Monday, February 11, 2019

Gore Wear H5 Fast Hike Collection Review: Ideal for Variable Conditions Mountain Running and Hiking

by Jeff Valliere

Introduction:  Don't let the "Hike" in the Fast Hike Collection fool you.  The majority of my Winter "runs" involve very steep hiking (and some running) up technical trails, followed by a fast plunge back down the hill to make it home in time for dinner/family obligations.  The trails are often covered in snow, ice, drifted snow and is not entirely uncommon to encounter high winds, sometimes even of hurricane force as storms pummel the Continental Divide.  Selecting the right clothing can be tricky, especially given the rapid changes in weather terrain and elevation.

For running/fast hiking in moderate to cold windy and snowy conditions, the Gore H5 GORE-TEX  Active Hooded Jacket and Gore H5 Gore Windstopper Hybrid Pants have quickly become my go to on colder winter runs, especially if there may be wind and precipitation involved.

Test Conditions/Location:  January/February in the foothills of Boulder Colorado at elevations ranging from 5,300 feet up to 8,500 feet.  Temperatures ranged from the low single digits to nearly 50 degrees, night running, sunny days, cloudy days, heavy dry snowfall and in windy conditions with blowing snow.

Gore H5 GORE-TEX Active Hooded Jacket  ($369.99) - 9 oz./256 grams

  • Remarkable amount of protection for the weight
  • Attention to detail
  • Venting
  • Waterproofness
  • Breathability
  • Venting
  • Hood/cuffs/waist cinch to keep out drafts
  • Mobility
  • Fit
  • Style
  • Versatility/sizing. I find the jacket is not easy to layer underneath and thus does not perform double duty well between athletic and casual use.
  • The draft flap over the upper section of zipper can at times be slightly klutzy to negotiate.
  • Price - comparatively fair, and I think worth the money, but a good chunk of change for essentially a running/fast hiking jacket.
The Gore H5 Hooded Jacket is reasonably light and pack-able at just 9oz., certainly not an ultralight wispy jacket, but that is not necessarily the aim here.  This is a high performance, full featured protective jacket that can either be worn as a day to day running or any fast moving activity jacket to cut the wind and protect from moisture, or to gird your upper body on those rough, windy, wet snowy days where you question even getting out the door.

The GORE-TEX Active membrane and front and backer fabrics in the jacket are designed for "Fast Pace and High Intensity" activities in a waterproof breathable jacket. The H5 Gore-Tex Active Hooded product page features this graphic.

Waterproofing:  I often suspect claims of "Waterproof and Breathable" to be somewhat dubious, however this jacket is the closest I have seen to that claim.  Being mid winter, I have not yet run in rainy conditions, but I have soaked it in the shower and in the sink and water quickly beads off without soaking through (but will have to update here once I can finally get in a long run in true rainy conditions).  Running in snow and blowing snow has not been an issue, even when I would expect the snow to pile up and start to soak in, the flakes never adhered or had a change to cling and soak in.

Breathability is of the Gore-Tex Active membrane is very good, aided by effective venting. The combination of the two means that when running hard up hills, I sweat and might get a little damp on the inside, but not soaked out as would often be the case in less breathable or less vented waterproof jackets that I have used previously in similar conditions.
The Gore-Tex Active sandwich of materials is thin, yet simultaneously durable and substantial feeling with a ripstop outer cross pattern.  The main front zipper, shown below, is two way and is easy to operate with gloves.
On the inside all seams are "taped" is such a way that there is no chance for any moisture to sneak in.  The construction here is the best I have seen and aside from the visual clues, feels essentially seamless.

The sleeve opening is on the narrow side, which is good to keep out drafts and minimizes bulk.  There is a little stretch to the inner side of the sleeve cuff, plus a velcro strap for more secure cinching.

Because the cuff has some leeway with the elastic stretch and velcro adjustment, maneuvering over my Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is not problematic.
Fitting the sleeve over a larger watch, like the Fenix 5X however takes a bit more effort.
And even more to go over a Suunto 9 Baro, requiring a readjustment of the velcro each time (and I have very thin wrists).
The hood is sturdy and secure with a pull tab in the back, as well as the front for the perimeter, to keep the hood snug and secure in driving rain and heavy wind.  I found that even in the most severe gusts, the hood stays put.  Adjustments are easy even with thin gloves.

Paying attention to detail and comfort, Gore adds little bits of felt to key areas that are prone to rubbing and discomfort, such as along the mouth/nose area when the zipper is fully zipped all the way up.  This is a tough area to get just right and Gore nails it here.
The pockets are generous and easily accommodate essentials if need be.
And with a light mesh inner pocket liner, the zippered pockets perform double duty as effective ventilation.  This really adds to the breathability of the jacket and I often adjust the zippers to dial venting depending on even micro variations in wind, temperature and effort.  The only drawback is that of you are relying on the zippers as venting and the pockets for storage, that creates a bit of usability conflict, so you have to decide one use or the other (I wear a run vest or waist belt almost all of the time anyways and to avoid having to keep the zippers closed).

There is also a convenient waist cinch, adjusted from either pocket to help keep out drafts and blowing snow.
Fit is on the slim and athletic side.  I am 5'10" / 145 lbs with a short torso and long legs and comfortably wear a size medium, if wearing no more than 2 layers underneath (a thin baselayer, then a slightly thicker mid weight shirt/fleece).  Wearing more than that, it starts to feel a little tight and compromises mobility, so size accordingly.

Billed as a fast hiking jacket, I agree that this is the ideal use.  For the runner on city/rural streets, the Active Hooded Jacket will easily have you covered for your inclement or cold running needs. When conditions are really wet/windy/snowy, it truly becomes is a very worthwhile addition to the arsenal.

