The Gore Power Trail Windstopper Soft Shell Jacket is a lightweight, well styled and solidly constructed, all-purpose windproof cycling jacket. As the name suggests, it's designed primarily for mountain biking, but it's been a comfortable and reliable addition to my often chilly commute for the last few months. The fit is generally good, though for me it does have a couple of niggles: I didn't get on with the side pocket zippers and I found the waist too baggy (more on both of these below). It's also certainly at the higher end price-wise when compared to many rival softshells.
According to Gore, the variant of its Windstopper Soft Shell fabric used here offers 'total windproofness', 'maximum breathability' and 'water resistance'. Gore also states that by building the windproof membrane into the fabric, as opposed to using a fabric coating, Gore Windstopper fabrics should be more breathable and have a longer lifetime than other windproof fabrics. Construction quality and finish are both very good.
Gore says the jacket is designed for 'the change in seasons and colder days', and in terms of windproofness it kept icy winds out on many a morning. It is a softshell rather than an insulated jacket, though, so bear in mind you might want to layer up in those kinds of conditions. It is lined with a thin fleecy material that feels pleasant against the skin, but for more warmth Gore offers a £30 cheaper, winter-specific Power Trail Windstopper Soft Shell Thermo jacket, with a thicker fleece lining, or the excellent but £60 more expensive One Thermium. As another test of windproofness I tried placing my mouth tightly over the fabric and blowing hard – nothing came through, unlike other brands I've tried this with.
When reviewing Endura's FS260-Pro SL Thermal Windproof jacket Neil Gander found that the non-windproof micro-mesh panels on the back and backs of the arms left him feeling a bit cold when stopped. Like Rapha's Classic Winter jacket, the Gore Power Trail is entirely covered with windproof material so, in theory, should fare better in the wind when stationary.
Water resistance is more than adequate for a jacket not intended as a waterproof, rain beading nicely on the surface during light drizzle. After heavier or more prolonged downpours the rain would start to soak through, but the jacket dries out quickly. Breathability is very good too; compared with my 2009 Gore Cosmo soft shell Windstopper jacket, I'd say its breathability is improved.
The Power Trail is labelled 'comfort' fit, which is the most generous in Gore's range, the others being 'slim' and 'tight'. I found the fit generally good: there was ample length in sleeves and in the body, something which is often an issue for me at 6ft 5in. It happily fitted anything from one to two and, at a push, three thin baselayers underneath, so should also fit work clothes underneath too. However, I did find it a bit too loose around my waist. That said, while my body proportions are mostly the same size as the XXL measurements on Gore's Sizing Chart, I'm much smaller around the waist at 86cm. (It's not me in the photos, by the way – I do fill it out a bit better than Ash, who's normally a medium or large.)
The jacket has a drop-tail that rolls up into a zipped compartment, a nice feature when wearing the jacket off the bike. The hem can be adjusted using an elasticated drawcord, and to stop the ends of the drawcord dangling around they can be poppered to the hem, a neat touch.
The collar zips up fairly snugly under the chin (I have a 44-45cm collar size) with room for the collar of an office shirt. There's also a zip garage to prevent the zip aggravating the skin. Inside the collar is finished with a super-comfy soft brushed fabric. The zip is also off-centre, so doesn't sit on your Adam's apple.
For a jacket of this calibre – and price – thankfully the attention to detail is high. The main zip has an inner storm flap and chunky plastic teeth. The zipper end is also rubberised, a neat touch for gloved or cold, wet hands. There are four pockets: two side hand pockets, a chest pocket and a rear pocket at waist height. The side pockets are accessed by opening two zips, the first of which doubles as a venting system for the jacket, running vertically about halfway up the jacket's length; it's not a setup I'm that keen on – I'd prefer just one zip to access the pockets.
The chest and rear pockets each have a storm flap and the zipper of the rear pocket has the useful addition of a short tag to aid opening when reaching round behind. The side pockets would accommodate a standard paperback, and the chest and rear pockets could fit a large smartphone.
The cuffs incorporate an elasticated extension in Lycra-type material with a thumb hole, which covers the palms, though I didn't feel the need to use it.
The jacket is available in black, red or ink blue, but not fluoro yellow, being aimed more at the off-road market. To help you be seen, the hem is finished with a small reflective strip at the rear, reflective logos and stripes on the left sleeve.
In terms of value, there are cheaper windproof jackets out there, such as the excellent £170 Sportful Fiandre Norain Jacket, and Chapeau!'s Red Echelon Jacket at £149.99. But you can pay a lot more, like £260 for that excellent Rapha Classic Winter Jacket I mentioned earlier.
Weight-wise there are lighter road-focused jackets, such as Sportful's Fiandre Light WS Jacket, at 260g in a small, and that Rapha Classic Winter Jacket at 393g (small). But others are closer to the weight of the Power Trail, such as the excellent Mavic Sprint Thermo, 467g for a medium, and Endura's FS260-Pro SL Thermal Windproof, mentioned above, at 566g for a large.
So, while heavy for a road-specific windproof, as a non-road-specific, colder weather jacket with space underneath for civvies and plenty of pockets, at 672g for the XXL it's not too heavy. It felt surprisingly light on, and is a shade lighter than my old Gore Cosmo.
If you need an all-rounder windproof jacket that's well constructed, nicely styled, feels good on, and has plenty of storage space, it's certainly one to think about. But if the side pockets sound a faff, or you're especially slim in the waist, you may want to consider other options.
A comfortable, windproof, breathable jacket for colder weather, with slightly frustrating double zips and a baggy waist
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Men's Power Trail Windstopper Soft Shell 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: "The next generation is here: Top features come together in this bestseller. Perfect for the change in seasons and colder days on the trail. Gore Windstopper combines with a strategically placed venting zipper for optimal comfort on any ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Zip pocket on back
Reflective tape at hem
Soft and versatile Gore Windstopper Product: windproof, water repellent and highly breathable
Fold-away drop tail
Two front ventilation zippers with integrated zipped pockets
Concealed zip pocket at chest
Robust grippy zipper puller
Hem width adjustable by easy-to-use covered cord stoppers and elastic draw-cord
Fleece-lined, close fit high collar
Elastic sleeve cuff
Reflective logo on back
The sort of high quality construction that I've come to expect from Gore Bike Wear.
Niggles with the double-zip entry to the side pockets aside, this is a good windproof jacket.
After months of use on the commute there is not a mark to show – confidence-inspiring.
This isn't marketed as a waterproof jacket; water repellency during short showers is sufficient for a jacket of this type. In terms of windproofing - its raison d'etre - then I would give it 9 as it does an excellent job of keeping out even gale force wind.
Very good breathability.
Slightly baggy waist.
Sizes up as expected from the chart, but check waist sizing if you're a slim Jim.
A lovely jacket to wear, which feels very nice next to the skin.
Expensive, but you get what you pay for.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 40°C. Washed easily, dries quickly.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A good colder weather windproof jacket that breathes well, and water beads off during short, light showers, let down for me by the frustrating double-zip entry to the side pockets, and a baggy waist.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
A really nice jacket to wear, felt plush yet pretty light.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The double-zip entry to the side pockets, and a baggy waist.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
Overall it's a good windproof for colder weather. It's comfortable and breathable, but I found its double-zip side pockets frustrating, and for me the waist was a bit baggy.
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