Gore Oxygen II Jacket SRP £129.99
The Magnificent Seven, Rocky, Star Wars (A New Hope, Part IV, for the film buffs) all were much better than the sequels that followed them. Would this be the fate of Gore’s Oxygen II jacket?
The fit of the new Oxygen is very close to the Gore Xenon jacket tested before on RCUK. The fit differences are subtle between the two jackets, as the Oxygen is slightly shorter at the back but fractionally longer at the front. You also lose the Scotchlite decoration that is an omnipresent feature across the whole Xenon range. The sleeves are now more tailored and, although there is now much more freedom of movement, the excess material formerly noted by some wearers is now a thing of the past. The fit of the jacket has been vastly improved with the addition of stretch Paclite in key areas such as the sleeves and back, using Body Mapping technology. This process uses a 3D ergonomic cut to enhance the shape and performance of the jacket and utilizes the best fabrics for any given area. In this case, it resulted in the use of the stretch Paclite and a change to the shape of the panels compared to the Xenon jacket. For me personally, this gave a better fit with less material flapping around.
Performance-wise, this jacket surpassed even my high expectations for it. These stem from the fact that Gore is the market leader when it comes to cutting edge foul weather fabrics. Breathability of the jacket was excellent; only once have I felt clammy from the inside, but that was on a day of 18 degrees warmth combined with stair rod rain and high humidity. This is a good thing, as most of the time the jacket will be used as a ‘belts and braces’ windproof. When it comes to the waterproof protection, I was literally blown away. [I doubt it, Big Boy – Ed.] On one 9½-hour ride, in constant rainfall, the jacket passed with flying colours, leaving me completely dry. I have asked Gore to work on a complete bodysuit for myself, as this would protect me from anything a British summer could throw at me! [Make that two – Ed.]
Breathability on the new Paclite 4 fabric is vastly improved over earlier versions of this material and is now much closer to the Xenon. This should reassure those people whose past experiences with waterproof jackets have left them just as wet from the inside as the outside thanks to cheap ‘boil in the bag’ clear jackets. Furthermore, it amazes me that most packable jackets don’t come with a little bag like that for the Oxygen (or Xenon). It is a simple and cheap addition that makes storing the jacket in your pockets a lot easier.
Real World Decisions
In the real world of difficult choices and having just one jacket, the decision would be between the Xenon and the Oxygen. The Oxygen is fractionally heavier, but not by so much that it warrants moaning about. The Xenon is probably more flexible due to the lined sleeves and fantastic breathability of the Windstopper fabric. Where the Oxygen will always win hands down is in the waterproof department and, coming a close second on breathability, the question is which jacket is best. This may well be answered by the type of rider you are and possibly where you live. If you are an epic distance rider going out for four plus hours in all conditions, and throwing in a good few sportives for good measure your answer is probably the Oxygen. If you are a shorter ride person, and don’t venture out when black clouds come tumbling in, go with the Xenon. OK, which one would I opt for? It is a difficult question to answer as both jackets work fantastically well (and I have both!).
I like the Xenon as it breaths exceptionally well, is completely windproof and offers bags of reflectivity for commuting or when riding in the lanes. [I thought you were reviewing the Oxygen – Ed.] The Oxygen loses out in some key areas, as Paclite is not as breathable as Windstopper. I also miss the reflective patches and the lined sleeves from the Xenon. So you may be surprised when I say that the Oxygen will get my vote as a solution to the “only one jacket” syndrome. Most of the time I want a jacket that is stowable in my back pocket with the reassurance that when the weather turns foul it will be more than up to the task. Although I am sure I’d end up buying a windproof gilet for those questionable days when the jacket may be overkill.
In an ideal world the jacket would have the following to make it perfect.