Everything You Need to Know About GORE-TEX
If you've ever shopped outerwear then you've probably heard of GORE-TEX, but what does it mean and does it live up to all the hype? We'll break down the tech & go over some common misconceptions.
GORE-TEX is a proprietary technology for top of the line technical outerwear. Each square inch of GORE-TEX membrane contains up to 9 billion pores, each pore is 20,000x smaller than a water droplet, and 700 x larger than a water vapor molecule. What do these number mean? It means the GORE-TEX membrane is the most waterproof, windproof & breathable fabric out there. You want your outerwear to be breathable to allow sweat to escape, otherwise it will build up in the garment and make you wet & cold.
The outer layer is either a soft shell or a hard shell, the middle layer is the GORE-TEX membrane and the inner layer is a wicking fabric that draws moisture vapor from the body. The outer layer is often treated with a DWR coating to help water bead off and not build up on the garment. (Although the water won’t penetrate through the GORE-TEX it can still make you feel clammy.) GORE-TEX rigorously tests all products that have their name on it, and they provide a guarantee of keeping you dry.
If the garment fails, you can send it to GORE-TEX with proof of purchase and they will repair, replace or refund you. At UNLTD GORE-TEX can be found in men's & women's outerwear as well as some mitts & gloves.
GORE-TEX vs. GORE-TEX PRO
GORE-TEX 2L & 3L
The original GORE-TEX breathable, waterproof & windproof membrane is more affordable than it's PRO counterpart & is geared towards everyday use. Original GORE-TEX garments utilize a Polyurethane backing & can be found in 2 or 3 layer options. 2L garments have 2 distinct layers, the outer shell & a soft inner layer, they can be found with or without insulation. GORE-TEX 3L is 3 layers of fabric/membrane, but they are bonded together to make a single layer, unlined, uninsulated, high performance shell. 3L is lighter weight and more breathable. Since original GORE-TEX can be utilized in a wider range of fabrications, it's more common than PRO.
GORE-TEX PRO 3L
GORE-TEX PRO is a lighter, more technical, more rugged, breathable fabric. The garments that use GORE PRO are prepared for the most extreme conditions, with a Micro-Grid backer which is more durable than Polyurethane & a rugged outer layer. It's lighter than the original membrane & can be fabricated to offer much more stretch. GORE-PRO is only used in 3L construction, so you'll only find it on shells with a bonded abrasion resistant/GORE-PRO/Micro-Grid single layer. This advanced tech is more expensive and truly isn't necessary for everyone.
Will I be warmer in GORE-TEX?
While it does provide protection against wind & water which will help keep you warm, GORE-TEX on its own has no insulating properties. Many GORE-TEX products are a 2 or 3 layer waterproof/breathable fabric without insulation and are considered shell jackets. These were designed like this so you can layer underneath with either a technical fleece or a down/synthetic puffy depending on the warmth you need for that day’s conditions. Some jackets have a GORE-TEX layer and are lined with a down or synthetic insulation layer to add warmth.
Why is GORE-TEX so overpriced?
GORE-TEX has come a long way over the years, the proprietary tech lends itself to about 100 brands and there are several options for GORE-TEX thickness. Because of this, the price point of GORE-TEX in outerwear has come down quite a bit since it was invented. We have GORE-TEX jackets at the shop starting around $300. Although this price point may be higher than other shells/ jackets, the tech available in GORE-TEX is unparalleled in both performance and durability. In the long run, you may appreciate the advantages & longevity of a GORE jacket versus another option you’d have to replace sooner.
Misconception 3: GORE-TEX eventually stops working.
It’s not the GORE-TEX that’s stopped working, it’s the DWR coating. Non-Gore options rely heavily on a DWR coating which forces water to bead off the garment. GORE-TEX fabrics utilize the same DWR coating which works hand in hand with the GORE-TEX membrane for superior water repelling. Heavy use of any garment coated with DWR will eventually need to be refreshed. It may seem counterintuitive to machine wash & dry your GORE-TEX outerwear to revive the DWR coating, but it’s not! The coating actually relies on the heat of the dryer to realign the microscopic pegs that repel water. Keep reading for GORE-TEX care instructions. If washing & drying fails to reinvigorate the coating, you can use a spray or wash-in product to achieve a like new water repelling result.