GORE-TEX has made a name for itself within the outdoor industry and even in the fashion world too. It is not uncommon to see GORE-TEX on the labels of high-end fashion coats, technical outerwear, fashion and outdoor footwear and even bags and backpacks. It’s everywhere! When you purchase a product made of GORE-TEX you’re purchasing their “GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY” promise.
What is GORE-TEX?
GORE-TEX is a thin membrane oozing with amazing characteristics. There are over 9 billion pores per square inch, each home to the waterproof characteristics those who shop for GORE-TEX are interested in. Each pore within the membrane is more than 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule and 20 000 times smaller than a water droplet. This size enables the pores to allow vapour to escape, creating a breathable product, while preventing water from penetrating at the same time.
The GORE-TEX Promise
Before any item can be manufactured with GORE-TEX, it must first meet the strict weatherproof performance standards and be approved by a Gore-certified factory. This is to ensure the product lives up to the durability and waterproofness that sets GORE-TEX products apart. These products must be able to withstand harsh weather in the most demanding environments.
While it is exceptionally waterproof, GORE-TEX is also highly windproof thanks to its structure. While some fleece or tightly woven fabrics may claim to be windproof, they do allow some wind to get through. To truly be windproof, a fabric must have a 1.0 cfm air permeability (the volume of air that passes through one cubic foot of fabric in one minute), and GORE-TEX exceeds this standard.
Wind is easily caught up within the branching of the membrane, which in turn deflects it from the body, keeping the wearer from feeling the wind and catching a chill.
Breathability is a critical feature within the outdoor industry. When you’re exerting yourself on the trials, in the mountains or on the track, staying dry and comfortable is crucial. The membrane is designed in a way that it allows moisture to evaporate through the fabric and away from the wearer’s skin. This leaves the wearer feeling more comfortable and dry throughout their activity, even during high exertion.
GORE-TEX Seam Sealing
A seam is where two separate fabrics meet, which creates a small hole or gap that can lead to a potential leak. To stay true to their promise of maximum waterproof protection, Gore relies on GORE-SEAM tape. This tape is used in all their outerwear, footwear and gloves, and is implemented by specially trained manufacturers in certified factories. GORE-SEAM tape is applied using patented equipment from Gore itself.
What is GORE-TEX Laminate?
Sometimes you will see GORE-TEX laminate listed in a product’s description, which is not a laminated coating. In this form, GORE-TEX is still a thin membrane but bonded between two pieces, a high-performance inner lining and an outer textile. There are three main types of laminate construction which are commonly found when referring to waterproof shells: 2-layer, 2.5 layer and 3-layer.
This type of laminate is ideal for a wide range of outdoor activities, from running to hiking. In the two-layer construction, the membrane is bonded to the outer fabric, allowing the separate lining to provide a more comfortable and versatile wearing experience. You’ll often find the two-layer construction combined with insulation, which creates a garment that keeps the wearer both warm and dry (although not ideal if you’re touring in spring temperatures).
Benefits of a 2L Jacket: durable and warm if it is lined.
What is 3-Layer GORE-TEX Pro?
GORE-TEX Pro was created for the serious outdoor enthusiasts exploring in the harshest conditions over the roughest terrain, whether they be mountaineers and ski mountaineers, free-riders, mountain guides or simply extreme adventurers. Each garment features added durability and optimal weather protection, performing in rough environments and severe conditions atop mountain speaks or on the side of a rocky face.
GORE-TEX Pro Benefits
These products are crafted with a revolutionary 100% ePTFE-based multilayer membrane system which boasts its own unique microstructure. With a similar construction to the 3-layer construction above, the membrane is bonded to the outer material and the inner lining – the difference being the inner lining is especially robust, using a Gore Micro Grid Backer. This technology enhances the breathability of the product, makes it more lightweight and provides internal abrasion and snag resistance.
Is GORE-TEX 100% Waterproof?
There’s a reason why GORE-TEX is trusted for the toughest adventures. Backpackers, backcountry skiers, and hikers alike all swear by it because the membrane is completely waterproof. No water is meant to get through, no matter how much it rains. But what makes the technology so highly regarded in the industry is the fact that it keeps out water and moisture without suffocating you.
Now there are a number of different GORE-TEX membranes available on the market, each with different capabilities. Some lighter membranes will only be water-resistant but know that when they say it’s waterproof, it means it’s waterproof.
Does GORE-TEX lose waterproofness over time?
Although it is waterproof, that does not mean that it won’t lose its effectiveness over time. Like any piece of apparel, wear and tear can affect performance. The frequency that you use it will dictate how long the shell will maintain its waterproofness. Of course, you can always extend the life of the product by washing it and treating it with a waterproofing product.
Is GORE-TEX worth the extra cost?
The answer depends on your needs. GORE-TEX has made a reputation for itself as the most waterproof, breathable and durable membrane in the industry. Big names like Arc’teryx, Salomon, and Norrøna (to name a few) swear by it. Adventurers of every kind have been relying on it for years to get them through the toughest expeditions.
That being said, there are a number of other brands like The North Face and Columbia that have developped their own waterproofing technology at a more affordable price. In short, yes GORE-TEX is worth the extra cost, but at the end of the day what you use it for will dictate how much you want to spend on gear.
How long will a GORE-TEX jacket last?
Even the toughest, most battle hardened gear will lose its effectiveness over time. How long your GORE-TEX jacket lasts will depend on how you use it. If you live in a rainy climate and spend a lot of time outside, it may only last 5 years. However, if you’re the type that only uses your shell occasionally the jacket can last upwards of 15 years. Of course taking care of it will extend it’s life, so be sure to wash and treat it after extensive use.