Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Living in the UK, we aren't always blessed with the finest weather conditions, particularly in the winter months. That means that a warm yet breathable and waterproof jacket is a must for any MTB'er. The only problem seems to be that very few jackets with that list of specifications exist. Thankfully, on the surface at least, the Gore C5 seems to tick all the boxes, so let's see how it fares.
The first thing that struck us was just how light this jacket is. It really does feel like you could put it in your backpack and forget about it. The feel of the jacket is interesting too. It almost feels like it's waxed, but this is no doubt the Gore-Tex coating. All the seams are very well sealed and there is a real feel of quality to it. The fit is snug though, and it might be worth trying on a couple of sizes to get one that you're happy with. I usually take a size small, but with this I went up to a medium and it's still quite a fitted feel. This suits me personally as I really don't like flapping jackets, but your personal preference may be different so bear that in mind.
ON THE TRAIL
I used this for the first time on a local loop that contained a mixture of fire roads, woodlands and rocky trails. It felt comfortable but I didn't feel like it was particularly excelling in any specific area. The next time I wore it however, was up at Lee Quarry, which, as any of you that have ridden there will know, you often experience all four seasons in one day. This was certainly the case and it felt like on this ride, the jacket really cam to life. The first thing I noticed was how warm I was even against a driving wind, yet I wasn't overheating or having to undo the zip to get any extra ventilation. The breathability of this jacket is excellent it really is. After a rain shower, the jacket seemed to hold water droplets on its surface instead of absorbing them which was a real relief. The only dampness was from my own perspiration so it was another thumbs up there. The movement you can achieve in this jacket, despite the snug fit is very impressive. It doesn't feel like it bunches up at any point and the cut really felt good when I was in the attack position. Post ride, the jacket cleaned off brilliantly with a spray of the hose pipe and was dry to use again within a few hours. That's a big thumbs up to any clothing item in the winter months.
However, there were a few things I was a bit puzzled by. The first one was the hood. Previous to this jacket I had an old Royal Matrix which had a really great useable hood. I loved it and had high hopes for this jacket. Sadly, the hood is nowhere near big enough to put over your helmet when the weather quickly descends on you. In fact, it was barely big enough to get my head in at all and I wear a 56cm helmet so that should give you an idea of how small it is. I think that the hood is really more of an extra way to keep your neck warm on this jacket because it really doesn't have any extra purpose (apart from collecting rain water). The other thing that I wasn't sure of was the zip pocket on the chest. With it being a Gore-Tex jacket, I was expecting the pocket to be sealed so that my phone and keys would be protected. However, the pocket is actually just a thin mesh and after a couple of hours seemed to absorb the moisture from my jersey thus making it a bit pointless. That's certainly something I would like to see changed.
With those issues aside, I have to say that i really like this jacket. I think it strikes a good mix of usability and style. I didn't feel daft going into the supermarket on the way home in it (apart from the mud up the back of it), and it could easily be used as a soft-shell in daily use. I've had it about 3 months now and it's still feeling as good as new with no signs of fraying material or anything despite a few five star crashes! The Gore-Tex was excellent as I anticipated, the cut was anatomically very good, it was warm and easily packable too. If you're in the market for a winter jacket, then at the very least give this a look. The price varies depending on where you buy it from so do shop around for the best price. It's not the greatest jacket I've ever used, but it's definitely not far away either.