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Review: Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket || The holy grail?

Nearly four years ago we first heard about Shakedry, a new “permanently beading” waterproof/breathable membrane technology from Gore-Tex that eliminated the need for a DWR-treated face fabric and that purportedly wouldn’t wet-out. If true, that’d be a big deal, because it would solve one source of failure of modern rain shells.

The North Face was first-to-market, launching its HyperAir Jacket ($250, 6 oz, discontinued) in a miraculously fast 12 weeks.

In December 2015 I speculated that we were on the cusp of a category revolution. Earlier that year Columbia had released a heavier but technologically similar fabric, OutDry Extreme. And I thought it was only a matter of time until Gore-affiliated brands embraced Shakedry and until Asian mills reverse-engineered Shakedry and OutDry Extreme, leading to additional distribution and innovation.

But that didn’t happen. Today, it’s shockingly difficult to find Shakedry products — shell pants are simply nonexistent, and shell jackets are available from just a few brands.

As far as I know, the Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Hooded Jacket ($380, 8 oz) is the only backpacking-worthy shell currently available. It’s made of a new heavier Shakedry variant that can better withstand abrasion from heavy packs and brush.

An H5 Shakedry was sent to me by a Gore Wear media rep this spring for testing. Gore Wear is a Gore-owned apparel company that focuses mostly on bike and run. It has a greater presence in Europe than the US.

Navigating by GPS over a 4,000-foot alpine pass during whiteout conditions in Alaska’s Brooks Range, being kept dry by the H5 Shakedry. Photo: Chip Wood

Review: Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket

Is the Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Hooded Jacket a game-changer?

I’m cautiously optimistic that it does represent a step-up in waterproof/breathable performance. But take note that this is not a “long-term review” — by design or luck, I had good weather on most of my 2019 trips.

This year I took it into the field for about forty-five days. But it was tested only during five days of persistent rain in West Virginia, one soggy day in Alaska’s Brooks Range, and one afternoon of torrential rains in Yosemite. Later this week while elk hunting in Colorado, it will probably also see some light snow and ferocious winds. I’ve noticed no change in performance from when it was new, which is more than you can say about most WP/B jackets after being touched with oily hands and shoved into a pack for 6 weeks.

Torrential afternoon showers in Yosemite

The H5 Shakedry is best suited for hiking and backpacking in the Mountain West, where it does not rain often or for long (usually), and where rain is often accompanied by cooler temperatures.

While its breathability is very good for a waterproof-breathable garment, direct venting features like torso/pit zips and mesh-backed front pockets would be appreciated in warmer and more humid climates like the Appalachians and Alaska. To use Gore Wear’s nomenclature, this would be a H7 Shakedry Jacket.

But there is no H7 Shakedry (yet or ever?), and I’d still pick the H5 Shakedry in such conditions if my other option was made of a traditional WP/B laminate — the benefits of a permanently beading surface outweigh the H5 Shakedry’s minimalist design. Although, in really wet conditions, I’d consider supplementing it with a lightweight umbrella, which proved to be a powerful combination in West Virginia.

More recently, my H5 is weighing 8.2 oz (232 grams) for size Large, which is really a US size Medium.

The H5 Shakedry could serve double-duty for running and biking — it weighs only 8 oz, packs down small, and has an athletic cut. But if hiking is not your primary activity, you might want to look at other Shakedry shells that are lighter, softer, and more activity-specific.

Key product specs

  • Gore-Tex Active fabric with Shakedry technology
  • Two-way front zipper
  • Two large zippered front pockets, both of which serve as a stuff sack
  • Hat-compatible hood has drawcord adjustment and stiffened brim
  • Partially elasticized wrist cuffs
  • 8.2 oz (232 g) in size Large (confirmed)
  • $380 MSRP
  • More information

Other H5 and Shakedry jackets

The H5 Shakedry is not to be confused with other H5 products from Gore Wear, specifically the:

  • H5 Gore-Tex Active, which is made of a more traditional 2.5-layer laminate;
  • H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Insulated, which has a Polartec Alpha lining; or the,
  • H5 Gore Windstopper Jacket, which is not waterproof.

