Ed note: our East Coast Editor spent a New York Spring with Gore Wear.
Spring in New York State has always been odd—days alternate from dry and hot to rainy and cold multiple times in a day. Global climate change has added to the bi-polar nature of the season. And, this year it has been particularly cold and wet. Where I live, just north of New York City, we have had multiple overnight frost warnings since Easter.
I thought by now I’d have retired my winter riding gear, but weekdays seem to have the nicest weather (and the greatest number of Zoom calls) and the weekends have been rainy and cold.
Luckily, last season Gore Wear sent us some cold-weather riding gear. Spring has been letting me put a few hundred more miles into the products. Those few hundred miles have been a lot more comfortable because of the Gore products.
My box of review gear included a cycling-specific jacket and a pair of the company’s long bibs. Both of them made my rides more pleasant, and in some cases, allowed me to keep going when the weather turned nasty (or in some cases just stayed nasty), where I might have bailed in other gear.
A New York Spring with Gore Wear: Rain, Rain, Go Away
I’ve been riding with GoreTex clothing as long as I can remember, and have ridden in their clothing long before they made a cycling-specific line. One of their jackets kept me from freezing to death in Alaska when the weather turned from the forecast 60º and sunny to whiteout snow on The Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride. Their cycling caps have kept my head warm on rides across the globe and without their gloves, I’d likely have lost some fingers along the way.
Recently I’ve been riding with one of the company’s GTX PACLITE jackets. Also, a pair of their C3 Gore Windstopper Classic Thermal Bibs. While the jacket is a model that’s been replaced with a more refined version, the fit and finish are indicative of everything Gore Wear makes. It shows the refinement in the products designed for cyclists.
Fit and Finish
The 2020 Paclite has some features not found in the jacket I’ve been using since last fall. There’s a zippered pocket on the front and a more refined style. At its core, the jacket is the same.
I’ve owned countless “breathable” jackets that weren’t Gore Wear but really they’ve all ended up a sweat-filled mess. While there are a number of breathable fabrics on the market, most of them can’t keep up with the sweat production on a long ride, So they end up acting as a little microclimate. They trap perspiration and drop it back onto your body like a chilly rainforest.
Gore Wear is the only fabric I’ve worn that actually lives up to its claims, and that actually follows through on its wind-stopping ability as well.
I recently headed out on a day that was forecast to go from the low 50’s to the high 70’s, dressed from the waist up in a standard jersey and the Gore jacket, and (surprise surprise!) the temperatures never got above 55º. Typically a jacket and a jersey aren’t enough to keep from going hypothermic on a ride with temperatures that low—the sweat built up from exertion pools and cools and wicks away body heat. But with the Gore Wear jacket, I was able to keep going for hours.
I wear the jacket when headed out on non-cycling trips as well, and recently walked the half-mile to my son’s school in a downpour, and remained dry (well the upper half of me remained dry) and comfortable.
To check out the functionality of the Gore fabric, I did the same walk a few days later wearing a rain jacket from one of the more popular, fashionable brands, and while it kept the rain off of me, my clothes were damp from the trapped moisture.
In the winter I pair the jacket with a wool jersey, since wool doesn’t lose its insulating characteristics when wet, and the combination is a warm, comfortable ride. (I also cover my shoes in Gore shoe covers, as I tend to get chilly toes.)
The quality of manufacturing is pretty evident when looking at the jacket. On the outside, the jacket is smooth and nearly seamless, with weather-sealed zippers and smooth transitions from panel to panel. Flip the jacket over however and you can see the technology behind this seamless design. Each panel is thickly gusseted. If this were a bike frame, it would be a steel frame with precision welds from a master craftsman.
Put A Bib On
While the full-leg bibs Gore Wear sent aren’t currently available (the company stocks products seasonally) they’re identical in design to products like their C3/4 ¾ Bib Tights+, only longer. These unassuming and affordable bibs are clearly designed by cyclists, as they transform from “these are very uncomfortable tights” into “these are very comfortable tights” when you bend forward into a riding position. Too many bibs feel great when walking around but begin to bunch when in a riding position. I’ve had bibs that were two or three times the price of these Gore bibs, and the chamois rode up uncomfortably when bent in a standard riding position.
These bibs lack any high-concept distractions—there are no zippered pockets or places to stash your keys—but they fit, and they keep out the cold and let your legs breathe at the same time. They’re designed for fall and spring, so at temperatures below 40º you’ll want to add a layer under them, but they’re a great choice for days around 50º and above.
Gore Wear is clearly serious about cyclists, as the landing page looks like a cover photo from Bicycling Magazine, or, more accurately, like the home page of Rapha (three serious-looking men riding up a road with the ocean behind them). But the focus on cycling doesn’t end at the aspirational cover photos, it’s visible in all of the company’s cycling products. There are more than thirteen categories of cycling-specific products, from baselayers to bibs to jerseys.
The company also has a new line of women-specific products (here’s the video that announces the launch—turn on closed captioning as the video is in German) that they call GRL PCK. While I applaud the women-specific focus on design, I think that the choice of abbreviation to include “girl” is unfortunate. WMN or WYM would probably have been a better choice and more accurately reflected the target market without using a slightly dismissive term for serious women athletes. (After all, the men’s collection isn’t called BOY PCK.)
As Gore is based out of Germany, and there’s likely a bit of language barrier here, I’ll cut them some slack in the “woke” department, since the products look fantastic. There are no frilly flowers, bright pink jerseys, or pastel hues. Instead, the company’s existing products, just tailored for a different body type.
Gore Wear Information
There’s an infinite amount of bike clothing available for the avid cyclist, but there’s really only one brand of gear that lives up to the claim of blocking the wind while allowing for breathability. That’s Gore Wear. I enjoyed a New York Spring with Gore Wear.
Between the cycling-specific design, the high-end manufacturing, and the reasonable pricing, it’s hard to think of a more balanced and more effective choice for any weather fall or spring throws at you, and the company’s summer-specific lineup is equally adept.
Read about the latest from Gore in this post by Byron.…