Its name is a bit of a mouthful, but the Gore Power Trail Lady Windstopper Soft Shell Hoody is a great crossover top for cold winter days: a high-performance cycling jersey that looks equally at home paired with jeans down the pub.
With its relaxed styling it's clearly designed for more casual riding, ideal for a social jaunt, urban commuting or off-roading around your local woods, but it doesn't compromise on technical features – which is just as well considering the price. But with Gore you do tend to get what you pay for in terms of quality of fabrics and design, and if you're a fan then it's a premium worth paying – or, with Christmas around the corner, getting someone else to pay for you!
The Power Trail Hoody is super-comfy – nice and lightweight, with lovely soft, silky feeling fabric, allowing total freedom of movement. It makes for an eye-catching outer layer, or if conditions are Arctic it will work as a mid-layer too. The cut is very flattering, coming in at the waist despite it being Gore's least bodyhugging 'comfort fit' (the others are slim and tight). Because of this I needed to size down. The body and sleeves are generously long, with soft stretchy hem and cuffs in a different material. It looks quality, almost too good to wear on a bike – god forbid you get chain oil on it. Having said that, staining from my metal watch strap on the cuff washed out well.
Gore's Windstopper material does an excellent job of keeping draughts out, living up to its claim of 'total windproofness'. The DWR treatment on the outer polyester shell is also extremely effective – water just rolls off it, leaving it bone dry. In a sustained shower the beading does diminish, as you'd expect, but Gore makes no claims for this hoody being waterproof. However, when I tested the hood by spraying with a hose, even after the water started soaking into the outer fabric, the inside remained dry – very impressive.
I wasn't quite so bowled over by the fabric's breathability, although I do seem to be more prone to overheating than many. On my 20-minute fast-paced commute I found the forearms got damp inside, as did my back, but I was wearing a backpack. The weather was also fairly mild – this softshell is better for when the temperature drops into single figures. The narrow cut of the sleeves at the forearm no doubt contributes to the moisture build-up there – personally I'd like zipped vents on the sleeves to aid ventilation.
On the plus side, the fabric dries quickly. If I took it off and turned it inside out for the train portion of my commute, it'd be dry after about 10 minutes. As for the narrow sleeves, it looks neat and means there's no excess material to flap about, but also prevents you being able to pull the sleeves up if you get too warm.
The obvious feature of this top, uncommon for a cycling jersey, is the hood. It may be a case of style over substance, but if the temperature really does plummet it fits quite neatly under a helmet (and doesn't even look too ridiculous!). You can easily turn your head without impediment and the hood doesn't restrict your view at all. One niggle I do have is with the overly large neck opening. It means it's not as snug as it could be and frankly looks a bit strange when the hood is up.
When you've got the hood down and the jacket zipped up, the fit around the neck is loose, which means it hangs open when you're in the riding position. This is easy to remedy by tying the 'trainer laces' style drawcord, but it's not something you can do easily on the fly. A nice detail is the little magnet sewn into the back of the hood and below the back of the neck to keep it in place, although it was only just about strong enough to stop the wind lifting it.
Other details that certainly are practical include the two good-sized zipped hand pockets, large enough to swallow gloves and lights at the cafe stop. They're cleverly designed so the interior forms a pouch pocket on the inside of the jacket, handy for extras such as tissues.
Then there's the sturdy main zip, with an underflap to exclude draughts. It is a two-way zip, which I find ever so useful – it means if you're warm you can in effect have it unzipped but without it billowing open. A small criticism is that the zip toggle is quite slim, which makes it tricky to feel in thick gloves. There's also a small concealed zipped pocket on the left forearm, like those for a ski lift pass. I haven't tended to use it, but you could stash cash and a credit card in it, or your Oyster card if you live up London way. Lastly, there are three subtle reflective logos as a nod to road safety – the biggest is on the left bicep, then two minimal ones on the hips – but these are no substitute for proper high-vis/reflective clothing at night.
The Power Trail hoody does feel like a luxury item, made with great attention to detail, such as the stitched star on the left cuff and soft hood lining. Combined with its technical performance, great fit and aesthetic appeal, this all helps justify its rather aspirational price tag. As well as this bright 'jazzy pink' it comes in a muted 'raven brown' which looks more like black. It's also available without a hood for a tenner less.
High-quality casual but stylish windstopper that performs well in the cold – pricey though
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Power Trail Lady Windstopper Soft Shell Hoody
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Gore says: "This hooded jacket combines the cyclist lifestyle with cleverly designed performance apparel. GORE® WINDSTOPPER® technology keeps out wind and cold. The feminine cut is paired with sophisticated details."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Main fabric: 100% Polyester
Stretch Fabric: 91% Polyamide (nylon), 9% Elastane (Spandex)
Windproof, water repellent and breathable fabric
DWR treatment on outer shell
Comfortable, loose fit hood with hold-in-place magnet
Two-way front zip
Two front pockets with concealed zip
Small zip pocket on sleeve
Zip tags for easy opening
Reflective logo on back
Reflective logo on sleeve
Excellent windproofness and water repellency, not such great breathability.
It sizes up big – mine is a 38 while for Gore's waterproof Element jacket I need a 40.
Gore is never going to be cheap, but you know you're getting good quality fabric and design.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 40.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall it performed very well, but I did find I got a bit sweaty unless it was really cold out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Fabric feel, warmth, great water repellency and flattering cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
It wasn't quite as breathable as I'd have liked.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a very good casual softshell jersey/jacket; breathability could be better and it's also very expensive, otherwise I'd be tempted to give it 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax