Current Retail: $369.95
GORE-TEX Active product: lightweight, extremely breathable, durably waterproof and windproof
The H5 is a lightweight Gore-Tex Active shell jacked designed to breathe while you're out being active and to pack away in a tiny space while you aren't.
This jacket is probably radder than you. Truly, you probably don't need a jacket this good.
An end to the question, "Hmmm, should I pack a hard shell?"
- Ridiculously light (9.5 oz)
- Shockingly packable
- Amazingly waterproof
- Form fitted
- Great zippers
- Harness/backpack compatible pockets
- Slightly crinkly fabric
- I wish it stretched a little
- The storm flap sometimes catches on the zipper
This review may contain satire. Literal people take precautions!
Gore H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket
Right up front I'm going to say this: Do whatever you have to so you can afford one of these jackets! Hopefully you choose legal activities and if you don't, I will not judge you. The courts might, but if you just show them the jacket and this review, I'm sure they'll see the light and set you free. This jacket will probably outlast the average marriage and will make you several times happier.
Nice, high pockets. I don't always dress from head to toe in baby blue, but when I do, it's to review gear for Trailspace.
Once in a while I find something that truly completes me as a hiker/climber. I used to think I knew exactly what I needed. Then this came along and gave me all those things, in a lighter weight option with a few more features I’d never even considered. It’s been really hard to find anything not to like here and I think I’m pretty picky. Funny, I think that also describes my third wife!
Lately I’ve been reviewing the Gore H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket, a lightweight shell jacket that has so many smart innovations and so few useless ones that I think I may have found hard shell Nirvana.
The cardinal four upper body layers in bad weather are: base layer, insulating layer, hard shell, insulating puffy overcoat. It works well; as you get into worse weather you toss the next layer over the previous until either you get comfortable, die, give up and go home, or you run out of layers. I’ve used this system a lot over the years and I’m super happy with it.
One really good way to save in weight and complexity in this system is to switch from a full-function waterproof-breathable (WPB) ski-jacket style hard shell (HEEEAAAVY) to a stripped-down “crinkle coat.” By crinkle coat, I mean a jacket that is unlined, probably doesn’t have inside pockets, and does the one thing it is designed to do; keep the rain and wind off you while breathing and letting your sweat out. These jackets sometimes sound a little bit like you are wearing a crinkly blue plastic tarp and the noise can be a turnoff to some, but the weight savings gained by eliminating a soft lining and superfluous features is totally worth it. Why would you ever give up the Gucci creature comforts of a full-featured jacket? Because:
- Those things make the jacket heavy; making you leave other things you probably want at home (whiskey, maps, pizza, etc.)
- Full feature jackets take up too much room, making you need a bigger pack which you will definitely pack with a bunch of extra useless crap that will slow you down. Slower equals less safe and less radness.
- You don’t need those extra features. You’ll end up stashing stuff in all those extra pockets then toss on another layer over it or take the shell off, basically losing the pocket contents forever. Really, how many hood-adjusting drawstrings do you need anyway?
Hunting for rocks for the kids' art project. Yes, that's a winter, Christmas candy-filled belly.
What I do in this jacket: I really like wearing the H5 while trail running. I go out in 35-45 degree F temps probably three times per week. This winter has been especially windy and rainy here, the miserable kind of rain that is close to snow but not quite. The H5 has gotten to see a lot of good testing against heavy wind. I also took the H5 with me overnight ski tour camping and on hikes in the snow.
All of these activities involved significant crappy weather and body heat building, stuff that typically makes you feel like you are wearing a freezing sauna with typical jackets. Paired with random rainy day trips to the river to search for “the perfect rocks” for craft projects and it’s been a good test.
Waterproofness: Gore-Tex Active is the membrane used in this jacket. My dear readers will be forgiven for not keeping up with all of the different Gore-Tex materials over the decades and luckily I can help shed a little light on this. Gore-Tex Active is designed for extreme breathability, durability, feather weight, wind- and water-proofness. Remember the 1990s, back when Gore-Tex was heavy and just barely, kinda breathable? Ya, things have changed.
Active is the most breathable material I have worn that still keeps me absolutely dry in the rain. Gore makes the statement that they absolutely guarantee its waterproofness. The weasel-word "water-resistant" is never used. This isn't your pappy's Gore-Tex. This Gore-Tex climbs 5.13, brews beer, exercises regularly, speaks four languages, has a few really unique tattoos and is well traveled. It's the Gore-Tex you wish had raised you.
No way, I thought, could something breathable enough for trail running be anything near waterproof. Well, for the third time ever, I was wrong. I only have so many days off; the trust-fund I expected never came so I don’t get to pick my outside days based on weather. I go, rain or shine. In the rain, the H5 shines.
I’m happy in the rain with the H5. Nothing leaks through. Once I’m all zipped inside my hard shell I’m good to go, no leaks, no drips, no worries! Snow, downpours, and that stupid mist that soaks through normal jackets are not a problem for the H5.
