With virtually zero exceptions, waterproof/breathable outerwear is made using a vapor-permeable membrane bonded to a durable shell made of more conventional materials such as nylon or polyester. This multi-layer construction invariably increases the garment’s bulk and weight, and reduces the breathability of the membrane — especially when paired with the water-resistant coatings that are usually applied on top.
Gore Bike Wear’s awkwardly named One Gore-Tex Active Bike Jacket skips the outer layer entirely in favor of a membrane that’s sufficiently durable to stand on its own — at least for road applications (Gore doesn’t recommend it for mountain biking or cyclocross). As a result, Gore Bike Wear claims the jacket will remain fully waterproof for the life of the garment with no additional coatings required, while also being exceptionally breathable and packable.
Since the waterproof/breathable membrane is the shell itself, there’s no need for additional water repellant surface treatments that can otherwise decrease the breathability of the fabric. The jacket starts out waterproof and extraordinarily breathable, and stays that way.
At US$300, the One Gore-Tex Active is appallingly expensive and there’s simply no way not to question its value proposition. That said, it’s also astonishingly good with a reasonably trim cut, excellent packability, water protection that has stood up to company claims, and far and away the best breathability of any shell I’ve used, cycling-specific or otherwise.
Boulder is rife with massive climbs up into the surrounding mountains, and I’ve long become accustomed to adjusting my clothing so as not to get drenched with sweat on the way up (and then freeze on the way down). During testing, I intentionally wore the ‘One’ in warmer temperatures than I normally would, and intentionally left it fully zipped. Nevertheless, I regularly crested hard climbs with nary a hint of moisture beneath the shell — something I’ve never experienced with any other jacket, Gore-Tex or otherwise. On more than one group ride, I also found myself still buttoned up and comfortable while other riders had either fully unzipped or ditched their jackets completely.
With nothing but the membrane itself forming the body of the jacket, the Gore Bike Wear One Gore-Tex jacket packs down compactly, easily stuffing into a jersey pocket with room to spare.
I certainly can’t say the One has changed my life, but it has changed how I dress in questionable weather conditions. It’s unfortunate that Gore Bike Wear is currently only able to offer this jacket in black — which isn’t exactly ideal in low-light conditions — but that’s a downside I’m willing to accept.
Price: US$300 / AU$400 / £200