GORE-TEX vs. Hot Weather: Do You Wear It?
In the South, we're no strangers to hot weather, even into "Fall," right? This month alone we have broken TEN days of record high temperatures in the Chattanooga area. While we haven't received much rain lately, many people choose to wear GORE-TEX products entering the Fall hiking season. Some hikers and trail runners are adamant about GORE-TEX being too hot for hot weather... but what exactly is GORE-TEX and what does the science say?
WHAT IS GORE-TEX?
GORE-TEX is a PTFE (for simplicity's sake: a type of fabric) waterproof, windproof, breathable material developed by the Gore family in 1958. Of course, it was developed where many great company's are... in the family home's garage! Since then, it has been developed into thousands of products, with the first jackets debuting in 1976. In 1981, the astronauts on the Space Shuttle's first mission even donned GORE-TEX spacesuits! GORE-TEX is now featured in gloves, footwear, and jackets. GORE often partners with other brands who wish to use the most widely recognized waterproofing on the market. For example, at Ridge, we sell Salomon X Ultra Mid hiking boots with GORE-TEX, GORE-TEX gloves and raincoats from The North Face, and trail running shoes, like the Salomon Speedcross that feature GORE-TEX.
Yep, there are certainly alternatives for waterproofing; although, GORE-TEX is the most widely known and respected... for now. Others in the industry are always working to improve and innovate, like The North Face. The North Face has developed an amazing new waterproofing science, Future Light, which debuts TOMORROW, 10/1/19. Keen features KeenDry, a proprietary footwear waterproofing technology. Patagonia features GORE-TEX on most of their high-end outerwear, but use their own technology to keep the price down on other items.
HOW DOES GORE-TEX WORK?
GORE-TEX fabric is either bonded with another fabric to create a waterproof coat or gloves, or can stand alone to be its own lightweight jacket or footwear bootie insert. Footwear that features GORE-TEX waterproofing simply contains a bootie of GORE-TEX fabric, that the rest of the boot, or shoe, is then built around.
The pores in GORE-TEX fabric are made to be smaller than a water droplet. So, water drops can not physically pass through GORE-TEX. However, water vapor molecules are much smaller than water droplets, and GORE specifically designed the fabric pores to be larger than a water vapor molecule, which allows breathability.
Simply put: this means the fabric keeps wind, water, and snow out, and sweat is able to escape.
The best-in-class testing is widely regarded in the outdoor industry and is so impressive. It would take too long for us to explain all about how rigorously they test their own products. However, you can read about it at www.gore-tex.com. Just know, they have extremely high standards for the products that represent their family name.
IS IT COMFORTABLE?
While many of the tests focus on scientific measurements, one test in particular is even more appealing to us: The Comfort Test. This test is designed to communicate how the science relates to us as humans. It cannot be too warm or too cold. There must be a balance between the heat our bodies make and the heat our bodies lose. We all know one thing: it doesn't matter what the science says if we don't want to wear it. Rest assured, GORE-TEX knows this and comfort is a huge part of their testing.