Gore's latest batch of cold-weather clothing includes a couple of things that have made my winter riding much more enjoyable.
Gore has a huge catalog of cycling clothing, and below are my impressions on four cold-weather pieces here, including what is the best winter cap I've used to date, the Thermo Helmet Cap.
POWER 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell Jacket
Gore's core competency is in its fabrics. How many other clothing companies can you name that license their fabrics to other brands around the world?
Windstopper isn't magic, but it is pretty darn good for cold-weather cycling. As cyclists, we have long been lectured to dress in layers so we can adjust to changing temperatures and intensities by removing or adding clothing. But wouldn't it be simpler to just wear one thing that works well in variable conditions?
The Power 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell Jacket works well on days from 45°F / 7°C to down well below freezing.
The midweight thermal lining is plenty warm on its own, especially when cocooned inside Windstopper. On very cold days I'd use a thick long-sleeve baselayer and was comfortable doing things in the winter such as a 90-minute climb then a 15-minute descent.
Okay, so I wasn't comfortable — my face hurt from the cold on the descent — but my core temperature was good both up and down, just using the zipper to regulate.
Gore calls this Slim fit, but to me it feels a little loose in the body and long in the arms and tail. My go-to cold-weather jacket is the Alé PRR Winter Jacket, partly because it fits more like a long-sleeve jersey than a loose jacket. But that is just a personal preference thing.
On the plus side (excuse the pun), the Power 2.0's not-quite-skintight fit leaves you plenty of room to layer as you like underneath.
- £139.99 / $179.99
Universal WS Thermo Helmet Cap
I have more than a dozen hats and headbands from various companies, but I only use two of them when I'm not actively testing something: Pearl Izumi's basic headband for 50°F/10°C+ days, and Gore's Thermo Helmet Cap for colder days.
There are plenty of old-school-style winter caps with bills/peaks, but I think they are all annoying for actually riding a bike. One, they seldom actually fit under a helmet. Two, the bill obstructs your upper peripheral vision when riding low. And finally, that design usually doesn't cover the ears well.
I really like this cap because it is plenty warm with minimal bulk, primarily due to Gore's trusty Windstopper on the front and side panels.
As I said above, Windstopper isn't magic; I will pull the cap off before steady climbs on cold days because you can definitely overheat in it when going really hard at slow speeds. But for riding the flats, rolling terrain and definitely descents, the hat is the best I have found.
- £24.99–£29.99 / $29.99–$49.99
Gore Bike Wear Universal Gore Windstopper Partial Socks
That title is quite the mouthful, isn't it? The 'partial' part means that only the front and top of the sock is Windstopper; the rear panel is more breathable, stretchy polyester.
These socks are thin, about like a normal cycling sock. They feel a little plasticky and are noticeably less pliable than your regular cycling socks.
The Windstopper material works here, but I found the useful range to be fairly limited. On cold days, I would much prefer a thicker sock and a booty/overshoe of some kind. And then for coolish days, it's pretty common for your feet and/or the day's temperature to warm up during the ride, and the socks become too much.
If you live somewhere with fairly consistent temperatures, though, and you really want to show off your shoes instead of cover them with booties, then I suppose this sock could be useful. I haven't pulled them out to use voluntarily though after I finished testing them.
Universal GWS Thermo Overshoes
Gore has a host of overshoe options, from thick to thin. These Thermo pieces sit somewhere in the middle. They are not waterproof, but are water resistant.
Like all clothing, where you live determines what 'good' is for clothing. I live in Colorado, where it is often cold in the winter but usually dry, so I prefer something with loft and windblock, but not a suffocating waterproof barrier.
Things I like: they are easy to get off and on (something woefully lacking in many winter booties), the thermal lining is warm but not smothering, and Gore's Windstopper delivers powerfully, keeping the wind chill at bay but not leaving your feet soaking wet from sweat.
Things I don't like: the hi-vis works for attracting attention, but why the heck is it on the front instead of the back? There is a reflective strip down the back of each booty, but I would prefer for the black to be on the front, which gets splattered with road grim, and the yellow to be at the rear where it would flash at drivers approaching from behind.
- £59.99 / $69.99