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.
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.
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.
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:
- Arc’Teryx Norvan SL Hoodie ($300, 4.2 oz)
- Gore Wear R7 Gore-Tex Shakedry ($300, 4.1 oz)
- Salomon S/Lab Motionfit 360 Jacket ($375, 5.8 oz)
- Montbell Peak Dry Shell ($300, 6.6 oz)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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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