I previously wrote about the Gore Oxygen jacket a few months ago, when the weather was a bit warmer. When packing for the recent Solvang trip, it made the cut as a flexible piece of gear to bring with…and I’m glad it did.
On day 3, when we were to ride Mount Figueroa, the weather was overcast. In town the temps were hovering around 70, but at the top of the Mount, it was under 50 and was supposed to be quite windy.
I was wearing a Gore Singlet under my North Central Cyclery kit, but I was concerned about the wind and temps. The Trek Travels folk recommended that we bring arm warmers for the chill. I looked at my arm warmers, and then at my Oxygen jacket. When crushed down, the Oxygen is really not much bigger or heavier than a pair of armwarmers. Since it is more versatile, I threw it in my jersey pocket, in lieu of armwarmers. ‘Twas a good decision.
When we actually got on the Mount, about halfway up, it started raining. I encountered wind-driven sprite, a couple of momentary downpours, and then more wind-driven sprite. The temps dropped more than 20 degrees over the course of the climb (in large measure due to changing weather conditions). I popped the Oxygen out of my jersey pocket on one of the flat spots in the climb, and slipped it on without stopping. Because the sleeves have zippers at the wrist cuffs, it goes on and off easily–no need to stop and fumble with the sleeves. Once I had it on, I zipped the cuffs down so they were secure on my arms.
At first, I rolled with the jacket unzipped, just to get the windproof buffer on my arms. But as the rain started in earnest, I zipped up the jacket and untucked the nice tail flap. I was in waterproof/windproof/breathable nirvana. At the top, I was fully zipped against the cold, and quite comfortable.
I wear a Medium, which fits me perfectly–the sleeves are a great length, and the cut is exactly perfect for riding a bike. I’m not certain I’d wear it around town…but…
There are no pockets–and that’s ok. It is cut large enough in the back that it fits easily over your jersey, even when your jersey pockets are full. You can slide it up and down over your jersey to access those pockets, even when it is zipped up. It functions ideally.
On day 4, Chad and I were among the only ones to ride, because it was raining in earnest. On that day, we both donned our Oxygens and hit the road. The long tail kept our butts dry as the dirty roadwater sprayed off our rear tires, and the jacket kept us warm and dry, notwithstanding real, persistent downpouring rain.
This shot was from early in the ride, showing the effectiveness of the DWR coating:
Even after the rain stops, you can still hope to look as stylish as Chad…
Is there anything I’d change? Well, sometimes, I wish the main zipper was a little easier to zip and unzip…but on second thought, I probably wouldn’t change that. As it is, the zipper will stay in place wherever you leave it…so if you want the jacket half-open, the zipper will hold at half-open, no matter what the wind does.
The jacket is waterproof/breathable in the way that Gore jackets typically are. But here’s the huge advantage of this jacket over something like the Fusion GT…again, when you stuff it down, it fits in a jersey pocket, and isn’t much bigger than a pair of armwarmers. So on days when the weather is variable, instead of just having an arm covering, you have the option of going all the way to a fully zipped jacket–there’s a ton of variability. And even when you only need armwarmers, because the jacket is a trim cut, you can wear it unzipped and have some arm protection without overheating (and without having a huge, loose jacket flapping against your sides).
The Gore Oxygen jacket is a hugely versatile piece of kit. It functions perfectly as a raincoat…but it also functions perfectly as a multipurpose piece of apparel for changing conditions. That is where its true value lies–in how versatile it is. This jacket gets my highest, unabashed recommendation.