By Brandon Bilyeu
C3 GORE-TEX INFINIUM Thermo Jacket: $180
C3 Thermo Bibtights+: $130
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: online, retail
Thermo Jacket: Black, Red, Blue, Neon Yellow
Thermo Bibtights+: Black
Website: Thermo Jacket, Thermo Bibtights
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 15+ hours
Reviewer Measurements and Fit Comments: 5’10” (178cm), 150 lbs (68 kgs), 33″ (84cm) waist, 38” (96.5cm) hips, 33″ (84cm) inseam, 37″ (94cm) chest. I tested size Medium for both pieces and the fit was perfect except for slightly too short sleeves on the jacket.
GORE Cycling Kit Hierarchy Explained
The below reviewed kit comes from GORE’s C3 collection of cycling kit, but exactly what that means needs a little explanation. First, the “C” stands for cycling. GORE also makes “R” gear for runners, “X” gear for XC skiers, and “M” gear that is applicable to multiple sports. The number denotes the performance level and can be quickly described as follows:
3 = Active/Entry Level
5 = Advanced
7 = Expert/Professional Level
The higher-level kit receives more advanced materials, typically a tighter fit, and of course a higher price tag. Thankfully, these days entry level kit is quite good and worth a look before shelling out big money for professional gear.
GORE C3 GORE-TEX INFINIUM Thermo Jacket – Warmth for Dry Days
- Windproof – no icy air gets through
- Fully fleece lined for excellent heat retention
- Decent breathability considering weight of insulation
- Large gauge zipper easy to operate
- Available in highly visible Neon Yellow
- Form Fit allows room for layering without being baggy
- Arms cut too short for aggressive bike positions
The C3 GORE-TEX INFINIUM Thermo Jacket is designed for cold and dry days on the bike, though it can handle short and light showers. To keep you warm the jacket is constructed with GORE’s totally windproof but breathable INFINIUM membrane and then fully lined with a soft micro-fleece. A high neck collar and sealing cuffs on the sleeves also help keep the heat inside. The jacket is rated for temperatures from 41-59 F (5-15 C) but I found it much too warm for that range as I run quite hot. With just a thin base layer underneath I was perfectly comfortable at or below freezing and was starting to overheat when temperatures reached 41F.
The large gauge zipper with added pull tab is easy to find and operate even when wearing thick gloves. This makes it easy to dump heat and regulate the temperature in the body of the jacket, but since the wrists are sealed with cuffs there is limited air movement around the arms. And without back vents core venting is also a little slow unless you almost fully unzip. This is where the material breathability is important and while INFINIUM has good breathability, the addition of the fleece layer makes for a moderately thick shell and thus moderately good breathability. There is always going to be a battle to balance retaining heat and maintaining breathability and I think overall this Thermo Jacket does a good job here.
The cut of the jacket is called “Form Fit” which falls in between skin tight and baggy. For a winter cycling jacket this is perfect as it allows freedom of movement, room for layering to deal with changing temperatures, and is not a parachute in the wind. The interior is soft enough to be worn on bare skin, but the looser fit is best coupled with a snug base layer to pull moisture away from the skin.
My only complaint is that the sleeves are cut too short for my arms in a stretched-out road bike position. Riding on the tops is fine, but the hoods and drops see the sleeves pull up and reveal some bare wrists to the cold air, though on colder rides where big gauntlet gloves are in use this is not an issue. I’m not sure if this is an oversight or an attribute of the C3 entry level which expects a more upright riding posture for novice riders.
And no review would be complete without mention of the pockets! The Thermo Jacket thankfully does include pockets so you don’t have a wear a layer with pockets underneath and everything is fully accessible without unzipping the jacket and losing all the heat. The jacket has the standard three rear pockets plus an additional zippered pocket on the right side for smaller items like keys and cards.
Of the three main pockets, the center one is oversized which makes the two outer pockets slightly undersized. This is nice for carrying bulky and small items, but for a winter jacket where thick gloves are typically also in use the small pockets can be difficult to access with the gloves on.
Bottom Line – for cold and dry days this jacket cuts the icy wind and keeps the heat in. Middle of the road breathability means the front zipper is your thermostat. Probably best for more upright riding positions as sleeve length is a bit short for stretched-out road bike positions.
GORE C3 Thermo Bibtights+ – Simple but Effective
- Warm and stretchy fleece material
- WINDSTOPPER Cup protects the groin area
- Wide, comfortable bibstraps
- Reflective elements and neon yellow accents on legs
- Comfortable chamois
- Still looking . . .
Like the above Thermo Jacket, the GORE C3 Thermo Bibtights+ are designed for cold and dry weather with the same temperature range rating of 41-59 F (5-15 C). I have used them from a bit below freezing to the mid-50s F in perfect comfort. The micro-fleece construction is soft and warm against the skin, super stretchy for zero restriction of movement, and has a great balance of taking the edge off the wind while breathing well.
While not flatlocked, the seams avoid friction areas around the knees and the ankle cuff seams are holding up perfectly unlike many tights I’ve used that don’t have zippers.
With entry level kit you get entry level chamois’ and these bibtights are no different, but the comfort level was excellent. When first examining the chamois I was a little worried there was not enough foam density to provide comfort and support, but I was pleasantly surprised when out on the bike. The chamois compresses down quite thin but provides a soft interface to the saddle that kept me nice and happy.
There are two other design features that I am a big fan of in these bibtights. First is the WINDSTOPPER Cup around the groin area. Pretty self-explanatory, this is a windproof panel added over the groin to protect this area from the cold wind and it is much appreciated on chilly rides. The construction of the ‘cup’ also holds everything in place nicely by using two seams in an angled ‘v’ instead of single bisecting seam down the front center.
Second is the mesh bib yoke design that covers the upper and lower back. I have numerous bibtights that extend the fleece all the way up the back and I find this holds in way too much heat leading to a sweaty mess. The mesh back design on these bibtights lets heat escape and allows me to control the insulation level with the top I chose to wear. Combined with wide and soft bibstraps these tights deliver comfort everywhere.
Bottom line – well thought out, designed, and executed bibtights. They perform great providing excellent comfort and warmth. For cold and dry conditions, I can highly recommend these bibtights.
Kudos to Gore for including the most welcome “Windstopper Cup” feature on their lowest priced C bibtight. While the ‘velo-snobs’ may frown on the practice, many have resorted to a ‘summer’ bike short over their winter tights as a groin windstop.