Best rain jacket ever is a pretty bold statement. But in our many years of riding, few water-stopping tops equal the functionality and light weight of the Gore One Gore-Tex Active Jacket. The new-for-2016 fabric is all but impermeable to water, yet breathes remarkably well, and weighs about as much as a Clif Bar, while packing down to the size of a tennis ball.
Previous Gore-Tex cycling jackets employed a multi-layer design where the waterproof membrane resided between a breathable inner liner and more durable outer membrane. But that outer membrane required waterproofing, which would eventually wear off. With this jacket, the long lasting Gore-Tex membrane is the outer layer, meaning a permanent beading surface that requires little more than a shake to dry off. It’s a truly impressive piece.
Just try not to crash. Gore says it’s not designed for the rigors of high speed abrasion. So if you wear a pack all the time, best steer clear of this jacket, as the shoulder straps could do harm. But with the current prevalence of swat-style storage and fanny packs, we see a place for this jacket in the MTB world. Just know that MSRP is a wallet-soaking $299 and it doesn’t have a hood. More info at www.goreapparel.com.
If you’re a diehard pack user — and don’t have 300 bucks to spend on a rain jacket — Gore’s Rescue Windstopper Active Shell Jacket isn’t a bad plan B. Though still spendy at $200, this sharp looking hooded top is nearly as light, packs down small, and is more durable. Fused seams block the wind and repel water, yet it still breathes relatively well. Our only major knock, and it’ll be a deal breaker for some, is the lack of a full length zipper. My shoulders are narrow enough that it’s easy to slip on and off, but I witnessed a fellow (wider) cycling journo from another publication struggle like a toddler covered by a king size sheet when trying to pull it off during a test ride. Also know that the hood doesn’t fit over a cycling helmet. More info here.
For use rain or shine, we’ve been loving Gore’s Power Trail 2in1 Shorts, the “2” referring to the very comfortable sewn-in bibtights. Two zip pockets (one on the back, another on the left thigh) provide secure stash space, while the dual-snap fly keeps things closed up at the fly. Length is borderline for kneepads, but honestly we see these shorts more as a great choice for the KOM-chasing XC rider who doesn’t want to rock the Lycra look, nor sacrifice comfort and function.
Mesh bib construction helps keep you cool, while frictionless tape on the inside of the hem lessens the chance of chafe. Gore also gets props for using abrasion resistant material on the inner leg and saddle area, increasing durability. Price is $190. More info here.
Finally, we spent some time in the Power Trail Long Sleeve Jersey ($90, www.goreapparel.com). I’m not a fan of the look of this particular design, but it comes in three other more subdued color combos if pink+camo isn’t your thing either. Fabric is 100% polyester, there are reflective accents on the sleeves and back, and fit is on the slim side, meaning elbow pads are out.