I'll get my coat…

Gore Bikewear Phantom Windstopper Jacket (2008)

Those of you that have been reading for a while will know that I’m not a big shopper, but I do appreciate quality and usefulness, even if it’s at a price.

Back last year when it was cold and wet and windy, I was, I confess, coveting a decent cycling jacket. I already had a nice outdoor waterproof that was quite expensive, but it wasn’t a cycling fit and it was grey – not good for standing out from the tarmac.

So I managed to convince my lovely wife that I could spend a similar amount on a cycling jacket, on the basis that it would would be used pretty much every day for probably 3 of the four seasons.

Why the Windstopper

The one I had my eye on was the Gore Phantom Windstopper Jacket (2008), in bright red! Here’s why:

  • The Gore Windstopper fabric gets rave reviews everywhere and I wanted to give it a go.
  • Red would make me stand out without looking too silly.
  • The zip-off arms would make it suitable for, probably, autumn, winter and spring, if not bits of summer too.
  • Gore’s Bikewear is generally considered to be top quality – this is a garment that would last
  • It’s supposedly pretty waterproof as well as windproof, but in any case, not having wind chill would make being damp much less of a problem anyway
  • Nice, quick-wicking softshell will be far nicer than my existing rubbery laminate waterproof, which gets wet on the inside pretty quickly.

It took a bit of research and faffing around to find my size and the right colour at a reasonable price. If you’re a XXXXXL or want dull grey or lemon yellow then you’re fine, but any reasonable sizes and colours are harder to come by. Eventually I visited The Gore Store and placed an order.

And I’ve not been disappointed.

First Impressions and Fit

I was initially surprised at how thin and light the jacket was. But the soft shell felt lovely. I’d ordered a small expecting quite a close fit, and it was pretty much perfect; not so tight that I couldn’t wear something under it, but not so loose that it flaps around in the wind.

I should probably point out here that, sadly, the “Windstopper” doesn’t miraculously STOP the wind, but it does act as a water-resistant, breathable layer that blocks chilly air, creating a little micro-climate around you.

Effective and Comfortable

And I have to say, it’s extremely effective. One of the best things I can say about this jacket is that I don’t notice it’s there. It’s light, comfortable, well-cut. It really is breathable and doesn’t get damp, even when cycling far and fast. Well, OK, maybe a little bit, but the Windstopper really does keep the chill out so that you don’t notice.

I’ve been out in a few downpours in it too and it’s performed admirably. It’s NOT a waterproof, but it does a fine job of trying to keep out water and I’ve only ever been slightly damp inside after rain on my short commute. Of course, the jacket dries out quickly too.

I even happen to think it looks pretty cool. It’s a sporty fit, and it’s a practical garment rather than a stylish one, but compared to my cheaper jackets it feels positively trendy.

Minor Issues

I’ve had it through three seasons now and it’s been a delight.

I had a little problem with the zip, which was sticky at first but seems to have worn in. I’m a little baffled by the reflectives, which are on the arms facing forwards. I’d have preferred something more on the back to keep me visible. And there isn’t a zip-up pocket. But these are small things in an otherwise brilliant bit of kit.

What to wear?

There are a lot of people who say you should be able to just cycle in your normal clothes, and you can. But it’s my opinion that cycle-specific gear is a whole load more practical, safe, and comfortable if you want to ride fast and/or far. And this is a great piece of cycle gear that I reckon was money well spent!