GORE Windstopper Kit: Quick Review- by Grannygear
I am pedaling on what is pretty much flat ground; maybe the slightest of uphills. I have two cogs to go before I am in my lowest gear on the gravel bike, which is a 36/36. The wind is hard at my face; a cold biting wind that has to be 25-30 mph and my pace is labored. Looking to the north, out of town and up into the foothills that are maybe, what…5 miles away?…it is snowing.
I am wearing a suite of some new Gore Bike Wear clothing, and a thought, perhaps even a premise, nay, a theory is forming in my mind regarding finding that fine balance between wearing too much clothing and too little clothing when cycling in colder weather. My theory is this: If you can keep the wind out, you can wear less. Less layers, less bulk, less insulation.
Here’s a list of the things I have:
- C3 Gore WIndstopper Knee Warmers
- Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Jersey
- Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Bib Shorts
- Universal Gore WIndstopper Gloves
- Element Gore-Tex Active Jacket
- Equipe Gore Windstopper Cap
- Soft and versatile GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Product: windproof, water repellent and highly breathable
Jersey: Innovative 3-compartment patch pockets, and small zipped pocket on back
Jersey: Highly functional material mix with mesh inserts for ventilation under arms
Jersey: Close fit collar and a full length zip with semi-lock slider
Bibtights: OXYGEN LIGHT MEN seat insert with highly breathable, preformed windproof front for pressure relief
Bibtights: The bib construction integrates a base layer
Bibtights: Highly functional materials and flat hem provides optimum fit and comfort
Wind. The wind is our adversary. I stop short from saying ‘enemy’, but adversary feels proper. Right now the wind is doing its best to steal any body heat I have while using my sweat against me like I am a big, neon-yellow, chiller. But even as the temps drop, likely well into the high 30s (my back porch says 42 degrees with no adjusting for the wind chill), the rather amazing abilities of the various Gore Wear pieces are keeping me pretty comfortable although I would not say I am cozy warm. The thing is, it is remarkable how little I am wearing for all my comfort.
I am a consummate overdresser. Part of that is the fact that my thermostat runs toward the ‘C’ setting. I can get cold just looking at a glass of iced tea. So I tend to pack extra layers and extra gloves and extra-extra just in case. I hate being cold. And while we in the So Cal area do not see anything near really cold temps, not like Guitar Ted would see as a daily winter norm, we do easily get into the 30s and 40s on a frosty morning and then temps might be 70 degrees by mid day. And we do a lot of climbing on most rides, so we will climb for long enough to get all sweaty (unless we are dressed pretty lightly) then we will plunge downhill, sometimes for miles. It’s a challenge dressing correctly for that and we get very good at layering.
And while we may not get into the lower temps often, we do get cold winds from Fall through Spring that make days like I am having right now feel like Old Man Winter is making this personal. So, taking stock…we have significant wind, moderate degrees of cold, and a need to deal with excess body heat and moisture while still being able to move and function as a cyclist. It’s a challenge.
For the Midwest or any of the plains states, I can only imagine how it is pedaling into the lone prar-reee with a diabolical wind trying to blow you into the corn rows. Add in any precipitation and it gets even more critical.
Enter miracle fabrics. Enter Gore Bike Wear.
It is not just a matter of keeping the wind out. I can do that with a trash bag tied around me. We also have to get the right amount of moisture out and keep the right amount…”right” being a number which constantly varies…of heat in. And that is pretty hard to do well and it is impossible to do perfectly, but the new fabrics and technologies in the marketplace now are getting us closer and closer to the mark.
Universal Windstopper Gloves:
If you have known me for very long, and you had the patience to listen to my ramblings, you would have heard me complain about gloves. Yes, gloves. Gloves for cycling to be exact. Many fit poorly, like they were cut and stitched by some first year seamstress. Some are nearly impossible to get into, especially with sweaty hands, or are too bulky, or lack feel of the controls, etc. I could go on, but you get the idea. Pick up the Gore Windstopper gloves and they seem barely there…light, supple, thin. I thought “well these will not be all that warm”. Wrong. Quite wrong. But first, let’s look at the features.
