December 4, 2012
Possibly the quintessential zip-off softshell, from masters of Windstopper, Gore Bike Wear.
Gore Bike Wear’s Phantom jacket has been around for years now. It’s become the quintessential zip-off softshell, transforming as it does from fully protective winter shell to odd, semi-weatherproof, short-sleeve jersey with a few moments zipping. Unless you’re very limber you’ll be either stripping off or enlisting the aid of a friend to get the sleeves detached and re-attached – and it’s worth bearing in mind that the re-sleeving process only gets slower as the rain falls harder… Warm when needed or cool when not needed, it’s a properly versatile garment for ‘changeable conditions’ (that’ll be all year round, then).
So – it’s Windstopper, therefore it’s a softshell, but it’s thin enough to wear when it’s merely ‘chilly’ rather than ‘cold’, and it lacks the brushed fleecy inner and therefore the warmth factor of some of the heavier softshell fabrics. The light and stretchy short sleeves extend beneath the windproof long sleeves, which can feel a bit restrictive. They have a nice long strip of reflective material down the shoulder which is repeated on the outer sleeves, too.
There is a panel of stretch, non-windproof jersey across the back (not coincidentally right underneath where a pack would usually render a breathable fabric mostly useless) and we like the assortment of bright (but not fluoro) colours. There’s no secure zipped pocket either, though there are three good-sized pockets at the rear. The full-length zip is well baffled to keep out drafts and the sleeves and neck are bound for comfort, but with no way of cinching them up extra-tight if it’s draughty and/or you’re extra skinny.
Overall: High performance and feature packed but still with a few things missing that we really like.