Among other Shakedry shells, the H5 is unique for its fabric weight. As far as I know, all other Shakedry jackets use the original variant that is lighter but less durable, making it more appropriate for trail running, biking, and day-hiking. Specifically:

Thru-hikers have used this lighter fabric weight, but it’d seem limited to very lightweight packs and well maintained trails.

It’s worth nothing that cycling-specific Shakedry shells are made by Gore Wear and Rapha, the ritzy bike brand. These models lack hoods.

Fit and sizing

If you don’t read this section, you’ll get the wrong size, guaranteed. The H5 Shakedry has a “Form Fit,” which Gore Wear describes as:

Not skin tight, but also not excessively baggy, Form Fit garments provide a sporting silhouette without being body hugging. If you normally fall halfway between two sizes we recommend taking the larger one.

Based on my experience, Gore Wear is being too conservative with its sizing recommendation, especially for the US market. Mine is simpler: Buy one size up.

Normally I’m a slim fit Medium. Small tops fit me in the chest and shoulders, but the sleeves are too short. Standard size Mediums are oversized in the body.

My H5 Shakedry is a Large, and it’s the right size for me. It has an athletic cut, and a mid-layer fits nicely underneath. I can add a lightweight puffy jacket, too, but it’s at the expense of some loft and agility.

In wet-and-cold West Virginia with co-guide Matt Bright, who is wearing a Packa, BTW. My H5 Shakedry is a size Large, which is a full size larger than I normally wear. A mid-layer fits nicely underneath, and if I’m really desperate I can squeze a puffy in there, too, but it’s pretty tight and restrictive. Photo: Ben Black.

Shakedry fabric

The most unique feature of the H5 Shakedry is its fabric: Gore-Tex Active with Shakedry technology. Unlike other waterproof/breathable fabrics (including standard Active), the PTFE/Teflon membrane is on the outside. It’s not sandwiched inside a laminate or protected by a DWR-treated face fabric.

The original Active with Shakedry — as used in aforementioned HyperAir and Norvant — is insufficiently durable for backpacking, per Gore’s usage guidelines. The H5 Shakedry uses a new heavier Shakedry variant that can better withstand abrasion from heavy packs and brush. Mine seemed unfazed by a 40-pound guide pack or by bushwhacking through alder and willow.

Dave Eitemiller busts through an alder thicket on the south side of the Brooks Range. The H5 Shakedry proved resistant to such bushwhacking.

Gore claims that Active with Shakedry will not wet out. So far this has been my experience, and I’ve enjoyed the benefits. The jacket:

  • Dries quickly even without shaking it, because water evaporates or falls off it;
  • Does not gain weight during storms;
  • Remains more comfortable in cold temperatures, because my body heat is no longer being sucked away by a saturated face fabric; and,
  • Is less likely to wet through, because the relative humidity outside the jacket stays less than the humidity inside.

Many rain jackets work well when new-ish, and I can’t yet attest to the H5 Shakedry’s long-term performance. But I’m encouraged by the experience of Garret Workman, who used the TNF HyperAir Jacket on a 100-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (his review) and who reported recently that it’s still performing well after three years (his update).

The exterior is smooth and glossy. The interior has a micro-mesh layer for next-to-skin comfort. The seams are taped on the inside.

Per Gore, Active with Shakedry is “one of the most breathable GORE-TEX laminates available.” You’d be right to read that with a gain of salt — Gore has been the King of Hype for decades, and has made many such hyperbolic statements before. I’ve not seen MVTR test results for the H5, but Montbell cites an off-the-charts rating of 80,000g/m2/24hrs (JIS L-1099 B-1 method) for its Peak Dry Jacket.

Intuitively, Gore might be right, however: Its fabrics are constantly improving, and the Shakedry technology eliminates an entire layer from the laminate. Anecdotally, it’s difficult for me to say: testing temperatures were cool; the trips were all guided, so my output was sub-max; and I run cooler than average, so I’m usually the last to complain about lackluster breathability.

Features

The Shakedry fabric sets the H5 apart. The remainder of the jacket is well designed, but more ordinary.

The water-resistant two-way front zipper can be opened from the bottom, in order to vent the torso and to sit down without stressing the fabric or the zipper.

The front pockets are convenient, and mostly useful even while wearing a backpack with a hipbelt. But they’re not a “venting option” as suggested by the product specs. The backer fabric is, at best, water-resistant, and it could be WP/B — it’s difficult to tell. To vent in any meaningful way, the liner fabric would have to be mesh.

A close-up of the 2-way front zipper and the front pocket zipper.

The hat-compatible hood fits well, has a semi-stiff double-layer brim, and has one drawcord adjustment to help keep it out of your eyes. Still, though, every hood I’ve ever used performs better when paired with a ballcap or visor.

The simple but well designed hood. Not my best photo — I think I may have a bat in the cave.

The waist drawcord and draft collar improves fit and comfort when running and day-hiking without a pack. But a hipbelt will do the same thing.

The partially elasticized wrist cuffs are consistent with the H5 Shakedry’s minimalist design, but they’re my chief complaint about the jacket. Looser cuffs with hook-and-loop adjustment flaps would be better: they’d offer more airflow, could be more easily shingled with rain mitts, and wouldn’t hinder access to a wrist watch.

I’d prefer looser wrist cuffs with hook-and-loop adjustment flaps. The H5 Shakedry cuffs fit so tightly that I can’t even pull them over my watch.

Leave a comment!

  • What questions do you have about the H5 or about Shakedry?
  • Do you have an experience with the H5 or with another shell made of Shakedry? Please share.

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Posted in , on October 21, 2019
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21 Comments

  1. Don Root on October 21, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    How does it compare with Columbia’s Outdry Extreme? I bought that Columbia jacket, and while I think the design could be better, the Outdry material seems great, especially given the light weight.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 21, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      I have the Diamond Shell, which was one of the original OutDry Extreme models in 2016. It weighs 13.7 oz in size Medium, which fits more like a Large: it’s designed as a winter shell (pit zips, helmet-compatible hood), and I regularly put a mid-layer and large puffy jacket under it when I’m alpine skiing and hunting. I haven’t use it in much rain — for 3-season trips it’s always seemed too heavy.

      The OutDry Extreme fabric is stiffer and thicker than the Shakedry, and also matte instead of glossy. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Outdry is more durable, just based on its weight, but I’m not going to test that, sorry.

      I have not handled the OutDry Extreme Featherweight fabric, but based on jacket specs (8.8 oz, with similar feature set) I bet it’s closer in feel and durability to the Shakedry. Huge cost difference though — the Featherweight retails for almost half the price.

      As a cosmetic issue, it’s worth noting that the Shakedry seams are sealed inside the jacket, not outside as with the OutDry Extreme.

  2. Ben on October 21, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Oddly, gore windstopper is actually wp/b. The specific H5 jacket may not be wp/b if they don’t seal the seams, but the fabric is. I don’t know why they choose to market it as non-wp/b. (Ex: Montbell Versalite – https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=25013&p_id=2328169&gen_cd=1)

    • Ben on October 23, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      I almost accidentally purchased the wrong type of Gore H5 Shakedry – I was in a rush because it was heavily discounted, it was luck I was interrupted and when I went back noticed it was INFINIUM.

      Personally I don’t appreciate Gore’s naming methodology – if it’s an H5 ShakeDry I expect it to be waterproof, not water resistant.

      • Ben R on October 23, 2019 at 2:05 pm

        Ugggh, sorry, just realised I’ve unhelpfully used the same handle as the poster I was replying to. The above two posts are by two different Bens!

  3. Avi Sander on October 21, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Montbell’s Peakdry also uses this fabric AFAIK https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=1128632. I’ve used it in Sweden this year and was really impressed by it.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 22, 2019 at 8:35 am

      Good find. They need to work on their SEO — it does not come up quickly when searching for Gore-Tex Shakedry.

      Do you know what fabric weight is used in this jacket? I’m uncertain that it’s the heavier version used in the H5. Most of the original Shakedry jackets spec at 4 to 5 oz; the H5 is 8.2, with only about 0.5 oz of fat (in the waist drawcord). The Peak Dry sits at 6.5 oz. It’s difficult for me to see how it could be 1.5 oz heavier than the lighter versions, but also 1.5 oz lighter than the H5.

