A Week with the Gore Oxygen GT AS

My first week with the new jacket turned out to be very rainy, though not cold yet. Ideal weather for testing a rainjacket, though not exactly pleasant to ride through.

So far so good, though some of the initial impressions I have of the jacket are being confirmed.

The fact that the jacket is really light I am getting used to very happily. That initial sense of feeling almost like I’m riding with a t-shirt on remains and is terrific.

After layering too thick the first day, I’ve been wearing a thinner wool layer this week and that seems to be working well. No sweat stains when I arrive and certainly no rain that has come in. Having said that, I do think that I will be missing pit zippers on the jacket. I’ve left the ventilation cuffs unzipped a couple of times now and that doesn’t seem to be adding that much airflow, at least not all the way up the arms. On the other hand, the elasticized cuffs also mean that despite leaving the zipper open, there’s no flapping around which is great. I do wonder about the mesh in the cuff zipper. I’ve got this stuck in the zipper already once and just don’t think that the mesh is going to hold up to daily wear for very long. The zippers (cuffs and main zipper) are fidgety as I wrote first. The pull tabs are too small and the zipper themselves could be a size larger to make operation with gloves on easier.

One of the big sign of perhaps more of an improvement in breathability than I am realizing is that when I get in to work and hang the jacket up after a really wet ride (or any ride, really) I hang it up with the wet side out. With my old jacket, I always hung it inside-out because there would be a layer of sweat (I presume, but perhaps mixed with rain water?) covering the inside of the sleeves. Given the choice of a damp inside or outside at the end of the day when I’m putting the jacket back on, obviously I chose a drier inside, but that does not appear to be necessary with the next jacket since it’s not wet on the inside when I arrive.

I’ve figured out the placement of the reflective lettering that I noted in my initial impressions. If I were riding with drop bars, my wrists would be turned , so that the letter would be facing out rather than up. Hm… shouldn’t assume drop bars in design of a jacket but place reflective elements so that they are visible in multiple/all directions.

The fact that there’s no pocket at all bugs me. Where do I put my bike keys?

The fit and collar may be greatest feature after light weight and waterresistance. I do like the snugness and the draft toward the kidneys seems to have been a first impression only. The collar with the elasticized, slightly raised back is working great, not water dripping in that way weather I was wearing a beanie under the helmet or not and despite some heavy rains.

My wife things the design is a big super-hero like. It’s a “The Incredibles” colour scheme and the tightness leads to that impression I think.

First Ride Gore Oxygen GT AS

Just in time for Vancouver’s “Bike to Work Week” I’ve decided that I didn’t want to wait any longer and get wait in my old winter/rain jacket.

On the expert advice of Karen (on the Rivet), I bought a Gore Oxygen GT AS. The main selling point (beyond the advice and reports of other happy commuters) was the lightness, waterproofness and breathability of the fabric, Active Gore-Tex.

My main doubts and criteria not fulfilled that I was looking for: double-zipper, some kind of pocket, pit zipper, velcro closures, many reflective patches.

I was delighted to see “Engineered in Germany” stamped in the jacket and the “Made in Turkey” is just fine with me as well.

So, early Monday morning and lo and behold it’s raining (this is Vancouver in almost-November after all). Over the weekends I saw some reports from German football (Bayern finally lost) that featured games in snow already and parts of Canada have had snow for weeks now, of course, so not complaining too much about the rain. It was welcome today in any case as it gave me an opportunity to wear the new jacket.

