Gore has been making bike gear for 30 years now (as shown here) and some of what it's learned has been distilled into this Oxygen 2.0 Gore-Tex Active anniversary jacket, which is an excellent hard shell for winter riding in all conditions. At north of £200 it's expensive, but you won't be disappointed with the performance.
The Active in the name refers to Gore's Active membrane, which is "built for extreme breathability and ideal for highly aerobic, done in a day activities", according to Gore. "All components are built for optimized sweat management to ensure extreme breathability and optimum comfort in high aerobic conditions. The performance is also supported by a tight fitting and minimalistic garment design.' So there you go: expect a high quality race-fit top that's good for sweaty, high-intensity riding.
That's what Gore promises, and that's what it delivers. This really is an excellent fast riding top.
The cut is sufficiently bike-orientated for it to feel a little ungainly off it – it pulls at the shoulders a bit and feels tight across the chest. Once you're on the bike and riding, though, it's exactly right. There's plenty of room in the arms without them being over-long or wide, with a zip cuff to allow you to get your hands in without needing extra material.
The collar rises at the back to keep more of your neck covered (and more water out in a downpour) and the tail drops to cover your lower back well. It's elasticated too, with silicone grippers to keep it in place. I felt I could have done with maybe an extra few centimetres of length.
There's some subtle gold reflective on the tail, and also on the arms, collar and cuffs. If you don't want a stealthy black one there's a black and red option too.
The jacket doesn't have any pockets, instead opting for two long zips that allow you to get into your jersey for snacks or spares. If you're a bit warm these can also be opened for venting, although obviously that compromises the waterproofing of the jacket. And being waterproof is something it does very well. Fully taped seams all round mean there's no water ingress through the fabric and the aforementioned collar and cuffs are better than most at guarding against trickles. I've completed two-hour rides in genuinely unpleasant conditions with very little dampness getting in: a small amount from the side zips, and a little soaking in from the cuffs, but nothing through the fabric, at all.
The Active membrane also makes the Oxygen 2.0 jacket very windproof. I'd struggle to name another jacket that's better in that regard. Tight cuffs and collar and an excellent riding cut, coupled with a storm flap behind the main zip, mean that it's a welcome outer layer when the cold winds are blowing in from the north. Plus there's very little excess material to flap about, making it a quiet jacket even in the blowiest conditions.
All this would be to nought if the Active fabric didn't breathe well, because you'd just be a soggy mess after an hour's riding. But again, it's excellent. After two hours of hard riding in the dry, in temperatures in the low teens – which are very much at the upper end of what you'd expect to be needing this for – taking off the jacket revealed that my baselayer was still essentially dry, as was the inside of the shell, which meant the jacket had coped admirably with getting rid of any excess moisture.
The one time I did manage to get a bit soggy was on a two-hour chaingang in the pouring rain, where the combination of near-race pace coupled with constant spray from following wheels managed to breach the Gore's defences. I think most of it just dribbled down the front of my neck, to be honest. Even then the jacket was windproof and warm.
I've got very little bad to say about this offering from Gore. The fabric is excellent, and the cut on the bike is almost perfect. I would have liked a little extra length in the rear but that's the only niggle. At £220 it's certainly in the upper echelons, but if you're not too bothered about the 30th anniversary badge and the gold piping then last year's jacket, which is essentially the same, can be snapped up for less than £150. And that, my friends, is a stone-cold bargain.
Really high quality hardshell with pro-level fit and performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore 30th Oxygen 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket
Size tested: Large, Black
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 GORE-TEX® Active jacket offers maximum breathability for the dedicated performance oriented road cyclist who trains in all weather conditions. A slim race cycling cut provides perfect fit. Two zipped side openings allow for easy access to the jersey pockets."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Ergonomically shaped collar
Reflective print on shoulders
Reflective print on sleeves, sides, and back
Reflective logo on front and back
Reflective print on sleeve cuffs and collar rim
Partially elastic hem
Reinforced hem for easier closure of the zipper
Reinforced collar for easier opening of the zipper
Zip-underflap and zip-port
Zip tags for easy opening
Really well put together and finished, feels like a quality jacket.
Great in the rain, great in the wind.
No issues during testing, material finish is hardy and seams are well finished.
It's a really waterproof jacket, and the collar and cuffs are well designed too.
Very good for a full waterproof.
Definitely cut for a fairly aggressive position on the bike.
L was a race fit on me, which is what I'd expect.
Just about packable into a jersey pocket, but this is the jacket you dig out when you *know* it's wet or cold.
Excellent fit means it's comfy on the bike. Best with long-sleeved stuff underneath.
Definitely not cheap, but represents good value for money if you're serious about going out in all weathers.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's machine wash and Gore recommends a tumble dry on a low heat to keep the surface beading. It's been easy to care for.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
A bit more length in the tail would have been nice.
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
Not cheap, but you get what you pay for here. This is a top quality waterproof.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.