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The Gore Spirit is an ideal all-round jacket in more than one sense – not only is it good across a range of riding styles (and even works well off the bike), but thanks to Gore's Infinium fabric it'll also keep you pretty protected against the elements, and it breathes well too. The fit is also very pleasing, it feels great to wear, and there are lots of cool colours to choose from. Even though it's a little on the expensive side it's up there with the best winter cycling jackets you can buy, in my opinion – and it's currently on sale at 30 per cent off.
It's a great option if you do lots of different riding and want something that can cover you, literally, in a variety of situations, weather-wise. It features Gore-Tex Infinium fabric with Windstopper technology, which Gore says is 'an ultra-thin protective layer laminated to a lightweight textile'. What this means is you're going to get solid protection against the wind, with a good deal of breathability, and some resistance against rain – more on that later.
The other benefit of Gore's fabric is that it's pretty light (the Spirit weighs in at 284g, 4g less than Gore's claim), and reasonably packable. The Infinium fabric is also fairly substantial so you shouldn't need to worry too much about it getting damaged if you decide to hit some trails where you might come across a bit of brush.
Unlike a waterproof jacket, which tends to be a bit crunchy and cold to the touch on the inside, the Spirit feels rather soft and supple, so it's really nice to wear – even on those cold and wet days where all you want to do is go back to bed and snuggle up under a duvet. It's almost like a cross between a jacket and a jersey.
The Spirit works across a pretty broad range of temperatures – during testing, October proved to be especially balmy, with highs of about 17°C in the afternoon, though the month threw in some slightly chilly mornings (about 8°C) just to spice things up. That's a pretty broad temperature range, but it's fair to say that the Spirit coped really well. I'd say its breathability tops out at about 15°C, especially if it's wet and/or the humidity is high, and you're working hard.
At the lower part of the spectrum you really need a layer or two to help you build up some heat, but thanks to the jacket's excellent windproofing it doesn't take long to get up to temperature. When your core temperature starts to get toasty, the jacket's impressive breathability prevents you from overheating, even when you're getting a move on.
After a hard hour's ride, I was impressed to find that the jacket was only ever so slightly damp on the inside. I did retain quite a bit of sweat on the layers beneath, mind, but that tends to happen no matter what I'm wearing, so it's hardly fair to criticise the jacket in this respect. As the inside of the jacket doesn't get particularly wet, you always feel comfortable, even with the material directly next to your skin.
One of my favourite aspects of the Spirit is the high collar, which – sticking with the comfy theme – is brushed on the inside, which feels great against the neck, and on those chilly starts it really helps to prevent draughts and lock in the heat. Bonus points go to the brilliant zip, which is probably the easiest one I've ever had the pleasure to operate. It's a simple thing, but being able to one-hand the zip up and down means you can easily control the temperature if it suddenly gets too warm or too cold, or starts to rain.
Gore says the Spirit is a 'regular' fit, and I'm inclined to agree with that. It's definitely on the slim and long side, which is good for tall and slim types like yours truly, and the sleeves have plenty of length, even when your arms are bent. I tested a size large, which is spot on. I tend to be an XL or XXL in some brands which have a more Italian cut to them.
Initially, I thought the cuffs were a little on the narrow side, but because they're elasticated there's plenty of stretch to accommodate larger wrists, while the Velcro fasteners allow those with really slim wrists to get a tight fit.
The hem is also adjustable, to enable you to get a tighter fit around the waist, though it was pretty good for me out of the box (32-inch waist) so I left it as is.
Even though the jacket is a little more fitted than some, it's still possible to get a couple of thin layers underneath comfortably. That fit also makes it a great option for a multitude of riding styles. I wore this for commuting, for gravel riding, mountain biking, and even for taking the kids to school. It's got style, and doesn't scream 'cycling gear'. The wide range of colour choices help in this regard, with fetching options like Forest Green and Uniform Sand for a more fashionable, contemporary style. Alternatively, a two-tone high-vis yellow and black option exists for the more commuter-focused person who just wants the most practical, and there are plenty of others to choose from too.
Speaking of which, Gore has added a few reflective details in the mix, with a small Gore logo on the front and back, an Infinium logo on the rear, and two small strips on both arms – useful for indicating. It's not loads, so if you're looking at this from a purely commuter standpoint, you might want to go with something a little more visible.
