The Gore Explore shirt is a relaxed fit riding top that uses a mix of merino and polyester. Its relaxed fit and modern, subtle style makes it a great choice for multi-days or just if you don't like road style tops. It's lightweight and packable, works well with a base layer or on its own - perfect for gravel or bike packing trips, but there is no getting around the price.
- Buyer's guide to gravel & adventure bikes - everything you need to know
- 7Mesh MK3 Cargo Bib Short review
- When should I replace my mountain bike pedal cleats?
Gore Explore Shirt - Technical details
Using a blend of 47% merino and 53% polyester makes for a good balance of durability and decent performance for wicking sweat away. Intended for warm weather, it's lightweight at around 150gm, plus the cut is relaxed.
The shirt has a three-button opening, using snap poppers - these are quite firm but will ease after a time. The arms are quite extended, giving extra sun protection. The back is dropped a little to aid fit and is good in a riding position.
There is a small zipped pocket that is fine for stashing soft or lighter kit - it wouldn't take a multi-tool or similar as it bounced or swung when riding. Still, snack bars, a small wallet or similar can be kept secure in there. Reflective logos are placed on the left arm and centre bottom of the back, adding some small nods to visibility.
Gore Explore Shirt - how it feels
I rode the Gore Explore Shirt on several short, fast gravel rides and some longer, more demanding mtb and gravel rides. The rides were a mix of cooler mornings and some hotter all days over the late spring and summer.
The shirt cut is slim - more athletic than baggy, but not too tight - it feels very comfortable when riding, the cut obviously aimed for cycling first, but off the bike, it doesn't look or feel too out of place. Good for a cafe or pub after a long day, allowing you to reduce the amount of kit you carry.
I liked the sleeve length - cover from the sun, they didn't move up, and the wide hem means no tight spots. I found the open cuff-less neck style good in warm riding, and when the snap poppers are all open, a decent amount of breeze flows around the torso.
The fabric is soft and has enough stretch in it to be slightly fitted but retains the ease of movement. The blend of merino of polyester makes for a fast-wicking fabric, but it lowers the time it takes to get a bit stinky. I rode in it for two days without washing, and it had minimal 'hum'. There's been no change in shape after several washes, with the fit remains consistent.
Out riding, the Explore shirt is really comfortable. It allows good movement. When in the seated riding position, it sits well with no bunching or twisting. I liked the more relaxed fitted style, which meant no flappy fabric but also not so close it felt restrictive. It also looks pretty 'normal', as in off-bike casual, which has upshots if you wanted to use it for overnights.
Its low weight fabric is pretty thin, which means it packs down really small, handy for when space is limited. Whilst it wicks and breathes well, merino is pretty good for keeping warmer, and under a jersey, the top would work well for some warmth, as the fit allows the space under it.
I tested a small size and think I land between a medium and small. So, if you prefer a looser fit, I'd size up as the Explore jersey is slightly different from most other Gore tops. Gore say it's a slim fit, and 'The sizing and fit of this product has been updated for improved functionality and comfort and may not match the sizing of other similar products. Definitely worth looking at the size chart. It's available in three colours - black (tested), grey, blue.
Gore Explore Final thoughts
There is a lot to like about the shirt - its simple, comfortable and fabric preference made it a regular choice for more sat down, long rides - gravel or cross country mountain bike rides. I would prefer a thicker jersey for more technical mountain bike rides, but the Explore is still a good choice for all-day riding.
I have little to nothing to fault the Explore - whilst the pocket is handy, I didn't think it was the most useful, being limited to what can be carried - but I would rather have an option than nothing. Price-wise, it's certainly not a budget option, and at £80 it is in line with Rapha MTB offerings. It feels a bit lacking in technical features for the price, but it works very well and is very effective in use. If you use it for multi-day or overnight trips, it'll double as an off-bike top easily if that bothers you.
Summed up, the Gore Explore is a great fitting and performing jersey, but it is expensive. It does perform better than a regular tech t-shirt, but the price is a lot for that. With the 7mesh Desperado top coming in nearly £10 cheaper, it seems overpriced for what it is.
You may also like: