Recently, I was invited by W.L. Gore and Associates (makers of Gore-Tex, Windstopper and other high-tech fabrics and fibers) to attend a media fact finding event at the their headquarters in Maryland. So I accepted and will be heading to the east coast at the end of October for a short visit of the GORE laboratories, comfort chamber, rain room, a “mythbusters” session and a host of other interesting activities. Though my schedule is pretty full right now, I figured it would be a great opportunity to learn a lot about waterproof/breathable fabrics and give my feedback on some of my own experiences and wishes.
The cool part is that YOU can have a voice as well…through me! W.L. Gore has asked me to ask the TetonAT.com visitors for any questions they might have about Gore-Tex or W.L. Gore itself, and any sort of good or bad experiences they may have had. I, in turn, will relay this info to the big wigs at W.L. Gore and get back to you all with hopefully some answers or explanations to your questions. Soooo…anyone out there have a question they would like answered or share any experience they have had relating to Gore-Tex fabrics? Please leave them in the comments section of this post or contact me. Thanks…Steve.
Hey, I would ask if its true that eVent fabric really breathes better than goretex when wet and if gore is coming out with anything new along these lines as a competitor
Good one. I feel like most waterproof/breathable fabrics never breath well enough.
I hear that OutDry, a new technology out of Italy used in Mountain Hardwear gloves, is far superior to what Gore-Tex is doing right now. OutDry membrane is bonded directly to inside of the glove’s shell, eliminating the space between the shell and membrane that you find in Gore-Tex gloves. This means no room for cold or damp air to consolidate, fully sealed stitching and increased dexterity. waterproof/windproof and more breathable than Goretex, supposedly. I’d be interested to know if Gore has anything in the pipeline to compete w/ OutDry.
^^^ On that point, make sure they give you data, Steve, and not just the company line.
I’m switching to eVent this season.
I second the eVent question.
I have heard of OutDry…but have no first hand experience with it…BUT, I am supposed to get a sample glove to test and play with once the snow flies. I’m wondering if there is big difference between the fabric OutDry uses compared to Gore-Tex…or if is just a different construction technique that they are using.
I would be interested to know if they’re doing anything similar to Schoeller c_change
huh…that c_change stuff is pretty tech…if you believe what they claim…
From the Shoeller website:
c_change™ is a wind and waterproof membrane which independently reacts to changing temperatures and activities. Depending on the situation, breathability or heat-retention increases or decreases. As a result, c_change™ always ensures a pleasant body climate.
c_change™ is based on an example from nature. As a matter of fact, it copies the similar effect of a fir cone opening and closing in response to different weather conditions. The c_change™-membrane reacts to different prevailing conditions. In doing so, not only temperature but also air and body moisture are balanced out. At high temperatures, or during aerobic activity, the structure of the c_change™-membrane opens as body moisture levels rise. Excess heat can escape to the outside air. Due to the lower level of body moisture development in cold weather or during inactive periods, the structure of the membrane condenses, retaining the heat directly on the body. Shivering or chilling is effectively prevented.
Due to the high breathability combined with heat retention adapted to the changing conditions, c_change™ always ensures a pleasant body climate. The c_change™ membrane is durable, wind and waterproof and therefore provides protection in all weather.
Ask them to make stuff as tough and waterproof as GoreTex Pro, but nothing less. The ‘waterproof’ stuff below that sux.
It seems like the new pro stuff wih the softer feel, wets out a little easier then that shiny nylon of old days. Or am I just crazy?
Good stuff everybody…keep them coming! I’ll print out all these comments and hope they can address them all. Thanks!
A friend tested Mammut Jannu Extreme softshell which uses c_change and was pretty excited about it. Have no personal experience with it though it looks like a great soft(hard)shell combination for high effort stuff.
Ask them about their company philosophy and commitment to protecting the environment including reducing waste and using non-toxic materials.
Good one! I’m sure making Gore-Tex and other waterproof/breathable fabrics isn’t the most environmentally friendly process. Hopefully it’s a closed system.
My experience with GoreTex, or any “breathable membranes”: they don’t breath unless your heart rate is basically in sleep mode. Anything slightly aerobic and I’m drenched in sweat, with wet GT sticking to my skin. It may keep rain out but is certainly isn’t breathable. So why the huge claims? Breathablility in a weave as tight as nylon is symply a myth. Softshells are it for aerobic activities (with emphasis on big weaves). Yeah, they won’t keep a drenching rain out, but fine for winter weather. I hate to say it but the best ski pants I ever owned were WWII wool army pants. Very breathable and never wet. I quit wearing them due to the queer looks and comments from “real” skiers. Good to see some in the industry going back to wool.
