The world of waterproof and breathable fabrics and membranes is divided in two: Gore-Tex and the rest. This list sums up what is out there.
Gore is without doubt the best know producer of waterproof and breathable fabrics and membranes but they are definitely not the only one. To shed some light in the darkness I made a list of waterproof and breathable fabrics. The list of waterproof and breathable fabrics below sums up what waterproof and breathable fabrics are out there and in short some features.
Gore-Tex and Gore Infinium
Before we 2018 Gore communicated the waterproof and breathable fabrics with a black Gore-Tex label with the slogan ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry’ on the clothing. The rest of the Gore products just had Gore names. Gore Black label waterproof and breathable fabrics Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro, Gore-Tex Paclite, Gore-Tex Active, Gore-Tex Surround and Gore-Tex Shakedry.
In late 2018 Gore added the white Gore-Tex Infinium label with the text ‘Comfort and Performance’. Everything that is made under this white label is not waterproof, but the emphasis is on wear comfort and high breathability. Gore Windstopper is probably the best known Gore product that now bears the Gore-Tex Infinium label.
With the choice of a Black and a White label, Gore-Tex created clarity in the sometimes confusing amount of Gore-Tex names and of waterproof and breathable fabrics. Now let’s take a closer look at all the waterproof and breathable Black label Gore-Tex products
Breathable waterproof: Gore-Tex variants
With this technique waterproof and breathable fabric, the membrane is situated on the outside of the fabric so that it breathes even better. Suitable for running, cycling and trail running. Gore-Tex Shakedry is only suitable for use with a light backpack up to 3 kg.
A 2-layer laminate with protective layer on the inside. Biggest advantage is the compact packsize. Suitable for backpacks up to 6 kg or occasionally with heavier backpacks.
Gore-Tex Active is a 3-layer laminate with the membrane between a light outer fabric and a lightweight protective backer material on the skinside. Super lightweight and breathable with a small pack volume. Suitable for strenuous activities such as running, cycling, cross-country skiing and skiing with backpacks from 3 to 6 kg.
Gore-Tex Paclite Plus
Just like Paclite, a 2-layer laminate according to Gore, but with a heavier outer fabric and a stronger protective layer on the inside. Suitable for heavier backpacks up to 15 kg. And yes… this is confusing because I could also call this a 2.5- layer.
A 2- and 3-layer laminate. It is suitable for general use in changeable weather. From hiking to backpacking to Alpine climbing. The 3-layer variant is suitable for backpacks up to 15 kg.
The Gore-Tex Performance fabric is a 2- and 3-layer laminate and a heavier version of the ‘regular’ Gore-Tex and therefore suitable for heavier trekking backpacks.
“Heavy-duty” Gore-Tex. The membrane consists of several layers and is enclosed as a 3-layer laminate between a woven lining fabric and a heavy outer fabric. Area of use is climbing, ski touring and trekking with a heavy backpack without weight limitations. Recently Gore-Pro is updated to Gore-Tex Pro ‘2.0’. The ‘2.0’ is how I like to refer to it since Gore does not communicate the new Pro with a new label. In Gore Pro ‘2.0’ more elastic materials are used in some fabrics. Gore claims also that Gore-Tex Pro ‘2.0’ is more breathable and even more rugged.
Breathable waterproof: Dermizax and the rest
W.L Gore may be the producer of the best-known waterproof and breathable fabrics and micro-porous membrane, but there are still a few other producers. It would be impossible to list them all, but we would like to highlight a few brands that are relatively common.
Is a hydrophilic membrane from the Japanese Toray. Dermizax is made of polyurethane and therefore fully recyclable. Processing as a 2 and 3-layer laminate and with different application areas. Used among others by Bergans, Patagonia, Ortovox, Schöffel and Cortazu.
Polartec Neo Shell
Polartec Neo Shell was the first material to be made via nano-spinning. It resembles Palembang prawn crackers. Nano-spinning creates a micro-porous membrane that is processed as a laminate. You will find it in clothing from Mountain Hardwear, 66North, Arc’Teryx, Berghaus, Salewa and Norrøna.
Micro-porous polyurethane elastic membrane that The North Face launched in early 2019. It is made with the nano-spinning method. For 90% recycled material and 100% reusable.
Once invented by the Dutch Akzo Nobel Sympatex is a micro-porous membrane made of 100% polyester, making it 100% recyclable. There are several laminate variants: from 2 to 4 layers. Waterproof and breathable fabrics made with Sympatex are used by Grisport, Kaikkialla and Vaude, among others.
Like Gore-Tex, eVent uses a PTFE membrane. Meanwhile, eVent has almost completely disappeared from the outdoor market, but you can still find it on sale.
Eco-Shell is a fabric from recycled polyester that is made by the Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven. It combines an outer fabric with a PFC-free durable water repellency (DWR) coating on top and an hydrophilic membrane for breathability and waterproofness. It is available in a 2.5 and 3-layer construction.
A hydrophilic polyurethane membrane. 100% recyclable. There are two variants: Pertex Shield and Pertex Shield Pro. The first comes in a 2.5 and 3-layer variant and the second is the heavier version and is only available in a 3-layer laminate. Rab has been using it since the mid-1980s. Other processors include Berghaus, Patagonia and Montane.
Ceplex is exclusive to the outdoor brand Vaude. It is a micro-porous membrane and, depending on the application, made of polyurethane, thermoplastic polyurethane or polyester. 100% fluorocarbon-free and 100% recyclable.
Again a brand name that belongs to a brand: Rab. Proflex is a 3 layer laminate and between two fabrics sits a hydrophilic PU membrane. Proflex has the feel of a softshell while giving the waterproof protection of a hardshell.
The list is not complete. If you have an addition, please help me to complete this list and send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put your suggestion in it.