Gore-Tex and Waterproof-Breathable Fabrics

Gore-Tex is one of the great inventions for the outdoor adventurer. But what is it and how does it work

What is Gore-Tex
Gore-Tex refers to the fabric made when the Gore-Tex membrane is laminated to a high-performance textile, which are then used to make coats, accessories and footwear.

How does it work
Gore-Tex is a membrane that has 9 billion pores per square inch. Each pore 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet and that’s too small for water and wind to pass through. This keeps you dry because rain and snow stay on the outside. But these pores are large enough for moisture vapor to pass through, so your body’s perspiration can escape. That’s what “waterproof-breathable” is all about.

Is Gore-Tex the only waterproof-breathable fabric
Absolutely not. Other manufacturers have developed similar waterproof-breathable coatings. Sierra Designs created Genesis, Columbia offers Omni-Tech. They are all different but they all do the same thing. Let perspiration pass through while blocking water droplets. Other WPB products are less expensive than Gore-Tex but with the same effect. By any name, WPB technology has been the most influential development to outerwear in the last few decades.

How warm will it keep me
Not warm at all. Although waterproof-breathable fabrics can protect you from rain, snow and wind, the fabric itself is thin and offers no insulating qualities. So in cold conditions, youre going to want to wear extra layers underneath. The benefit of this is that makes waterproof-breathable fabrics functional in warm, wet weather.

Why does my Gore-Tex coat feel wet
All waterproof-breathable membranes are laminated to the back of a water-repellent outer fabric which serves as the outside of your coat. Regular wear and tear causes the water-repellency of the outer fabric to fail, so moisture can saturate that layer even though the moisture isnt passing through to the inside of the coat. The most effective way to maintain your garment’s water repellency is to keep it clean, and wash it often.

How should I clean waterproof-breathable garments
Simple. Just toss them in the washing machine in warm water with a powder or liquid detergent or a cleanser specially designed for waterproof-breathable fabrics. Do not use fabric softener or bleach. Tumble dry on a normal setting and you’re done. Wash as often as you need to since washing and tumble-drying actually restores the water-repellency of the outer fabric.

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