Please ask them why more companies that make camo hunting gear don’t use Gore-tex . If you look at this search (http://www.google.com/products?q=gore-tex+camo+jacket&aq=f) you’ll find very few. If Gore could come up with the technology to make it quiet enough and waterproof, they would make a killing. The hunting clothing when it comes to waterproofness —SUCKS! Thanks!
Maximizing breathability when selecting a goretex product:
Thin face fabric, comparing theta v. TNF mammatus and mountain hardwear beryl, the face fabrics have significantly different feels, do these affect the breatability much?
Minimum overlapping gtx layers, (like the pockets on the Theta)? Can 2 overlapping layers of Goretex even breathe or is it so diminished in functionality by the lower difference in pressure?
Best fit, as in tightest to under layers, to minimize the interior volume of humid air needing ventalation, or would a looser fit with more interior “dead space” breathe better?
Efficacy of the DWR: I feel like when a dwr wears off, the breathability tanks. True, or just a result of the clammy interior feel?
Reduction in seams: following up on overlapping layers q: Seams are basically 2-4 plys of goretex, with seam tape over them, so I guess seams don’t breath at all, so are micro seam allowances a far better thing than just looking flashy, or are they so small they are insignificant? So does all the extra darting and trimming seams on a Arc’ shell good by reducing interior volume, or do the extra seams negate any benefits there?
Underlayers: Any tips on specific underlayer fabrics? I kinda doubt it, but it wouldn’t shock me if a natural fiber underlayer could increase long-term comfort by soaking moisture for a more constant release, and stoping spikes in sweating from claming up the interior, and clogging the pores.
I like it…i like it.
SAM…I think dead airspace is bad for Gore-Tex…because I think water vapor would cool off in that space…and condensate…instead of being pushed through the membrane by the temperature gradient.
I think weight and fit are the primary reason companies like Arc’teryx us micro-seam tape and extensive paneling. Remember though, that not everyone is a lean mean fighting machine like us…so some of baggy “full figured” items are made for them…not us.
I think an underlayer that can disperse the moisture the most…would be the best…under any layer…not just Gore-Tex.
TC…I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason Gore-Tex isn’t found in a lot of hunting products…might have something to do with the camo aspect of the outer fabric…but just a guess.
Great stuff guys…I’ll definitely try to get some answers for you. Any more good questions for W.L. Gore out there?!!!
What is the point of putting Goretex into full leather boots which don’t breath anyway? Seems like moisture would breath through the gore tex and be trapped in between the leather and the membrane or just not breathe at all and trap moisture inside the boot.
Seems to me that what we all want is physically impossible at the moment. All W/B fabrics depend on a diffusion gradient to move vapor out of the garment. But when it’s raining, there’s essentially zero gradient between the saturated interior air and the 100% humidity outside. All that’s left is a relatively small temperature gradient. Then if the DWR is even slightly worn out you have more of the outer surface area closed to moisture transport. I think the reality is we have to be satisfied with being “less” wet in more drenching conditions and realize that actually staying “dry” is impossible. And wear more breathable softshells for everything else. I’d never say anything is impossible in the future, but I just can’t see how we’ll ever be able to ski or hike uphill in a snowstorm with a pack on and stay dry inside. I actually think the DWR is what really matters. My experience is that I get nowhere near the stated lifetime of most treatments.
Steve has it right. There is no “active” anything in the way gore or any w/b fabric works. Breathability is a function of the moisture gradient inside and outside the jacket. As we all know even a nylon windshirt gets pretty clammy when it’s moist outside and you are working hard. Softshells are where it’s at when working hard. For pure waterproofness there seem to better products at a fraction of the cost than gore. Take the NOLS recommended gear list for their Yukon/Alaska trip/s as an example. They recommend one of those rubbery/plasticy things made by grundens/helly hanson/etc… as raingear for that trip. Ever watch Deadliest Catch?? That’s the same thing those guys are wearing. True, any chance of breathability through the fabric is nil, but it is waterproof and extremely durable. Us glacier guides that guide clients on day trips (dogsleding) outside Juneau swear by cotton liner gloves and surgical latex gloves for everything we do. Add in the rubber raingear and we are dry as a bone, even when working hard. $150 for a jacket and pants beats $500 for a single jacket any day.
