Posted in Cycle and tagged outdoor, cycle, winter jacket
Cycling and hiking winter jackets, winter coats, Gore-Tex, Primaloft, Polartec

If you’re a cyclist, runner, or triathlete searching for rain jackets or all-weather layers, you may be feeling a little wet behind the ears given the current deluge of baffling jargon accompanying modern active wear products.

Today’s weatherproof performance-wear is flooded with sophisticated fabrics and new-fangled features, each with a specific purpose. That means understanding what these features are for and how they'll perform in different situations is increasingly important before you buy.

So, to help you wring the most out of your purchase, we’ll be breaking down the windbreakers and disentangling the drawstrings of modern weatherproofing.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with all the necessary knowledge to stay warm and dry in horizontal rains and vertical winds, ensuring you can keep training when all others sit it out on the sofa.

 

What are the advantages of innovative fabrics?

Cyclists in the winter wearing Rapha

What makes today's breed of innovative fabrics so special is that they overcome the longstanding drawbacks of traditional materials. 

In the past, materials like sheep's wool, polyester, or even plastic, offered basic protection against cold, wind, or water. The problem is that the very same properties which make traditional fabrics effective in one area also makes them poor in others. Sheep's wool is warm because its pores trap lots of air, but terrible in the rain because of it. Plastic is waterproof because it is non-porous, which also makes it non-breathable.

Recent innovations have meant these limitations have now been overcome, ushering in a new wave of active wear. 

What are the main types of weatherproof fabrics?

There are hundreds of branded fabric types with different weights and materials. However, when it comes to serious all-weather active wear, you should be paying attention to three main names: Polartec®, PrimaLoft®, and Gore-Tex®.

Polartec®: This synthetic fleece was named one of the 20th century’s greatest inventions by Time Magazine. Invented in the mid-90s, today it’s found in military clothing along with quality hiking and cycling wear.

Shop Polartec products at Wiggle

Primaloft®: This is a patented synthetic microfiber, thermal insulation material developed for the United States Army in the 1980s. Its aim was to replicate the benefits of goose down but without the cost.

Shop Primaloft products at Wiggle

Gore-Tex®: Invented in 1969 by scientist Bob Gore, the fascinating material Gore-Tex has a very special property – it can repel water while allowing vapour from perspiration to pass through. It is composed of stretched polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon.

Shop Gore products at Wiggle

Which weatherproof fabric is right for me?

Female cyclist wearing dhb in the winter

Variations and combinations of these revolutionary fabrics, and others, provide a dynamic range of protective properties. These properties can be tailored for specific environments, giving you a bespoke solution for the conditions you face.

Each variation is also often given a specific name to help wearers differentiate the specific purpose, so – for example – Gore-Tex Shakedry is a variation of the standard Gore-Tex material that provides a water-repelling layer.

Below we’ve broken down some of the leading subcategories of Polartec, Primaloft, and Gore-Tex, and illustrated these with some of the best examples of active wear at Wiggle.

This should help you decipher the jargon and find the right material for your needs.


Polartec® Alpha:

Polartec Alpha is a new technology with active insulation, regulating core body temperatures whether you’re on the move or relatively static. Its patented low-density fibres fit between air-permeable woven layers to regulate heat and transfer moisture. Adjusting or completely shedding layers to release excess heat and moisture vapour is not always a viable option while pit-zips and vents leave surface areas exposed. Polartec Alpha overcomes these drawbacks.

Main properties:

  • Breathable
  • Warm without weight
  • Packable
  • Fast drying

Best suited to:

  • Variable temperatures 

Used by: 

  • All-weather cyclists or off-season runners.

dhb Aeron Women's Polartec Alpha Gilet

dhb Aeron Women's Alpha Direct Gilet

The bulky, sweat-boxes that were classic thermal gilets are a thing of the past with the inclusion of Polartec Alpha in this dhb Aeron Women's Alpha Direct garment (a men's version is also available). Small enough to fit in your middle jersey pocket, this is the ideal gilet for carrying that nimble riding feeling into the colder months.

Sportful R&D Intensity Jacket

Sportful RandD Intensity Jacket

Providing incredible warmth with minimal bulk, the lining of the Sportful R&D uses Polartec Alpha for its warmth-to-weight ratio and breathability. Nylon layers to the front, shoulders, and sleeves ensure wind and water protection.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket

An incredibly versatile road cycling jacket for the harshest of winter conditions, the Rapha Classic Winter Jacket makes use of Polartec Power Shield Pro to protect you from heavy rain and cold winds while remaining incredibly breathable.

Fox Racing Attack Pro Fire Jacket

Fox Racing Attack Pro Fire Jacket

Pairing lightweight Polartec Alpha insulation with tough and burly rip-stop stretch nylon, the incredibly versatile Fox Racing Attack Pro Fire Jacket is built for tough winter mountain biking. An added water-repellent treatment ensures you stay dry and warm when you're pushing hard and at rest. 

PrimaLoft insulation is used inside garments for its warmth, compressibility, and soft comfort. Its patented microfiber structure forms a tight collection of air pockets trapping heat and keeping the cold out, providing an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. There are two main types of PrimaLoft insulation: Gold and Silver. 

Gold uses microfibers to mimic the softness and packability of down. It’s compressible, breathable, and offers water repellency so you remain dry, warm and comfortable even in extreme conditions.