Fit/layering: Read the Gore fit chart before buying! This jacket is a form-fit. It is meant to be nearer your skin than a ski jacket. In fact I wore it with just a t-shirt underneath a lot with no clamminess at all; I was shocked. You may need to go up a size if you plan an insulating layer underneath. I’m at the upper end of medium on the Gore fit chart and I found the large to be just right for a lightweight insulating layer underneath (Outdoor Research Ascendant Jacket). It’s not skin-tight, but definitely snug.
Stretch: I wish it stretched a little, but it does not. The jacket is cut with generous sleeves that allow most anything you'd want to do. It didn't really cause any constriction or binding being non-stretchy, but wouldn't it be cool if it stretched too?
Breathability: I used the H5 a lot as my trail running jacket this winter through some pretty nasty storms; rain, wind 20+ mph. I was impressed how dry I stayed. My sweat left the jacket as if I’d been wearing a soft shell. Gore has been at this game for a while so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Brrr! Time for a puffy over the H5. They play very well together.
Comfort: Skiing, running, hanging out in camp, etc. is great in the H5. Even though the fabric does not stretch and the jacket is form fitted, the cut is such that I never felt especially constricted.
Soft fuzzy patch over my face when its zipped up, just where I needed it.
Features: The main zipper is a two-way style and has a great pull tab that works with gloves. The pockets are high enough that a harness or pack belt will not interfere with them. There are two adjustments for the hood that are inconspicuous and functional. Another shock cord adjusts the hem of the jacket to tailor the fit to you. The hood also has a thick, flexible monofilament brim that retains its shape after the jacket is packed away. The cuffs are snug and have a slight elastic and velcro adjustment. They won’t fit over gloves, so plan on tucking them in.
The perfect 2-way zipper
Price: Yeah, this is an expensive jacket (over $379 MSRP!!) but let me tell you a little secret: there are sales. For what you get, it's worth it! Find one on sale and buy it. Otherwise you will spend WAY more wearing out inferior jackets. This shell could last you three times longer than a $150 jacket. This advice is coming from a guy who has bought several crappy, kinda waterproof, breathable jackets and suffered, hypothermia for it. Really though, if you compare to the Arc'teryx Beta AR at $575 or their Alpha SV at $799, it's a steal!
Durability: For many of my trail runs I wore the jacket tied around my waist till it rained or I got cold. Tying knots in a hard shell can sometimes affect the fabric and waterproof finish but I didn’t see any wear and it still kept the water off. Not having left trails much in it I only scratched around in the sagebrush a little so I can’t tell what will happen when I scramble over rocks in it. Indications are that the fabric will perform well.
Another Trailspace reviewer (Twig) wore her H5 for over 1,000 miles:
Unless you're going to be as rad as Twig (probably not), you don't even need a jacket this badass. Seriously, wearing the H5 made me feel almost as unworthy as reading Twig's review of it. She killed it!
Burly, ripstop fabric
Glued, reinforced flat seams. A little stretchy fabric at the sides allows more movement.
More soft fuzzy stuff for your neck.
Noise: It’s a hard shell so it crinkles. If that’s a deal breaker, perhaps try an oilskin duster or boiled wool. Hard shells crinkle; it's life. It never bothered me, but it was there.
Ya, that's a sardine can; they're delicious. This jacket could fit in a pants pocket!!
Packable size: I can easily pack this jacket to half the size of a Nalgene bottle. It will pack into its own pocket but it is so much more compact than that. You can seriously stuff it in the front pocket of your pants.
Weight: 9.5oz. as claimed by Gore. It’s the weight of a hamster, I checked. My old Army ECWCS Gore-Tex jacket from the 1990s was like 36 ounces!!
Best use: Trail running, backpacking, backcountry skiing, alpinism, any time you want to stay dry while moving but you don’t have weight and space to waste. Worst use: snowmobiling, ice fishing, buying coffee, watching soccer, walking to the office, anytime when you’re not worried about weight or performance.
Style: It’s not cute. This sentiment was reinforced by my style consultants, aka. my wife and two teen daughters. I think the gray/blue color was described by my wife as, “not masculine at all.” To me it looks functional and I don’t feel ashamed wearing it. If you don't like the color I wore, Gore offers the jacket in different colors of course.
Regrets: As a crappy typist, the name “H5” is a godsend to type, but otherwise they probably could have come up with a better name. My vote is for Crinkletastic, or The Henry Crinkler, or something equally game-changing. If it were stretchy or maybe if that storm flap didn’t always catch the zipper it would be perfect. Luckily I read the size chart and ordered a large or the medium would have fit me like a wetsuit.
I'm a climber, mountaineer, hiker, trail runner, and father of eight. I'm kinda busy. I've owned several hard shells and Gore-Tex products as well as jackets with other waterproof-breathable membranes. I've been reviewing gear on Trailspace since 2010.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Gore)
All H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket versions
In addition to the 1 men's review above, there is 1 review for another version of the H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded Jacket. Read all reviews »