As the end of National Cycling Jacket month at the Gear Gals draws to a close, so, too does the milder weather. The Gore ELEMENT WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell hoody ($199.99) is a cold-weather cycling jacket that effectively repels wind – any kind of wind it seems. Even the mighty 31-mpg wind gusts of November.
What I like
- Damn sexy fit
- Totally windproof
- Thumb loops on the sleeves
- Deep, secure front pockets
- Gratuitous hood
- No zippered chest pocket w/ cord port*
*It’s sad when this is the only thing I can ding on this jacket.
Weather resistance: It’s a heavier stretch soft-shell that works amazingly well in heavy wind. It is snow-resistant and water-resistant and will keep you dry in a drizzle but not a rainstorm.
Breathability: The Gore ELEMENT WINDSTOPPER® WS hoody contains a fleecy mesh weave inner lining throughout the entire jacket allows a degree of sweat and moisture to escape. I did work up a sweat in this jacket on that day that it was only 42 degrees and I was wearing a heavy baselayer. But I wasn’t uncomfortable (much).
Functionality: This was a category that I assigned myself at the onslaught of November when I was focusing on convertible cycling jackets for National Cycling Jacket month. Gore sent this one by mistake and told me to keep it and review it – “You live in Minneapolis – surely you can find a use for it??”
If that isn’t the d’uh heard ‘round the world I don’t know what is.
So, it isn’t convertible, the sleeves don’t zip off. But this is a WARM cycling jacket and a pleasure to wear. It’s warm, snuggly, cuddly and keeps the November gales from penetrating.
Fit/Comfort/Warmth: There are three layers at work on this jacket. The inner layer is warm and soft and lined with a breathable soft fleece. The middle layer is the WINDSTOPPER membrane and the outer stretchy soft-shell layer snow- and water-resistant. I hope they’re correct about the snow-resistant part.
I tested the Gore ELEMENT WINDSTOPPER® WS hoody on a variety of days with a variety of baselayers:
Test day 1:
- Temperature: 30 degrees
- Wind: Gusting at 26 mph from the west
- Baselayer: Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool LS
- Verdict: No overheating, no sweating, didn’t feel the wind through the jacket. In fact, the only way I knew I was riding in heavy wind gusts was because I was fighting to keep my bike upright.
Test day 2:
- Temperature: 32 degrees
- Wind: Gusting at 31 mph from the northwest
- Baselayer: Icebreaker Zone
- Verdict: I was warmer with the Zone because it’s a heavier-grade Merino wool and did manage to sweat a bit. Still didn’t feel the wind through the jacket. But I did learn that it’s a world of shit to pedal into a 31 mph wind gust up a hill for 5 miles.
Test day 3:
- Temperature: 43 degrees
- Wind: Gusting at 9 mph from…somewhere. (I didn’t capture that detail in my little test notebook)
- Baselayer: Kari Traa ST Jerna LS
- Verdict: Gasp, pant, dying of warmth. I roasted this day. There was no wind, either. Which I knew. But I had to continue the testing cycle.
Test day 4:
- Temperature: 41 degrees
- Wind: Gusting at 18 mph from the northwest
- Baselayer: Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool LS
- Verdict: Much more comfortable thanks to the lighter baselayer.
As you can see, I tested the jacket with three different baselayers to find the best fit with the best weight for the temperature. Results were all over the board for comfort-level and the jacket worked great with the entire range of baselayer weights.
Arm-length is great, the elastic sleeve cuff with thumb holes are a nice touch if you’re not wearing gloves, and the back is long enough to provide coverage – barely.
Packability: Another left-over category from the convertible cycling jacket phase I was in. LOL. This jacket isn’t the least bit packable or stowable!
Reflectivity: Has some nice reflective swirls and piping but nothing that screams, “Look at me! I’m a cyclist! Don’t run me over!” But with some additional creativity on doll’ing up your bike with lights and reflectors you’ll be fine.
Final thoughts: I love this jacket. I just love it. It is a heavy-duty, warm and windproof winter cycling jacket for those who live in colder climates. It’s a Gore, so I’m not surprised. They have this cycling jackets for shitty weather and climates down to a science.
The coldest temperature that I tested this in was 31 degrees with gusting 26 mph winds. It owned the frigid wind gusts. The real test of this jacket’s mettle will be in January when the temperatures plunge to below zero.