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Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Jacket review

14 Nov 2019
Verdict:

A warm, lightweight winter jacket with a slightly bizarre ‘leatherette’ look

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Light • Warm • Water-repellent
Against 
Peculiar faux leather aesthetic

In an age when Gore-Tex seems to have found the ultimate material with its waterproof, lightweight, breathable ShakeDry fabric, it might seem odd to produce a jacket that makes a point of not being waterproof. But there is a certain logic to the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Soft-Lined Thermo Jacket.

‘The C5 is designed to be versatile over any kind of conditions,’ says Gore Wear’s Ben Washington. ‘If it’s raining, if it’s not, if it’s cold, if it gets warmer… you’ve got flexibility. It works across a range of temperatures and different weather conditions. You would really only wear the insulated ShakeDry jacket [the H5] when it’s really cold and wet.’

The idea of the C5 is that it’s the perfect compromise. It’s not fully waterproof, but it’s waterproof enough. It’s not super-insulated, but it’s warm enough and won’t make you boil in the heat.

It’s a neat fit, but not a skin-tight race fit. It’s basically designed to be a comfortable, throw-it-on-and-forget-about-it jacket that can cope with all conditions without being the master of any of them.

And its secret lies in Infinium.

The magic formula

Infinium sounds like the stuff that Iron Man makes his suits out of, and several online reviews of Infinium products suggest that it is an exciting, hi-tech new fabric from the German boffins at Gore-Tex.

But they are all wrong.

In fact, Infinium isn’t a fabric at all. Nor is it a new membrane or any other sort of new technology. In reality, Infinium is a re-branding exercise.

‘The idea behind Infinium was to give more freedom to brands and their designers to produce garments that work better, in less of a rigid framework,’ says Washington.

Buy the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium jacket from Evans Cycles for £219.99

By that he means that a number of brands, including Gore Wear (a company aligned with but separate from Gore-Tex), use Gore-Tex fabrics in their garment ranges, but they are restricted in how they use them.

For example, any Gore-Tex ShakeDry or Gore-Tex Black Label products must be fully waterproof with taped seams. And any clothing sporting the Windstopper logo must be at least 70% Windstopper fabric.

These rules were put in place to protect Gore-Tex’s reputation, but it meant that product designers couldn’t always create the garments they wanted. Which is where Infinium comes in.

‘We want to leverage the power of the Gore-Tex name,’ says Washington, ‘but also allow that freedom of mixing any of our fabrics together, which we’d never allow before.

‘So under the Infinium name the designer can put whatever fabric they want on a jacket where they think it’s going to work best. For example the top half could be Gore-Tex waterproof, taped, and the bottom half could be Gore Windstopper, which is not taped – it’s soft and breathable.

‘For the first time ever, we can blend waterproof and non-waterproof.’

In short, Infinium is not a new Gore-Tex material; it’s a new way of using Gore-Tex’s existing materials.

Crunchy and chewy

The Gore C5 Infinium jacket is a blend of Windstopper and ShakeDry materials (although neither logo appears on the garment).

The Windstopper brings stretch and allows for the addition of colour – the C5 can also come with red or yellow highlights – while the ShakeDry panels add a degree of waterproofing.

The combination makes for a softshell jacket that has a bit more protection than usual. The ShakeDry, used in this way, isn’t fully waterproof, but it will keep out light rain, as water simply beads and rolls off the fabric.

What’s more, if it gets completely soaked after hours of rain, the hydrophobic ShakeDry material won’t absorb the water, so the jacket will remain light and still feel dry even if it has actually let in some moisture.

Washington says, ‘People love softshells but after a few hours in the rain, you feel soggy and the jacket feels heavy, but we totally avoid that.

‘This new C5 is half the weight of the last product we made, and after three hours of rain it will also remain half the weight, while the old one would become twice the weight once it was soaked.’

The inside of the jacket is a soft, fleece lining that feels good next to the skin, and the high collar and long rear ensure that you are well protected from the elements at either end.

The jacket is finished with the usual three large rear pockets and trimmed with reflective strips to add an extra element of safety on dark nights.

Dividing opinion

As a go-to jacket, it’s hard to fault the Gore C5 Infinium. It really does embody the best of both worlds, having the softness, quietness and comfort of a softshell, and the protection of a hard shell without the crinkly fabric.

It is fully windproof, and remains remarkably cosy as the temperature drops despite being a fairly thin, lightweight jacket.

And although Gore Wear promotes the C5 as being for rides where waterproofing is not a priority, it still does a pretty good job of keeping out the rain. Certainly in light rain I never got wet inside, and the jacket dried out quickly thanks to the ShakeDry panels.

In heavier rain, the water is going to get through eventually, but even then the jacket remains warm and comfortable. (And what are you doing riding in heavy rain for hours anyway? Are you mad?)

Buy the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium jacket from Evans Cycles for £219.99

The breathability was also excellent, with no trace of condensation inside the jacket even when I found myself overheating slightly on hard training rides.

It’s not perfect, however. I would have liked a slightly more form-fitting cut. The Windstopper panels stretch, but the ShakeDry panels don’t, meaning that parts of the jacket, especially on the sleeves, can feel a bit baggy compared to fully stretchy garments such as the Castelli Gabba.

As an aside, the sizing comes up quite big, so I found myself wearing a size medium, where I would normally opt for a large.

Finally we come to the most contentious issue with the C5 Infinium jacket: the look.

The way the ShakeDry panels are laminated to the fleece lining gives the fabric a slightly puffy appearance that is strangely reminiscent of fake leather.

The outcome is that the jacket has a hint of ‘80s pop star’ or ‘low level Eastern European gangster’ about it. My wife exclaimed that she use to own a similar-looking leatherette jacket when she was a teenager.

Personally, I’m not a fan. When I showed it around the Cyclist office, opinion was divided, with a few people liking the leather look, but the majority wincing slightly.

I just can’t rock that faux leather vibe. It was enough for me to subtract a star from the overall rating, but if you like the look then you can mentally re-attach that star and content yourself that you are getting a high performance product that is great for a wide range of situations.

Including Saturday night at the local ’80s revival club session.

Price: 
£219.99

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