Described by Gore as “a trendy and light attractive all-round and tour jacket” the Countdown Active Shell available in both men's and women's versions is an unusual proposition. It’s not often that you see a seriously insulated (using incredibly effective synthetic Primaloft insulation) jacket aimed squarely at the cyclist, rather than the more general outdoor user.
It is an incredibly warm jacket, offering insulation, windproofing and water resistance. For on the bike use, it is really best suited to slower, more gentle rides in cold conditions. In the coldest temperatures it’s useable as a riding jacket, provided you run cold, and there’s no doubting you’ll stay warm enough, but even with its really good breathability, it’s hard to avoid getting a little damp. However, it is as a warm layer for tours, long winter social rides and shopping errands that the jacket really comes into its own. It’s so warm and light (432g for the large size), and packs down small enough to stow in a pannier or small rucksack, that it’s ideal for preventing the dreaded cool down during a mid-ride break. It’s also an excellent jacket to have on hand for after events, races and long rides, as the insulation warms up very quickly and the jacket is machine washable at 30, so any amount of post-race sweat isn’t going to spoil it, as would be the case with a down jacket.
As Gore say, it is an attractive jacket, with a neat contoured shape, not too much bulk and a low key sporty feel to it. Some of the 5 colours look better than others, with the stand out colour being a bright green that sold out almost immediately! The reflective accents at the shoulders and along the back do give a slightly Star Trek feel to the styling, but not excessively. Features are just what you need and no extra, with a zipped side pocket on each side, a soft fleecy backing for the neck and fleece lined pockets to warm chilled hands quickly. There's also a generous rear zipped pocket, with an integral mobile phone pouch.
The fit is sleek, with no excess fabric, as you’d want from a jacket of this type, but it’s worth trying before you buy to check the cut suits. The size Large I tried equated roughly to a generous size 12. Sleeve length is excellent, with no exposure of wrists or tightness, and the articulated shape makes for good comfort whether riding or otherwise. Torso length is also sufficient to cover your dignity on or off the bike, even though the tail is only slightly shaped.
A great jacket to pack along for breaks on cold weather tours, shopping trips and post events, but a little on the warm side for wear when riding at pace.
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Make and model: Gore Bike Wear Countdown insulated women's jacket
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product 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 say: Trendy and light: this light, windproof, warm jacket is an attractive all-round and tour jacket, for ladies who want to look good both on and off their bikes.
In reality it's more of an off bike jacket than on, although ideal for packing along for touring, errands and races. It is attractive, light and warm and it does look good on or off the bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell outer fabric
Quilted jacket with PrimaLoft® Infinity insulation
Fleece-lined high collar, close fit
Fleece-lined cuffs for comfortable fit
Zip-port on collar
Zip tags for easy handling
2 side zip pockets on front
Concealed side back pocket with integrated cell-phone pocket
Wear-resistant elastic binding on sleeve hem
Adjustable hem width by cordstoppers in pockets
Reflective logo on front and back
Reflective inserts at sleeves
Sizes XS-XXL (EU34-44)
Very well made, and nicely finished. High quality components.
Great as a quick warm-up jacket post ride or during a break. Light enough to pack for a cold tour.
A touch too warm for wearing actually during all but the most gentle of rides.
Machine washable at 30 so odours should not be too much of an issue, as with other insulated jackets.
Good quality construction and components should last well.
Light enough to pack on tour. Especially for its warmth.
Good comfort, especially warmth levels, although outer and lining fabric is very slightly stiff and unforgiving.
Roughly the sort of price you'd expect for this quality of insulation and this ratio of warmth to weight.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well as a warm-up layer for breaks, during cold weather touring and as a post event jacket. Also good for general outdoor use.
A little on the warm side for wear during most cycling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How quickly it warms up when you put it on, weight/warmth ratio.
Looks of some of the colours.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slight stiffness to fabric, but not too much of a problem.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, although there are other more stylish outdoor focussed insulated jackets that would do the job just as well.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A smart and undeniably warm jacket, best suited to post-ride or for breaks on long cold tours.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.