Put Something In The Box
Wish that I could’ve gotten this review out earlier now that it’s getting slightly warmer in the DC Metro area. But it’s always cold somewhere, and these jackets are probably on closeout special as well. If you’re in the market for a multi-use touring/commuting/lifestyle jacket, I suggest you read further. Regardless of when it’s purchased, as soon as the temperature dips, you’ll reach for this jacket.
The Countdown Jacket definitely has a modern feel to it. Reminds me of the Patagonia thermal sweater that’s de rigueur in the PDX (and everywhere else, I know, but it’s fun to generalize). The two share their quilted styles due to insulation sewn into the lining.
It fits like a cycling jacket. While you may think this is an obvious statement, the style lends itself to being a more casual fitting piece. But it’s designed to fit your body for riding a bike. The sleeves are tight, and the there’s little room at the shoulders for multiple layers like a traditional winter jacket. Yet for cycling you’re not going to need it. Between the WINDSTOPPER® layer and the PrimaLoft® insulation, you’ll need little more than a shirt and another layer. It’s hyper efficient even into the 30’s. For anything lower, you could start with some wicking layers and an insulating layer, and you’ll be good for below freezing. Of course, your temperature range may differ from mine.
WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell, and PrimaLoft® Infinity insulation are the two main components behind the Countdown jacket. The WS Active Shell is designed to be, “the lightest, most packable products offering total windproofness, maximum breathability, and water resistance.” Matched with a very efficient PrimaLoft ® insulation, this jacket has a wind range of temperature applications.
What also got me about this jacket was the level of details that went into its creation. Logos adorn the cuffs as well as the hanging loop inside. Subtle, and technically not needed, these additions add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the piece.
However, some details that are needed and appreciated are the zipper garages, as well as the textured reinforcements around the front pockets. The garages help keep the elements out, while the reinforcement prevents your pockets from expanding up the sides of the jacket. For comfort they’ve added fleece to the collar as well as the cuffs.
Finally 3 ample pockets have been included along the back with a zipper enclosure. Stretching along the length of the zipper is reflective piping to aid in visibility. Reflective piping is added to the front at the top as well as in the logo. Since this is a transitional piece being worn both on and off the bike, I imagine that additional piping wasn’t included for aesthetic purposes.
The only thing I didn’t like about the jacket, was how fussy the main zipper was. Even though it’s a YKK brand, it never engaged easily. Even once you found a technique for getting the zipper to engage, many times it would get hung up on the windproof flap on the inside. This may not be the case for all jackets, but I have to report what I found with mine for an accurate review. All other zippers on the jacket performed as expected.
I’ve been truly impressed by how this jacket has performed. At first I didn’t expect anything exemplary from it, but it quickly became my all around favorite piece; on and off the bike. I say I didn’t expect anything from simply because of its casual outward appearance. You try to not judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to cycling apparel many times it holds true. For urban commuting, it doesn’t get much better. After locking up my bike, and rolling down my pants cuffs, I’m able to blend in wherever I’ve arrived without looking like a “biker”. Overall the zipper gripe isn’t a huge one considering it still engaged and worked. And while it might’ve been nice to have a bit more reflectivity, I’m happy that I don’t look like the typical “urban-assault commuter”.
PRO FACTORS: Gore’s WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell paired with PrimaLoft insulation makes this a very warm piece, style is perfect for on and especially off the bike, details add to an overall high-quality feel.
OPPORTUNITIES: Front zipper could’ve been easier to engage, and a bit more reflectivity would’ve been nice but at the expense of aesthetics.
RATING: 90% – The Gore Countdown Insulated Jacket is urban PRO level quality.