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The Gore Ambient Jacket Women's is ultra-light, packable and breathable, and offers good protection from the weather. The cut suits performance riding, but it comes up small, even taking into account the 'slim fit', and the hem gripper isn't very effective.
The Ambient jacket is designed with performance riding in mind, with its low weight, compact pack size (it packs down into its own pocket), stretchy breathable panels, and a shape tuned to this purpose.
It's a 'slim fit' according to Gore's website, and it certainly is that across the chest and shoulders, fine-tuned to a stretched forward riding position, with extra length in the sleeves and torso.
I was still rather disappointed to find that the size L/EU42 (the largest available) that I tried – which was marked up on Gore's sizing chart as being suitable for a size 16/18 – was barely suitable for a UK14. Being pear-shaped, I'm used to cycling garments often being snug around the hips, but I was surprised by how neat the sizing on this was, both at the hips and also at the chest and back.
The stretch panels meant it was perfectly wearable without fear of seam failure, but a little more room would have been good – or the option to size up.
It's designed to be a wind-resistant and showerproof jacket for all-season use. The fabric is extremely protective, keeping the wind out nicely and also doing a great job in persistent and fairly heavy showers. It also packs down small enough to fit in a jersey pocket.
Impressively, the breathability of the main windproof fabric combined with the even more breathable stretch panels meant I didn't overheat too badly at all, even on a hilly ride working hard, nor did the jacket get too damp and clammy on the inside. Any rain on the outer surface dries quickly too.
I did find the gripper at the rear to be slightly lacklustre, and the jacket suffered a little migration in wear as a result; another tester who tried the jacket and got on better with the cut found its lack of grippiness less of an issue, as the jacket stayed in place on her. Arguably, the hemline should still have been grippy enough to stay put on me even though snug, since Gore does recommend sizing down for a race fit.
The front zip has a flap to prevent the zip from catching on delicate technical fabrics underneath. It's not the easiest to use single-handedly because of the fairly small zip pull, but it moves freely enough.
The zipped side pocket, which doubles as a stuff-sack for the jacket, is large enough to take a medium-sized smartphone (my iPhone 7 had plenty of space) in a case, and the pocket is positioned to sit on the lumbar area to help keep things from moving about.
Although the jacket does feature reflective logos and dots along the hem, I'd have liked a bit more in the way of visibility, given the dark colour. It's available in brighter colours too, but the black and navy options could do with a bit of extra bling.
At £149, the Gore jacket is a bit pricey compared with similar jackets. If the cut suits you, then given the quality and effectiveness of the fabric it's worth considering, but you can get lightweight windproof jackets for a lot less, such as Endura's Women's Pakajak (now £45.99) and the Liv Cefira Superlight Wind Jacket at £64.99.
Even spending a little more, the Pactimo Women's Divide Wind Jacket at £92 and Santini's Nebula Storm Women's Packable Wind Jacket at £119 are still less expensive.
The Gore jacket may have a slight edge over some in its combination of protection and breathability, and if the cut suits you then it's worth a look – it's a well-made, high-quality jacket. But that ineffective gripper tape at the hem could be an issue for some, and it could really do with more reflectivity.
High-quality jacket offering good protection and breathability, but the cut and ineffective gripper could be issues for some
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Ambient Jacket Women's
Size tested: L/42
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: "Designed to always be in your back pocket. With its low weight and small pack size there is no reason to ever get caught out by wet or windy weather.
Back-pocket emergency weather protection is seldom something you want to ride in for long, we wanted to do better. This jacket has all the details, style and performance of a jacket you can ride in all day, yet packs small enough to carry on every single ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Partial GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ garments with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® product technology: totally windproof, extremely breathable and durably water resistant, lightweight protection
DWR treatment of the fabric
Cycling specific cut with lengthened sleeves and dropped tail
Stretchy mesh panels for ventilation and freedom of movement
Grip elastic at waist hem for snug fit
Concealed back zip pocket
Lightweight, full length reversed zip with mesh tape
Available in sizes EU34-42
Very well made and good quality fabrics and components. The zip pull could do with being larger, and the gripper tape more grippy.
Fabric performed really well – it's breathable yet protective in a variety of conditions. The gripper tape could do with being more grippy to keep the jacket truly secure, though.
All fine so far. No reason to think the fabric shouldn't last well, particularly with application of wash-in products to maintain the water repellency.
Rated by Gore as showerproof and it coped really well with heavy showers. The surface water dries off really fast, too.
Very breathable, especially given how windproof and water repellent it is.
Designed to be slim fit, and it delivers on that. The stretch panels do mean there's some scope for different body shapes, but the relatively gentle gripper at the hem only really suits the intended athletic body shape.
Good length in the sleeves and torso, and the stretch panels across the back make it comfortable when in an aero position.
The sizing chart states that a size L/42 is suitable for a 16/18. As a UK14 this was acceptably "slim fit" but definitely not suitable for the stated 16/18. It's disappointing that this is the largest size available, too.
Extremely light and packable. Fits easily into a jersey pocket.
Good length in the sleeves, the stretch panels at the dorsal area and the hips help, and the fabric is breathable and comfortable to wear.
Looking expensive in comparison with others.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well and easy to look after.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The actual performance was very good; the fit wasn't ideal for me, but more effective gripper would have helped, and better reflectives would be appreciated.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fabric: protective, breathable, lightweight, packable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The sizing – supposedly big enough for a UK 16, but tight on my UK 14 body; the gripper wasn't grippy enough to hold the jacket in place, and it's quite an expensive option.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's expensive compared with many lightweight windproof jackets: Endura's Women's Pakajak Jacket (£45.99), Liv's Cefira Superlight Wind Jacket (£64.99), Pactimo's Women's Divide Wind Jacket (£92), and Santini's Nebula Storm Women's Packable Wind Jacket (£119). Those aren't necessarily without issues, but they're quite a saving.
It is £25 less than Sportful's Hot Pack Norain jacket, though, now £175...
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Probably not, as the cut didn't suit my shape.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Probably, to one with a less pear-shaped body...
Use this box to explain your overall score
A really protective and breathable performance-focused jacket that delivers on almost everything as long as the cut suits your body shape. Overall, I'd say it's quite good: it's a bit expensive, could do with better reflectives, and the cut and sizing will be issues for some.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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, touring, sportives, 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.