Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Gore-Tex Active Shell jacket review£189.95

Breathable waterproof layer for road cycling

BikeRadar score4.5/5

With proven performance over the years, Gore has made Gore-Tex virtually synonymous with breathable, waterproof fabric. The Gore Active Shell jacket delivers on this promise in a road cycling cut, with nice details such as a high, sculpted neck and a long but snug tail.

While the fabric works well, the zippers are a challenge. The waterproof seals do indeed keep the rain out but they also require two hands to operate and to prevent the wrist cuff liners from jamming.

For those not familiar with Gore-Tex, the material seals out water while allowing some condensation from the body to escape. In the AS jacket, this means you can ride steadily with the coat on without drastically overheating the way you would in a non-breathable jacket such as a cheap plastic raincoat. That breathability is what you're paying for here.

As impressive as Gore-Tex is, it isn’t magic, and you do need to unzip on long climbs, even in heavy rain. And it’s at this point that the jacket’s zippers are frustrating, because the thick, rubberized seals along both sides mean you can’t just yank up or down with one hand. 

The waterproof zipper liner hampers performance, requiring two hands to use: the waterproof zipper liner hampers performance, requiring two hands to use
The waterproof zipper liner hampers performance, requiring two hands to use: the waterproof zipper liner hampers performance, requiring two hands to use

The waterproof zipper liner hampers performance

The same goes for the wrist zippers, which have a mesh liner that often jammed in the zipper when we weren’t paying close attention. On the positive side, the wrist openings do allow for extra ventilation, as well as layering options for gloves.

The long tail, held in place with a silicone gripper, adds a welcome bit of protection down the lower back. While the design isn’t a traditional road cut, the benefit is certainly worth the aesthetic diversion.

At the neck, the high coverage works wonders for retaining body heat, and the soft, contoured fabric at the back and the zipper garage at the front keep the fit comfortable when zipped all the way up.

The oxygen as jacket is a welcome piece on wet days: the oxygen as jacket is a welcome piece on wet days
The oxygen as jacket is a welcome piece on wet days: the oxygen as jacket is a welcome piece on wet days

The Active Shell has a fitted road cut

Finally, reflective piping and large reflective logos across the piece ensure visibility.

In all, only the stubborn zippers hold the jacket back from being a perfect layer for road riding in the rain.

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.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 183cm / 6'
  • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
  • Waist: 84cm / 33in
  • Chest: 99cm / 39in
  • 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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