Basic summary: A lightweight, fully waterproof and windproof shell that stuffs into its chest pocket for easy storage. Fit is slim through the torso, and well-proportioned at the waist and arms. The incorporated hood is especially useful for versatile protection without getting in the way.
- Waterproof and windproof GORE-TEX Active with ShakeDry technology
- Recommended temperature range: 41-59 deg F
- Weight: 6.5oz (men’s size L)
- Jacket packs into zippered L chest pocket
- Abrasion and tear resistant
- Integrated hood with reinforced visor and elastic trim for secure fit
- Hood drawcord adjustment
- Stretchable cuff inserts
- 360-degree reflective accents
- Partial drawcord at waist
- No shoulder seam for comfort under a pack
- Full length Euro-zipper (L side pull)
Although most of us have heard about of Gore-Tex since we were kids, there’s a bit of clarification required for the Gore Wear brand, which was newly established in 2018. The company is the newest iteration of the original W. L. Gore & Associates, an American company founded in 1958 through development of its revolutionary Polytetrafluorethylen (PTFE) technology. For many years, this technology was sold and incorporated into other companies’ products and while this still happens, over the past several years Gore has also developed in-house manufacturing to create its own product line. The company focused first on two primary user groups – runners and cyclists – who had a shared need for waterproof protection that wouldn’t cause overheating or limit athletic performance.
Another key date in the Gore timeline is 2012, which saw the creation of Gore-Tex Active Shell technology, a game changer in performance apparel. The PTFE membrane has billions of tiny pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a water drop but 700 times larger than water vapor – so rain is kept out while perspiration vaporizes. Its beauty and effectiveness were further enhanced by its simplicity: the entire material construction of the jacket was a thin layer of the water-resistant fabric, and nothing else. No interior lining to get clammy or sticky against your skin, and no exterior fabric layer that can get saturated and cause chills or prevent optimal ventilation. Water just beads off the surface of the fabric and rolls away – and when you’re done, you shake it out like an umbrella to get any excess moisture off the surface.
The principal drawback to the initial ShakeDry material was that it didn’t compress down exceptionally well and could take up a lot of space in your hydration pack. That’s where the new 2019 collection from Gore Wear continues the story, because in addition to all the benefits of the original ShakeDry fabric, it is much more compressible and packs down into a jacket pocket just like a thin windbreaker, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Another possible drawback (if you want to call it that) to the original fabric was that it could be made only in black. Gore has now expanded its offerings to include gray and blue primary fabrics with bright accent colors.
The R7 jacket we tested has additional design features that make it well-suited for trail running such as an adjustable ergonomic hood that stays in place exceptionally well, moves efficiently and can be fastened in place around a trucker or stocking cap. The shoulders are constructed without seams so they sit comfortably under a pack if that’s your preference (see more on fit below). Another thoughtful design element is at the cuffs; this is the only section of the jacket that does not use the ShakeDry fabric, but instead has a small trapezoid of stretch material that makes it easy to pull the sleeve back over a GPS watch – these didn’t give us quite as much stretch capacity as we’d like, but it’s certainly better than none. One interesting asymmetry is that the women’s version of this jacket has a center pocket in the back that can accommodate a small phone or set of keys and gel packets, while the men’s version has a pocketless back panel.
Fit of this jacket runs small, especially through the torso which has as slim profile; our tester with a smaller frame found this to her liking, but our male tester needed to go up a size for a comfortable fit. During ultra races, we often wear a waterproof layer over our hydration vest instead of underneath – this makes for more efficient on/off timing, and also keeps other important items in your pockets (like a phone) dry during a downpour. If you plan to wear this jacket over a vest, you’ll definitely need to size up. Arm length hit us just right, perhaps slightly long, and the torso length lands right at the waist, with a drawstring closure (if needed) for fastening.
In use we found that the jacket feels slightly stiff in comparison to non-waterproof running fabrics, but generally feels comfortable against the skin over a t-shirt. We found the fabric to be more effective at water resistance than breathability, as we often finished runs with sweat-soaked interior layers from heat retention. The fabric also seems to absorb some body odor after these kinds of runs, so we had to wash the R7 jacket more frequently than we normally do with others. So while it may not be optimally suited for longer, high-intensity efforts, it’s ideal as an emergency layer while running through the mountains – something you can easily take on or off as storm conditions roll past, that occupies minimal room in your pack.
The Gore Wear R7 Gore-Tex ShakeDry Trail Hooded Jacket is now available at www.gorewear.com.