When looking around our store you may notice the many jackets or snow pants with fancy diamond shaped tags with the gold ‘GORE-TEX’ embossed on them. Now you say to yourself, “why in the world should this jacket cost me so much more than any others?” Well if you clicked on this post you’re curious for that very reason, so…
…GORE-TEX, why do you want it?
Well at first I thought GORE-TEX was just another trademarked insulation that I had no idea about but I was quite surprised to find out that in fact the GORE-TEX membrane is an extremely thin layer of expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene (EPETE), also known by its more common trademark name of Teflon.
The GORE-TEX membrane has over 9 billion pores per square inch and it’s these pores that give GORE-TEX fabric its waterproof, windproof and breathability that it’s known for.
Waterproof – In terms of waterproof the people at GORE-TEX believe that if something is waterproof it should be totally waterproof with no Seepage into the membrane whether it’s the day you bought it or ten years later. The quality of the waterproofing is one of GORE-TEX’s advantages over an average nylon jacket due to the fact that nylon shelled jackets are only water proof due to the water repellent spray used on the jacket which comes off with a couple washes. But for GORE-TEX it’s not a spray that makes it waterproof it’s the fabric itself, so a GORE-TEX product will never have water leakage and that is a promise from the GORE-TEX manufacturers. So to ensure that every GORE product lives up to the name and that promise, any new prototype from their manufacturing partners will be put through a rigorous test in the GORE labs to make sure it meets their standards. Why do you want a fully waterproof jacket? Well like I said before an average nylon shelled jacket isn’t actually waterproof just sprayed with a water resistant compound so again eventually that spray will wear off with washing or general use and when that happens and water gets through and you’ll be cold. So you’ll be cold because a wet fabric, in this case a jacket or snow pants, will conduct 3 times more heat than a dry one and when that heat is generated by your body, of course you’ll get colder. But if you never get wet because your jacket is actually waterproof not just water resistant you’ll be warmer and also dryer in the long run.
Windproof – Honestly the GORE people believe a fabric can only be considered truly windproof if its air permeability is 1.0 cfm (volume of air that passes through one cubic foot of fabric in one minute) or less. Of course all GORE-TEX products meet or exceed this standard. So when wearing something that isn’t windproof wind will just penetrate right through that shirt or jacket and what happens is something called connective heat loss which is just a fancy term for the wind robbing you of your body heat. So you say, “why not just buy a cheap windproof and waterproof jacket?” Well those pretty much are plastic bags made into jackets so if you want to feel like a boiled egg when walking around on a slightly warmer day yeah go ahead, but that brings us to our last point that of breathability. Plus I doubt that cheaper jackets will meet the same permeability rating as a GORE jacket or pant.
Breathable – Breathability, do you know what it means or why it’s something you want your clothing to be good at? Well I ask because it is usually a quite misunderstood term, so it’s the ability of your jacket to let your microscopic sweat vapour escape. Generally a lot of cheap waterproof jackets are not at all breathable and like I said above on a warmer day feels like you’re boiling egg. The thing is that a GORE-TEX Jacket will be more water proof as well as much more breathable when exerting yourself. The standards of the GORE people require that during heavy exertion our fabrics must breathe well enough to allow sweat to evaporate easily. The reason you want a breathable jacket is so on a warmer day or if you’re using it as a shell on your rainy morning run you’ll stay comfortably dry.
So if you’re still reading I think I’ve given you sufficient reason to spend that extra little bit to be just that more comfortable, warm and dry.
By Adam Germaine