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5 Things You May Not Know About Gore

Dec 26, 2023Dec 26, 2023


Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

You’ve almost certainly heard of Gore-Tex technology for use in outdoor gear. You may even own a waterproof Gore-Tex jacket or a pair of hiking boots with Gore-Tex lining. Invented in 1969, Gore-Tex stands as an iconic symbol in outdoor materials, but there’s much more to this fabric.

One of biggest advantages of Gore-Tex fabric is its ability to keep you dry. So even if you’re caught in a down pour of rain while outside, you can simply put on your jacket and stay dry.

And even when you’re keeping rain away from your body, you body’s natural cooling system can still work its magic. So, whether you’re hiking up a steep trail or conquering the slopes on your skis, Gore-Tex keeps you comfortable and prevents that icky feeling of being trapped in a sweaty sauna.

Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

In an insightful interview with Alexa McRoberts, Senior Account Manager at Verde Brand Communications, we dive deep into the world of Gore-Tex technology to unveil five lesser-known facts that will enhance your appreciation for its performance and sustainability — especially when it comes to your outdoor gear.

Gore-Tex’s ability to keep you dry and comfortable outdoors lies in its design.

“Most Gore-Tex Brand Product technologies feature a membrane made of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) or expanded polyethylene (ePE) that is bonded between textile layers using a lamination process,” McRoberts said.

Think of Gore-Tex like a material sandwich — with a thin layer in the middle called a membrane made of a special material. This membrane is stuck between two layers of fabric like when you spread peanut butter between two slices of bread.

Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

This microporous membrane contains billions of tiny pores that are smaller than water droplets, ensuring the fabric remains waterproof. And these pores are also larger than water vapor molecules — allowing water vapor (like sweat) to escape and allow your body to breathe and prevent overheating. It’s like having a built-in ventilation system for your outdoor adventures.

So, the next time you’re wearing a Gore-Tex jacket with a membrane made of expanded ePTFE or ePE, you can be sure you’ll stay dry and ventilated in rainy and snowy conditions.

Behind every Gore-Tex product lies a rigorous research, development, and testing process. “All of Gore’s product technologies go through three stages of testing: Material & System, Human Performance, and In the Field,” said McRoberts.

The testing facilities, such as the Environmental Chamber located in Elkton, Maryland, replicate real-world conditions, enabling quantitative data collection on protection and comfort. The Rain Tower, simulating varying rainfall rates, ensures that Gore-Tex products perform flawlessly under even the most demanding weather conditions.

Imagine a gigantic machine that creates different types of rain. That’s what a Rain Tower is. Testers use the tower to make rain, from light drizzles to heavy downpours, and they test Gore-Tex products to make sure they work perfectly in all kinds of rainy weather. It’s like a rainstorm simulator where Gore-Tex gear gets superhero powers to keep you dry no matter how hard the rain pours.

Contrary to popular belief, you can safely wash and dry Gore-Tex products — promoting longevity and sustainability. McRoberts stressed the importance of proper care.

“Routine wash and dry is recommended to clean contaminants from the jacket or pants with Gore-Tex Product technologies,” she said. “Keeping them functioning at their best.”

Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

This sustainable practice not only extends the lifespan of the products but also rejuvenates their durable water repellency, ensuring they perform optimally for years to come.

McRoberts highlighted the different types of Gore-Tex available, stating, “For garments, we have New Gore-Tex PRO Garments, Gore-Tex Performance Garments, Gore-Tex Active Garments, Gore-Tex PacLite Garments, Gore-Tex PacLite Plus Garments, and Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper Garments.”

Each technology offers specific benefits, ensuring optimal performance based on the climate, activity level, and durability requirements. Bottom line: Not all Gore-Tex is created equal.

For example, Gore-Tex PacLite Garments stow away small and are lightweight — designed for backcountry hikers and those who want to save space in their pack. You don’t have to sacrifice quality and you can be sure you’ll stay dry in the rain while packing for unpredictable weather.