PrimaLoft Silver is built with two different sizes of fibres, giving high thermal values and incredible loft. It’s comfortable, durable, and retains 85% of its insulation even when wet. Millions of pair pockets trap body heat in extreme conditions while the lack of bulk means freedom of movement for any activity.

Main properties:
  • Packable
  • High insulation
  • Light weight

Best for:

  • Extremely cold temperatures

Used by: 

Those adventure biking in subzero conditions or hiking in bitter temperatures.

Gore Wear Women's C5 Windstopper Insulated Trail Jacket

Gore Wear Women's C5 Windstopper Insulated Trail Jacket

Windproof, water repellent and highly breathable with the addition of low-bulk insulation, Gore Wear's Women's C5 Windstopper Insulated Trail Jacket employs Primaloft Gold and Gore Windstopper technology to give you cold weather warmth and excellent trail mobility. 

Endura Pro SL Primaloft Gilet

Endura Pro SL Primaloft Gilet

To keep the body insulated and warm the Endura Pro SL Primaloft Gilet uses windproof panels with high-quality PrimaLoft Gold insulation. This combination effectively seals in body heat and blocks out chill winds for cosy comfort.

Endura MTR Primaloft Jacket

Endura's MTR Primaloft Jacket makes use of lightweight windproof panels with Primaloft Silver insulation to give you excellent insulation against the cold. The fit is athletic when on the bike but generous enough to not look out of place when off.

Male cyclist in the winter wearing Castelli

Gore Windstopper garments use an ultra-thin protective wind-resistant layer and a lightweight textile to offer innovative comfort you can wear or carry anywhere. A durable water repellent (DWR) fabric treatment is often employed to provide additional water repellency. Its unique properties provide a combination of weather protection and breathability, allowing you to maintain your performance even in tough conditions.

Main properties:

  • Water Resistant
  • Breathable
  • Windproof

Best for:

  • Windy conditions

Used for:

Endurance road cyclists and MTB riders or hikers

Gore Wear C7 Windstopper® Pro Zip Off Jersey Dynamic Cyan XX

Gore Wear C7 Windstopper® Pro Zip Off Jersey Dynamic Cyan XX

With a full Gore Windstopper construction and detachable sleeves the C7 Windstopper Pro Zip Off Jersey is brilliant for rides where conditions can change rapidly and temperatures can be higher in the valley compared to the tops of the hills.

Gore Wear C7 Partial Windstopper Pro Bib Tights+

Gore Wear C7 Partial Windstopper Pro Bib Tights+

The C7 Partial Windstopper Pro Bib Tights+ are surprisingly light for the windchill and rain guarding they provide. The patented technology keeps arctic breezes at bay while resisting rain and spray. 

Castelli Mortirolo V Jacket

Castelli Mortirolo V Jacket

The Gore Windstopper X-Fast has stretch windproof panels to the sides and shoulders keeping the wind out of the Mortirolo V Jacket, helping you retain more body heat as you ride. 

Shop Gore Tex Windstopper at Wiggle


Gore-Tex® Shakedry™

Gore-Tex Shakedry is a revolution in terms of wet weather performance clothing. Traditionally, cyclists had to contend with either sodden clothing or non-breathable layers, leaving the rider to choose between rainwater or sweat. This meant serious discomfort on long rides, ruling out wet weather riding for many. Shakedry's unique outer membrane prevents water from penetrating, forcing it to bead on the surface and run off, achieving the elusive combination of waterproofing and breathability. 

Main properties

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Stretch
  • Aerodynamic race fitting
  • Warmth (see Gore-Tex Shakedry Insulated)

Best for:

  • Rainy conditions

Typical users:

  • All-weather endurance cyclists, hikers and fast-packers

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket

Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket

Unbelievably light but completely impervious to the rain and wind, Gore Wear's C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Insulated Jacket will redefine how you see cold wet weather cycling kit. Never get stuck in the cold and wet again with this modern marvel.

Castelli Idro 2 Jacket

Castelli Idro 2 Jacket

The minimalist Castelli Idro 2 Jacket is the ultimate in lightweight emergency rain protection. Thanks to Gore-Tex Shakedry technology it weighs just 107 grams, fits easily into a pocket, but remains fully waterproof and highly breathable.

Shop Gore Tex Shakedry at Wiggle


dhb embrace technical fabrics

dhb is the first ever Wiggle-exclusive brand to create a partnership with Polartec along with other technical fabrics like Schoeller®, and incorporate these technologies into their popular active wear (see the Aeron Alpha Gilet above). 

Both Polartec and Schoeller are used in a number of dhb Aeron and Aeron Lab products, adding protection, warmth, and aerodynamic features to this high-performance range. 

dhb Aeron Rain Defence Bib Tight

dhb Aeron Rain Defence Bib Tight

Using Schoeller's innovative  PU foam waterproof and windproof fabric, and its Nanosphere® water repellent treatment, the Aeron Rain Defence Bib Tight typifies the technical approach from dhb latest range, offering flexible weatherproofing and keeping you dry and comfortable.

dhb Aeron Lab All Winter Polartec Glove

dhb Aeron Lab All Winter Glove

For riders who don't like wearing bulky winter gloves, the Aeron LAB All Winter Glove is the answer. A lightweight, insulated glove, constructed with advanced Polartec fabrics for balanced protection and breathability in winter conditions.

 

About the author

Damien Whinnery
Published on: 06 Nov 2018

Fascinated by fitness, serious about sport, and joyous about the gym