Alas, Activent, we hardly knew ye. For those to whom the name is unfamiliar, Gore Activent was a material that came out seven or eight years ago. Sort of a Gore-Tex Really Light." It wasnt waterproof, but water-resistant enough to keep you dry for a few hours of moderate rain. It was also windproof and very breathable. In short, just great stuffI still think it's the best performance fabric of the past decade. But it didnt sell. Most manufacturers were putting out pieces that cost $150 or more, and when a prospective buyer heard not waterproof," they backed off.
When it went off the market, I bought four or five pieces on closeout and still use several of them to this day.
Gore says Activent re-surfaced under the Windstopper trademark. I have a Windstopper piece that doesnt seem to have Activents breathability, although it also has a mesh liner, which adds weight and warmth. Still, the Gore Bike Wear Balance Jacket can be had from places such as Performance (www.performancebike.com) for $99. The Balance is a two-layer shell, meaning no mesh liner, which is good. Marmots Evolution Half-Zip ($100; www.marmot.com) also uses Windstopper in a pullover-style wind shirt.
The other thing Id suggest is to look at REIs Mistral Jacket ($149; www.rei.com). Its a soft shell made with a lightweight version of Polartecs Power Shield. So its nearly completely windproof, very breathable, and highly water-repellent. Not as much as the old Activent/new Windstopper, but pretty good in mist, snow, or light rain. Ive been wearing one this fall on cool evenings when were out mountain-biking. When the temps are below 40 its terrifica light wicking T-shirt under it, and Im set. Above 40 it may be a bit warm, but that depends on the user and the activity.
Alas, it has a full zip and is not a pullover. And its bulkier than a light hard-shell; you probably couldnt fit it in a jersey pocket.
Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this seasons top gifts in Away.coms Holiday Gift Guide. Youll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.