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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Jacket is a soft shell that boasts full windproofing along with water resistance and a high-performance fit. After five weeks of testing, I'm pretty sure this jacket will cover about 90% of my winter riding – it's that good!
Gore says its Infinium products are made for when comfort and performance take priority over waterproofness, which to be honest is the majority of winter. A winter in the UK can be wet, but one thing I've learned from twenty years of riding – with seven of those as a serious commuter – is that it doesn't actually rain as much as you might think.
If you do get caught in a shower, the C5 Infinium has a durable outer coating which is at least water-resistant. Just like the standard C5 Thermo Jersey Jamie recently reviewed, the Infinium has a recommended temperature range of 5-15°C and I'd say that is pretty spot on. At the upper end it's best paired with just a summer baselayer, though.
With a long-sleeve baselayer underneath I've ridden at 2°C and was lovely and warm, so I reckon I could go a touch under freezing in this. I do run quite warm and rarely need to run a jacket over the top of a soft shell, though, even as the temperature drops past -5°C.
Breathability is impressive considering how well the Infinium fabric blocks the wind. Stopping a cooling breeze coming in can often create a bit of a boil in the bag effect, but not here. Gore has achieved a good level of heat transfer unless you're really going for it towards the top end of its temperature range.
At the time of writing, I've just got back from a blustery ride under clear dark skies and the C5 Infinium highlighted how good its windproofing qualities are. I'd gone for non-thermal tights, no overshoes, and thin gloves with each of those letting the chill through. My core and arms were noticeably warmer and the cut of the wind just wasn't getting through.
Speaking of cut, the C5 is shaped for the racer. It's got a slim fit, so if you ain't whippet-thin you'll probably need to size up.
The short front and dropped tail means that you get coverage at the rear with no bunching at the front, and while the arms look a little baggy off the bike, when you're stretched onto the hoods or drops they're spot on.
The wrists are cut at an angle too, which means plenty of coverage to tuck inside your glove but nothing to sit under your palm... it's all about the details.
The zip has a baffle to stop draughts getting through, and a generous zip garage at the top to stop irritation. It's welcome as the C5 has a nice tall neck to stop the wind getting in.
Some jackets like this don't come with pockets, meaning you have to wear a jersey, so I was glad to see a full deck of three running across the back. There's also an integrated valuables pocket.
The pockets are deep – 195mm in the case of the centre one, and 120mm wide – which gives a fair bit of storage for a tool roll, a large phone, or even a thin waterproof jacket.
The two other pockets are quite narrow, though. Still good for storage, but a little tight to get your gloved hands in on the fly. They are angled at least, which does make that restrictive access a little easier.
I can hear the muttering at the back of the class about 'yet another black winter jacket,' but if you ride in the dark Gore has included reflective panels either side of the pockets. They're pretty much invisible by day, but effective once the lights come on.
There's a similar arrangement on the cuffs, which can help to show up your indications, although in reality they'll probably be tucked inside your gloves. If black isn't your thing there is also a dark blue, a bright yellow, or bright orange.
Right then, £169.99 for a coat... I'll have a go at justifying it.
Firstly, it covers such a huge range of weather conditions you're going to get a lot of use out of it. The C5 Infinium both looks and feels very well made too, so you can expect it to last a good few seasons. Work it out on a per minute or per mile ratio and it starts to look like pretty good value.
I was impressed with the Sportful Fiandre Strato Wind Jacket. In fact, it uses Gore's Infinium material for the front and side panels, and costs £155. Meanwhile the Lusso Aqua Pro Extreme Jacket is £164.99, offers similar levels of windproofing and impressive levels of water resistance.
Overall, I really like the Gore C5 Infinium Thermo Jacket. It's one of those Swiss army knife products that covers an awful lot of bases. The close fit keeps your body well covered and comfortable too, so to be honest you can just forget about the thing and enjoy your ride.
A one-stop-shop of a jacket for riding into the winter and beyond
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo jacket
Size tested: Medium
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: "Fleece lined WINDSTOPPER® soft shell for warmth and wind protection designed to work when in your cycling position. A tight to body fit and excellent night time visibility with reflective logos and panels makes this jacket perfect for those determined to keep road cycling even on cold, dark winter days."
It's a very good jacket that works in a multitude of weather conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Black reflective transfers
Brushed fleece lining for warmth and next-to-skin comfort
Front zip with logo transfer
Modern, aero road cycling fit: lengthened sleeves and dropped tail
Secure zip pocket on rear for keys or valuables
Zip with zip port
3-gusseted back pockets
Close fit high collar
Stretch inserts for optimum freedom of movement
GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ fabrics with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® product technology: totally windproof, extremely breathable and durably water resistant, lightweight protection
It's a close cut garment, so you might need to size up if you aren't super slim.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I stuck it on the recommended 30 degree wash plenty of times, and have had no issues.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It works in a multitude of temperatures and weather conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Impressive race cut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I'm nit-picking a bit, but I did find the side pockets a bit narrow for my gloved hands to enter on the fly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can get cheaper soft shells, you can get cheaper windproofs and you can get cheaper waterproofs – but the C5 Infinium delivers right across the board, and is competitively priced against many of its rivals.
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
This is the jacket I keep on grabbing before I head out on the bike. It's warm, it's breathable and the cut is just great for the type of fast road riding I generally like to do. It's an investment but you get your money's worth – it's very good and a solid eight.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!