Current Retail: $369.95
Current Retail: $369.95
The Gore H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket is a lightweight, functional and very comfortable waterproof shell designed for "fast hiking." It served perfectly as my one and only windbreaker/rain jacket for five months on the trail, through a variety of harsh conditions. I wore it primarily for warmth but also to keep dry during many prolonged rainstorms. It fits well under a backpack and still repels water after extended wear-and-tear. It's the most durable and reliable lightweight rain jacket that I have used for thru-hiking thus far.
- Provides reliable shelter from rain and wind
- Ultralight shell with minimalist features
- Next-to-skin comfort and excellent breathability
- Good ergonomic fit allows full range of movement and comfort with a pack on
- Very durable
- Compromises with minimalist function vs lack of features
- Zipper can be finicky to align
- Double metal zipper is overkill
- Cuffs don't seal completely
The H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket is a no-frills, lightweight, single-layer GORE-TEX Active rain shell with an integrated hood.
According to Gore: "GORE-TEX Active Products are lightweight, extremely breathable, durably waterproof and windproof for fast hiking in all weather conditions."
There are two zippered side pockets, lined with mesh and situated so that they work well with a backpack. There's a full length two-way front zipper with a garage and thin fleece lining where the jacket comes into contact with the face. There are very basic drawcords at the front and rear of the hood as well as at the waist. Lastly, the sleeves have a partial elastic cuff with a Velcro adjustment.
Fit, Comfort, & Layering:
The fit of my jacket is perfect for me. I intentionally ordered a size up so that I could wear a few layers underneath. I have comfortably worn as many as three layers (Trew merino T-shirt, Patagonia R1 crew, and Montbell Hooded Down Puffy) under this jacket. I have also worn it extensively with just one layer and been very happy with the fit.
This jacket has a very functional ergonomic design, with contoured shoulders and sleeves. The seams are extremely flat and smooth, designed to be unnoticeable under a backpack. I do not feel any restriction or discomfort when moving my shoulders and wearing my pack.
The sleeves are also the perfect length, preventing exposed wrists when I extend my arms but also not hanging down far enough to interfere with my hands. The rear bottom hem extends down farther than the front so that my back is still covered when bending over. I would say that this is probably the best-fitting jacket that I have ever worn.
Picture from atop a fire tower on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the aspens in color
There are only a few options for adjusting the fit of this jacket, given its lightweight, minimalist design. Two drawstrings outline the hood opening and one adjusts the length from the back.
Since the jacket fits me so well, I have not found much need to adjust the drawstrings. A few times I have wanted to better secure the hood because of strong winds but could never figure out how to keep tension on the drawstrings other than by knotting them. I finally figured out that the cordlocks are buried inside the fabric. It's actually very easy to adjust the tension, as shown below.
The cordlocks for the hood's drawstrings are buried inside where my index finger is pointing. Pressing on the center of the cordlock adjusts the tension...I never even realized they were there until writing this review!
The hood cinches down very tightly yet keeps a nice shape thanks to the stiffening rod in the brim. The fleece lining inside makes it very comfortable against my face.
A look at the hood un-cinched...I generally wear a visor underneath the hood.
The only adjustments that I find lacking are the wrist cuffs. I've had a little bit of water running up the sleeves, given that my wrists are sometimes elevated by the swing of my trekking poles. I couldn't cinch the velcro tight enough but it wasn't a big deal. My lower arms got a little wet during an all-day rainstorm but that was the only part of me that ever got wet. Short of having neoprene or latex wrist seals, like those on a drysuit, there probably aren't too many jackets that would perform better.
With elevated arms from climbing with trekking poles, rain can sometimes seep down the sleeves.
Being outside in the high Rockies for nearly half the year, I had ample opportunities to test the jacket's waterproofness. I can confidently say that it keeps me dry! The GORE-TEX Active material ("guaranteed to keep you dry") causes water to bead nicely on the surface. In areas where the jacket has seen a lot of friction (the sleeves and areas that are in contact with my pack), the material does wet-out. Yet even these areas have miraculously maintained their waterproofing. Rain does not permeate the inside and the material dries fairly quickly.
I must also concede that most often I used the jacket in conjunction with my trekking umbrella. In such a configuration, the jacket served as a thermal layer and to keep my arms and back dry. But there were several times that it was too windy to use the umbrella. On another occasion, I had to push through miles of over-grown trail, where the soaked vegetation saturated me from head to toe. During these times, I still stayed dry underneath.
In my full rain protection configuration on Triple Divide Pass, Glacier National Park
I prefer wearing my umbrella because even when I'm dry underneath, a jacket that is wet on the outside still cools me down. If I can manage to keep my core totally dry, I can hike all day in a drizzle or a downpour. I also used the umbrella for protection from hail, which occurred a lot on the CDT. The umbrella allows me to eat, navigate with my phone, and take pictures.
Some might think carrying an umbrella and a GORE-TEX jacket is redundant or overkill but don't forget that both are multi-use items. While hiking the Arizona Trail, where it never rained once, I used the umbrella almost every day to hide from the blazing sun and my jacket to keep me warm at the bookends, when temperatures dropped into the 30's. Both pieces of gear were vital to my thru-hike, even though rain was never a factor.
