The Gore Thermo Helmet Cap is the best winter cap I've ever used

Best in class winter cap and — surprise — Windstopper works

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

The Power 2.0 Windstopper Softshell Jacket fits a little loosely for layering — although you don't need much underneath even in the winter
The Power 2.0 Windstopper Softshell Jacket fits a little loosely for layering — although you don't need much underneath even in the winter

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 double collar keeps the cold air out without feeling plasticky or constricting
The double collar keeps the cold air out without feeling plasticky or constricting

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

The Gore Universal SO Thermo Helmet Cap is easily my favorite winter hat
The Gore Universal SO Thermo Helmet Cap is easily my favorite winter hat

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. 

The holes for headphone cords are annoying for me, as I don't ride with headphones and the openings can whistle in the wind
The holes for headphone cords are annoying for me, as I don't ride with headphones and the openings can whistle in the wind

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

These windproof socks perform as advertised, but I found there is a small temperature window where they make sense
These windproof socks perform as advertised, but I found there is a small temperature window where they make sense

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 it's truly cold out, you'll want thicker socks and/or booties. But for coolish days they can be okay
If it's truly cold out, you'll want thicker socks and/or booties. But for coolish days they can be okay

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.

  • £34.99

Universal GWS Thermo Overshoes

The Thermo shoe covers are an excellent layer for cold-weather riding, because they keep your feet warm but not clammy
The Thermo shoe covers are an excellent layer for cold-weather riding, because they keep your feet warm but not clammy

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.

Just one question for Gore: why is the hi-vis on the front and not the back?
Just one question for Gore: why is the hi-vis on the front and not the back?

  • £59.99 / $69.99
Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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