Last, but not least, there are two zipped pockets: a Napoleon which is good for a smartphone, and one on the rear with a side entry, which would happily take a couple of snack bars or a wallet. I tended not to bother with either of these, as I prefer to put things in a backpack, but without any luggage it would suffice for the essentials.
The Spirit jacket is fairly unusual in its design, which means it doesn't actually have a huge amount of competition. Generally speaking, jackets tend to be either waterproof and windproof, sacrificing breathability somewhat, or windproof, with better breathability (as well as packability), with no protection against rain.
The Specialized RBX Softshell Jacket Steve tested last year is a decent alternative at the same price (bar a penny, at rrp). Like the Gore Spirit, the Spesh is a more relaxed fit. It's also comfortable, with good breathability and protection against the wind, as well as offering similar resistance to rain. Although it's labelled as a jacket, it's fair to say it definitely veers more towards the jersey side of things.
There are cheaper alternatives, though, especially if you want a decent option for commuting. You might be better off with the Proviz Classic Men's Tour Cycling Jacket, for example. In his review, Shaun rated it for weatherproofing and breathability, and the fit looks slim but with enough room for layering. It's a bit heavier, and definitely doesn't look quite as stylish, though it's seriously visible in fluoro yellow. It's also a bit cheaper at just under £100.
Though you don't get the full protection you would with a waterproof jacket, the Spirit jacket excels in its all-round abilities, and is a great option no matter the style of riding you're doing. I think it's fair to say you'd probably wear this jacket more than a waterproof one, too, unless the weather is particularly wet. That it looks, fits, and feels great is the icing on the cake. Get it while it's on sale, I say.
A brilliant all-weather jacket, for a multitude of riding styles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Spirit Jacket Mens
Size tested: Large
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 offer proven and reliable weather protection at our most accessible price point.
"As your passion for cycling increases you need the best equipment to support it. We created this jacket to provide your first entry into GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ WINDSTOPPER® and the cycling apparel of GOREWEAR. It is versatile for all your needs and great value for every day wear. Once you experience the difference good kit can make to your bad weather riding experience you will never look back."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ fabrics with GORE® WINDSTOPPER® product technology: totally windproof, extremely breathable and durably water resistant, lightweight protection
Close fit high collar
Napoleon pocket with zip
Zipped back pocket
Zip tags for easy opening
Full length zip with underflap and zipper garage
Wash Warm/40° Delicate
Do Not Tumble Dry
Iron Low Temp.
No Dry Clean
A high-quality garment.
It does what it says, offering excellent all-round performance in most weather (unless it's more than an hour of prolonged rain).
No marks on it yet, although I've not yet had the chance to test the jacket in an off-road situation.
Gore says it's water-resistant, which I'm inclined to agree with – it'll resist water penetration for about 45 minutes, at which point areas of the jacket will start to soak through.
Breathability is very good, and even when there's a little bit of damp on the inside of the jacket it still feels good against the skin.
Gore says it's a regular fit, but I'd definitely say that's a regular fit for someone who is more on the lean/tall side. The cut is fairly long, with long arms. There's room for a couple of thin layers underneath.
I tested a large and it fitted me perfectly, though I am rather slim and tall. It's definitely more of a normal cut, as apposed to the small Italian sizing.
At rrp it's on a par with a similar option from Specialized.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Regular wash, no tumble drying, but it can be ironed. I threw it in with a bunch of other cycling gear and it came out looking like new.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The jacket is designed to work best in changeable conditions, and for that it's brilliant. If the weather looked a bit more inclement, you'd be better off with a full waterproof jacket though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The main zip – par excellence!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same price as the Specialized RBX Softshell Jacket, which offers much the same thing but in a more jersey-like package. The Proviz Classic Men's Tour Cycling Jacket is more similar, being that it's more like a jacket, but it's not quite as soft and comfortable to wear, but it's about £50 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
It's a brilliant jacket that does everything really well. It'll work great for the majority of roads due to its ability to fend off all but the worst weather, and it's suitable for a wide range of temperatures, from about 5°C (with suitable layers) up to about 15°C. The fit and style also makes it a great option for all kinds of riding, from commuting to mountain biking.
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,