Gore-Tex® is a synthetic waterproof fabric which is permeable to air and water vapour. This makes the fabric “breathable”.
The idea behind this advanced fabric was to capitalise on the qualities of nylon which is windproof, waterproof, hardwearing and lightweight, whilst adding the possibility of water vapour to escape thus avoiding the problem of the inside of the garment becoming soaked in sweat.
Gore-Tex® works using microporous PTFE (polytetrafluoroethene, more commonly known as Teflon®), sandwiched in layers of nylon and polyurethane. The PTFE contains around 14 million holes per square per square millimetre which allow the “steam” that your body makes to pass through the fabric.
You might be surprised to hear that it was invented in 1969 and remains a registered trademark of W.L. Gore and Associates.
For many years Gore-Tex® was the go-to high end fabric for outdoor sportswear especially favoured in hiking, mountaineering and other mountain sports.
In more recent times other manufacturers have developed waterproof, breathable fabrics with comparable qualities to Gore-Tex®. As you look around at the mind-blowing and mind-boggling array of weatherproof clothing available online or on the high street it is worth considering alternatives to Gore-Tex® - many of which will come with a lower price tag – especially worth thinking about if you a just getting into the outdoors and unsure of what to take on a hike.
Although at the high end of mountain climbing Gore-Tex® may remain the choice for more extreme conditions such as those found in the Alps and Himalayas many other alternatives can be found. Most major producers of outdoor gear will also have their own "breathable" fabric and as you would expect they will try to sell it to you as the best thing since ... er... Gore-Tex®.
Anyway the point is shop around. Remember, the primary thing this garment needs to do is keep the rain out and if truth be told, once you start any strenuous activity wearing this kind of "outer-shell" its gonna get sticky on the inside!
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