Windproof and waterproof jackets – some first thoughts

My new Gore Phantom GWS Zip-Off Jacket arrived on Saturday, from the Cycle Surgery’s closing down sale (which is about the only time I could possibly afford to buy Gore clothing if I’m honest).

The jacket is made from Gore Windstopper™ fabric, in black and Hi-Vis yellow, which as you can see, is an absolutely wotsit to try and photograph with your phone.

The Hi-Vis back panel is not Windstopper and this allows for great ventilation, whilst the zip off sleeves (which leave a non-windstopper t-shirt length sleeve behind) mean the jacket has potential for all year round use.  Having a DWR coating means it should take a shower or two, but does fit nicely under a waterproof for that absolute downpour.  I live in Scotland, I have to think about these things.

There are three rear pockets like a cycling jersey, and two front hand warmer pockets.  By its design it does scream CYCLING JACKET at anyone, so it really is only suited to when you are on/with your bike.  This is its only disadvantage that I can see.

Cycling clothing, from my limited experience, comes up small and Gore clothing comes up smaller than most.  As a standard UK12 I find purchasing a L size a bit off-putting but then again, I am the only one who will see the label so it doesn’t really matter.

I could have got a M for a closer fit, and it would have been fine, but I wouldn’t have had so many options for what to put underneath it.  I like a little room for mid-ride cake expansion too.

Does it work?  Well, this is my initial impression from one cycle ride in what would be described as ‘windy with sunny spells and around 12C’, and I would say, yes it does.  I was warm but not hot, I didn’t feel sweaty when exerting myself up hills, or clammy when cooling down afterwards.  Breathable? Very.  Comfortable? Very.  Value for money? Well, that depends on your budget, the amount of cycling you’ll do in it, and what price you can get one for.

At RRP of £150 it’s not cheap.  Would I pay that?  Having now tried it out I probably would, if finances allowed, seriously consider it.  Time over wear and all that.  Having got in it the Cycle Surgery closing down sale for £65?  I got a blinder of a bargain!

What was not so much of a bargain, was the jacket I bought last week, and which will be going on eBay when we return to normality…

IMG_0850

Let me introduce the Endura Women’s Single Track Softshell.  In two tones of (shrink it and pink it) PINK.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed when it arrived.  It felt terribly thin, the underarm venting is a group of holes, and the waist is too small for the too big hips (on me anyway).  Described as ‘the ultimate hoodie’ I thought I’d give it a go in conditions that would normally result in me wearing exactly that – a hoodie.

I was cold, and clammy.  I was trying to work out how I could be freezing my arse off and sweating like a pig at the same time.  Perhaps it was just me, because not all fabrics work for all people.  The original 1980s Goretex didn’t work for me at all, for example.  I could still sweat like I was in a sauna in one, and it wasn’t until recently that I found newer Goretex had improved sufficiently for me to reconsider.

Generally speaking I love Endura stuff, their Hummvee 3/4 shorts are fantastic, and I wear their gloves routinely too.  But the jackets?  I just can’t get on with their jackets.  I have a Vi-Vis waterproof, the Luminite, and to me it’s a boil in the bag job.  It fits great (it’s a XS mens), and its really visible in all light conditions, but I don’t like wearing it because you might be waterproof from the elements but you’re still going to get wet.  I hoped being a windproof (but not a waterproof), it would be a little warmer than wearing just a waterproof is, but it’s not.  It’s too thin, and the zip baffle is useless.  I could feel a seam of cold right down my front.  I wish I’d listened to my suspicions when I unpacked it and sent it back.  Yes, it was in the sale, but it was still £38 I can’t afford to waste right now.

Oh, and this time the colour is better in the photo.

As you can see, I have now bought two Endura jackets that I’ve not been happy with.  The waterproof that boils you in a bag, and the windproof that isn’t very windproof but it’s very breathable either.

Both having to be replaced as fails, both costing me money I can’t afford.

This leads me onto my other bargain buy for this week (lockdown online shopping being lethal).  Again from Gore, this time in Goretex waterproof material and not screaming CYCLIST at people, I present to you the Women’s Element:IMG_0900

This one is the older version of the current model I believe, and I got this for an incredible £45 on eBay, new with original tags etc.

This is a £200 jacket!  It gets rave reviews from the cycling press, and although again you will probably need to size up if you want to get anything even the thickness of a thin fleece under it, it is quiet, and comfortable.

I have to add that it matches my Bern helmet perfectly in colour so I’m going to look very co-ordinated.  Very sad, I know.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak it took a long time for the delivery to reach me, and it’s not rained in the few days I’ve had it to give it the waterproof test, but with Gore’s reputation for breathable waterproofs, and also from my limited experience of their Phantom jacket, I hold out every hope that this will be the go to cycling waterproof from now on.

The old adage of getting what you pay for is certainly true, and although Gore stuff seems very (very) expensive, it does seem to live up to the hype.  Therefore, if you can get it at a bargain price for last years model or something, I would say it’s definitely worth trying.

Sorry Endura, you’re cheaper, and some of your stuff is really excellent, and I like supporting a Scottish business of course, but if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work.

Germany 2:0 Scotland on jackets.

 

2 thoughts on “Windproof and waterproof jackets – some first thoughts

  1. I bought a bright yellow Gore jacket and black waterproof overtrousers. The jacket has had loads of use, the trousers not so much but they came into their own in Iceland, where it rained a lot at times and I stayed completely dry. In late June max temps of 8C, and four seasons in one day.

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