Here are impressions from the first ride:

  • the jacket is obviously super light. Really quite amazing compared to my previous jacket.
  • The snug cut makes it feel even more like you’re just standing there in a t-shirt and I was wondering whether that would be a good thing.
  • Speaking of the cut, this is the only garment I own, I think, that is an XXL. Seems like they got the sizing scale slightly wrong.
  • The main zipper tab is fairly small, so best to zip up before putting on the gloves.
  • The cuffs stretch very nicely across the (gloved) back of the hand, this seems like a really good fit.
  • The grey letter on the sleeve (supposedly this is reflective despite the grey colour) turns up on the arm so even if it is very reflective, it won’t do much good except for to warn helicopters with searchlights, perhaps.
  • The tail stretches nicely down across the bum, both standing but even more so sitting.
  • When sitting on the bike, the fit is really good! Tight in all the right places, but not pulling. Quite a surprise as I was skeptical initially.
  • You notice how good the fit is when you sit up straight (“Look, ma, no hands!”) and the cut is no longer ideal.
  • I’m not fond looking at black sleeves (in this grey, semi-dark morning), but am somewhat reassured by the red of the main body of the jacket (unfortunately, green was sold out).
  • One of the best things about jacket/fit is the collar. It has a stretchy part in the back that goes up the neck a little and this certainly seems to work well. No cold air coming in at the collar, nor rain, but at the same time it feels much less tight (when turning the head) than my previous jacket.
  • The only iffy spot in the fit: the jacket is quite short. Of course, that means it’s nicely out of the way at the hips, but I thought I felt a bit of a draft of air coming in on my sides, heading for kidney areas. Remember, as a German, I’m particularly susceptible to drafts.
  • Water pearls in very small beads on the fabric.
  • The zipper for the cuffs is placed just right, down on the inside where you could keep it open for the intended venting function.
  • Now, the big questions: waterproof? Yes, absolutely. It wasn’t a severe downpour, but for part of the right it did rain hard.
  • Breathability: hm… Definitely a bit moist on should blades, pecs, pits. But, admittedly, I wore one layer to think underneath, a thicker merino layer, rather than the lighter layer that would have been more appropriate, but is in the wash. So no verdict on that quite yet, just some doubts.
  • Arrived at work, the water shook off and I am not at all worried about putting on a clammy jacket late this afternoon.

Looking for a Winter Jacket

October has come and the rain has arrived. I’ve had a yellow waterproof-breathable for three years now. It’s served me well, but its waterproofness seems to have waned.

So, now I’m looking for a new jacket.

Some things I noticed already: The weekend after the first rains, MEC is nearly sold out of their bike jackets. I guess some other people noticed that their jackets weren’t holding up anymore.

So I headed to on the Rivet and tried some of the models there.

Some of the criteria I’m looking for:

– waterproof: yes, it does rain quite a bit in Vancouver, so even though my commute isn’t that far (9km) I do want to start dry. To achieve this, I couple the jacket with Gore rainpants and booties over my shoes. Colder weather will bring out the gloves as well.

– breathable: yes, absolutely. I do sweat easily, especially on the way to the office when I’ve got some uphills. With  my current jacket, I can’t quite tell whether my sweating or the not-quite-waterproofness is producing more moisture inside the jacket.

– shape: I do want this relatively snug rather than airy. My previous jacket makes a funny fold on my upper arm, so if I could avoid that…

– visibility: really important! There seems to be a continuum from the construction worker’s safety vest (bright colour and lots of reflectors) to the elegant incognito black hipster jacket. I would prefer to err on the side of the safety vest as so much of my jacket-wearing days are grey if not downright dark. Why would I want to adorn my bike with various lights, but then wear an invisibility cloak? It seems, however, that any of the current fashionable jackets err on the side of the invisibility cloak.

– zipper: obviously, as waterproof as possible. If possible, I would like a double-zipper so that I can open the zipper a bit at the bottom, but keep the jacket from flapping. For the same reason, so velcro over the zipper is also nice.

– iPod/cell phone pocket: no, thanks! I don’t own a mobile and never listen to music on the bike

– pockets: yes, it’s nice to have a place to stash keys, bike lights, etc.

– cuffs: tight, though I’m agnostic whether this is just a tight cut or some kind of velcro closure

– collar: tight as I don’t want water running in

– pit zippers: I do sweat easily and I thus find pit zippers very useful for not overheating while riding in a (somewhat heavy) jacket. I suppose if a jacket was REALLY breathable, I’d forego the pit ventilation happily, but I’d have to wear it to believe it…

– hood: no, thanks!

– tail: yes, definitely!