In regards to OutDry, I’ve used a couple of gloves and mittens with it and it blew me away. I’ve trenched in deep snow with it and even stuck my hands under the water sprayers at the Ouray Ice Park for 5+ minutes… and my hands have been dry as a bone.
The most amazing piece of gear I own is a Gore-Tex Kokatat dry suit. Keeps me bone dry with constant soaking and the occational swim.
Thanks for all your comments!
Andrew…sounds like that stuff is pretty darn waterproof. Looks forward to checking out the technology.
Jyount…it doesn’t surprise me that your dry suit keeps you dry. The question is…how does it breath during portages?
d-…I guess most peoples expectations are pretty high, but personally…if it’s raining out…there is no way in hell I would expect Gore-Tex to breath under full excursion. But I’d have to say…I think Gore-Tex is 100X less clammy than a rubber jacket/rain slicker…and much lighter.
Look at Gore website and Sitka Gear you prayers awnsered. Its high dollar but I just made a high country deer hunt from New Fork lake to the Green River lakes in a down poor last week in all new Sitka Optifade gear and it is a Dream come true. Gore and Sitka teamed up and the Optifade system is next level. Steve tell them to incorparate that tech. into ski gear minus the camo of course. It is def. quality stuff.
Optifade…copy that. Thanks Derek!
Always wondered why they have never adopted the membrain/material they use in fishing waders (I think it used to be called Gore Immersion?) into outerwear. I think they use it in dry suits too. That stuff obviously keeps everything out, but I wonder if its at a fault to breathability? Never worn my Simms Wasders in a high-aerobic activity…but they do breathe pretty well in summer heat…
The way I look at it…if I want it to really breathe, I am wearing softshell…but when its blowing wet-snow sideways and I am in the mountains, I want to be kept as dry as I can. I second/third/fourth the eVent commments, that stuff is sick. I have worn it a bunch in some Wild Things pieces I own.
With all this talk about other Gore-Tex membranes used in other types of outerwear…I will enlighten you to my ONE big question for W.L. Gore.
Are the different trademarked names and versions of Gore-Tex used in different types, brands and sport focused piece of outerwear really that different…or are they the same fabric, just repackaged in a different marketing campaign?
Please ask the folks at Gore if they could improve the durability of the “durable water resistant finish (DWR).” I don’t know what your experience is but the whole performance of Gore Tex seems to ride on this thin, fragile, mysterious coating. Once a jacket sees a little wear water no longer beads up on the surface and instead soaks into the nylon outer fabric adding weight and making the whole thing soggy and nasty with much longer drying time. It seems absurd that a jacket costing hundreds of dollars and designed for hard core outdoor use must be washed, dried, re-treated and generally babied and coddled to deliver it’s intended function. Many thanks.
Will do Rab…seems like a good question to me!
Ask them why they’ve abandoned their "gauranteed to keep you dry" promise. The "waterproof" zippers in common use now are nowhere near waterproof. What happened to the old use flaps and gutters? I think these zippers are great for certain applications, but in a solid weeklong downpour you will end up soaked. Unprotected zippers have no place in a garment that is marketed as 100% waterproof.
I also bought, briefly, a pair of BD ice gloves (the ones with the 3DO foam) last winter that had a Gore-Tex membrane. As soon as I got them I tested them out in a sinkfull of water, and the water immediately ran through every seam. "Guaranteed to keep you dry," what gives? In the 90’s Gore had strict standards and I trusted the label, now I regard Gore as pure marketing hype and explicitly avoid it.
Also, why don’t they allow welded and glued seams to be used by their manufacturers? This process is vastly superior to stitched and taped seams. They’re waterproof, more durable, never delaminate and allow a lighter weight shell. I know Mountain Hardwear developed a technique that RF welded Gore-Tex several years ago, and Gore refused to let them use it.
And, where can I send my Gore-Tex, full-zip, Arc-teryx pants back to them for a refund? If any actual water hits me my legs end up very wet, and cold. The water runs right through the slit in the zipper, especially where the knee bends.
Thanks Landon! I’m not sure they abandoned the ‘guaranteed to keep you dry promise’ as i think it is still printed on their hang-tags. I think it’s up to manufacturer as to what kind of zippers they use. Weird about the BD gloves though, and I will ask about the welded seams and such.
Have you tried calling WL Gore about getting a refund? I’m not sure I should be getting involved with each persons individual warranty problem.
The Gore guarantee still applies to all their products–give the CS line at Gore a call!