Rugged Gore-Tex Pro for Extreme Conditions

Gore-Tex Rain ChamberThe latest innovation from W.L. Gore & Associates is the GORE-TEX® PRO product technology.  Significantly different from Gore-Tex ‘Pro Shell’, Gore-Tex Pro adds to Gore’s offering at the most rugged end of the spectrum.  Gore-Tex Pro is aimed primarily at outdoor professionals or serious enthusiasts, such as mountaineers or backcountry skiers and snowboarders, who are expecting to face extreme weather or extreme conditions for extended periods of time.  By using a new mult-layer membrane, the fabric is more durable, up to 28% more breathable than anything Gore has created so far, yet remains just as windproof and waterproof.

The North Face Free Thinker Jacket with Gore-Tex ProGore-Tex outerwear fabrics consist of a membrane made of a layer of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) laminated to other fabrics. With Gore-Tex Pro’s toughest 3 layer construction, not only has the membrane been enhanced, the other fabrics are usually a tough outer material and a robust inner liner all bonded together to eliminate movement between the fabrics, which in turn reduces wear and tear and adds to the durability.  The North Face, for example, has announced a number of products for backcountry skiing, moutaineering and apline climbing using Gore-Tex Pro fabrics, including the technically advance Free Thinker Jacket and Bib, the Sickline and Kichatna Jackets, and the Point Five Jackets and Pants.

Gore-Tex membranes have been designed off the principle that water droplets are in the order of a million times larger than water vapour (water in a gaseous form, such as steam).  Taking advantage of this difference, a Gore-Tex membrane has about 1.4 billion microscopic pores per square centimetre, with each pore being smaller than a water droplet, but larger than water vapour.  As water vapour is also lighter than air, this allows your sweat to evaporate off your body and escape through the membrane without letting the rain in.  Gore-Tex MembranesThis is the essence of ‘breathability’.  Integrated into the membrane is also an oleophobic substance that keeps body oils and insect repellents from affecting the membrane’s performance.  Keeping your Gore-Tex jacket clean, however, is important, as sunscreens and other substances can affect the performance if they build up over time.

At the recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Trade Show in Salt Lake City, Utah, Gore had on display outerwear designs and shells from a number of major brands that will be using Gore-Tex Pro for their 2013/2014 lines.  These were big brands, such as The North Face, Adidas, Arc’teryx, Burton, Marmot, Patagonia, Salomon, Scott and a number of others, including an expanding relationship with Armada.  Most will release their Gore-Tex Pro jackets for the Northern Hemisphere autumn, which means they won’t be for retail in shops in Australia or New Zealand for another year.

Don Jurries

Featured Photos:  Gore-Tex, The North Face Media Images

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