By all accounts, the Gore Shakedry jackets are revolutionary in their construction. Eschewing the traditional three layer laminate fabric, Gore instead perfected a two layer technology that placed the waterproof membrane right on the outside of the jacket. The resulting jackets are incredibly light and will remain completely waterproof throughout their lifespan without any additional DWR treatments. Incredible as they may be, they have one drawback – the Shakedry fabric has very little stretch which impacts the overall comfort. To address the issue, Gore Wear is introducing an all new Goretex fabric. Originally developed for military use, the new Goretex Stretch fabric is used in key locations to create the most comfortable Shakedry jacket yet.
When it comes to Gore-Tex fabrics, the magic happens in the middle. Above are the three pieces that make up a traditional Gore-Tex Active fabric. You have a layer that’s next to skin for comfort and moisture wicking, the actual Gore-Tex membrane which is naturally white, and then the one of the many Gore Selected outer face fabrics which protects the membrane and adds additional durability. The drawback to three layer designs like Gore-Tex active is that they’re heavier, less breathable, and require a DW coating for the outer face fabric which will eventually need to be reapplied or the jacket will start to absorb water.
Shakedry fabric on the other hand is simplified to two just different layers thanks to a more durable Gore-Tex membrane which is placed on the outside of the jacket. Without the face fabric, there is nothing to ‘wet-out’, and the jacket will maintain the same water proofing for the life of the material without any treatments whatsoever. The fact that it breathes better and is lighter is just icing on the cake.
As mentioned though, the fabric does have its drawback. Namely that it doesn’t allow much stretch to the fit. To find a solution, Gore turned to their Military division which created a fabric called Gore-Tex Stretch. A three layer fabric like Gore-Tex Active, Gore-Tex stretch features a Gore-Tex membrane sandwiched between two protective layers that are engineered to stretch. More importantly, it is a low force stretch which is better for comfort and the fabric has excellent recovery so it won’t stretch out over time.
Even though this jacket doesn’t have to fit over body armor like their military jackets, it still wasn’t as easy as just adding the Gore-Tex stretch and calling it a day. Since the stretch fabric is still a three layer fabric, it doesn’t have the same breathability as Shakedry. It’s also quite a bit heavier as well. In order to make the best jacket possible, Gore had to find the perfect places to use the stretch material for the best fit while keeping the material’s use to a minimum. That required extensive prototyping from where the fabric would be placed to how the two way stretch would be oriented.
Along with Gore’s state of the art test facilities (which are apparently only rivaled by the military), Gore also enlisted the help of a new brand ambassador for testing and development – Fabian Cancellara. However, it’s immediately clear that Fabian is more than just an ex-pro paid to use the product. Fabian is noticeably critical of the details and is said to have played a big part in the development of the new jacket and will have an even bigger role in future product development.
Pointing out that pro teams often had to buy their own rain jackets when their team sponsor didn’t have what they wanted, Fabian recounted his first experience with a competitor’s Gore-Tex jacket which was simply too tight around the chest. Spartacus needs to breathe, so the jacket wasn’t an option. With the C7 Gore-Tex stretch, that’s apparently no longer an issue.
The finished product ended up with stretch panels under each arm, at the hip, along the shoulder blades, and at each wrist. The placement was to ensure the best fit and movement, but also the best ventilation for the hottest areas of the body.
The jacket still packs into its own pocket, though this time it’s in a rear pocket and not quite as small as the original Shakedry jacket. It’s also not as light with my medium jacket weighing in at 156g (Gore says it’s about 55g heavier). The tradeoff however is certainly a much more comfortable fit. We’ll get our first real impressions of the jacket tomorrow, but right off the bat the jacket felt like it had a better fit. It is also the first Gore rain jacket that I felt like I could actually wear a small since the chest stretched, but I still settled on a medium to allow some room for layering. The stretch may allow some riders some leeway if you’re stuck between sizes though.
Available starting April 10th, Gore Wear will be doing a limited release similar to the first Shakedry jackets. Initially only 1000 jackets will be available world wide, with the USA’s allotment sold exclusively through Competitive cyclist for $369. Apparently their first shipment will be less than 100 jackets, so don’t expect a ton of availability here until the jackets hit full production for Fall/Winter 2018/2019.
Stay tuned for first impressions!