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Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo winter cycling gloves review

The warmest five-finger glove that Gore has in its lineup, but is it warm enough for your riding?

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo Bike Gloves
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

The Gore Wear Gore-Tex C5 Thermo gloves feel really good to wear. The fit is great, you've got lots of dexterity, and the hard-wearing materials should see them last a long time. Use them in mild winter weather and you'll sing their praises.

For

  • - Excellent nose wipe area
  • - True to size with an excellent fit
  • - Retains a lot of dexterity
  • - High visibility option available

Against

  • - Lacks touchscreen compatibility
  • - No pull-tab

The Gore Wear glove lineup is a little bit confusing. We included the Windstopper Thermo Gloves in our list of the best winter cycling gloves, and we included the C5 Gore-Tex gloves in our coverage of the Gore cycling clothing range. Neither of those is the warmest option the brand offers though. 

If you are looking for the warmest option from the brand, you'll want to look at the Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Split Gloves. One problem though, Infinium is the non-waterproof version of the famous Gore-Tex membrane. That means the warmest gloves Gore Wear offers with a waterproof membrane is the C5 Gore-Tex Thermo glove. 

If you prefer a five-finger style glove for the coldest days, then this is the model for you among the Gore Wear options. To see how they perform, we've spent time with the C5 Gore-Tex Thermo glove riding through cold and wet weather and are ready to share the details. 

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo Bike Gloves detail of face wipe area

Everybody has to wipe their face when riding in the cold, and Gore Wear makes sure there is plenty of space to do it (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics

Part of what can be confusing with Gore Wear products in general, and specifically the gloves, is that there's a few different technologies that sound the same. Not only that but in recent years there's been some changes in the way Gore Wear discusses the technology. That means many retailers have yet to catch up and you can find mentions of the older names in older reviews or on retail sites. If you want a waterproof product from Gore Wear then you need to look for 'Gore-Tex,' the membrane technology that made the Gore Wear brand what it is today and it's both waterproof and breathable. 

You'll notice that part of the name of these Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves is that exact term: Gore-Tex. That means these gloves use a multi-layer approach including a completely waterproof liner that will not leak or wear out like DWR. It's actually backed by a guarantee stating just that, but it's buried in the layers of the glove, so don't expect to see it. 

The inner lining of the gloves uses a polyester fleece material. You'll recognize it from almost every glove on the market and there's nothing unique here. Outside of that layer is where you'll find the Gore-Tex membrane. The membrane uses an expanded PTFE (commonly called Teflon) layer with millions of tiny pores. The pores allow water vapour to exit but are too small to let in liquid water. The third layer is polyester insulation. Like the liner, it's similar to other gloves on the market. Primaloft is more common but the C5 Gore-Tex Thermo glove does a similar job without the need for any third-party branding. 

The final, outer surface is a hard-shell design commonly seen in a variety of cold weather jackets and gloves. It's durable and hard-wearing and covers the back of the hand. The outer surface works as a first layer of defence but isn't waterproof by itself. 

The top edge of the gloves, between the thumb and first finger, is where you'll find a synthetic suede. The inside of the thumb switches back to the same material as the back of the hand but at the top edge of the hand it's softer. If you need to wipe your face, this is your area to do it, and the amount of surface area devoted to this job exceeds most of the competition. 

For the palm, Gore Wear uses synthetic leather. It's an unusual choice as synthetic suede is more common and silicone grip material is typical. The Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves lack both and instead use a smooth leather-like texture. Lacking any touchscreen details, the only other details in the palm are very light foam padding in the ulnar nerve area and below the base of the knuckles. 

Move back to the cuff and you find a softshell construction. It's highly breathable and beautifully finished with a piece of fabric over the edge. The closure system uses a hook and loop flap with the type of modern design that's less likely to snag clothing. There's no pull tab for getting the gloves on but the finished edge hasn't shown any signs of wear during our testing, so we're confident it will hold up to a lot of abuse. 