Gore-Tex’s commitment to responsible performance sets it apart as a brand with a conscience. McRoberts emphasizes this, saying, “The Gore-Tex brand’s commitment to responsible performance extends beyond technical benefits, encompassing protection, comfort, and sustainability.”

Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

The brand’s sustainability framework focuses on key areas such as chemical footprint management, carbon reduction, circular business solutions, social compliance, and water consumption. Through these efforts, Gore-Tex strives to create a positive impact on the environment and society.

For example, chemical footprint management is like being a detective and checking the ingredients in products to make sure they are safe for people and the environment. As a technology company that develops and manufactures innovative fabric solutions, Gore-Tex takes seriously its responsibility to ensure the chemicals used in its products do not harm any person or the planet.

Image by Suzanne Downing

OR Aspire Super Stretch Jacket

Outdoor Research (OR) makes quality outdoor gear. Their women’s Aspire Super Stretch Jacket was just voted the best overall rain jacket of 2023 by GearJunkie. The Aspire Super Stretch Jacket features Gore-Tex’s waterproof, windproof, PacLite Titanium finish for rugged weather protection that articulates to match your body’s natural movements.

I wore this jacket in rainy conditions in Ketchikan, Alaska, this summer and the breathability is impressive. The stretch was a bonus while hiking as the jacket allowed me to move freely when reaching for my pack, lacing my boots, and sitting comfortably. The back vent let out heat and I love that OR makes this jacket with recycled material. I also stayed bone dry after 30 minutes of hiking in wind and rain.

In Ketchikan, it typically rains more than 220 days a year as its located in the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska where air from the Pacific Ocean encounters the coastal mountains — resulting in abundant precipitation. If you’re heading to this area of Alaska, having a waterproof jacket is essential outdoors.

Image by Suzanne Downing

Rab Namche Gore-Tex PacLite Jacket

Rab makes rugged, high performance quality mountain clothing and equipment. This Rab Namche Paclite jacket provides packable waterproof protection made from 100 percent recycled fabrics and a fluorocarbon-free Durable Water Repellant (DWR). This jacket also has the highest waterproof rating a jacket can have.

I wore the women’s version of this jacket out to a dog sled camp this summer in Juneau, Alaska, while spending time with Alaskan mushers. We had light drizzle during the dog sled ride, so the rain was constant. My clothes stayed completely dry underneath my jacket and the adjustable sleeves at the wrists were a welcomed feature to keep rain at bay.

This jacket actually held visible beads of water on the surface that rolled off the jacket like rain rolls off a windshield coated with Rain-X. The high zip up neck was also a bonus while moving fast on a dog sled through rain. The added height kept water from entering the small area between my chin and the jacket as it closed the gap. The jacket also weighs only about 12 ounces (The men’s Namche Paclite is around 13 ounces) and packs down very small, so it’s easy to carry in a small day pack without adding bulk.

The main fabric in this jacket is 75D Recycled Gore-Tex PacLite 2.5-Layer construction waterproof technology with PFCec Free DWR (116gsm) HH: 28,000mm/RET: <6 — meaning the jacket can withstand a lot of water pressure (up to 28,000mm) without letting any water through and it’s very breathable, so you won’t feel sweaty.

Image courtesy of The Gore-Tex Brand

Suzanne Downing is an outdoor writer and photographer in Montana with an environmental science journalism background. Her work can be found in Outdoors Unlimited, Bugle Magazine, Missoulian, Byline Magazine, Communique, MTPR online, UM Native News, National Wildlife Federation campaigns and more.

By: Posted: 1. There’s a Science to Waterproof and Breathable Comfort2. Gore-Tex Research and Development Pros Use a Rain Tower for Testing3. You Can Wash Your Gore-Tex Gear5. The Brand Focuses Heavily on SustainabilityOR Aspire Super Stretch JacketRab Namche Gore-Tex PacLite Jacket