Last Updated on 25/02/2022
Is Gore-Tex Worth it? Just How Good is the World’s Most Popular Waterproof Fabric?
If staying dry and comfortable is your objective then yes Gore-Tex is definitely worth it, even if they are slightly more expensive than their rivals. Gore-tex is equal if not better than all other waterproof membranes which is why Gore-Tex is used for so many different things.
Gore-Tex is the worlds leading waterproof fabric brand and has partnered with most outdoor gear companies to create the most waterproof clothing available today. If you want a new hardshell jacket to keep you dry while hiking or working outside then looking for the Gore-Tex label will guarantee you stay dry.
In parts of North America, waterproof clothing is required for a good 6 months of the year and so purchasing a quality hardshell jacket is a wise decision. If you spend a lot of time outdoors then you will know how important it is to stay dry, warm, and comfortable. Keeping warm and comfortable is often dependant on how dry you can stay when it rains. For if you get your clothing wet underneath then you will soon get cold or at the very least be uncomfortable in wet clothes.
Gore-Tex is so confident in their product that they guarantee to keep you dry for life or they will repair, replace, or refund your original cost.
What is Gore-Tex?
Gore-Tex is a waterproof and breathable fabric membrane that has some very special characteristics which make it the perfect material for outdoor gear. Its microporous properties repel water from the outside but let it breathe on the inside to avoid condensation and improve breathability. It has very low water absorption, is incredibly strong, extremely lightweight, hard-wearing, and is durable enough to use on all kinds of outdoor wear from jackets to hiking boots and gloves.
Gore was founded in 1958 when the founders pursued the possibilities of PTFE (polymer polytetrafluoroethylene) which they believed had so much more potential. In 1969 the founder’s son made a breakthrough discovery when he rapidly stretched PTFE under certain conditions and found that the result was a big improvement. He had invented polymer ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) which was patented and built the platform for all Gore-Tex products. In 1976 they received their first commercial orders which set them on a path of innovation and development.
With so much innovation taking place over the years it is easy to see why Gore-tex is worth it.
What are the Different Types of Gore-Tex?
There are close to a dozen different Gore-Tex fabrics in some form or another but here are the main ones used for waterproof clothing:
- Gore-Tex Pro – Used by professional outdoors people to endure heavy rain for sustained periods. This is the best of the best.
- Gore-Tex Paclite – Extremely lightweight and packable, through-hikers and backpackers love jackets made from Paclite.
- Gore-Tex Plus – Works the same as Paclite but is more abrasion resistant and has Gore-Tex stretch incorporated for extra comfort.
- Gore-Tex Active – Improved breathability makes this a great choice for intense outdoor activities.
- Gore-Tex Performance – The best budget Gore-Tex fabric that you might find on many hiking jackets that won’t break the bank.
- Gore-Tex Shakedry – Using the Gore-Tex membrane as the outer layer makes this extremely breathable and perfect for high output activities.
How is Gore-Tex Tested?
Unlike other waterproof products, Gore-Tex does not supply hydrostatic head information with any of its outdoor gear. Some people might find this annoying and wonder why Gore-Tex doesn’t have HH ratings. The answer is a little pretentious but something I do agree with. Gore-Tex purports that column testing waterproof fabric is only a small part of what makes a jacket waterproof. They actually place much more importance on testing the completed products to include seam, zip, and comfort into the equation.
They have 3 different tests for clothing, footwear, and gloves which all include 3 stages of testing to make sure they can guarantee the highest performance. The first stage is lab testing materials under strict scientific conditions to get accurate results that can be repeated. The second stage is human testing which gathers feedback from people on how a product feels, works, and wears in different conditions. The final stage is in the field testing where experts in their field are asked to put their gear through its paces and report on their experience and opinions.
Is Gore-Tex 100% Waterproof?
When talking about outer shell layers, yes, Gore-Tex is 100% waterproof and will block all liquids from passing through the outer layer. It is also breathable which means small amounts of condensation are able to escape the inside of the jacket as you sweat. Different variations of Gore-Tex have different waterproof and breathability capabilities and so we will have a look at the different Gore-Tex products available in a separate post.
Gore-Tex has in recent years brought some non-waterproof fabrics out which are designed to block wind and help regulate temperature. These include GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ and GORE-TEX THERMIUM™ footwear, but for the sake of continuity, we are just looking at the fully waterproof Gore-Tex products.
What are the Disadvantages of Gore-Tex?
While the advantages of Gore-Tex far outway the disadvantages, there are some things you should know about Gore-Tex before you spend $500 on a new jacket. The first disadvantage of Gore-Tex is that it does require some maintenance to reap the full benefits of its waterproof properties. Over time and as you perspire in the jacket, substances can build up within the microporous membrane and reduce it’s waterproof and breathability. This is why it is important to clean Gore-Tex using the correct chemicals and reproof it with water repellant spray every so often.
How Long Will a Gore-Tex Jacket Last?
Gore-Tex jackets will remain effective for at least 3 years if worn every day and little care is taken to maintain it. If you wash and reproof your jacket regularly and only wear it for a few hours a week then you can feel confident in getting around 10-15+ years of use.
There is no use-by date for Gore-Tex products but all products have a lifespan and outdoor clothing is worn harder than most other types of gear. Gore-Tex is designed and tested to be used in extreme environments under harsh conditions and so will last a very long time. So if you are wondering, is Gore-Tex worth it long term then yes it is for the level of protection it offers.
Does Gore-Tex Lose Waterproofness?
Technically, a Gore-Tex membrane will not break down or become less waterproof over time. However, because Gore-Tex is typically bonded to another, or sandwiched between two layers, it is those fabrics that can lose waterproofness. The outer layer of Gore-Tex may stop beading off the water and start absorbing it instead. This can prevent condensation from escaping and cause your jacket to get clammy or have the appearance of being soaked. This is why you should treat your Gore-Tex jacket with a waterproof solution every 4 – 6 months and keep it free of dirt.
How Breathable is Gore-Tex?
There are unconfirmed reports that Gore-Tex fabrics have a breathability rating of between 15,000 g/m2 and 25,000 g/m2 depending on the composition. Compared with other jackets this is pretty good but as Gore-Tex doesn’t publish any ratings, we can’t confirm this.
Is it Bad to Wash Gore-Tex?
Washing a Gore-Tex jacket will not ruin it if done in accordance with the guidelines. These are pretty simple but here is an outline to save you time:
- Make sure all the zips are done up
- machine wash at 105°F/40°C with a small amount of liquid detergent, avoid a long spin cycle, and rinse twice.
- Always try and line dry, avoiding drying at high temperatures.
- Apply durable water repellent (DWR) treatment and tumble dry or iron the garment using a towel to protect it.
Is Gore-Tex Worth the Extra Cost?
Many people ask why Gore-Tex is so expensive and the reason is simple. It’s worth it.
Gore-Tex has developed the world’s most waterproof fabric that is also hard-wearing and breathable so you can hear it while exerting yourself. If you make the world’s best fabric for jackets then you really should be charging more than other companies.
Gore-Tex is far from the only waterproof membrane available today, in fact there are many other brands that use very similar fabrics. They are however the most trusted and developed manufacturers in the industry and so spend a lot of time and resources on product testing and innovation. This allows them to be at the forefront of what is possible when it comes to waterproof wear.
Thanks for reading this far, we hope you discovered the answer to is Gore-Tex worth it and learned a thing or two about waterproof membranes.