By Brandon Bilyeu
GORE WINDSTOPPER Base Layer Shirt
For cold weather riding a good base layer is essential for warmth and staying dry. GORE offers standard mesh base layers like those you can find from other cycling brands, but they also have a unique version that layers their WINDSTOPPER fabric over the mesh at the chest, shoulders, and kidney. This means you get warmth and sweat wicking combined with protection from icy wind hitting your skin.
At first, I was a little worried that the WINDSTOPPER fabric would inhibit the moisture wicking of the base layer, but this was not a problem at all, and the shirt did an excellent job of keeping me dry. I tested this base layer cycling and hiking at temperatures right around freezing and the windproof front was especially noticeable when unzipping my jacket to dump heat. Instead of an icy breeze straight onto my chest as with a normal base layer, the WINDSTOPPER made the cooling effect of the cold air feel more uniform around my whole torso.
The base layer is available in black or white and sizes XS to XL for $80. Certainly, a little expensive for a base layer, but when it’s really cold the added protection is nice to have. Oddly, GORE does not offer long sleeve base layers, but I stayed comfortable in the short sleeves.
GORE Thermo Long Socks
Cold feet are a common issue for cyclists in the winter months and good socks are part of the recipe for foot comfort. GORE’s Thermo Long Socks combine a couple features to maximize warmth, the first of which is that they are very long/tall. The socks extend all the way up the calf to just below the knee. The feet and calves do not generate as much heat as the big thigh muscles so extra insulation here makes a difference. While they look like compression socks, the fit is just snug enough to stay in place and keep the material lofted to improve insulation without restricting blood flow.
Construction is a mix of 41% Polyamide, 28% Merino Wool, 28% Acrylic, and 3% Elastane. The result is a very warm sock that wicks/breathes well and keeps insulating even when a little wet. Minimal seams and a soft touch make these socks very comfortable on the skin. They are moderately thick, but easily compress to fit into tight shoes (though this reduces some of the insulation properties).
The socks are available in black/graphite grey in sizes S-XL for $30. The socks have plenty of stretch and I wore one size down from the chart recommendation with no problems.
GORE C5 WINDSTOPPER Thermo Overshoes
Another important ingredient for warm feet is overshoes or shoe covers. The GORE C5 WINDSTOPPER Thermo Overshoes are designed for warmth, but also provide some water protection without being fully waterproof. Warmth is provided by a WINDSTOPPER outer layer to block the icy wind and an internal fleece thermal lining to keep the heat in. The breathable nature of WINDSTOPPER also keeps feet from getting too wet with sweat. Tested at temperatures right around freezing my feet were happy and warm.
WINDSTOPPER has good water resistance and GORE added taped seams for extra water protection. I would not use these shoe covers on long rainy rides, but I found that short showers and puddle/snow spay were easily shed without water intrusion. A side zipper and stretch material in the back make for reasonable on/off for a snug fitting shoe cover. While all black in color, there are reflective elements for added visibility.
The shoe covers are available in 5 sizes covering a shoe size range of 4.5-15 US (36-50 EU) for $90. A good option for cold climates that do not see too much rain.