Half softshell and half waterproof. The GORE-TEX INFINIUM Hybrid Hooded Jacket from German multi-sport brand GORE is certainly a different proposition. Put to the test on gravel and MTB rides, could this ‘lighter waterproof’ really be worth the £199.99 price tag?
Fit and features
After wearing countless men’s waterproof cycling jackets over the last few years, this women’s specific fit was a real delight. Tailored in at the waist and with narrower shoulders and sleeves without being restrictive. The jacket in a size EU 38 or medium fit me perfectly, which I feel is true to size. The jacket is longer than road cycling specific jackets, and also features a dropped hem at the back. A handy feature to help cover you from trail spray off your rear wheel.
The closure on the jacket is a two-way zip. Making it easy to open from the bottom to fetch anything from an underlayer or bumbag, or for extra ventilation when pedalling hard.
The hood is stretchy and provides a close fit over the top of a helmet. It can also be cinched down using a toggle for use off-the bike. When not in use, you can roll the hood down around the collar and secure it with a popper; a really neat and simple idea that prevents it acting like an irritating windbreak to slow you down!
The collar itself is 2.5 inches high, a medium height, and is lined with the softer Infinium softshell material, which I found left no irritation or discomfort. On the back, there’s a sturdy black hook which makes it easy to hang on a coat hook when not in use.
The partially elasticated, tailored cuffs are further adjustable with a robust velcro strap. Meaning you can cinch them really snugly around your gloves if you have narrow wrists.
You’ll find two roomy zipped pockets on the hips which give plenty of space for valuables or essential kit. The pockets are lined with a thin black mesh and also house the toggles for the elasticated drawstring hem adjustment.
In a word? No.
You can imagine my disappointment after I zipped up on yet another wet summer ride. Only to end up soggy through two layers rather than just my tee, which would have at least dried out a bit quicker when the sun inevitably did come out again.
The concept behind this jacket is simply confusing. Waterproofing experts GORE, the brand behind the world-famous breathable Gore-Tex waterproof material, plumped to use this in combination with their ‘Infinium’ fabric. This is a windproof and breathable soft shell material that’s ‘water resistant’, but not waterproof.
GORE suggests that the jacket is for ‘mixed conditions riding, when you don’t need a full rain jacket’. The waterproof panels are found on the tops of the arms, the shoulders, a central line on the top of the hood and a patch on the lower back where you might expect trail spray.
In reality, if you wear this jacket in anything more than very light drizzle, you’re going to get wet. The waterproof lighter pink panels do such a good job of causing the water to run off that it just soaks into the adjacent Windstopper material (darker pink areas) and leaves you damp on the inside.
If you thought there was any chance of rain, wouldn’t you just opt for a waterproof that could keep you dry and comfortable, rather than gamble with a piece of kit that’s success depends on the precise strength of the precipitation? It was for that reason that I haven’t tested it on any bikepacking trips; if it doesn’t work on a single ride, it won’t be any better over several days!
Furthermore, GORE’s messaging seems to be confused around this mixed material design. Claiming that ‘this hybrid reduces the weight of the jacket’, while their C5 Trail Jacket, which is made entirely of the Gore-Tex waterproof material, actually weighs 67g or 23% less (285g for this C5 Hybrid vs 218 for the Trail).
Admittedly this hasn’t been tested in severe winter conditions. But some wet and changeable summer months have set the scene for some pretty mucky riding; the kind where a packable jacket like this comes in really handy.
One thing I have noticed is that the Infinium soft shell fabric has a tendency to hold smell from sweaty warm or wet rides. I try to machine wash my waterproofs as little as possible, often choosing to hose them off in the garden instead. But pulling on a dry yet stinky coat is pretty unpleasant. This is probably because I tend to only wear a tee under this layer in the warmer summer months, whereas for colder winter riding there’s typically more layers to absorb the sweat, and hence smell, before it gets to the outer shell.
In this colourway, I have noticed that the sleeves have become pretty grubby. The lighter pink Gore-Tex panels not faring too well against dirt and grime that you usually get on the cuffs. This would likely be an issue with the light grey or light blue materials of the other two colourways, although with the more expensive and totally waterproof C5 Trail jacket the cuffs are made from darker shades which would hide wear and dirt better.
A sometimes inevitable part of exploring on a bike, I ended up testing how bramble-proof the jacket was too! The Gore-Tex waterproof panels were totally unscathed which was impressive (this particular Monmouthshire bridleway was *totally* overgrown). But the softshell fabric did get snagged in about a dozen places, leaving a bobbling over that area.
Admittedly pink isn’t my colour. Luckily the Infinium Hybrid Jacket also comes in grey/black and blue in the women’s cut, and grey/black. The men’s versions come in blue and burgundy options. The colour might not be to my taste, but I’ve felt pretty safe when on the roads in this bright colourway!
Like a lot of GORE kit, branding is low-key and kept to a minimum. You’ll find the GORE logo on the left side of the chest, the lower back and on the back of the left hip. All the logos are in a reflective print that appears black in daylight. You’ll also find other reflective detailing sewn into the bottom hem on the rear.
There are certainly some features of the C5 Women’s Gore-Tex Infinium Hybrid Jacket that impressed. But unfortunately the combination of waterproof and ‘water resistant’ rendered this item redundant in my book.
I can’t fault the tailored women’s specific fit, attention to detail with features like a two-way zip, and the adjustment on the hood and cuffs. I’ve used the jacket for many different activities, and thanks to the longer fit, felt just as comfortable on a walk to the shops as I did on the bike. Items like this that are suitable for multiple uses get a big tick from me.
What I can’t get my head around is the half-waterproof concept of the Infinium Hybrid Jacket. Either you want a waterproof, or you don’t; and living in the West Country, it’s more often than not you do! It underperforms in the rain, and while it’s not uncomfortable in the dry, I’m sure you can get a decent softshell for less than £200. It’s a ‘hybrid’ that doesn’t work.
For an extra £30, you could look at the Gore-Tex Trail Hooded Jacket, which has the waterproof material all over, a slightly more adjustable hood fitting system and yet still packs down small. Given the positives of this similar C5 Hybrid jacket, when you disregard the waterproof confusion, the C5 Trail jacket is a design that I think has the potential to be really great.
GORE C5 Women’s Gore-Tex Infinium Hybrid Jacket£199.99 €229.95 $229.99 USD
Some promising features made redundant by a very strange combination of technical fabrics. Best check out the C5 Trail jacket instead!5.0/10
- Lovely shaped fit for women
- Adjustable cuffs and hood
- Two-way zip opening
- Hybrid of waterproof and water resistant materials simply doesn’t work
- Use of light coloured materials around cuffs gets grubby over time
Last modified: 27th July 2020