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Light, packable, windproof, completely waterproof and with superb breathability, Gore's C7 Women's Gore-Tex Shakedry Viz jacket works brilliantly on the bike, whether it's raining or not. It's not cheap, but with such impressive performance it really will earn its keep.
We've reviewed various jackets made with Gore's wonder fabric (incuding the men's Shakedry Viz), and it really is in a class of its own. The jackets are expensive, but if you consider that they can act as both a waterproof and a windproof, packable but protective enough for the wettest days, and light enough to take the place of an emergency showerproof in your pocket, it's all manner of garments in one.
David Arthur has said it's the one piece of cycling kit he couldn't ride without, and I'd agree. On cool, dry days its windproofing keeps you warm, and if the sun comes out you won't overheat and get sweaty. It's thin, not insulated, but wear the right layers underneath and you'll be fine. The fabric has a pleasant feel against the skin, too, a kind of smooth, warm silkiness.
If the temperature rises, it's small and light enough that you can take it off, roll it into its rear pocket and stuff it in a jersey pocket. And if (when) the heavens open, on it goes and out stays the rain.
Last year, I tested the more relaxed-fit C5 Shakedry jacket, and you get the same superb performance here but with some improvements. I really liked the slightly more relaxed cut of the C5 ('form' fit in Gore parlance, as opposed to C7/slim and C3/active), but now I've tried the C7, that's where my money'd go.
Although I had given the C5 what I'd thought was a thorough testing, it wasn't until I was wearing it in a mid-sportive monsoon that I discovered some shortcomings in the design. I hadn't fully considered how the length (not very long), combined with no gripper at the hem and overfull jersey pockets would leave you under-covered at the rear in torrential rain.
The C7 cut provides much better protection. It's longer (once you get the right size) and though it doesn't have gripper, the hem has some elastication to keep it wrapped around full jersey pockets and to stop rain/spray getting up underneath.
A note on sizing: Gore suggests sizing up if you fall between two. Slim fit garments have 'a tighter fit that hugs close to the body...If unsure you may want to take a larger size of these products than you would usually buy.' After consulting the chart (I'm an L in the hips, an XL in the chest, and we won't talk about the waist…), I sized up to an XL (in the pics I'm modelling a medium; below is a pic of me in the XL). It's comfortably roomy, and I suspect I could have got away with a large, so I'd just say stick to your usual size.
That said, there is no stretch in the fabric, so if you do like to carry lots in your jersey pockets it's something to bear in mind. I also prefer a slightly relaxed fit to skintight aero. (Roll on the Stretch version for women...)
As with the C5, the fit works better on the bike than off – it's quite tight across the chest until you're leant forward in a riding position, and the sleeves are pretty long but just about perfect when you're stretched forward, with a simple elasticated section to hold the cuffs around gloves/wrists.
The orange 'Viz' sections on the sleeves are as waterproof as the rest of the jacket, though they don't 'shake dry' as quickly. They do resemble big gauntlets somewhat, but I like the idea of being seen by other road users and they are pretty bright.
The logos at the rear are reflective, too, and the main blue fabric is an improvement on the dull brown of the C5, which Gore describes as black. There's also 'lava grey' in this C7 fit, along with black/fluoro.
The single rear zipped pocket will take an iPhone 6 with a bit of room to spare, though the zip isn't the easiest to move up and down. There's also a strap for wrapping round the jacket once it's bundled inside.
Although you can't really argue that £239.99 for a light, packable cycling jacket is a bargain, the Gore is worth the money for its performance. You can pay a lot less to keep dry – Sportful's Hot Pack NoRain Jacket is £130 and does a great job of keeping out rain but isn't as breathable; dhb's Aeron Lab Ultralight Waterproof is £150, currently reduced to £120 (Stu tested the men's version last year), and Lusso's Aqua Repel V2 is £134.99. But for top notch waterproofing and breathability, for riding whatever the weather, the Gore Shakedry Viz is nigh-on faultless.
The only limitation continues to be its potential fragility: don't wear this jacket it if you're carrying a backpack, and be aware of what's poking out of your jersey pockets that it might rub against.
Superb performance, whether as a windproof or rainproof, and tucks away easily in a pocket when not required
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C7 Women Gore-Tex Shakedry Viz Jacket
Size tested: XL (M in photos)
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, "Training to compete at the highest level requires total commitment, whatever time of day your training happens. This jacket has been engineered to keep you visible and totally dry when you have to ride in less than desirable weather conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Back zipped stow pocket
Use with backpack not recommended
Face fabric wetting out allows to quickly flap the surface dry
Revolutionary membrane construction eliminates face fabric preventing a chilling effect
Sportive feminine cut
Minimal pack volume
Weight 95 gram (Size 38)
Visibility paneling for increased safety in low light conditions
GORE-TEX Active Jacket with new SHAKEDRY™ product technology
Lightweight, extremely breathable, waterproof and windproof
Cycling specific cut with draped back
Zip tags for easy opening
Ergonomically shaped collar
You'll want to look after it and keep it away from sharp objects. And don't use it with a backpack.
According to Gore it's a 'sportive feminine cut'. The XL I ended up with is a little loose around the hem and cuffs, but there's enough room for the non-stretchy fabric to fit over full jersey pockets, and the length is much better than the much tighter medium size I'm pictured in. Large could possibly be spot on, although XL doesn't exactly feel 'small' across the chest, on the bike or off. I'm left thinking that, basically, the sooner the Stretch version comes out for women the better.
It's listed as 'Slim fit' and the size guide says: 'With a tighter fit that hugs close to the body Slim Fit garments are designed to minimize air resistance and reduce bulk as well as maximize the material properties (e.g. breathability, moisture management, etc.) If unsure you may want to take a larger size of these products than you would usually buy.'
I began by trying on a Medium/38, but realised it was too tight to fit over even semi-full jersey pockets, so after checking the sizes it looked like I actually fell between L/40 and XL/42, so I plumped for XL... but L might have been better.
So essentially – follow your usual size.
You can get lighter windproofs, but the rain protection here is superb and worth the minimal extra grammage.
It's not fleecey soft on your skin, but it's still comfortable in a soft and smooth way. Staying dry is a lot more comfortable than getting soaked...
It isn't cheap, but it's what you'd expect to pay for the performance.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy – just stick it in a normal wash. No DWR treatment to worry about, so no tech wash or reproofing needed. The colourful sleeve sections take longer to dry – they're not 'shakedry'.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's superb. The waterproofing is excellent and it breathes better than me on some long climbs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The balance of waterproofing and breathability, and the coverage of the rear.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I'm not totally sold on the shape/cut. If I'd ignored the sizing info and ended up with an L, it might have had the length and roominess at the rear for covering full pockets (and allowing access to them), but it's not as well shaped for curves as some jackets I've worn. Bring on the stretch version.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's comparable to jackets using the same fabric, but higher than a lot of other options that don't offer quite the same balance of waterproofing and breathability. Some almost-as-good options are a lot less: Sportful's Hot Pack NoRain is £100 cheaper.
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
The performance is exceptional, as long as you accept the limitations – it's not stretchy, you can't use a backpack when wearing it, and it's flippin' expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.