There’s a saying out there that goes something to the effect of ‘you don’t realize what you have, until it’s gone.’ That was exactly what was going through my head as I retraced my path from a previous day’s ride hoping to spot my missing Gore Bike Wear jacket. Even though I had been using the thing for just over a month, the thought of losing what had turned out to be my favorite shell was a bit of a bummer.
Fortunately, my ride took me off the beaten path and the jacket managed to blend in with the surroundings so it was waiting for my return…
In my head I knew there were only one or two places where I could have lost the jacket. Leading up to the ride, I was running late, couldn’t find the jacket I normally took on road rides, and I grabbed the Gore Rescue Windstopper Active Shell as I rushed out the door. Because I was on the road, it was stuffed into a jersey pocket which turned out to be too loose to hold the minuscule jacket in stowed form. One of the best features of the Active Shell is that it stows into its own pocket and stuffs down to just 7.5″ long, 3.5″ wide, and about 2.5″ thick. For a fully windproof and highly water resistant shell with a hood, it’s easily the smallest I’ve used.
Which is probably why it came bouncing out of my jersey pocket, but to be fair – when I say road ride, what I really mean is riding a gravel bike on aggressive single track linked together with pavement. The exact spot where the jacket came to a halt was a very steep stair case, and one of the exact spots I thought I should look. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the jacket landed with the red side down leaving the grey side to blend in with the surroundings. Without knowing exactly what to look for, you’d never find it. Perhaps this is the only real place for improvement. Since the inside of the pocket becomes the outside of the storage container, making the whole thing a color that’s easy to spot might be advantageous. However, the grey side of the pocket didn’t keep me from finding mine.
Aside from packing down extremely small, the jacket is also incredibly light at just 122g for the actual weight of my medium jacket. Called a ‘slim fit’ the Rescue jacket certainly qualifies. Normally I’m pushing the upper boundary of a small, but with the Rescue jacket I had to size up to a medium and it’s still fairly tight in the chest. The trade off is that for a light weight shell, it doesn’t flap in the breeze like some other similar jackets since it’s a tight fit.
To get the weight down that low, the main zipper is only a half zip, but it does feature an offset which makes it more comfortable. I thought that the lack of a full zip would be a bigger deal than it turned out to be – there is still plenty of zipper for ventilation and I never felt too inconvenienced when taking it off or putting it on. Otherwise, the jacket is super simple with an elastic hem, elastic cuffs, and a ‘close fitting hood’ – as in, under the helmet, not over.
I’m sure part of that has to do with the excellent performance of the Gore Windstopper material which is a great material for a shell like this. I’ve primarily used the Rescue shell at high elevations where the temperature fluctuates rapidly and left me needing an outer layer but without needing a full on rain jacket. Gore calls the Rescue jacket water repellent, which seems to be undercutting the performance of the jacket a bit. While it’s definitely not something to grab for long riding in full on down pours, the jacket easily shrugs off moisture. To that point, the inner seams are fused to provide additional wind blocking and further protection from the elements. Compared to many shells I’ve used, the breathability was admirable.
Available in black or red, both feature reflective hits on the sleeves and chest (and a tiny reflective logo on the rear) for added visibility. As shown above, keeping the jacket stowed in the Napoleon chest pocket for any amount of time will cause it to become quite wrinkly, but it doesn’t have an effect on the performance.
What really grabbed me about the Rescue Windstopper Active Shell Jacket was that perfect blend of performance and portability. When you don’t need it, the jacket packs down so small that there’s almost zero excuses to leave it at home. But when the weather turns and you’re struggling to stay warm, the performance is high enough that you’ll be glad you brought it along.
At $199.99, it’s not exactly cheap, but I rushed to get this one posted after seeing that Gore Bike Wear is still running their Cyber Monday sale. You have about an hour and a half (midnight EST) to pick one up for $139.99 (or get one as a gift!).