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Shouldn't Goretex be waterproof?

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Postby Damien Gildea » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:25 am

Depending who you believe, Gore pressures manufacturers to put their membrane in various products, whether it's best or not, to boost both sales volume, manufacturing efficiency and brand dominance. Boots are a good example of this. The outer layer of boots will almost always get wet and dirty and will thus stop Gore-Tex from working like it should. Gore-Tex was not designed to work in boots. It's marketing pure and simple. Same with Gore on insulated garments, which is why there are so few down and Primaloft insulated garments with a Gore-Tex shell. I think if more people understood Gore-Tex and how it does - and does not - work and it's limitations, which are much greater than marketing would indicate, and when not to wear it, then they would not buy it in inappropriate products and the marketing push would fail. People need to think and learn before they spend. Is it a 'lie'? Depends on your definitions and principles, but maybe, yeh. But then marketers and advertisers misrepresent the truth about many products all the time in our media, so this is relatively small-fry. Goldman-Sachs - now there's another story!

Gore-Tex is generally waterproof for most outdoor use, and it breathes much better than a plastic bag or old style pvc garments. So if you need to be out active in wet conditions it's probably the best choice, along with eVent. But people try and stretch its use, and in a lot of cases Gore-Tex is simply overkill. Realisation of this is one of the reasons for the popularity in softshells over the last decade.

Gore-tex breathes best in cool and dry conditions, but of course if it's dry you don't really need Gore-Tex. Windshells are lighter, cheaper and more comfortable for most mountain situations until it really rains or the snow is really wet. But there's less markup in them for manufacturers, so they're not pushed like 3-layer 'waterproof-breathable' garments are.

One real advantage Gore-Tex has over many softshells and windshells using Pertex or similar, is that it is absolutely windproof. Pertex is not, nor are softshells like Powershield. In really strong windy conditions in the cold, this becomes a factor, even though Pertex and similar are better in nearly all dry, cold, windy situations. But in that uppermost extreme region of use, you can feel the wind through these materials, whereas a garment of Gore-Tex provides an absolute wind barrier. Just don't move too fast.

D
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Postby T Sharp » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:38 am

The deciding factor for Gore-Tex to "breath" is for the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature. So Gore-Tex will not make good jungle wear, but on a cold ass windy ridge in a snowstorm, during a winter attempt on some way back peak, it is a great choice for an outer shell.

On another note most Gore-Tex is rated by a weight per Sq.in.....perhaps the wet butts are the result of too much weight distributed over too small of an area...I wear my Gore-Tex pants comfortably of wet chair lifts and stay dry, but that weight is spread out over a larger area than a bicycle saddle :)
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Postby Damien Gildea » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:47 am

T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.
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Postby jdzaharia » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:44 pm

Damien Gildea wrote: as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other.


I see what you are saying, but that is not the problem I have experienced. With pants and jackets (excluding boots), I never get wet or full of condensation at -30F. I only get wet around freezing temperatures, say +30F and higher. So, my problem is not the condensation, but the pure fact that it's not waterproof. This is also the most likely explanation for the original poster's wet knees.

One thing I'll give Gore-Tex, though: it's definitely snow and ice proof. :shock:


Edit: spelling
Last edited by jdzaharia on Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:44 am

From someone who used to climb in the B.G. era (Before Gortex), let me say:

QUIT YER DAMN WHINING!

YOU GOT IT GOOD NOWADAYS WITH THIS GORTEX AND FLEECE STUFF!!

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
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Postby T Sharp » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:41 am

Damien Gildea wrote:
T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.


For the process to slow or seem to stop, the moisture must freeze, and even then it will continue to transfer through the membrane unless the inside of the jacket and the outside of the jacket temps have equalized.
From a physics standpoint though, the moisture will never stop evaporating until it reaches the coldest temperature. Granted this process will slow as the temps move toward equalization, or if the relative humidity is very high.

The point you are arguing is irregardless of the Waterproof/Breathable membrane or coating type though for they all rely on vapor transfer to move moisture to the outside of the garment. Perhaps you argue efficiency at this transferability. Everybody has their favorites.
Gore-Tex has worked well for me.
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Postby CClaude » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:55 pm

Instead of complaining, how about telling Gore what works well and when it doesn't.

Tell them
(1) what you were doing,
(2) the product you were using
(3) what you were wearing as a total system
(4) how it failed
(5) what your expectations were.

