GORE-TEX® is a term you have probably heard bandied about when purchasing outdoor clothing, and we certainly have lots of products here in store which use GORE-TEX® technology. But what is GORE-TEX®? What does it actually mean? What is the benefit of buying something that uses GORE-TEX® technology over something that doesn’t? We are here to explain all!
GORE-TEX® pride themselves on being durably waterproof, highly breathable, and windproof. But what does it really mean? How can something be both waterproof and breathable at the same?
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The GORE-TEX® Membrane - The heart of all GORE-TEX® products
So here is the technical bit, don’t worry we will keep it brief. The GORE-TEX® membrane is an extremely thin layer of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, but let’s just call it ePTFE. It is also more commonly used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. It has over 9 billion pores per square inch. It's these pores that give the GORE-TEX® fabric its characteristics and keep you warm and dry.
So, does waterproof really mean waterproof?
GORE-TEX® believe that waterproof products should not leak AT ALL and that they should retain this quality for their entire lifetime, not just for the first year or so. The microscopic pores of the membrane are 20,000 times smaller than the water molecules ensuring no rain can pass though. All prototypes from all manufactures are put through rigorous tests in their labs. They must meet strict standards before being approved by the GORE-TEX® certification, but more about that later.
Why is it important?
Wet fabrics rob your body of warmth as they conduct heat three time faster than dry fabric. GORE-TEX® fabrics are durably waterproof, allowing you to stay dry and enjoy your activity in comfort no matter what the weather throws at you.
Keeping water out prevents this heat loss occurring keeping you dry and comfortable even during extended use and harsh conditions. This is great, no one likes getting wet and cold. However, it’s all very well keeping moisture out, but what about perspiration? That’s where breathable fabrics come into play.
GORE-TEX® fabrics allow sweat to pass through, thus helping to reduce overheating and perspiration build up.
“Breathability”- what is the first thought that comes into your mind when you think of this? It is one of the most misunderstood terms in the outdoor industry. It is not about the fabric’s ability to let air move though it but very much how it lets sweat escape in the form of moisture vapor. The pores within the interior membrane are 700 times larger than water molecules, meaning perspiration can pass. So, during heavy exertion the fabrics must breathe enough to allow sweat to evaporate easily.
Why is it important?
When you are active your skin removes excess heat via perspiration, the GORE-TEX® membrane allows the evaporating moisture to escape through the fabric even during high exertion.
Fact: The breathable GORE-TEX® membrane will work no matter what socks you wear. However, wearing the right sock will make a significant impact on climate comfort. Cotton socks are not recommended as they act like a sponge, absorbing, and retaining any moisture.
It is a common misconception that some microfibers, closely woven fabrics, or fleece materials are windproof. However, even light wind can penetrate these fabrics, making you feel chilled and uncomfortable. In technical terms, a fabric can only be truly windproof if its air permeability is 1.0 cfm or less – this means the volume of air that passes through one cubic foot of fabric in one minute. Or, as we like to think of it, the membrane acts like a hedge - the wind is caught up on the branches on entry, thus being taken away from the body.
Why is it important? When cold air blows though your clothing, it causes heat loss. The thin layer of air helping to keep you warm between you and your clothing is compromised. GORE-TEX® fabrics prevent this wind-chill from occurring by stopping the wind from passing through, keeping you warm and comfortable.
So now you know how something can be waterproof, breathable, and windproof all at the same time.
One of our most popular product ranges that use GORE-TEX® are the Dubarry boots. They use Extended Comfort and Performance Comfort to ensure the utmost protection for the wearer’s needs. This is explained below:
GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Footwear
The Dubarry Galway boot features this technology. It’s designed for indoor/outdoor use in moderate and warmer conditions or during higher activity level.
They are waterproof and breathable, ensuring all round weather protection. Water stays on the outside whilst perspiration can easily escape from the inside, the best of both worlds. The non-insulating construction of the boot allows outstanding climate comfort and heat release, perfect for people on the go.
GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort Footwear
The Dubarry Longford boots are engineered with this technical feature. They are designed for outdoor use in moderate weather conditions.
They are also waterproof and breathable, keeping water out but allowing perspiration to easily escape from the inside. Thanks to their innovative design they are perfect for the widest range of outdoor activities and changing weather conditions.
The GORE-TEX® Guarantee
Before a product can be produced the porotype is put thought its paces in a series of punishing tests in the GORE-TEX® labs. All the components that impact climate comfort are tested such as: the leather, textiles, membrane, and lining. All products are tested in real life conditions. Any weak spots are discovered and correct measures are taken. Only once the shoes fulfill the needs and meets all the high-quality tests of breathability and waterproofing, it is ready to go into production.
GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™: If the customer is not completely satisfied with the waterproofing, wind proofing or breathability of their GORE-TEX® product, they will repair it, replace it, or refund the purchase price.
However, as with anything else, the lifespan of any GORE-TEX® shoes or boots depends on the care you give it. There is a multitude of cleaning products and conditioners you can use to ensure your footwear remains supple and in tip top condition. Look after your boots and they will look after you.