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Gore-Tex Active Jacket aims for waterproof packability

Gore-Tex has long been the standard in outerwear breathability and water-resistance, and a textile supplier to much of the outdoor industry, thanks in large part to Gore’s three-layer system that pairs Gore-Tex fabric with an outer shell coated in water-repellent DWR. The combination works well, but it can be bulky; stuffing a Gore jacket into a jersey pocket is a difficult prospect.

The new Active Bike Jacket, part of a line of products Gore has dubbed Gore One, eliminates that three-layer laminate system entirely by integrating the outer liner into the shell structure itself. The shell and Gore-Tex layer therefore act as a single layer to create an exceptionally light (133 grams, size large) and packable jacket.

In other words, Gore has created what might be the world’s lightest fully waterproof, truly breathable, completely pocket-stuffable jacket.

There’s no DWR coating, either, which means there’s no coating to wear off. According to Gore, the jacket remains waterproof no matter how long you use it in gnarly conditions. While most of the magic of the new jacket remains a proprietary secret, the benefits of the new one-layer system are immediately and conspicuously recognizable with the simple squirt of a spray bottle: water beads up on the outside of the jacket and shakes off completely — hence the moniker Shake Dry Surface. The fabric itself is constructed in such a way that there’s nothing for water to soak into, no chilling effect as you sweat, and no extra weight from moisture build-up.

So what’s the big deal, anyway? Every company promises to be the lightest and most waterproof. Those companies also frequently buy its fabrics from Gore, which, quite understandably, uses its latest and greatest in its own gear first. Gore may be the first to truly combine the holy trinity of lightweight, packable, and waterproof. That means riders can finally simplify its cold-weather layering system and stop worrying about sweating in the cold, the kryptonite of just about every jacket that allows moisture from sweat or precipitation to build up on the jacket. Gore-Tex prevents such moisture build-up because the fabric has tiny pores that are significantly smaller than water droplets, yet larger than the water vapor molecules that make up sweat. That means sweat can pass through in one direction, but water can’t penetrate in the other direction.

As always, these are lofty promises, and with those promises comes a hefty $300 price tag. While Gore reps were careful to mention the new Gore One line is not meant to replace its three-layer shell system, the new jacket is the best choice in the Gore-Tex line for road riding in inclement weather. Mountain bikers may still want to stick with a burlier three-layer system due to constant abrasion from hydration packs, trees, and other trail obstacles.

Keep your eyes peeled for a long-term review on VeloNews.