The Gore Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Jacket is a lightweight, nicely styled and well made all-purpose cycling waterproof. It fits well, and has been a dependable and comfortable companion on my commute and excursions for the last few months. While it's definitely at the premium end of the waterproof jacket league, if you appreciate quality then there's very little not to like here.
Gore stands out in the bike wear industry as a manufacturer that develops its own waterproof fabric. Gore-Tex, first introduced over 30 years ago, was famously used in the space suits used on the first NASA Space Shuttle mission. Variants of Gore-Tex are also used by other garment manufacturers, often in high-end products, coming as it does with a lifetime warranty.
This jacket is made from Gore-Tex Active which, according to Gore, means it is suited to "fast pace, high intensity" activities. It also says it's durably waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable, and the most breathable fabric in its range.
Construction quality and finishing are both high. As far as waterproofness goes, all seams in the jacket are neatly taped. The three-layer fabric beads well on the outside and kept me dry inside in everything from drizzle to heavy rain – I've even given it a pressure hose test while wearing it and it fared well there too. As you'd expect, it's also windproof and kept me snug from biting winds during sub-zero rides.
Breathability is very good and the only area I found any (minimal) build-up of moisture was inside the arms but only when pushing hard in temperatures into the teens. Compared with my old Gore Bike Wear Cosmo jacket (made from standard Gore-Tex), I'd say its breathability is improved and is certainly as good, if not better, than my even older Gore Bike Wear Oxygen jacket (made from the now defunct but lightweight Gore-Tex Paclite). If you want the ultimate from Gore in terms of breathability in warmer but still wet weather, you might want to go for its highly rated One Active Bike jacket, which also uses Gore-Tex Active fabric but reduced to two layers.
The Power Trail jacket is labelled 'slim' fit, which falls between Gore's 'comfort' and 'tight' fits. I found the fit very good with ample length in both sleeves and body, which is often an issue for me (being 6'5"). It happily accommodated anything from one to two base layers plus a softshell underneath, although it was a bit loose around my waist. However, while my body proportions are mostly the same size as the XXL measurements on the Gore sizing chart, I'm much smaller around the waist at 86cm. The tail of the jacket is slightly dropped and the hem can be adjusted using an elasticated drawcord, which works well. To stop the ends of the drawcord dangling around they can be attached to the hem using poppers, a neat detail.
One small issue I had was that the cuffs are pretty tight, with only a minimal amount of elastication. If you want to wear thick winter gloves or mitts you may struggle to fit them underneath, although I was fine with Sealskinz Winter Cycle Gloves. I like to be able to pull my jacket sleeves up while riding when I get hot, but the tight cuffs and close-fitting forearms made this almost impossible. On the plus side, the snug cuffs, which can be pulled in further with Velcro tabs, meant that driving rain didn't work its way up my wrists, and the narrow sleeves can't billow like on some jackets.
The collar comes up nice and high for keeping the weather out, and there's a zip garage to stop the zip aggravating the skin. The collar is also adjustable using an elasticated drawcord although I didn't need to use this when wearing a few layers underneath. The entire collar is finished with a super-comfy soft brushed fabric on the inside.
Boosting its all-purpose credentials, the Power Trail has an under-the-helmet hood which fitted well, covering ears, forehead and half of my cheeks nicely. Just under the peak there is a short section of stretchy fabric which helps to keep the hood snug to the head. Importantly, the hood stays in place when you turn your head so doesn't obstruct your field of vision. It looks very much part of the jacket, rather than a sort of bolt-on as seen on some jackets.
Considering it's designed for year-round wear it's an impressively lightweight jacket, weighing just 325g for the XXL, and it packs down so that it can be stuffed into a jersey pocket. It feels very light on, notably lighter than even my old Gore Oxygen Paclite. Yes, there are lighter jackets – such as Gore's Oxygen 2.0 Gore-Tex Active jacket – but as a more all-purpose waterproof that includes a hood it compares well with its rivals.
Attention to detail befits a jacket of this calibre – and price. The main zip has teeth of the chunky plastic YKK Vislon type, and seems more substantial than the metal coil zips on my older Gore jackets. There is an inner storm flap (and no outer one), but I've had no problems with water ingress. However, I did find that occasionally, where the storm flap joins the zip, the flap could sometimes catch in the zip.
There are two pockets: a concealed front pocket on the chest with a mesh inner big enough for a large smartphone, plus a small zip pocket on the left forearm with a Gore-Tex inner, ideal for a train ticket or credit card. The hem is finished with a small reflective strip at the rear, with a reflective logo above.
Not cheap but very good quality: durable, lightweight, breathable, nicely styled and well fitting
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Power Trail Gore-Tex Active Jacket
Size tested: XXL
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: "Setting a new standard in weather protection that combines both uncompromising function and a great look. You get comfort on the bike in any weather, all year long: Our lightweight and breathable GORE-TEX® Active membrane guarantees to keep you dry".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Small zip pocket on sleeve
GORE-TEX® Active Product: Lightweight, extremely breathable, durably waterproof and windproof
Reflective piping on back
Hem width adjustable by easy-to-use covered cord stoppers and elastic draw-cord
Adjustable hood (width and field of vision)
Close fit collar
Reflective logo on back
Concealed front zip pocket
High quality construction.
As a durable, lightweight, packable waterproof jacket, it's one of the best I've ever tried. It keeps the water out and is very breathable.
Survived muddy commutes, road rides and the occasional mountain biking trip brilliantly with not a mark to show.
Excellent waterproofing, even with a jet wash test.
Very good breathability, only slight build-up of moisture around forearms when pushing hard in warmer temperatures.
Generally, a very good fit. Check sizing though and be aware that forearms and wrists might come up tight.
Sizing was as per the sizing charts so no need to go up or down a size.
Considering that its a durable, year-round item and has a hood it's impressive.
Feels brilliant to wear and is an all-day item with nice comfort detailing around the collar and hood.
An expensive item but very well made and one of the best jackets I've worn.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, machine wash 30 degrees.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent rain and wind protection, durable, can be worn all day with comfort and is suited for year-round use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Very good breathability and nice detailing around the hood and collar to help make it a comfortable all-day option.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
For me the fabric around the wrists and forearms was a bit tight, plus my unusual body proportions meant it was quite loose around the waist (though it can be tightened with integral drawcord).
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
One of the best waterproof jackets I've tested. A bit too tight in the forearm/wrists but if you don't want to roll up your sleeves it works well. As someone with a small waist I found it loose around the middle, though it can be tightened at the hem. Pricey but very well constructed.
About the tester
I usually ride: Trek Fuel EX9.9 2012 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax