In the Gore Phantom Jacket review, I indicated that I’ve been using a system of Gore products for cycling this winter, to great effect. This review is for the shell and pants that I’ve been using over the Phantom: the Gore Fusion GT AS Jacket and Pants. For cyclists, Gore has long offered a series of very high quality weatherproof jackets and pants, with the top of the line models offering there Gore-Tex fabric. However, as the product line has previously been constructed, they would offer models oriented more towards road biking, and models oriented towards mountain biking. The fabric durability and abrasion resistance varied, as did the cut of the clothing. The Fusion GT AS is kind of a ‘best of both worlds’ product, and they market it as both on and off-road appropriate.
FUSION GT AS JACKET: “Perfect all-arounder. Trail or tour, mountains or city. Lightweight, packable and robust weather-protection jacket with GORE-TEX Stretch and the extreme breathability of the new GORE-TEX Active Shell.”
FUSION GT AS PANTS: “All-weather, all purpose pants. Trail or tour, mountains or city. Lightweight, packable and robust weather-protection pants with GORE-TEX Stretch and the extreme breathability of the new GORE-TEX Active Shell.”
Glamour shots in the garage:
Note the reflectivity, and the left sided Napoleon pocket. No other pockets on the front. The Napoleon pocket has a waterproof zipper, and is mesh on the inside, with one divider. It is surprisingly spacious and has plenty of room to hold keys, an iPhone, a wallet, and a couple snacks.
Rear of jacket. Note–no pockets on the rear.
Integrated hood in collar. Available if you need it in a pinch.
Pants. Note the tapered profile.
Amazingly effective thigh vents, with waterproof zippers. They are mesh lined. Amazing is the appropriate word here…the difference in leg temperature with these open versus closed is significant. For some reason (possibly because of their placement on the front of the thigh, into the wind), they seem to be far more effective than similar zipper vents I’ve had in ski pants in the past.
Rear view of pants. Note reflective stripes. When riding, these are perfectly displayed to rear/side traffic. At the top/middle, you can see the small rear pocket (the only pocket on the pants). It has a small mesh insert and a waterproof zipper.
There are two sets of velcro at the bottom of the pants. One set (at the very bottom) secures the pants at your ankles. When combined with my Shimano MW81 boots with neoprene ankle booties, these allow for an amazingly waterproof fit. Rain/snow/splashes/puddles drain right off the pants, down over the shoes, keeping your socks and feet warm and dry. The second set of velcro is about six inches higher, and secures the tapered fabric over the calf, both to keep clear of your chainrings, and to prevent loose fabric from flapping in the breeze.
They do not let you forget that the pants and jacket are Gore-Tex.
The seat, crotch, inner thigh, and everywhere you’d want to be reinforced is appropriately reinforced.
And, as per RATG’s standard practice, a few pics of the jacket and pants in use:
In use (with snowy Muk). Note the Gore Phantom layered underneath. On this day, temperatures were in the upper 20s with a damp breeze. I was sporting the MW81s, a set of tights over bib-shorts, a short-sleeve jersey, a Nike Pro-Fit long sleeve undershirt, the Phantom and the Fusion GT AS jacket/pants. As you can see, in trail riding on the Mukluk, I was on the warm side (hence the open zippers). Plenty of adjustability in the ventilation department, for greater comfort. You can also see the effectiveness of the lower-leg velcro, keeping the pants tight against your legs and avoiding chainring interference.
I included this picture (photo credit to Tobie DePauw of North Central Cyclery) not because of the scenic bridge (though it is scenic), but rather because you can see how the cut of the jacket is longer in the rear…so it very easily covers jersey pockets full of stuff (here, I was sporting a camera, a Mukluk tube, a multi-tool and some CO2), and gives you a waterproof back, down over your pants. Excellent coverage.
I won’t pretend to know the difference between all of the various types of Gore-Tex out there, but this setup is amazing. It has the best ventilation of any waterproof fabric I’ve ever used–equal in performance to Gore-Tex Proshell. The stretch fabric is great. I’ve had a number of falls in these (including one ice-induced, sliding fall onto pavement) and there are no abrasions, holes, tears, or other signs of wear. As noted above, I typically wear these in combination with my Phantom jacket, and have found it to be an awesome combination. The Fusion GT AS jacket and pants by themselves appear to be completely waterproof and windproof–but with as breathable as they are, you will need a warm layer under them for winter riding. (And again–the vent action is excellent, if you start getting warm).
I’m about 6’1″ and 155# with long arms and typically wear 32/34 pants–everything is cut appropriately to fit with adequate arm length and leg length. I cannot overemphasize how well the ankle/calf velcro works to secure the pants and keep your feet dry/warm. I’ve had a couple other people try on the pants and jacket, and it seems pretty accommodating up to around 210#. For those with incredibly large calves, it may be advisable to try them on before ordering, or order a size up. I have a Large in the jacket, and a Medium in the pants–I followed Gore’s ordering size chart exactly, and the fit is great. The pants do have an unusual taper in the legs…it looks weird on the hangar, but when you’re riding, the fit is excellent. The pants are obviously made for cyclists. And as noted above, the cut on the rear of the jacket is long enough that it doesn’t leave a plumber’s crack when you get down in the drops.
I haven’t been able to use them in warm weather yet (I usually just get wet when it’s raining and warm out). I have used them for road biking, mountain biking, fat biking, mud biking and similar escapades. They have held up to everything I’ve thrown at them, from high-cadence distance rides to slow slogs through muck. With as durable and waterproof as they have proven to be, I’m amazed by how lightweight they are.
Complaints? The pocket on the rear of the pants is useless. I suppose it would work for credit card touring, but that’s about it. The zipper pulls are very small. When riding, it is hard to manipulate the thigh vents or jacket zipper to adjust your temperature. It’s much easier to use two hands–which can be annoying. The Napoleon pocket could be totally waterproof (lined inside) so your iPhone doesn’t get soaked from your sweat. Uhhh…they don’t automatically turn you into a Tour de France competitor. I’m reaching, here. There is really very little to complain about. If there were some longer pulls on the zippers, I’d have zilch to complain about.
As noted above, they’re marketed for both on-road and off-road use. The cut, fit, durability and comfort level seems to be appropriate for both uses, and I have no hesitation about putting them into service on just about any ride you can think of. I’ve come to rely on this setup for rain, snow, wind, and cold-weather generally, with or without precipitation. I’ve only put about a thousand miles on these so far, as they’re new this season (a new Gore product for 2011), but there are absolutely no signs of any kind of wear.
My customary advice on where to buy: your local bike shop. (Or my local bike shop, which just happens to be a Gore dealer, if you’d like).
I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit sheepish about grades on this product, because so far, everything that’s been reviewed has received an A. In all honesty, that’s because I’ve been reviewing the products that I love the most, that I’m the most excited about, and that are among my ‘go-to’ items for a pleasant bike ride. With that in mind, RATG gives the Gore Fusion GT AS jacket and pants both a resounding A+.