The rain is hammering down and the wind is howling and whipping at you like an over-zealous lion tamer. What you really want is to be back home with your feet up on the sofa watching Eurosport. Instead you soldier on into the elements as the wet and wind penetrates to your core. Does this sound like a lot of your cycling experiences? Well then Gore Bike Wear may just have come out with the new product for you - the Rescue Windstopper Active Shell Jacket.
The Rescue is designed to keep you protected through the worst of the weather thanks to its lightweight Windstopper membrane with fully taped seams. I decided to put the Rescue to the test and see if it could stand up to the cold, wet and wind of a grimy British winter.
Breathability is the holy grail for windproof and water resistant jackets such as the Rescue. Thankfully, Gore quite literally wrote the book on breathable outerwear and the new lightweight Windstopper laminate that the Rescue is constructed from certainly lives up to the American manufacturer's reputation for excellence. The material completely blocks the wind from penetrating and dramatically reduces that horrible sweatbox feeling that so many other windproof jackets put you through.
Fully taped seams not only boost wind protection, they also make the jacket very water resistant - more so than many other jackets that claim to be fully waterproof. Having worn the Rescue through several downpours and even one flurry of snow I can attest to staying almost completely dry. Especially around the shoulders and forearm areas where water often penetrates.
Another element of the Rescue that bolsters its protective credentials is the close-fitting hood. Now, I have to admit that I was sceptical of the inclusion of a hood. Almost no other road cycling jacket has a hood and for good reason; they flap irritatingly in the wind behind you at top speed and do not look very aerodynamic.
The Rescue's hood goes someway to alleviate this apprehension as it is lightweight and slimline enough to fit under your helmet when the weather is especially bad and when you do not need it you can tuck it down inside the back of the jacket.
On the front of the jacket is possibly its best and most useful feature. The front Napoleon-style pocket is perfect for storing your valuables or an energy bar or gel, yet it also doubles as an ingenious stuff sack for the jacket. Being so lightweight and compact means the Rescue can easily squeeze inside the pocket sack, making it the perfect size to fit into a jersey pocket.
On the other hand the front of the Rescue also houses the only feature that detracts from this jacket's excellence. The main zip only extends halfway down the jacket. This is good for protection from the wind and rain, however this benefit is outweighed by the problems this causes when it comes to putting the Rescue on and taking it off as it means you have to take your helmet off to fit your head through the hole. This is only a small nitpick but certainly something that makes putting the jacket on during sudden downpours all the more frantic.
The fit of the jacket is superb, accommodating both everyday use and hardcore training and racing with its dropped tail and ergonomic sleeve design. I am 6'1" and 82 kilograms and wore the medium size which fitted perfectly whether it was wearing it over a short sleeve jersey or a larger warm winter jacket.
The Rescue really does revolutionise the way one thinks about versatility from cycling clothing. Increasingly brands have diversified their ranges to accommodate every weather condition imaginable. Refreshingly the Rescue does it all, offering proven and lasting protection from the wind and rain. The hood and zip may turn you off but do not fear, they are both features that you will come to relish after they have saved you in a sudden torrent of rain or a biting gale. The packability of the Rescue is truly the cherry on the cake, leaving you with no excuse to stuff it into a jersey pocket every time you hit the road.