Gore Bike wear Windstopper vest
Features: Full windstopper fabric, central mesh back panel, twin waist straps, 1 rear zipped pocket.
Whether you're riding in a full fleece, lightweight thermal, or cycling shirt, there'll be mostly dry but windy days where you want to keep your body core protected but don't want all the sweat and heat of a full jacket. That's exactly where the Winstoppper Gillet and the other perfectly armless garments we'll be testing this week come in. It's ideal for cutting the breeze from winter insulation without immobilising or incinerating you, creating a really versatile piece of clobber you'll wear far more than you thought.
You'd never have guessed but Gore Bike Wear is the bike clothing arm of WL Gore, famous for Gore Tex and other high tech fabrics. For the past few years they've been building an excellent reputation for smart-looking yet still very hard-working cycling gear that has scored consistently highly in tests.
This vest is constructed almost entirely of Windstopper (or as it used to be called Activent), totally windproof and well on the way to being waterproof. It's breathability is increased by a full mesh lining to spread sweat over the widest possible evaporation area as well as a mesh panel in the centre of the back (away from vital organs and ideally palced for miniumum heat under Camelbak or trail pack.
Unlike most Windstopper garments we've seen the material isn't fleece backed. This keeps the whole jacket lighter and more versatile as an outer layer, but gives an insulation value is too low for it to be really useful as a mid layer.
The cut is also very much outer rather than mid layer friendly. As there's no stretch in Windstopper the waist can be snugged in with two side straps to stop flapping with afull length zip and stand up collar for totally variable ventilation. Unlike the Ground Effect, the broad shoulders shrug off weather and stop the chill creeping in through the arm holes, and stormflapped and zipped rear pocket can be reversed to provide a small (15 x 10 x 7cm) carrying pouch that fits to the frame with two velcro straps.
The all-black colour won't create an eyesore off road but we'd like more than the thin strip of reflective piping if we were out on the road past bedtime.
Using unfleeced Windstopper throughout means it doesn't cut it as a cosy mid layer, but with full mesh liner and back panel breathability and impressive weatherproofing it's an excellent semi-shell jacket. Cut is generous enough for over fleece use on cold days, but there's still plenty of collar and shoulder protection and it'll wrap up into it's own stuff sac so you never have to be without it.