Everything you need to know about Gore-Tex

March 08, 2023
When it comes to keeping you warm and dry, Gore-Tex is one of the best materials out there. In fact, it is so good that it is “Guaranteed to keep you dry”! That is why we use Gore-Tex across our pinnacle performance snow styles. But what is Gore-Tex exactly, how does it work, and how was it invented? Keep reading on to find out.
Everything you need to know about Gore-Tex

What exactly is Gore-Tex and how does it work?

Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable membrane that is often used in outdoor clothing. The membrane is laminated to high-performance textiles, such as nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics. The membrane is made by stretching polytetrafluoroethylene. This results in a microporous structure. Because the microscopic pores are smaller than water droplets, but larger than water vapor molecules, sweat can escape from the body, while water is blocked out. Gore-Tex is the commercial name given to the product by its inventors. The generic name of the material is expanded PTFE (ePTFE).

How was Gore-Tex invented?

Gore-Tex was invented in 1969 by Wilbert L. Gore and his son Robert. They discovered it partly by coincidence. Robert was stretching heated rods of polytetrafluoroethylene, but got a little impatient. Instead of slowly stretching the heated material, he decided to give one of the rods a huge jerk and unexpectedly stretched it 1000%. This stretched material turned out to be both highly breathable and waterproof, making it ideal for all-weather use. The Gore family quickly patented the material and named it Gore-Tex.

Is Gore-Tex waterproof?

Gore-Tex fabrics have a minimum water resistance rating of 28,000 mm, which means they are extremely waterproof and can withstand very high levels of water pressure. Just to give you an idea: the minimum water resistance rating for a fabric to be considered waterproof is a water column of 1,500 mm. On top of the superior waterproofing, many Gore-Tex products are treated with an ultra-thin durable water repellent (DWR), a polymer that’s applied to the outermost fabric layer. DWR forms a layer that makes water simply roll off.

Is Gore-Tex breathable?

Gore-Tex fabric is known for its high breathability, which means moisture and sweat can escape from the inside while water is repelled from the outside. Breathability is measured in terms of its Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR), which indicates the amount of moisture vapor that can pass through the fabric in a specific period of time. The MVTR of Gore-Tex depends on the specific product and application, but generally ranges from 10,000 to 25,000. This means that Gore-Tex fabric can effectively wick away moisture from the body. This makes it ideal for high-intensity outdoor activities in wet conditions, such as skiing and snowboarding.

How do I maintain Gore-Tex clothing?

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure that your Gore-Tex clothing remains waterproof, breathable, and functional over time. Always check the care label on your Gore-Tex clothing and follow the washing and drying instructions carefully. Clean your outerwear regularly to maintain the performance. Over time, the DWR coating on Gore-Tex fabric can wear off. To restore the water repellency of the fabric, you can apply a DWR treatment using a spray or wash-in product. When you don’t use your Gore-Tex clothing, store it in a cool, dry place and avoid storing it in direct sunlight or near a heat source. This can damage the fabric.

Can I wash Gore-Tex clothing in the washing machine?

You can wash Gore-Tex clothing in a washing machine, but it's important to do it carefully to avoid damaging the fabric. Always follow the instructions and use a gentle wash cycle. On top of that, avoid washing Gore-Tex clothing with abrasive or heavy-duty fabrics, as this can damage the fabric. Gore-Tex clothing can also be tumble dried on low heat. This can help to reactivate the DWR coating on the fabric. Avoid using high heat or ironing.

Is Gore-Tex environmentally friendly?

Gore-Tex is not biodegradable, so it can have a negative impact on the environment if it is not disposed of properly. However, Gore-Tex has taken steps to reduce its environmental impact and has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives. One of these initiatives is the aim to eliminate the use of PFCs in Gore-Tex products. PFCs are a group of chemicals that are commonly used in the production of waterproof and stain-resistant fabrics, but they can be harmful to human health and the environment. As O’Neill we also use 100% recycled PET, with PFCec FREE Durable Water Repellent finish when it comes to sustainable choices. If you like to know more about this, please check out our sustainability report!

Check out all of our Gore-tex clothing

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