Most cycling jackets are OK, just OK, if it rains they keep the worst out,
if it’s warm they tend to breath OK but you’ll sweat a decent bit, but they do a job on the local trails. However when bike packing you’ll go to remote wilder places and those environments demand the same standards as other mountain sports. A few years ago after many seasons of splitboard touring I finally learnt that Gore-Tex was the only way to guarantee both total waterproofing and awesome breath-ability. I tried various other in-house membranes from respected brands, but none lasted or performed as well. This translates over to biking but bikers it seems are slower to catch on to the need for top performance against the elements. In ski sports we expect to pay up to £400 for a high end jacket good quality jacket. For biking we expect to spend much less, Why?
I have been testing out the POWER TRAIL GORE-TEX® Active Jacket from Gore Bike Wear. Retails for respectable £199. Over the last few months I have taken it to 4 different Scottish Islands on bikepacking trips. Tested it in the snow and rain 300 miles into the Arctic circle for a week and used it for commuting to work. I don’t write reviews lightly!
Being tall and skinny I need a slim and long jacket. Few brands cater for this shape despite many cyclists fitting this description. This jacket is better than most, it is a good length especially at the back. It’s not a tight race fit but it’s still shaped for optimal comfort in a riding position and you can feel this because when you stand up the chest gets a bit tighter – the sign of a good bike fit in my eyes.
The long back is long enough to cover my ass from wheel spray and keep the worst out.
Gore make top quality kit and this is no exception. As I’ve said already the Gore-Tex Active membrane is the best out there for breath-ability and long lasting waterproofing. The water repellancy on the outer fabric did start to fade after a bit of muddy riding and regular use with rucksack straps but this doesn’t affect the membrane and waterproofing. It’s just less beading and is still better than non Gore Tex jackets I own.
I like the zip, a simple thing but so many brands get this wrong, it isn’t one of those skinny waterproof zips that bung up with muck or just break easily. It’s a wide, tough good quality zip with a wide storm flat inside that should last years.
Stitching and sealing all looks like it should do and there is minimal signs of wear on mine after a couple of month’s solid use.
It has withstood terroential and persistent rain in Scotland and kept me dry, in the recent warmer weather I have used it in Italy and the breath-ability was surprisingly good even having used Gore-Tex Active before, I have kept it on when I might have opted for a windproof option previously.
Marion was waiting on a new jacket so she borrowed it when we went Splitboard touring in Norway a good test as it’s freezing cold in the wind but you work seriously hard and steam up in a poor jacket. Mine was a little big for her but she loved how light and breathable it was:
The jacket is not ridiculously light but it’s pretty good, Gore have cut out anything unnecessary, e.g. hand pockets are gone to save weight and bulk. A chest zip pocket and a cuff pocket for keys are all it has and this is all you need on the bike. The cuffs are adjustable as is the hem. The hood is essential for bikepacking trips and this one fits under a helmet with minimal effort but still has an effective peak.
A bit of reflective detailing means you can be seen on the road but it’s not a big feature on the jacket.
This review is pretty straight forward it’s probably the best bikepacking jacket out there if you’re likely to encounter a decent amount of rain and want a light well thought out, well fitting jacket.
Yes there’s cheaper waterproof bike jackets out there but this really is the best about and at £199 it’s not a bad price especially when compared to hiking or ski jacket equivalents. It will be the first item in my bag for all my overnight Scottish trips.
It’s currently pretty reduced to buy here too: Click Here