The Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Insulated Jacket comes with a hefty price tag but it's a seriously impressive foul weather option. It's completely waterproof, provides ample insulation for the coldest days, and is breathable enough to wear on every ride up to 10-12°C. The only snag is the lack of pockets for carrying all your ride essentials.
Gore's Shakedry needs little introduction, a game-changing two-layer waterproof fabric that offers stunning breathability with 100 per cent water resistance, impressive packability and low weight. It actually makes riding in the rain fun!
In this insulated version, the waterproof outer shell has been combined with a Polartec Alpha insulation layer to provide the rather novel appeal of complete rain protection with enough warmth for the coldest rides. And guess what? It's a combination that really works well. It combines the benefits of a waterproof shell and an insulated jacket in one smartly designed top that makes dressing for bad weather, whether cold or wet, a doddle.
Don't think it's just aimed at wet weather, either. Because the Shakedry and Polartec Alpha provide excellent breathability and superb warmth, you can wear the jacket in all and any weather without worrying about being inappropriately dressed. You'll be prepared for any eventualities, kept warm when it's cold, and dry when it's raining. It's really well suited to the vagaries of a British winter.
I've tested Polartec's Alpha down insulation numerous times in other jackets and I've always been impressed with the warmth, breathability and low bulk. The same is true here – I've worn it on frosty morning rides with just a baselayer underneath and been comfortable.
If you normally layer up for a ride, carefully choosing the right mix of layers to suit the conditions, well, you don't need to do any of that with this jacket. Just slap it on over a short sleeve baselayer and you'll be fine.
It'll keep you warm but you won't drown in your own sweat unless you wear too much underneath – I did notice a build-up of heat on some rides with temperatures in the 10-12°C range. Stay below that and don't wear too chunky a baselayer and you'll be fine.
On to the fit and, for me anyway, it's excellent. That's a size small in the photos and I found the shape and fit around the body, shoulders and arms spot on, with good length in the sleeves and a generously tall collar, with two small Velcro tabs to cinch it in.
The tail is dropped a little bit, but the elasticated cuffs are perhaps my favourite feature, with an inner material that ensures a close fit around the wrists for comfort and preventing cold air sneaking in.
My only issue with the Shakedry is how and where to carry all your ride essentials. Typical cycling jackets have three rear pockets, and even if they don't, chances are if you're having to layer up for the conditions then your jersey underneath will.
The Shakedry 1985 Insulated jacket only has one meagre pocket, large enough for a phone and not much else, and because you really don't need to layer up, it raises the question of where to carry all those essentials. In my view, you have two possible solutions: you can wear a short-sleeve jersey underneath and use its pockets, or you can strap everything to the bike.
With food and spares in a bike bag or backpack (Gore doesn't advocate wearing a backpack because of the fragility of the Shakedry fabric, but so far it's been fine), the jacket works brilliantly well, particularly for off-road rides, whether on the cyclo-cross, gravel or mountain bike, coping with the fluctuations in intensity and making it easy to dress for every ride.
As regards durability, so far it has been very good. Gore says the Shakedry fabric needs to be treated with care and, as I said above, doesn't recommend using it with backpacks, but I've been using it with one regularly on the mountain and adventure bikes I've been testing and it's not shown any signs of distress or premature wear. I've even crashed in it (the lengths I go to for product testing!) and it's completely undamaged. I'll update this review in a couple of months if any concerns are raised.
I love the fact that I can wear the Insulated jacket in any weather and it'll keep me dry and warm, with adequate breathability and a superb fit. I even like how it looks with the classy grey and a few splashes of colour, although some more reflectivity would always be appreciated (it also comes in black). But the lack of pockets makes it tricky to use for traditional cyclists who don't like carrying anything on the bike or in a bag.
Unless you can live with that single pocket, I'm minded to think that, much as I love this jacket, the better purchase might be a normal Shakedry jacket and a decent insulated mid-layer jersey. That's precisely the combo I use on a regular basis, treating the Shakedry as a windproof jacket rather than just saving it for the rain.
Superb performance in rain and cold weather, but the lack of pockets could be an issue
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Insulated Jacket
Size tested: Small
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, "Totally waterproof GORE-TEX SHAKEDRY™ fabric combined with a full lining of warm insulation. This jacket brings insulation to an unbelievably light package. Never get stuck in the cold and wet again, with the latest technology from GORE® wear."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Gore lists these features:
Back zipped stow pocket
Polartec® Alpha® insulation protects against cold,wet conditions whilst offering max breathability
SHAKEDRY™ surface: Water beads on the surface so a few quick flaps renders the garment dry
Reflective logo and print
Elastic cuffs at sleeve
Advanced matt black look
adjustable collar with velcro for optimum fit and protection
GORE-TEX Active with SHAKEDRY™ Product Technology
Reinforced hem for easier closure of zipper
Partially elastic hem
2-way front zip
Zip tags for easy opening
Top quality build.
Keeps you warm and dry with little overheating.
So far the durability has been really good, it has survived crashes and regular wearing of a backpack.
Its ability to deal with heat buildup is very impressive.
I found the size small a perfect fit.
It doesn't weigh much at all.
It's lovely and comfortable for all sorts of rides, really looks after you in the foulest weather.
Hmmm, tricky one this. You could certainly make the argument for buying a regular Shakedry jacket and an insulated mid-layer and achieve the same effect.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems looking after it at all.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you warm and dry.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Great fit, top comfort, rain protection and warmth for cold rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Lack of pockets. I like the colour but I know it lacks brightness for many people. More reflective details would be nice.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's well up there with the most expensive jackets, but few offer this combined water resistance and insulation.
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 overall score
I love this jacket except for the lack of pockets – and because you don't need to layer up it's tricky to carry ride essentials. Ignore that issue, though, and it's a stunning choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.