Review: Gore Bike Wear Phantom 2.0 Jacket- by Grannygear

gore bike wear phantom 2.0 jacketJust before Christmas I was shopping for things that my wife could buy me and I came across a great price on a softshell jacket by Gore Bike Wear.  It was normally a $180.00 jacket and I would not just jump into that without knowing about the product, but the Gore name is not exactly a big gamble and the discounted price was significant, so I jumped on it.

What I was hoping to end up with was an outer garment that dealt well with the needs of Fall-early Spring riding in So Cal.  Fall and winter mean somewhat cold temps but mostly it means cold winds.  Wind.  Yuck.  Add a 20mph wind to mid to low 40s temps and it feels pretty darn cold out there.  And we hardly ever get to ride along on a relatively flat grade for any distance.  We will climb and climb then drop like a stone.  So we sweat from the climbing effort then chill out (not in a good way) on the descent.  In spring we would face possible rain, but likely just showers, not real rain rides.  So some ability to shed moisture would be good.

So typically I find that layering (especially wool as a base or mid layer) and a vest is a good approach but if the wind is high enough, that will not be enough.  Adding a windbreaker at the top of the hill is not bad but climbing in a windbreaker is horrible unless they are really well vented and typically it will not be or it is then a poor wind stopper.  So I was looking for something that was decent to climb in, blocked the wind, and shed some showers.

Well, I think I found it in the Gore Bike Wear Phantom 2.0 soft-shell jacket.  It is part of the Windstopper group of technical garments and is not a Gore Tex jacket in that it is not waterproof.  About Windstopper from the Gore website:

WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell

Offers total windproofness with maximum breathability, combining the comfort of a soft mid-layer and the water resistance of a shell in one garment. WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells keep you comfortable with the freedom of movement you need for enhanced performance in a wide range of cycling activities and weather conditions.
Other features:
  • 3-compartment patch pockets on back
  • Reflective print on back
  • Reflective print on sleeves
  • Reflective print on back
  • Stretch inserts for optimum freedom of movement
  • Wear-resistant elastic binding on sleeve-hem and on hem
  • Zip-underflap
  • Additional short sleeves
  • Detachable raglan sleeves
  • Reflective logo on front and back
  • Slightly slanted back pocket at side for better access
gore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacketgore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacketgore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacket
I ordered a LG size to make sure that I had room for a couple of under layers but I wanted a snug overall fit to keep things from flapping around.  At 6’2″/183lbs and with long arms, I found the fit to be perfect.  The most I have had under it was a combo of a LS base (very thin) and a LS Alpinestars mid-weight jersey.  Much more than this and I would be feeling restricted.  I found that the fit felt odd when standing in it and walking around, but lean forward with your arms extended, like riding a bike, and the fit falls right into place.  The tail is cut long and I appreciated the slant cut rear pockets.  They did make it easier to get into them.  The collar felt good and is just about right for snugness and height.  The outside explains the ‘softshell’ moniker in that it has a soft feel, not a typical jacket or windbreaker fabric like a treated nylon, etc.  As well, the sleeves zip off and it becomes a vest of sorts with the added feature of short sleeves sewn on.

The first ride I did was a 4 mile climb with a high wind condition.  Temps were in the mid fifties without the windchill.  I wore only a thin LS base underneath to see what that would do as I expected to heat up pretty good.  I brought another LS layer with me to add at the top and brought my windbreaker just in case the jacket was a bust.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  I kept using the main zipper as a temp control as needed and while I certainly was perspiring in it, I never felt claustrophobic to where the heat and moisture build up was too much to bear.  The wind seemed to have really no significant effect at all on me.  Yes, I could feel a presence of cold against the fabric of the jacket, especially the sleeves, but the cold never penetrated.  Wow.  At the top I decided to gamble and added nothing under the jacket.  I changed into a dry head covering and changed to a warmer glove, zipped up the Gore Phantom II and dropped in.

At the bottom my core was just as warm as it was at the top.  No wind came into the garment and as a result my hands and feet did much better too.  That was the best performance of any outer layer that I had ever experienced in the conditions I typically struggle in.  I was not parboiling on the way up and I was not shivering on the way down, all in the same core area garments.  Since then my experiences have been similar with some observations:

  • Not a true cold weather jacket.  Guitar Ted bought one after I was so impressed and he will weigh in with his thoughts from the mid west soon.  If it is really frosty out there, the cold, not the wind, but the cold will come through the fabric.  And there is not much room under it for more layering.  I bet I could take this down into the low 30s and be happy as long as I was moving and making heat but below that…not so sure.  But hey, colder than that and I stay home.
  • I do not care for it on bare skin, speaking for the sleeve area.  It feels kind of clammy.  But I would think that 9 times out of 10 you would have something on under this.
  • The vest deal is nice and versatile.  The vest sleeves are a bit odd but that was to keep the zippers from bothering your skin.  It also adds some coverage if you are using it with arm warmers.
  • The jacket is all Windstopper except for one panel on the back where your hydration pack might be.
  • It is not that packable in that it does not compress down to a walnut shell size, but it just might replace a couple of other garments saving space there.
  • The little time I have had it in the light rain or hail, it beaded up water and shed it with no issues.
  • It looks better with lycra than baggies.  Yeah, I know, but it has that athletic cut to it.  I like this in a winter garment and I hardly ever wear bags anyway.
  • I absolutely LOVE it…love it, love it.  Truly, I have worn it for nearly every ride since Christmas time.  I machine washed it once and hung it to dry and it came out fine per the instructions.
  • It is worth $180.00.

If my needs sound like your needs in regards to this type of jacket, then I think you will be pleased.  I sold three of these to guys I know based on my experience.  Guitar Ted has one, but it has been set aside till spring thaws come.  Ed the Tall has one (shown below in the red version) although he would have liked a longer sleeve for his ape arms, and FFW Dave, my partner on the WRIAD ride last year has one.  You might need one too.

gore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacketgore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacketgore phantom 2.0 windstopper jacket

 

Note: This Gore jacket(s) were purchased at retail for our personal use and review on Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give or honest thoughts and opinions throughout