on the Windstopper Urban jacket a few years back. The back still uses two different jersey fabric weights for fast wicking while still keeping the triple pocket row (with small zipped pocket) stable when loaded. There’s an elasticated hem with inside gripper and external reflective details and there are reflective details on the pre-articulated sleeves. 

The sleeves are the real party trick of the Phantom too, zipping off (doing it yourself while still in the jacket is an acquired art) down each side to reveal short jersey sleeves that make it much more useable than just a gillet conversion. Partial unzipping creates very effective vents if you’ve not got warm enough to ditch the sleeves completely. That makes it super useable from breezy teen degrees down to freezing point in the wet or dry depending what base layer you wear (or don’t) underneath it. Cut is a versatile balance between close enough not to flap too much on the road bike but loose enough not to look weird for XC/Trail MTBing. It dries fast, cleans up really well and we’ve got decade-old versions that are still on duty regularly among our northern UK test team.

Gore winter cycling kit

(Image credit: Gore)

C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Jacket

Cosy steady-ride stalwart gets next level cut and fit

RRP £: £169.99 | Fabric: Gore-Tex Windstopper

Instantly warm
Decent showerproofing and temperature maintenance
Lovely fit detailing for draught free comfort
No back venting
Expensive

The new Thermo comes with the Infinium tag but it’s essentially a full Windstopper jacket with the wind and showerproof face fabric backed with a fast wicking and warm air-trapping fleece layer. That makes it great for steady-state rides whatever the weather and even in pouring rain you’ll stay warm, even if the jacket is soaked.

The sculpted shoulders give a great fit in the drops or on the tops even with limited fabric stretch and the panels extend right up into the tall neck. The collar and cuffs are finished with sculpted ‘neoprene’ style fabric for draught and drip exclusion and the whole jacket feels super snug straight away. The lower sides, hem and cuffs get a reflective print for safety and there’s a reflective logo across the weatherproof beard guard and pull-tabbed front zip. It comes in neon yellow or more subdued black or dark navy blue and the C5 cut means it’s more tolerant of cafe stops than C7 jackets. A classic three rear pocket arrangement with zipped extra pocket means plenty of cargo room for self-supported rides but the full Windstopper back can make it hot if you push the pace or hit the hills.  

Gore winter cycling kit

(Image credit: Gore)

C5 Thermo bib tights+

Extra spray and wind protection without compromising mobility or fit

RRP £: £119.99 | Fabric: Partial Gore-Tex Windstopper

Key area protection
Excellent multi panel fit
Quality pad
Lots of similar options
Relatively high price

If you’re looking for a Goldilocks blend of weather/cold protection without restricting movement or fit then Gore’s C5 Thermo bib tights+ have to be in with a good shout. Previous Windstopper heavy tights have created awkward fit issues for some of the weirder legged testers in our team. The C5 Thermo’s limit the less stretchy Windstopper panels to just the two backside pieces and an internal cup above the pad. That significantly reduces misery from rear wheel spray and cold air focused on your nethers while still allowing full mobility with no creep in or out of the saddle. The stretchy thermal fabric is usefully cosy without being aggressively hot and it stays that way even when wet, although a DWR water-resistant treatment slows down soaking pretty well anyway. 

There’s enough stretch to pull on easily even with ankle zips, but you do get contrast colour darts with reflective detailing for a snug, overshoe friendly fit. Mesh bib straps keep the straight waist riding at the right height and while not many people will ever see them the coloured and patterned straps make it easy to spot them in your kit drawer/laundry pile. You can get the C3 Thermo Bib Tight+ in a slightly baggier cut without the Windstopper back panels and just the front cup for £89.99 as well as mostly- or partial-Windstopper versions in C3 and C7.

Gore winter cycling kit

(Image credit: Gore)

Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Mid Gloves

Useful intermediate weather gloves

RRP: £42.99 | Fabric: Partial Gore-Tex Windstopper

Close stretchy fit
Sticky grip and strategic reinforcing
Limited warmth and weather protection
Not cheap

There’s no actual Gore-Tex in play here but using a mix of stretch Windstopper fabrics with a lightly furry inside face keeps the worst of the weather off and keeps them comfortable on single-digit temperature days. A bit of fabric stretch combined with an accurate pre-formed cut keeps them very snug fitting too so there are no flappy fingers to get trapped in shifters. The silicone palm and finger prints add wet or dry grip, index finger and thumb are touchscreen-friendly and the thumb junction is reinforced for long days on the hoods. 

The extended cuff connects well to sleeves, they dry fast and weigh nothing for just-in-case back pocket stowing. You’ll want something thicker if it’s getting towards frost point though and make sure you don’t get the slightly cheaper Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Gloves (no ‘Mid’ is the giveaway) as they’re treacherously gripless unless you’re using silicone bar tape. There’s also the C3 Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Mid Gloves which have a small palm pad and reinforcing patches but they have less silicon gripper so we reckon the standard Stretch Mid gloves are the sweet spot.

Talking Gore

Gore-Tex obviously has a very strong household brand name and it protects that with a very specific language. Here are translations of the keywords you need to know when navigating the range.

Gore-Tex Active

Extremely fast breathing and light but with a <40 denier fabric that’s very durable. The inner backer textile is laminated into the Gore-Tex membrane for a quieter, softer feel too.

Gore-Tex Paclite

Unsurprisingly Paclite is designed to pack down small and light. It’s durably waterproof and very breathable but has a carbon inner face rather than a fabric backer so it feels more plasticky against the skin.

Gore-Tex Shakedry

Shakedry is an incredible fabric that basically leaves the Gore-Tex membrane fully exposed so water just rolls off, it breathes amazingly well and it’s as thin and light as bin bag material so it packs to nothing. It is very fragile in terms of tearing or wearing out under bags though which is why we don’t recommend Shakedry for MTB. It's ace for the road though.

Windstopper

Rather than using a Gore-Tex membrane sandwich, Windstopper uses a ‘Durable Water Resistant’ surface treatment. That means it’s not waterproof but it slows down moisture enough to be comfortable however wet it gets. It breathes super fast and there’s more insulation than a fully waterproof Gore-Tex shell jacket so it’s more versatile, particularly for riders who work hard and get hot. There are different weights of Windstopper from thin, max performance to thicker and cosier so make sure you pick the right one.

Infinium

Confusingly this isn’t actually a fabric but basically a change in Gore philosophy. Previously the company would never mix fabrics in a garment, they had to be either entirely one sort of Gore-Tex fabric or Windstopper so buyers knew exactly what they were getting. The idea behind Infinium garments is that they pick and mix fabrics from the whole cloth collection to create ‘best of both’ results. However, while there are some good examples on the MTB side, the Infinium road gloves we’ve used are cold, slippery and a bit disappointing to be honest. To add confusion, some of the older mixed fabric pieces like the C7 Pro Bibtights are still called ‘Partial Gore Windstopper’ which is actually a lot more self-explanatory than ‘Infinium’.

Support and ethics

All full Gore-Tex fabrics are covered by Gore’s 'Guaranteed to keep you dry' program under which it states: "If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness or breathability of your product, then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price.” There are repair centres in most countries, too.

Gore guarantees all its fabrics meet the BLUESIGN sustainability standards and its manufacturing complies with Fair Labor Association guidelines. It is aiming to remove ‘PFCs of Environmental Concern’ from its range by 2023.