Garments made from technical fabrics are designed for active use in inclement settings. They let you rip, ride, or roam without feeling all wetted out, bundled up, or weighed down.
Designed to keep liquid water out while allowing your own moisture vapour to escape, the major differences between these technologies are the amount of vapour they can pass and the durability of the waterproofing process.
Microporous PTFE (polytetrafluorethylene) laminate bonded to a face fabric. Water vapour molecules (perspiration) escape through the laminate's micropores. Liquid water molecules (rain, snow) are too large to enter.
- Very durable, stands up to regular use and repeated laundering.
- Retains waterproofness throughout the garment's useful life.
- Laminate is durable and is unaffected by chemicals which may dissolve polyurethane coatings. (All fabrics can be damaged by some chemical insect repellents.)
GORE-TEX Pro Shell
Gore Pro Shell construction makes waterproof-breathable garments lighter and easier to carry while actually improving their function.
- Pro Shell garments roll up compactly and fit easily into the corner of an expedition pack - or even a moderately-sized hip pack.
- The nylon's open construction improves breathability, and it makes Pro Shell garments softer to wear.
- The nylon inner face fabric is more abrasion-resistant than the knit tricot used in traditional 3-ply construction.
As waterproof and abrasion resistant as Classic GORE-TEX, but with improved breathability.
- The greater the difference between temperature and moisture inside and outside the garment, the more moisture the fabric exhales.
- Depending on exertion levels, 12 to 60% more breathable than Classic GORE-TEX, and 25% more breathable on average.
2-ply and 3-ply
In 2-ply construction, a GORE-TEX PTFE membrane is laminated to a face fabric made of nylon or polyester. This fabric is the outer material you see. On the inside, 2-ply garments have a sewn-in lining of mesh, nylon, or insulation to protect the GORE-TEX membrane. The resulting soft, supple clothes are the most popular choice for general applications, but are not as durable as 3-ply garments. The separate lining may also retain moisture (sometimes in the form of frost) which impedes air circulation, and therefore breathability.
3-ply GORE-TEX is made by laminating the PTFE membrane between the face fabric and a protective knit backing. The resulting laminate has the appearance of a single layer of material. 3-ply tends to be crisper and noisier to wear than 2-ply but is more durable. Without a liner, the fabric is less bulky and is able to pump moisture through the garment more efficiently, significantly improving comfort. In very cold weather, you can simply brush away any frost that forms.
GORE-TEX PacLite®Some ultralight garments use PacLite material in place of 3-ply fabric.
- Uses a very thin hydrophilic PU coating to protect the membrane, instead of a knit backing.
- The fabric is 15% lighter than comparable 3-ply, but is less durable.
Entrant® V and DT
Uniform microporous polymer coatings applied to inherently waterproof face fabrics. Microscopic pores maintain waterproofness, maximize vapour transmission, and minimize condensation.
- Much lower price and more supple, less stiff fabric.
- Coatings are 60 to 75% as breathable as laminates, but are versatile for both high and low-output activities.
- Entrant DT surface treatment eliminates the need for a liner, reducing weight and creating a dry feeling innner.
Soft Shells / Fleece
These versatile fabrics are warm, windproof and will shed light precipitation. A soft shell can replace an insulating layer and outer shell combo with a single garment that suits about 90% of conditions you'll likely encounter.
Four chamber fibre Cordura®, LYCRA®, Coolmax® polyamide, polyester blend is extremely abrasion-resistant and breathable. Application of 3XDRY coating repels water and dirt while maintaining moisture transport.
- Hard-wearing fabric has low pack volume, is lightweight, and suits a wide variety of conditions.
- Excellent breathability, quick to dry, and comfortable to wear.
Polartec Power Shield®
A perforated membrane between the fabric's outer and inner layers blocks 98% of wind. Inner layer is an insulating polyester fleece to provide excellent warmth to weight ratio.
- Smooth, tightly woven nylon face fabric is highly abrasion resistant.
- Applied DWR coatings shed rain and snow.
- Fabric is highly breathable and provides warmth without a lot of weight or bulk.
Gore WindStopper® and N2S
Fabrics incorporate an ultralight membrane that blocks wind yet allows water vapour to pass through. Even in moderately windy conditions, wind blocking fabrics are more than twice as warm as non-membrane fleece.
- Excellent breathability suits high-output activities and cold conditions.
- Fabric is soft, inherently stretchy, and highly abrasion resistant.
- N2S inner knit membrane wicks moisture away from skin. Designed for use in base layer garments.