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo Bike Gloves detail of finished edge of cuff

You won't find a pull tab but the finished edge of the cuff is strong enough that you shouldn't need one (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Performance

In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, we are famous for our rain. After a while, it feels a little unfair to judge every pair of gloves against sustained rain covering an entire eight-hour ride, but that's the reality of winter riding in my corner of the world. Against that measuring stick, the Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves are simultaneously remarkable and not. 

The Gore guarantee to keep you dry no matter what is at odds with any glove I've ever tested. It's even at odds with my experience with these particular gloves after testing them. I dug deep to figure out what was happening and what I found was a technicality that satisfies both sides. 

The Gore-Tex membrane is absolutely and totally waterproof. You can read about the Castelli or Gore Shakedry jackets to get our take on that in action but when you move the membrane to the outer layer, it's obvious how good it is. It's also fragile and can't stand up to the abuse a pair of gloves go through. To solve that part of the challenge Gore buries the membrane in the centre of the C5 Thermo gloves but that opens up a different challenge. 

With the Gore-Tex membrane sitting below the insulation and outer shell, those layers will soak through. That leaves you with a soaking wet glove that is also, technically speaking, completely waterproof. The promise is that your hand will stay dry, not that the glove will stay dry. 

When I test gloves, I have certain expectations. I expect that my hands will get wet eventually and so initially I felt like that was the same situation here. It's not helped by the fact that I was testing these near freezing and when it's raining hard, everything is wet. When the gloves get wet your hands get cold but does your skin actually get wet? 

The Gore promise is that your hands, in this case, do not get wet. I have no reason to doubt that but it might not really matter. If you take your hand out of a glove in the pouring rain, it will get wet. Also, when your glove is retaining water in temperatures near freezing, your hands will feel colder than is comfortable. There's still likely some advantage to the Gore approach in emergency situations. Just be aware, if you are using these in a ride that involves sustained rain you will still want to change them after an hour or two even if they are technically waterproof.

There is more to a glove design than wet weather performance though. Leaving that piece behind, the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves perform well in cold weather. Expect them to be comfortable for a day of riding anywhere from freezing, or a little below, all the way up to around 45F/7C. The challenge is that this is a highly competitive part of the market and there are a lot of options vying for attention here. The Sportful Sottozero gloves, POC Thermal gloves, Assos Ultraz winter gloves, Castelli Espresso GT gloves are all very similar. They all perform about the same and it ends up being about the small details.

With this glove from Gore Wear, the details add together for a particularly hard-wearing glove. If you are trying to figure out how to pick and choose with similar performance that's what makes these special. The outer materials will better resist abrasion and dirt compared to other options that use softer finishes. 

One point worth addressing is the palm design in these. The use of a synthetic that mimics leather, rather than suede, is part of that hard-wearing identity. It was a concern of mine that it would also prove to be slick against the controls. Although it's certainly less sticky than silicone, it actually ends up being about the same as suede and has never caused an issue. 

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo Bike Gloves detail of faux leather palm

The palm feels tougher than other gloves and despite the lack of silicone gripper, it's not slippery at the controls (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Verdict

The C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves fall into a class of gloves that's perfect for a lot of people. The lightweight insulation keeps them sleek, they fit incredibly well and there's tons of dexterity retained. Expect ideal temperatures to range from 5C/41F down as low as 0C/32F. A bit of rain won't be an issue but don't depend on them for more than a couple of hours in sustained heavy rain.

This option from Gore Wear stands out as a tough option that should continue to look great for a long time. No pull tab makes them a little bit harder to get on but the edge of the cuff is finished in a way that stands up to pulling against. The only mistake I think Gore has made is leaving off touchscreen functionality.

Tech Specs: Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Thermo Bike Gloves 

  • Price: £69.99 / $95 / €69.95
  • Available Colours: Black/Neon Yellow, Black
  • Available Sizes: XS-XXXL
  • Weight: 57g per glove, size medium

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