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Gore Apparel has recently introduced a new technology that they refer to as “Thermium,” and I’ve been testing an entire kit of fat biking outerwear that utilizes the new technology. Here’s the scoop on this tech, according to Gore:

Thermium utilizes a DWR-treated Windstopper Active Shell face fabric, with taped seams, backed with a Primaloft Gold insulation. The result is a lightweight, highly water-resistant garment that can comfortably and safely stretch your cycling participation into very cold temperatures. While water should never really be able to bypass the outer layer of the garment, should the Primaloft insulation somehow get wet (maybe you cut or tear the fabric) it is designed to keep its loft, so its insulation properties stay intact.

For more info on Gore’s excellent Windstopper tech, be sure to read my review of the Gore Rescue Windstopper Active Shell Jacket.

The Gore ONE Thermium Jacket is their new top-of-the-line cold weather cycling jacket. I put it to the test in the oxygen-deprived Colorado Rockies to see how it could handle our blasts of arctic air.

Out on the Trail

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My first major test of the Thermium jacket was while fat biking in Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America, at an elevation of 10,360 feet. As I was winding my way up the Arkansas Valley toward Leadville, I saw the temperature on my car thermometer dip down to about 7 degrees (F), and I worried that I may not have packed enough clothing to handle the cold. I was grateful to see the temperatures rise back up to about 15 degrees as I climbed into Leadville, but still–would the Thermium jacket be warm enough? I was pairing it with my favorite base layer and had an extra rain jacket stashed in my pack to function as an extra outer shell, just in case.

I shouldn’t have worried about being cold–in fact, if anything, I was a bit overdressed in the Thermium jacket. The jacket worked exactly as advertised, cutting through the wind easily, with the soft insulation turning the jacket into a mini furnace!

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On a few other rides closer to home in 20 degrees temperatures, I paired the jacket with a wicking short sleeve jersey as a base layer, and I was still perfectly comfortable in this jacket. If anything, the main warning I can give is that the Thermium jacket is designed as a true cold-weather layer. I wouldn’t recommend using the Thermium gear in temperatures above 20 degrees. If you dress too warmly, you can quickly overheat and start sweating, and if temperatures drop or the wind picks up, that sweat can eventually lead to hypothermia.

While I did find the jacket provided some decent moisture-wicking properties in warmer temperatures, with such a thick, multi-layered jacket, I found it could only disperse so much moisture. While the jacket didn’t get soaked and damp, it’s also simply too thick and too insulated to move water and moisture away from the body the way a thinner membrane could.

What does this all mean? Basically, this is one really warm jacket–make sure you don’t overdress.

DSC01078Functionality

While this jacket isn’t feature-rich above and beyond the Thermium technology, I found the features it did provide to be simple yet effective. The three zippered pockets were all easy to access, and the zip pulls were a cinch even with gloves on.

Most notably, I really appreciated the addition of a hood. More than simple cold temperatures, wind is a major chilling factor while fat biking, especially if you crest the top of a mountain ridge above treeline on the Continental Divide. Even if the sun’s out, when you pedal out of a sheltered zone into the direct path of the wind, it can quickly strip the heat away from your body if you’re not covered up. Flipping the hood up is an easy fix for the wind.

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While it may not be obvious from the photos, I found the cut of this jacket to provide excellent mobility, both on the fat bike and while backcountry ski touring. Most cold weather jackets that provide this much insulation tend to be bulky and heavy–which isn’t ideal for use on the bike or while skinning up a mountainside. Gore has created a trim cut by eliminating excess material, yet still provides plenty of coverage and insulation for protection on very cold days.

Velcro and elastic in the cuffs made it easy to fit gloves underneath.

Velcro and elastic in the cuffs made it easy to fit gloves underneath.

Bottom Line

The Thermium Jacket is a high tech outer layer that’s designed for extreme winter cold. While in most conditions down into the low single digits most riders won’t need more than a long sleeve base layer paired with this jacket, adding additional layers continues to extend its usefulness to well below zero.

Gore is known for making high quality products that perform well and stand the test of time, and I have no doubt that the Thermium jacket will keep me warm for years to come. One thing Gore isn’t known for is bargain price tags, and at $400 MSRP, the Thermium jacket doesn’t come cheap.

Thanks to Gore for providing the Thermium Jacket for review.

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