My wettest day on the the trail, coming out of the San Juans to Wolf Creek Pass. After pushing through miles of wet overgrowth, the jacket wetted-out on the outside but I was still dry underneath.
I would say that relative to similar lightweight backpacking jackets, the H5 is very breathable. After all, GORE-TEX products are supposed to be unrivaled in this regard. But I also tend to be less sweaty and run cooler than most hikers. Additionally, use with an umbrella means that I can leave the zipper partially unzipped and the hood down. This negates needing other features like pit-zips and vents.
This jacket can easily be worn with just a t-shirt underneath, while not feeling clammy, sticky or crinkly where it comes in direct contact with skin. The inner material is soft and silky to the touch. I find this to be one of the most comfortable jackets to hike in, even while going uphill. Many days, I left it on far longer than I would any other shell because it also provided sun and bug protection.
No rain in sight but bundled up for protection from the wind and UV rays on the Divide.
This paper-thin shell doesn’t provide a lot of thermal protection but when paired with a few thermal layers (a merino baselayer, light fleece and/or minimalist down puffy), the jacket protected me from some pretty harsh, bitterly cold winds. Sure, there were a few times that I wished I had something more, but that's the crux of having a lightweight kit on a thru-hike...you make due with what little you have.
Here I try to take refuge from the unrelenting winds on the Divide, 13,000+ feet atop Mt Flora in Colorado. I pretty much wore this jacket the whole time above such elevations...which is a lot of the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado.
Function & Ease of Use:
This jacket has few features to discuss, but one of the minor downsides that I encountered is the front zipper. First, I don't really care for the metal zipper sliders. I realize that they may be more durable in the long-run but I think lighter and softer plastic zipper sliders would suffice. I also don't think a double zipper is completely necessary but I did use it to open the jacket for better ventilation on a few occasions.
The zipper can also be finicky to align since the pin has to be passed through both sliders while they are simultaneously held together. Getting all the parts lined up with wet, cold hands can be difficult so I often struggled getting the zipper started. Once going, it slides well.
You can see here that the pin doesn't always align with the other.
All other features work as expected. The side pocket zippers are smooth and the pockets amply sized to hold snacks, a phone, mitts, etc. The drawcords slide easily and help seal out the cold.
The jacket does not come with a ditty bag or pocket that it can be folded into. I simply roll it into its hood to stow in my pack. It packs down reasonably well.
Abrasion, Construction & Durability:
I have owned one other Gore GORE-TEX jacket over the years and had high expectations for this one. It has not disappointed. Upon receiving the jacket, I was impressed by the very lightweight material and clean lines. The material almost feels like paper on the outside but has proven to be very durable and long-lasting.
I expected to destroy this jacket during the course of my thru-hikes. I wore it extensively with my pack on, going through very overgrown trail, bushwacks, and setting up and breaking camp every night/morning. In five months of near-constant use, the jacket did not suffer any tears or rips. All seams, zippers, and hems are in good shape, with no apparent defects and no deterioration from use. Instead of throwing it out, I am looking at completing a third thru-hike with it again this summer.
The only signs of wear are seen in high-abrasion areas from my pack, namely over the back of the shoulders, around the back of the neck, at my hips and around my chest strap. I don't see this as a defect but rather normal wear-and-tear from extensive use with a pack. The inner material is worn but as far as I can tell, these areas are still waterproof. The inner material has also slightly peeled away at the edge of a seam in the hood but this is very minor and does not affect performance. Lastly, there is some very slight fraying at the edges of the sleeves.
See the darker spots on the inside? This is where my pack and shoulders have rubbed away some of the inner liner. The jacket is meant to be used with a pack so bear in mind that I have worn it with a pack for more than 1,000 miles...some wear is to be expected.
The jacket resists dirt pretty well and is easy to launder on the trail. I have washed it about four times, most recently with a restorative product, Nikwax Tech Wash. I hope to get a lot more use out of this jacket in the near future.
The H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket is a very lightweight and comfortable shell that is also durably waterproof. It's a jacket that works well with a backpack and has a minimalist, ergonomic design. I'd recommend it for hiking/backpacking in some extreme and wet conditions.
Thank you to Trailspace and Gore for the opportunity to test this jacket so extensively. It has been an amazing companion during my long journey.
I carried this jacket for the entirety of the Continental Divide Trail (2,700 miles, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico) and the Arizona Trail (800 miles), from April to November, 2019. It served as my primary (only) windbreaker and rain jacket during these two thru-hikes. Temperatures ranged from 25-80 degrees F and I was generally hiking through some pretty exposed, rugged terrain.
I always wore the jacket during rainstorms, which occurred approximately 30 days on the CDT (it did not rain once while I was on the AZT). I experienced several heavy downpours mixed with hail and even sideways rain. I wore the jacket for warmth almost every morning and/or evening, with and without a pack. I wore it all day while hiking on a few occasions, either because of prolonged rainy conditions, cold or both. I also summit-ed four 14ers with this jacket, which I needed frequently to cut the icy winds up high in Colorado. I plan to use this jacket for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike summer 2020.
About: Leah Harman is an avid long-distance thru-hiker. Since 2017 she has completed the Te Araroa, Colorado Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Arizona Trail. When she's at home she volunteers as an activity leader for the Florida Trail Association.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Altraample for testing and review provided by Gore)