14/12/2011 | 5 comments
Gore Bike Wear Alp X SO Zip-Off jacket – £169.99
When the Gore Bike Wear Alp-X SO jacket arrived for testing recently, I took it from the packaging and held it up and said to myself, “What’s the point of a jacket with removable sleeves?”
So I started wearing it. And here’s the thing, I’ve been blown away with how ideally suited this jacket is to British winter mountain biking. It’s been unseasonably mild recently, making clothing decisions before a ride a bloody hard thing. With the Alp-X at my disposal, I don’t worry as much, and just head out with it knowing it will deal with whatever the weather is doing.
Because the sleeves can be whipped off at a moments notice, you can adjust accordingly for the temperature you’re currently riding in, without having to remove the jacket completely. Layered with a long sleeve base layer, it’s been ideal for the recent weather, keeping my temperature comfortable. I can see this jacket being good all year round in fact, making the £170 a bit easier to swallow. You’d probably get just as much use from it in the so called summer as in the winter in this country!
Being able to remove the sleeves is a real bonus. Two short zips attach each arm to the raglan shoulders.It’s a cinch to remove them, and quickly convert the jacket into a gilet. So when you get a bit sweaty, just removing the sleeves goes a long way to lowering your temperature, allowing you to regulate your temperature without having to remove the jacket completely. With a jersey or short sleeve base layer, the jacket is soft next to the skin, with the mesh panels around the shoulders and arms trapping warm air.
It’s made from Gore-Tex’s Windstopper Soft Shell, a fantastic material that is astonishingly good at being both highly breathable yet keeping out the elements. And it’s warm too. OK so it’s not 100% waterproof but you’d have to be riding through some torrential rain for a decent period of time before the jacket starts leaking. You’ll likely have taken shelter before getting to that point anyway.
This fabric is stitched into a well fitted jacket with a slim fit. One aspect you notice straight away is just how lightweight it is, it lacks any significant bulk. Despite the slim fit, there’s space inside for an extra layer, so if you need to layer up when the temperature finally drops this winter, there’s space for a mid layer or fleece. There’s a dropped tail, tall collar, adjustable cuffs and pre-shaped arms that all combine to make it a lovely jacket to wear.
While the arms are easy to remove, larger zip puller tabs wouldn’t go amiss, they’re a little on the small side. With chunky winter gloves it can be next to impossible to grab the tiny pullers. It’s a bit of a faff. One detail we really like however is the neoprene seals at the hem, collar and cuff, which keep you snuggled up and the cold wind out.
For pockets there’s a vertical chest one (or napoleon as described by Gore) for stashing car keys or your smart phone. There’s another two larger pocket, which Gore have cleverly placed around the side and thus avoiding the usual case of the front of the jacket being pulled down by anything you stow in there. There’s another mesh pocket on the back, making plenty of space for stashing the arms if you don’t whack them in your hydration pack.
As with all Gore clothing, there’s a smattering of reflective details around the jacket so if you’re on the ride, you’ll be extra visible. It’s available in five sizes and four colours.
This jacket ticks all the boxes. As investments go, it’s right up there, dealing with the UK’s variable weather conditions. We haven’t been wearing anything else for the past couple of weeks. It’s been through a couple of washes and still looks in showroom condition.
Try pairing the jacket with the Gore Bike Wear Fusion SO three-quarter baggy shorts for the perfect outfit this winter.
More at www.gorebikewear.co.uk