They have some nice touches about them. The gauntlet is long enough to go just past the wrist bones.There is a sort-of fleecy section for nose wiping and sections of high wear have reinforcement in the materials. Grippy rubber is embossed in other places on the fingers to assist in gripping controls and there is the thinnest of padding under the top of the palm section. The back sides have small panels of reflective material. There is a lot going on here in small details.
I was continually amazed how these gloves punched above their weight class. Even in low 40s temps with high winds, if I was riding steady and putting out some horsepower, I would feel the cold…I mean I knew it was cold out as my fingers would tell me that, like if you leaned up against a cold piece of metal in your jeans…but I seldom got to where my hands were not able to maintain comfort and began to go numb. For a glove with zero insulation other than the material they are made from…it’s magic, I guess. No wind sneaks through. I never had them in any rain so I cannot speak to that part. WIndstopper tends to shed light moisture, so I would expect that to be true here too.
Obviously they have a temp limit so they are not snow gloves. If it is even close to freezing then I am bulking up a lot more.
But for a glove with the fine feel of the controls and with the well cut design…no annoying seams, no too tight cuffs…they are much warmer than I expected and for spirited rides with temps down into the 40s I have found nothing better. I have worn them into the 60s or so and while they heat up at some point, they do not seem to get all clammy in there. That temp range between 60 degrees and say the mid 40s is where we spend a lot of time here in Fall into Spring so these are a good find.
I think might try an XL size too as that would allow me to sneak a thin liner in there. I am kind of a ‘LG and a half’ size anyway. I actually need to replace my LGs too as Mrs. Grannygear stole mine and she won’t give them back. The LG is big on her, a medium would be more proper, but she likes more room in her gloves and it allows her to add the liners she has in her gear bag.
Till I get another set(s) for me, it is like child custody in our house…”Where are the Gore gloves? I need them.” “Well, I need them too.” Kramer vs. Kramer and the race is on.
Equipe Windstopper Cap:
The Equipe Cap has been another gem. It has some really good things about it. I like the visor; nice to have in ugly weather. I love how it actually covers my ENTIRE ear down below the lobes as many caps do not. And raising/folding up the knit section that covers the ears up is easy enough…I usually would just scrunch it up a bit to adjust temps around my head. Again, no wind gets through the main section and very little gets at the ears either, yet even when I was working hard I did not swelter.
It is pretty thin as well and it fits under my Specialized S-Works Prevail helmet with no real issues, although sometimes the seam between the rear knit section and the head cap annoyed me.
Another winner, best when it is windy and cool in the 50s or below.
Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Bib Shorts:
Besides the gloves, these are likely my favorite of the bunch. They have the same traits as the gloves. Starting out into the ride on a blustery day, you immediately feel the cold against you, but after you ride a bit and get blood going, they seem to transcend the fact they are really not thick at all and start to keep you quite warm. I have some thermal bib shorts too, the brushed fleece kind, and I love them. Very useful short. These are just a cut above them, mostly because the wind is blocked from whistling through my damp undercarriage. A blessing, I assure you.
The chamois seems to be decent. The longest ride I did in them was 4 hours or so, but had 2.5 – 3 hours of climbing in it. We began in temps in the 50s and climbed up to the high 30s once we were at elevation. With knee warmers I never found I was missing a full tight at all although my feet were feeling the love of the nippy air.
They have a unique feature in that the bibs have a short sleeve base layer with a full front zip built into them. It’s meshy, but still substantial. It’s an interesting thing and I both liked it and disliked it. It allows you to forgo one layer of clothing…that first base layer, yet if you want a wool base or a long sleeve base to be that first contact against the skin, then you need to put the built-in one outside the other base layer. I assume Gore intends this to be the primary base and then a jersey over this, etc. However, I would prefer to make that decision for myself. Still, it did not prevent me from enjoying it.
You need to get the fit right though as the Windstopper material is not all that stretchy, at least not compared to typical lycra. I wore the LGs and found them to be dead on for fit, but I can also wear a MED lycra short, so these being a LG does tend to suggest you might size up if you are on the fence sizing wise.
I would not give these back even if Gore asked me nicely.
Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Knee Warmers:
For a while there I was thinking that every piece of clothing in this package from Gore was a 9-9.5 on a 10 scale. Then the Knee warmers came along a bit later from Gore and that ended. They are made of the same fabric as the bib shorts which means windproof and water resistant. But it also means not much stretch. The LG knee warmers need to be pretty far up your leg under your shorts of they will migrate down your leg which is terribly annoying. I did get them to stay put, but I had to be purposeful about it. They also are a bit baggy, yet I cannot imagine a MED size going over my thigh.
They are cut very anatomically so that is good, as the material lacks that stretch we would be used to. I still like them because you get the same level of protection as the shorts. That way you feel ‘holistic’ in the way your body is being covered from the elements. They also are not real packable compared to other knee warmers, so they would take up more room in a jersey pocket, but not a lot more.
Not a bad product, but not great either.
Oxygen Classics Gore Windstopper Jersey:
The jersey was made to fit small, thin, Italian cyclists that climb Cols with grace and intensity. Cue Pantani. I assume this as the LG size jersey would barely zip together over my middle and was very tight over my shoulders. Now I am not that far from being a typical MAMIL, but at 6’2″ and 185lbs with a size 32/33 waist, I am not a Clydesdale or a wraith either. I can do a pushup…more than one, actually.
So I went to an XL jersey and even that fit me like most of my LG road jerseys do: snug with no room for hiding any signs of last night’s carrot cake. The jersey is mostly the Windstopper material with some panels that are mesh, adding to ventilation. The mesh sections are under the sleeves themselves and just into the armpit. The back is a three pocket sectional with a zipped pouch sewn onto the center pocket. There are bits of reflectivity here and there as well.
The collar is pretty high and snug and the longish tail is rubberized where it meets the body. When you are zipped up in it, it feels pretty ‘wrapper like’. With less stretch and that windproof fabric making up all the main parts of the jersey, it almost feels like a really light jacket that fits very snugly. It is surprisingly effective at keeping wind and cooler days at bay although I did feel it was not something I would want to be wearing when the weather turned warm. That is the thing with a windproof jersey…it is like a vest or light jacket that you cannot take off so they are at their best when the weather will stay within a certain range. Of course you can unzip the front, but unlike some other jerseys I have that are only windproof on the front facing panels, unzipping them allows air to move through the more open fabric of the back side of the garment. When you unzip the GORE jersey it is still windproof at the back side of things so air gets a bit trapped in there. The snug fit makes that even more of a challenge. However, it does move moisture out though the fabric pretty well, so it is not a sweat box situation.
I rarely wear black clothing unless I am just not going to be in any place where I am sharing the road with cars, but I understand this also comes in bright red for those who would like to be more visible on the road than Batman is.
I think I slightly prefer the windproof treatment to be only the front of the jersey rather than the entire garment, but I also can attest that the GORE jersey is warmer that that other type when the weather gets more challenging. It’s a tradeoff. I spent a morning riding in an area where the moist, cold, coastal air was cutting into the bones a bit, yet a jacket would have been a bit much. A jersey/vest combo would have been a good choice too, but here the GORE jersey was in it’s element.
Just before I wrapped all this up, Mrs.Grannygear and I took a trip up to Central California for a charity ride. The weather looked iffy with chances of light rain and cooler overall temps, so I wore the GORE shorts/knee warmer combo and brought the cap as well. I left the black jersey in the closet, choosing to get a bit brighter piece of kit, but I did pack a lightweight rain jacket in bright orange. As the morning passed we had light showers and the GORE shorts and knee warmers fended off most all of it, and what did soak in, like on the top of my thighs, dried up pretty quickly. Nice. Even when wet, the wind could not get through so I felt the cold but not like you would with a typical lycra set up.
However Windstopper has it’s limits, so when we had 10 miles of wind and rain, the GORE shorts and knee warmers gave in and I was just wet right down to my socks. All that to say, they are not rain garments and no claims are made to that use, but I think in heavy fog or light mist with a bit of light showers you would be pretty well served.
The Oxygen line of GORE Windstopper clothing impresses me as a head down, burning coal, moving forward, line of gear for riders who want to wear less but still have a buffer between them and the environment. It is at it’s best when you are pedaling with energy and tempo as the slim fit and ‘less is more’ construction stays out of the way.
NOTE- GORE sent over the jersey, bibs, knee warmers, cap and gloves for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we always strive to give you our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.