Like all companies Gore is always trying to improve their product (ok, I'm an employee in their medical products division as a full disclosure, except my comments are not as an employee but a consumer of the product). But I also participate in product research feedbacl program for the fabrics division about 4 times a year. For this they enlist a lot of guides and average individuals. Its not to say that for everyone who complains will be enlisted in this product feedback program, but they do have a lot of average outdoors people since You (they) are their ultimate customer.

A lot of people percieve Gore as a massive company, but its still privately owned and when Gore-Tex fabric originally came out and didn't preform as well as he expected, he bought back EVERY product at a massive cost to himself, because HIS reputation is at risk. That was nearly 25 years ago, but his attitude still is at the heart of the company.
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Postby nhluhr » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:19 pm

Damien Gildea wrote:
T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.
Although I agree that heat and humidity gradients are the primary forces moving water through any fabric and GoreTex is not optimally applied with insulated fabrics, (Modern) Goretex does not actually pass vapor at all. The PTFE layer that everybody talks about is really just a smooth microtextured surface upon which a very thin layer of polyurethane can be laminated. Gore had to implement this PU layer after the first generation of GoreTex fabrics wore out quickly due to oil contamination and abrasion. This PU layer is hydrophilic and monolithic, as in, no pores. Vapor does NOT pass through it. It is therefore necessary for vapor inside the GoreTex garment to first condense on this hydrophilic monolithic layer (to create a big enough concentration gradient) and then solid-state-diffuse through it, before re-vaporizing at the interface with the PTFE, where it can then escape the membrane, if there's still enough heat/humidity gradient to expel it.

The reason GoreTex breathes better than things like PreCip or Conduit is because the PTFE layer of GoreTex gives the best surface upon which to deposit a very thin PU layer, whereas PreCip/Conduit/etc depend on laminating a thicker (tougher) PU layer to a thin fabric. Since water has to diffuse through this layer, the PU is the main bottleneck and making it thicker makes moisture transport slower.
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Postby jthomas » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:50 pm

nhluhr wrote:
Damien Gildea wrote:
T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.
Although I agree that heat and humidity gradients are the primary forces moving water through any fabric and GoreTex is not optimally applied with insulated fabrics, (Modern) Goretex does not actually pass vapor at all. The PTFE layer that everybody talks about is really just a smooth microtextured surface upon which a very thin layer of polyurethane can be laminated. Gore had to implement this PU layer after the first generation of GoreTex fabrics wore out quickly due to oil contamination and abrasion. This PU layer is hydrophilic and monolithic, as in, no pores. Vapor does NOT pass through it. It is therefore necessary for vapor inside the GoreTex garment to first condense on this hydrophilic monolithic layer (to create a big enough concentration gradient) and then solid-state-diffuse through it, before re-vaporizing at the interface with the PTFE, where it can then escape the membrane, if there's still enough heat/humidity gradient to expel it.

The reason GoreTex breathes better than things like PreCip or Conduit is because the PTFE layer of GoreTex gives the best surface upon which to deposit a very thin PU layer, whereas PreCip/Conduit/etc depend on laminating a thicker (tougher) PU layer to a thin fabric. Since water has to diffuse through this layer, the PU is the main bottleneck and making it thicker makes moisture transport slower.


Your explanation appears to contradict what is on Gore's own site:

http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellit ... breathable
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Postby Denjem » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:14 am

As some one who works in the industry, the reason gore-tex is in everything is because people come into shops and ask for it in everything. Not marketing or anything else. You people on summit post represent a small percentage of the market. They don't pressure companies. Companies have to pay a lot of money for gore-tex. All you people bitching about the shit have already bought into it and if you don't own any, then you really have no frame of reference. Your like a child who has wandered into the middle of a conversation.
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Postby jthomas » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:08 pm

dps wrote:
jthomas wrote:
nhluhr wrote:
Damien Gildea wrote:
T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.
Although I agree that heat and humidity gradients are the primary forces moving water through any fabric and GoreTex is not optimally applied with insulated fabrics, (Modern) Goretex does not actually pass vapor at all. The PTFE layer that everybody talks about is really just a smooth microtextured surface upon which a very thin layer of polyurethane can be laminated. Gore had to implement this PU layer after the first generation of GoreTex fabrics wore out quickly due to oil contamination and abrasion. This PU layer is hydrophilic and monolithic, as in, no pores. Vapor does NOT pass through it. It is therefore necessary for vapor inside the GoreTex garment to first condense on this hydrophilic monolithic layer (to create a big enough concentration gradient) and then solid-state-diffuse through it, before re-vaporizing at the interface with the PTFE, where it can then escape the membrane, if there's still enough heat/humidity gradient to expel it.

