Years ago, I was still trying to be race fit and did stupid things like go out for 100km group rides in the dead of winter even when it was raining, hailing, sleeting, or well below freezing. While most of us would bundle up in layer upon layer and look like a group of Michelin men, there was this one guy on the club named Mark who came dressed in a sleek, red kit that looked as if it couldn’t possibly provide comfort in such terrible weather.
Mark insisted again and again that this magical kit kept him warmer than all of our layers and he certainly didn’t seem to suffer. We called it his “super suit” (after the animated film The Incredibles). The kit was made by Gore. I had to have one.
My husband was the first to get on board, buying Gore Wear’s C5 Infinium Thermo jacket. He could attest that this magic garment stood up to the cold. There was less whining about the weather and more getting out early in the morning to ride in the sunshine in winter. I was jealous, because at the time, there didn’t seem to be a women’s version.
For those of you not familiar with the brand, we gave an exhaustive look into the Gore cycling clothing range last year.
Editor’s Note: Gore products are featured in several Cyber Monday sales so if you are interested in deals on this jacket this week we have included some quick links below.
Design and aesthetics
Gore Wear now offers the Tempest Jacket for women with the same Gore-Tex Infinium fabric with Windstopper technology as the C5, providing a windproof, water-resistant soft shell jacket that claims to be “very breathable” – it certainly meets the criteria for our guide to the best women’s cycling jackets.
The Tempest jacket comes in five colours – Fireball red for maximum superhero looks, neon yellow for safety, a deep navy Orbit Blue, black and “Lab Gray” (which is currently 50% off in XXS and XS only).
I got my hands on the Tempest in black and noticed a few similarities and a few differences between the 2020 men’s C5 Infinium Thermo jacket. I was excited to test the jacket during a blustery cold snap in North Carolina this fall to see if it lives up to my expectations.
Out of the box, the jacket has the look of a typical long-sleeved road jersey and feels only a little bit heavier than some other similar offerings. The fabric has a decent amount of stretch to it – more horizontally than vertically – and a plush fleece lining throughout.
The stitching looks and feels quite robust with great attention to detail – the construction is much more high-end than one might expect at its $170 price point (30% off for Cyber Monday).
There are numerous details in addition to the fabric that help with windproofing: the elastic grip on the bottom hem at the back keeps the jacket snug on your lower back, elastic hems at the wrist, a high-ish collar and a generous zipper garage. The big, reflective arm bands are a nice improvement on the C5 for 360-degree visibility.
I first put the Tempest through its paces on a blustery, cold morning starting out around 40°F (5°C) with a windchill below 40 – conditions that would normally be pretty uncomfortable for me. I wore it over a long-sleeve baselayer and some thermal bibs.
The windproof qualities of the jacket were immediately apparent. Whichever side the wind hit felt like an arctic tundra through thermal-but-not-windproof bibs, but inside the fleecy, cosy envelope of the Tempest jacket, it was like a tropical island. Windproof – check!
After hammering up a few hills to get the rest of my body warmed up, I expected to start sweating inside the jacket but was pleasantly surprised at the breathability of the Tempest. Even toward the end of my ride when the temperature rose over 50°F (10°C), I never felt overly warm or sweaty.
We’ve been in the midst of a drought, so I tested how waterproof the jacket is under the faucet. A steady stream of water for a full minute didn’t make it through to the fleece, but the arm cuffs are most certainly not water-resistant at all.
My first impression of the Tempest was very positive but on subsequent rides, I began to get annoyed with a few elements the Tempest lacks that the C5 has and wonder why Gorewear chose to omit them.
First off, the cuffs are shorter on the Tempest, not tapered like the C5, which lets a gap form between your gloves and sleeve. Second, the men’s jacket has a lighter, higher band of fabric on the back of the collar while the Tempest’s collar is a full fleece. The fleece on the back of my neck became uncomfortably hot with harder efforts. The Tempest also inexplicably lacks the hanging loop present on the inside of the C5’s collar.
While the Tempest is breathable, on harder rides I could have benefitted from the lighter, non-fleece-lined stretch side panels of the C5 to allow for more breathability where you need it most, although I appreciate that the Tempest is designed for colder weather.
The fleece-backed fabric has some stretch, but it lacks the give of the C5’s stretch panels that – as Gorewear puts it – allow for “optimum freedom of movement”. The Tempest could use more stretch for two reasons: first, to accommodate larger bust sizes – size XL is only a 39.75 inch/108cm chest (max 38 B-C or 36 D cup) – and second, to make getting into the pockets easier.
Speaking of pockets, the Tempest’s pockets are tiny, especially on a women’s size small. There are four back pockets, three top-opening and one vertical zip which was super handy for keys or cash (and the only one I could easily reach). For context, the middle pocket is just big enough for an iPhone 13 Pro Max, while the two side pockets could fit an iPhone Mini. You might be able to cram a Shakedry waterproof and a phone in them, but not much more.
Finally, the dropped tail did not feel long enough for me, and I’m short. Anyone with a longer torso might feel a little too exposed on the lower back.
All of that said, I still love the Tempest jacket. I’m a big-time weather wuss and this piece gives me the confidence to go out and ride knowing that at least my core will stay warm and dry. It’s not exactly a supersuit, but it’s close.
The Gorewear Tempest women’s thermal jacket is a windproof, water-resistant softshell that is meticulously constructed. It’s like a long-sleeve jersey on steroids – the fleece lining is warm but not overly so and the Infinium outer fabric keeps wind and light rain at bay. The slim cut is attractive and doesn’t flap in the wind. A solid three-season jacket for when the temperatures will stay cool to cold that can resist light precipitation.
Pocket size is a definitely problem and the full fleece is geared toward commuting or endurance rides, not as much for hammerfests.
Tech Specs: Gore Wear Tempest Women’s Thermal Jacket
- Price: £149.99 / $170.00
- Available Colours: Fireball red, Neon Yellow, Black, Orbit Blue, Lab Gray
- Available Sizes: XXS-XL
- Weight: 388g (M)