If the recent cold spell exposed a gap in your cycling wardrobe for a winter jacket that will keep the worst of the cold at bay, then the Phantom 2.0 jacket from Gore Bike Wear might just be the answer to your needs.
Tested in windy and cold conditions, where the temperature did not get much above freezing, and worn with only a merino baselayer underneath, the jacket kept me warm throughout the ride. Even when my levels of intensity increased I did not overheat which is testament to the excellent breathability of this jacket. For winter riding in colder conditions, you cannot really ask for more!
With a RRP of £139.99 this is a jacket that falls into a crowded space, but what marks it out from its competitors is the tricks it holds up its sleeve - quite literally in fact - as the long sleeves are detachable, which makes the Phantom 2.0 incredibly versatile and extending the spectrum of weather and temperature conditions in which the jacket can be worn.
It's a simple and clever bit of design, but one that comes as little surprise when you are dealing with this innovative and reputable American label. The sleeves are easily detached (and reattached) and roll up small enough to be accommodated in the roomy back pockets. You are left wearing what is essentially a short sleeve jersey with a gilet. So even though this jacket stood up to a harsh easterly, I could easily see myself wearing this on cooler Spring days too, when you require that little bit of extra warmth as you set out. Particularly good, I would surmise, for longer Spring rides when temperatures and weather conditions may fluctuate.
Being a Gore product, you know you are buying a quality garment from a manufacture with an enviable reputation for developing innovative fabrics such as Gore-tex and Windstopper, yet always ensuring the clothes function well to deliver for very specific requirements - whatever the outdoor pursuit. Fortunately, the design of the Phantom 2.0 has not been sacrificed in favour of performance - this is also a great looking jacket and the women's version is particularly stylish (the 'hot pink' and 'pool blue' colours are particularly funky).
The Windstopper fabric is certainly windproof and Gore claim it is moisture and snow resistant. It keeps out the elements, but the fabric has other strengths too; it's breathability and also the fact that it is very lightweight - there is not stiffness and the internal lining is soft.
Gore market the Phantom 2.0 as a jacket, but the Windstopper material is surprisingly thin, soft and lightweight, so this is a garment that works equally well as a jersey. There is a good degree of stretch in the body and a good arm length too, so the jacket could easily accommodate a light fleece or jersey underneath for those sub-zero winter rides. Conversely, I could envisage myself teaming the jacket with a good waterproof jacket if the skies are looking little more threatening.
You can tell that a great deal of thought has gone into the overall design of this jacket. There is an attention to detail throughout. Take the three rear pockets - large enough to accommodate all the necessary accoutrements required for a winter ride - the two sides pockets are finished with diagonal openings to make access easier.
The jacket's visibility is good too. Gore have allowed for reflective strips on the shoulders and back pockets and also on the sleeves - particularly good for signalling - and if you do detach the long sleeves then the short sleeves have a reflective strip incorporated too. The variety of colours means that one has plenty of choice and if you want greater visibility then the Neon Yellow or Apple Green might be for you..
The jacket is not waterproof - Windstopper fabric is moisture and snow resistant - but the cuffs and neckline are tight and the hems elasticated. The main zip has a neat inner lining to stop moisture seaping through, which is a great touch and further illustrates that Gore have focused on ensuring that this jacket functions perfectly for the road cyclist. How the jacket would stand up if one was caught in a downpour is hard to say - the zips that connect the sleeves might be a weak point in the armoury, but the quality of this jacket suggests it would resist a shower with ease.
Pros: Comfortable, versatile, good design and function. Excellent autumn/winter/early spring jacket.
Cons: a little on the expensive side, but the quality speaks volumes and can be worn over three seasons.
Colours (men): Apple Green/Azur Blue/White/Neon Yellow/Navy/Red/Black
Colours (women): Pool Blue/Neon Yellow/Red/ Hot Pink/Black with apple green or white detailing.
Weather conditions when tested. Dry, but windy. Cold 2-3°C
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