The reason GoreTex breathes better than things like PreCip or Conduit is because the PTFE layer of GoreTex gives the best surface upon which to deposit a very thin PU layer, whereas PreCip/Conduit/etc depend on laminating a thicker (tougher) PU layer to a thin fabric. Since water has to diffuse through this layer, the PU is the main bottleneck and making it thicker makes moisture transport slower.


Your explanation appears to contradict what is on Gore's own site:

http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellit ... breathable


Yet he is right. If the PU layer wasn't there, then the Gore-Tex PTFE layer would become clogged with your skin oils, sunscreen, etc...

That is why eVent is nice step forward, because they figured out how to coat the ePTFE such that it doesn't need the PU layer laminated to it.

Check out http://www.eventfabrics.com/eVent_technology.php


Either I am misunderstanding, or the Gore site is wrong. It shows vapor passing through a liner, then through the membrane. How can the condensed sweat pass through a solid PU liner? If this is really happening, it would reduce breathability to nil.
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Postby MoapaPk » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:07 pm

jthomas wrote:Either I am misunderstanding, or the Gore site is wrong. It shows vapor passing through a liner, then through the membrane. How can the condensed sweat pass through a solid PU liner? If this is really happening, it would reduce breathability to nil.


If there is a chemical gradient (e.g. lower humidity on the outside) condensed sweat will evaporate and pass out as vapor. At least on the 1st page, I don't see any claims about condensed sweat.
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Postby nhluhr » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:57 pm

jthomas wrote:
dps wrote:
jthomas wrote:
nhluhr wrote:
Damien Gildea wrote:
T Sharp wrote: the outside temperature to be cooler than the temperature with in the shell. This really will be irregardless to insulation layers, for the moisture will continue to seek out the coldest temperature.


That's fine in theory. But as the vapour reaches the outside of the insulation it cools to the point it is no longer vapour and condenses inside the Gore-Tex shell layer and therefore cannot be passed. The outside of the insulation is necessarily considerably colder than inside the jacket or the insulation would not be doing its job. One material defeats the other. This is (one reason) why some sleeping bag manufacturers will not use Gore Dryloft.
Although I agree that heat and humidity gradients are the primary forces moving water through any fabric and GoreTex is not optimally applied with insulated fabrics, (Modern) Goretex does not actually pass vapor at all. The PTFE layer that everybody talks about is really just a smooth microtextured surface upon which a very thin layer of polyurethane can be laminated. Gore had to implement this PU layer after the first generation of GoreTex fabrics wore out quickly due to oil contamination and abrasion. This PU layer is hydrophilic and monolithic, as in, no pores. Vapor does NOT pass through it. It is therefore necessary for vapor inside the GoreTex garment to first condense on this hydrophilic monolithic layer (to create a big enough concentration gradient) and then solid-state-diffuse through it, before re-vaporizing at the interface with the PTFE, where it can then escape the membrane, if there's still enough heat/humidity gradient to expel it.

The reason GoreTex breathes better than things like PreCip or Conduit is because the PTFE layer of GoreTex gives the best surface upon which to deposit a very thin PU layer, whereas PreCip/Conduit/etc depend on laminating a thicker (tougher) PU layer to a thin fabric. Since water has to diffuse through this layer, the PU is the main bottleneck and making it thicker makes moisture transport slower.


Your explanation appears to contradict what is on Gore's own site:

http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellit ... breathable


Yet he is right. If the PU layer wasn't there, then the Gore-Tex PTFE layer would become clogged with your skin oils, sunscreen, etc...

That is why eVent is nice step forward, because they figured out how to coat the ePTFE such that it doesn't need the PU layer laminated to it.

Check out http://www.eventfabrics.com/eVent_technology.php


Either I am misunderstanding, or the Gore site is wrong. It shows vapor passing through a liner, then through the membrane. How can the condensed sweat pass through a solid PU liner? If this is really happening, it would reduce breathability to nil.
The Gore Site is just marketing drivel. Gore's standard PTFE is easily contaminated by oil and easily abraded. eVENT's PTFE is treated to be oleophobic and thus doesn't need protection from skin oil. However, it still needs protection from abrasion, which is why eVENT is lined with tricot backing and why eVENT is heavier than GoreTex.

Normal Polyurethane is hydrophobic but the PU they use in waterproof/breathable fabrics has been treated to be hydrophillic - meaning it absorbs water, which is what allows it to function as a diffusional membrane for moisture transport.
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