For mountain/trail running particularly when you regularly encounter wide fluctuations in temperature (cool to cold to colder) and often face wind, snow, rain and quickly changing weather, the H5 Active Hooded Jacket is an ideal choice.  For all of the protection that it offers, it is lightweight and packs into a reasonable size for mountain use in any season, but is certainly not the "keep in your running vest all the time just in case" wispy shell.  This is a jacket you grab if wind, cold, precipitation is imminent or likely.

The Active Hooded Jacket performing in a very wide range of temperatures and conditions. It will my go to jacket for days in the teens-30's, especially if there is wind or precipitation involved.

Without a doubt the Active Hooded Jacket will be with me on summer high mountain hikes where our typical summer monsoon storms are likely and for high mountain runs where getting caught up high in bad weather is a likely possibility.

Gore H5 WINDSTOPPER Hybrid Pants ($299.99) - 11.9 oz./338 grams

The Gore H5 Windstopper Hybrid Pants have strategically placed waterproof panels in the front, from the knees up to the waistline, to protect the most critical areas that are typically prone to wind and cold while moving forward. The rest of the pants are highly breathable yet still very water resistant Windstopper.  The top portion of the H5 Hybrid pant is Gore-Tex Active, followed by Paclite Plus material, both are waterproof, providing protection to the waist and thigh.  Windstopper is the main black leg portion.
The pants are called Hybrid because they feature both Gore WINDSTOPPER which is highly water resistant, breathable, and very wind resistant and the yet more waterproof panels. The pants performance characteristics are illustrated in the product feature graphic below from the Gore Wear site product page.
The front of the thighs and seat has a fully waterproof fabric. While it is not called out we assume it is Active as in the jacket for protection from the wind and water. 
This configuration is a smart balance between warmth and fully waterproof where you need it, breathability and freedom of movement.  The lower inner Windstopper panel from mid thigh to knee is separate from the pant acting as a second layer.  This separation seemed unusual to me at first, but it's usefulness quickly became apparent, as it allows for excellent freedom of movement and articulation, particularly on those large uphill steps.
Fit and Sizing
Sizing is again on the athletic side, a slim fit that favors a runners build.  My waist measures 32" and inseam is 34+".  I often have trouble sizing pants, either for running or casual, given my long legs.  At first I received a size medium and trying them on was comical, as they were super short, tight in the legs and slightly small in the waist.  Fortunately, there is a Gore office local to me, so I was able to arrange for a trade for a size large, which turned out to be much more appropriate.
When requesting a trade, I told them I felt like stuffed sausage in the medium.  They were not only kind enough leave me a trade after hours, but left me chocolate along with a funny note (thank you!).

The fit of the waist is perfect and I am mostly able to achieve the proper fit with the velcro straps, but occasionally consider adding a belt if I am feeling svelte or hiking with some weighty items in the pockets.  The leg length is a touch on the short side for my abnormally long legs, but an XL would certainly be too big in the waist and then the pant legs would perhaps be too long.  Fit in the thighs is not necessarily snug, but there is not a lot of leeway either if you prefer baggier pants or want to layer underneath (though I would probably use the Windstopper Hybrid as the under layer and add a shell over them in really rough, snowy conditions).

The zipper is high quality, with two secure snaps at the top.  I appreciate having a zipper in running pants, as I do not have to waste time untying a waist cord, nor do I have to maneuver around a running waist belt and disturb/reset tucked layers when trying to take a quick pee.

The pockets are deep and can easily accommodate a phone, wallet, car keys or any other reasonable sized items.
Pants shown inside out
Though they are deep, they do lay pretty flat without a lot of leeway for stuffing full and because of the lay flat design and overall athletic fit of the pants, I find that even keeping smaller items in pockets while running and taking high steps, is noticeable.  I appreciate the pockets for hiking, as the movements are less pronounced and for running errands before or after a run and am thankful that they are there, but for mountain running, I'll stash any gear/items in a waist belt or run vest.
There is also a thick rubberized panel on the inside cuff of each pant leg to protect against scuffing of shoes, Microspikes, Crampons, etc....  I really appreciate this, as I am often wearing some sort of traction device during the Winter months when I will be opting to use these pants.


I find the H5 WINDSTOPPER Hybrid pants to be highly versatile and a logical pick in a wide range of conditions, from running in temps as low as single digits, up to hiking in temperatures in the 50's.  The waterproof panels do an excellent job keeping the wind and drafts off of the thighs and critical areas, while the remainder of the pants in Windstopper remain breathable and allow for freedom of movement without excess bulk.  The more waterproof panels also provide a welcome barrier when it is snowing, as the snow is most likely to pile up and be a problem in the thigh area, particularly when hiking or running up steep climbs.

Though the H5 WINDSTOPPER Hybrid pant is advertised for fast hiking, it is certainly an ideal option for my winter mountain running needs.

Please read our review of the Gore Wear X7 Nordic ski and run collection here

Shop for the Fast Hiking collection at Gore Wear here

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he has recently worked in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 7year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
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Jim said...

5' 10", 145 lb,, short-torso, long-legged guys represent! 🙌 Haha! No...really. Please have Jeff participate in all of your clothing testing so I'll always know exactly what size to wear. 😂

Jeff Valliere said...

Hey Jim, yeah, funny. I got made fun of in high school by my friends, but ultimately that build translates well for endurance sports! ;)

Jim said...

I guess I'm technically an inch taller @ 5'11', but around our house we call this build "Monkey Arms". 😃 I only wish I'd taken up running sooner! It took me waaaay too long to accept I was never going to bulk up a ton of muscle on this frame. lol