      The product description is what worries me more. It says, “This construction does have its limitations. Care needs to be taken, avoiding situations where the jacket is subject to abrasion. We see this jacket demonstrating its true value on missions that are short and don’t require heavy packs. Backpackers with heavier loads or thru-hikers that have a light pack but intend to use it every day for 6 months would be better off going with a different option.”

      When I was sent the H5, it was not given these instructions. Those qualifications sound more similar to what you hear of brands using the lighter Shakedry version.

    • Ben R on October 24, 2019 at 1:18 am

      I’ve stumbled across the Dynafit Glockner Ultra Shakedry jacket, which seems to have some sort of expansion zip at the back to help accommodate a backpack – maybe under the jacket?
      No photos of that feature in use though.

      • Kim on October 25, 2019 at 1:32 pm

        Hi Ben et al

        There is a video showing the Dynafit over a backpack. Check out YouTube.

        • Ben R on October 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm

          Thanks Kim, that was interesting. The expansion pouch was actually smaller than I was expecting – perhaps more for bladders or runners tiny backpacks.

          Still, an interesting solution to the issue of pack straps over the top of delicate shakedry material.

  4. Jo Jo on October 23, 2019 at 7:01 am

    I know this a review of the jacket, but what are the mittens you are wearing in the last photo? I’ve given up on WP/B and got a Lightheart Gear non-breathable jacket with huge pit zips that I think works better (also no wet-out, more durable, and at least as good at keeping down condensation as WP/B), but hands were my weak point recently on the A.T. in 40 degree, all day long, rain.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 23, 2019 at 7:51 am

      Shows 282, https://andrewskurka.com/review-showa-282-gloves-cold-wet-conditions/

      Wear them until the liner delaminates, then remove the liner and pair with heavy fleece or wool kit gloves.

      • Tim on November 5, 2019 at 6:03 pm

        Btw I can recommend the Montane Vortex gloves.
        Strangely hard to find a light gore-tex glove for wet trail running.

  5. Lagrandeimage on October 25, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Hello Andrew,

    Great review as always!

    According to you what is the reason the revolution has not happened, since the fabric seems to deliver? Prices?

    Cheers,

    • Andrew Skurka on October 26, 2019 at 10:08 pm

      I think the fabric is pricey, and Gore requires of its partner brands a minimum buy. So only a few brands have been confident enough to give it a go.

  6. Roman on October 25, 2019 at 10:47 am

    As usual, great review Andrew!

    It seems that the R7 Shakedry Trail Hooded Jacket (as opposed to the R7 Shakedry Hooded Jacket – Gore’s labelling is just so confusing!) uses the same fabric as the H5 Jacket reviewed above: https://www.gorewear.com/us/en-us/gore-r7-gore-tex-shakedry-trail-hooded-jacket-100457.html The main difference with the H5 seems to be that the two front pockets were replaced by a small chest pocket. Zipper, hood & wrist cuffs look identical. The R7 Shakedry Trail is 80 USD cheaper and discounted versions seem more easily available, so potentially a useful alternative to the H5.

  7. Kim on October 25, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Andrew

    Any experience with the Arc’teryx Norvan using a light backpack?

    • Andrew Skurka on October 25, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      I don’t, maybe someone else can chime in.

      Define “light pack.”

      The Norvan is made of the same fabric used for the TNF HyperAir. If you follow the links in the post, you’ll find Garrett’s reviews about that. Also check out the post of an REI employee on the r/Ultralight post about this review.

      • Kim on October 27, 2019 at 12:49 am

        Hi Andrew

        A “light pack” will (in my definition) be an Osprey Talon 22 a like size for a day hike.

  8. Kyle on November 1, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    This was just released and kind of interesting…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pAKc2TXbFk

    I’m usually not a fan of combining insulation with a waterproof layer in a backpacking layering system as I would rather have multiple layers instead of one. But it is good to see that Arcteryx is continuing to innovate with Shakedry. Their site does not list the denier of the face fabric used. I believe this is only other product they have made with Shakedry other than the Norvan SL.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 1, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      That was a pathetically cheesy video, what I expected something much better.

      When I was writing this post I came across that product. They lined the jacket with highly breathable fleece from polartec. As you pointed out coming up having two separate garments would give you greater flexibility.

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