By Stephanie Nitsch
I'm a skeptic when it comes to women's bike clothing. Most companies seem to get by on the 'shrink it and pink it' mentality without giving any forethought to our lovely lady lumps. Yet those who do also don't leave much forgiveness when your lumps are larger than the average mannequin's. Which is why I usually turn to oversized men's clothing. Because if it's not gonna fit right, it might as well look stylish.
So when Gore Bike Wear gave me the new women's Countdown 2.0 GT jacket ($199.99) to test out for the transition between sun and snow, my expectations weren't too high. Especially since pink has elbowed its way into the lineup of available colors. But, this being Gore, it wasn't too difficult to overlook the dainty color options and get to the technicalities of this hard-working fall/winter layer.
For starters, it's made with Gore's signature Gore-Tex membrane for bomber waterproofness and stellar breathability. The combination of these two features is a staple during any rainy ride, but because the Countdown 2.0 GT lacks any pit zips, Gore's breathable technology becomes even more of an asset. On more than one occasion, I found myself reaching for the phantom vents in dry-but-cold conditions and felt conflicted over whether I should ditch the jacket or just deal with my own micro-climate. When I opted for the latter, the porous Gore-Tex membrane worked continuously to dump the heat and steam that was building up on the inside.
In all fairness, this jacket isn't actually made for such conditions, but rather for pissing, angry rain. And for that, it couldn't perform any better. Unexpected thunderstorms during a few test rides kept my core dry, which added noticeably more warmth and energy to my soggy spirits on the slow grind home.
Destined for recreational riders with no rigorous agenda, the Countdown 2.0 GT has a relaxed fit that is pleasantly forgiving if you need to throw on an extra mid-layer or stuff any of the three zippered pockets with mid-ride goodies. Even when jamming uphill and throwing boobs to bars, the jacket still allows aggressive riders to pedal in comfort, thanks to a drop hem in the back, slightly longer sleeves and extra room in the shoulders. Small details, like Velcro-adjustable sleeves, a zippered stow pocket and reflective hits, come standard. Unlike the men's version of the same jacket, however, don't expect a hood to seal out the incoming elements.
Ultimately, the women's Countdown 2.0 GT is a performance waterproof jacket that's stripped down of any bells and whistles to keep price in check. Shy of pro-level racing, it's a recommended pick for ladies who don't stop logging miles just because of a little weather.
For more info on the women's Countdown 2.0 GT, visit Gore's website. Also available as the men's Countdown GT jacket ($239.99).