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Review: Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket

A step up in waterproof-breathable performance

The Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Hooded Jacket 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. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)
Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket

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Four years ago, Gore-Tex introduced Shakedry, a new “permanently beading” waterproof-breathable membrane that eliminated the need for a DWR-treated face fabric and purportedly wouldn’t wet out. Three months later, the North Face was first to market with the material, launching its now discontinued Hyperair Jacket.

At the time, I speculated that we were on the cusp of a category revolution. 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 Asian mills reverse-engineered both it 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 jackets are available from just a few brands.

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

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
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)

So is the H5 Shakedry a game changer? I’m cautiously optimistic that it represents a step up in waterproof-breathable performance. (But take note that this is not one of my long-term reviews—I had good weather on most of my 2019 trips.)

This year I took it into the field for about 45 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 National Park. I’ve noticed no change in performance from when it was new, which is more than you can say about most waterproof-breathable jackets after being touched with oily hands and shoved into a pack for six weeks.

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
Torrential afternoon showers in Yosemite (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

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

While its breathability is very good for a waterproof-breathable garment, direct venting features, like torso and 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 ostensibly be an 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 waterproof-breathable laminate—for me 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 eight ounces, 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 can serve as a stuffsack
  • A hat-compatible hood with a drawcord adjustment and stiffened brim
  • Partially elasticized wrist cuffs
  • 8.2 ounces (232 grams) in size large
  • $380 MSRP
  • More information

Other H5 and Shakedry Jackets

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

  • 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
  • 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 (listed below) use the original variant that is lighter but less durable, making it more appropriate for trail running, biking, and day hiking. 

And while thru-hikers have used H5, it seems limited to very lightweight packs and clothing used on well-maintained trails.

It’s worth noting that cycling-specific Shakedry shells are made by Gore Wear and Rapha. 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 U.S. market. My recommendation 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 oversize on my body.

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

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
In wet and cold West Virginia with co-guide Matt Bright (left), who is wearing a Packa. My H5 Shakedry is a size large, which is a full size larger than I normally wear. A midlayer fits nicely underneath, and if I’m really desperate, I can squeeze 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 polytetrofluoroethylene-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 the aforementioned Hyperair and Norvan—is insufficiently durable for backpacking, per Gore’s usage guidelines. The H5 Shakedry uses a new, heavier Shakedry variant that can better withstand abrasion. Mine seemed unaffected by a 40-pound guide pack or bushwhacking through alder and willow.

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
Dave Eitemiller busts through an alder thicket on the south side of the Brooks Range. The H5 Shakedry proved resistant to such bushwhacking. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

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 body heat is no longer being sucked away by a saturated face fabric
  • Is less likely to wet through, because the relative humidity outside the jacket stays less than the humidity inside

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 North Face Hyperair on a 100-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and reported recently that it’s still performing well after three years.

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
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. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

According to Gore, Active with Shakedry is “one of the most breathable Gore-Tex laminates available.” You’d be right to read that with a grain of salt—Gore has been the King of Hype for decades and has made many such hyperbolic statements before. I’ve not seen moisture vapor transmission rate test results for the H5, but Montbell cites an off-the-charts rating of 80,000 grams per square meter in a day for its Peak Dry Jacket.

But Gore might be right. 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, my output was submax, 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 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 is suggested by the product specs. The backer fabric is, at best, water-resistant, and it could be waterproof-breathable—it’s difficult to tell. To vent in any meaningful way, the liner fabric would have to be mesh.

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
A close-up of the two-way front zipper and the front-pocket zipper (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

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

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
The simple but well-designed hood (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

The waist drawcord and draft collar improve 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 wristwatch.

Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket
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. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

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Filed To: JacketsTechnologyRunningSkinGear Review
Lead Photo: Andrew Skurka
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