In its long history Gore has never, ever done a fancy pants “launch” before. So, there was an air of genuine intrigue and excitement amongst the small group of press invited to its German office-come-testing facility, located on the flatlands south of Munich, in sight of the foothills to the Alps. There had been low-key rumours of something a bit special hinted at in dark corners of the Internet for weeks before… a holy grail in waterproof fabrics… the future?
With justifiable ceremony and a hint of razzmatazz, the assembled ranks of Gore-Tex (the fabric people), Gore Bike Wear (they use the fabric to make cool riding gear people) and Gore Running Wear (you’ve probably spotted the theme) prepared to show us the culmination of years of research, design and testing:
A black waterproof. A plain, subtle, black waterproof. No options, few features, no “colourway”. A bike version – hoodless, form fitting, with a dropped tail, and a run version – hooded, and looser fit. That was that really all we’d be flown out to see?
Well, no, of course not. The real excitement was in what that waterproof was made of. An all new fabric; Gore-Tex ONE Active with Permanent Beading Surface is more than a bit of a mouthful, so we’ll abbreviate it to GTX ONE Active from now on. It might share its name with the long-standing lightweight Active-shell fabric, but this is an all-new beast.
The so, so good:
- No more DWR. The big selling point, and the game-changer as far as Gore-Tex are concerned is the Permanent Beading Technology. By doing “clever stuff” with the membrane, the outer face now incorporates the ability to bead into the fabric itself. No need to wash the jacket in special detergent, no need to reproof it, no irons, no tumble drying. Less time washing, more time riding. Win. Gore promises it will shed water like new for the life of the jacket.
- It really works – spray the shell with water, quick shake and it is dry enough to roll up and shove straight into your jersey pocket when the sun comes out. Cue coos of delight from the assembled journos.
- It’s light and packable. A size large weighs in at a meagre 133g – not bad considering it has a full length zip and will fold into a petite little bundle which will take up less room than a discarded pair of armwarmers – in fact it is the kind of weight that makes a Pertex windshell potentially redundant.
- What’s that sound? The fabric is soft to the touch and feels so much nicer directly against skin than traditional shell materials. Another benefit of this is that you’ll no longer sound like you are opening a packet of crisps every time you move.
- No sweat. As with all Gore-Tex fabrics, the basis is a breathable membrane – which keeps precipitation out, while letting sweat escape. This is the most breathable fabric the science boffins have come up with yet though.
- All this combines into the ultimate high-performance, lightweight shell layer. There’s little excuse for not taking it in a pocket out “just in case”, and we are already clapping our hands in glee at the ongoing wet-weather onslaught the UK is facing this winter.
The not so good:
- Want one? You’ll have to be quick. There are only limited numbers available for now. Gore-Tex currently only have one machine capable of manufacturing the fabric, so it will take a while before you see many in the wild.
- Don’t like black? Tough luck for now. Due to the limited manufacturing capability at the moment, the fabric will only be available in so, so stealthy matt black. Maybe time to invest in another rear light?
- Packing for a big day on the mountain bike? This might not be for you… The GTX One Active fabric has not yet been tested for use with a riding pack. The price we may have to pay for light weight is less durability at high wear points like under rucksack straps. Those clever garment designers at Gore Bike Wear might already be working on that, but we couldn’t possibly comment… In the short term, they want to concentrate on doing one thing well and without compromise.
The big questions:
- So who is this for? At the moment, road riders are likely to be the biggest market, but the jacket has been tested and loved by World Cup XC racers. If you are the kind of rider who likes to go fast and light, with all their worldly needs tucked into the back pocket of their jersey, you’ll most likely love it – whether you are on tarmac, gravel or mud.
- I NEED it. How much is it? We were pleasantly surprised by the retail price for the jacket. We naturally expect to pay a premium for the new, the exotic and for high performance. While the GTX ONE Active will be by no means cheap, neither is it as eye watering as other high-end jackets already on the market: expected retail is around £220.
- So the shiny press launch made it sound nice. Big deal. How does it work in real life? I brought home number 438 of the first 1000 jackets made. I will head on out into the cold and the wet so you don’t have to, and I’ll let you know whether the jacket and the fabric live up to the hype.
Need more? Check out http://inspiration.goreapparel.com
Thanks to Gore-Tex, Gore Bike Wear and Gore Running Wear for inviting us to their big night.