In the world of outdoor and sports gear, where unpredictable weather can be your toughest adversary, one technology has consistently risen to the challenge—GORE-TEX. Renowned for its unwavering reliability and exceptional waterproofing capabilities, GORE-TEX fabrics are a beacon of innovation in the realm of waterproof-breathable membranes.

But what makes the GORE-TEX brand frontrunner in its industry? To understand its advantages and applications, we decided to dive deep. Read on to discover the unparalleled engineering and use cases that have turned GORE-TEX into a household name.

A Brief History of GORE-TEX

GORE-TEX has a rich history dating all the way back to 1969. Wilbert Gore and Bob Gore, a father-son duo, discovered a groundbreaking material by slowly stretching polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—a complex process involving heated rods that you can read more about here

This discovery led to the creation of GORE-TEX in 1976, when Bob Gore first introduced the product to the world.

Initially used for things as diverse as electrical cabling and medical applications, it soon revolutionised outdoor gear and clothing due to its unmatched waterproofing and breathability. Over the years, GORE-TEX has continued to innovate, introducing variants like GORE-TEX Active and GORE-TEX Pro, which we talk about later in this article.

What is GORE-TEX?

GORE-TEX is a thin membrane oozing with amazing characteristics. There are over 9 billion pores per square inch, each home to the waterproof properties that make GORE-TEX unparalleled in its domain.

In fact, each pore within the membrane is more than 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule and 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. In a nutshell, this size differential is responsible for allowing sweat vapor to escape (creating a breathable product), while simultaneously preventing water droplets from infiltrating the garment (creating a waterproof product).

The GORE-TEX Promise

Before any item can be manufactured with GORE-TEX fabrics, it must first meet the strict weatherproof performance standards and be approved by a Gore-Certified Factory.

This ensures the product lives up to the durability and waterproofness that sets GORE-TEX apart from its competitors. In other words, these products must be able to withstand harsh weather in the most demanding environments. Let’s look at some of its hallmark criteria:

Windproof GORE-TEX

While it is exceptionally waterproof, GORE-TEX is also highly windproof thanks to its structure. Despite the fact that some fleece or tightly woven fabrics may claim to be windproof, they do allow for some degree of wind penetration.

To truly be windproof, a fabric must have a 1.0 CFM air permeability rating. This is the volume of air that passes through one cubic foot of fabric in one minute; GORE-TEX exceeds this standard. With GORE-TEX, wind is effectively caught within the branching structure of the membrane, preventing it from chilling your body.

Breathable GORE-TEX

Breathability is another critical feature within the outdoor industry. When you’re exerting yourself on the trails, in the mountains, or on the track, staying dry and comfortable is crucial.

The GORE-TEX membrane is designed in a way that it allows moisture to evaporate through the fabric and away from the wearer’s skin. This leaves the wearer feeling more comfortable and dry throughout their activityeven during high exertion.

GORE-TEX Seam Sealing

A seam is where two separate fabrics join. This creates a series of small holes that can lead to a potential leak. To stay true to their promise of maximum waterproof protection, GORE relies on GORE-SEAM tape.

This tape is used in all their outerwear, footwear, and gloves, and is implemented by specially trained manufacturers in certified factories. GORE-SEAM tape is applied using patented equipment from GORE itself.

How GORE-TEX Works

To truly appreciate the prowess of GORE-TEX as a waterproof technology, it’s essential to delve into the inner workings of this remarkable fabric. In this section, we’ll demystify the science behind GORE-TEX fabrics, uncovering the secrets that enable it to keep you dry while maintaining unmatched breathability.

What Is GORE-TEX Laminate?

Sometimes you’ll see GORE-TEX laminate listed in a product’s description, which is not a laminated coating. In this form, GORE-TEX is still a thin membrane, but it’s bonded between two pieces—a high-performance inner lining and an outer textile.

There are three main types of laminate construction commonly found when talking about waterproof shells: 2-layer, 2.5 layer and 3-layer. Let’s take a tour.

  • 2-Layer Construction

This type of laminate is ideal for a wide range of outdoor activities, from running to hiking. In the 2-layer construction, the membrane is bonded to the outer fabric, allowing the separate lining to provide a more comfortable and versatile wearing experience.

You’ll often find the two-layer construction combined with insulation, which creates a garment that keeps the wearer both warm and dry.

  • 2.5-Layer Construction

A jacket with 2.5-layer construction will have ‘0.5L’ printed on the lamination on the inside of the garment. This eliminates the need for a lining, offers superior next-to-skin comfort, and is more packable than a 2-layer garment.

  • 3-Layer Construction

The three-layer construction is for those in search of a product that’s both more durable and lighter. Unlike the 2-layer construction, the GORE-TEX membrane within the 3-layer construction is bonded to both the outer fabric and the inner lining. This eliminates any movement between the layers, creating less wear-and tear and a more robust product.

What Is GORE-TEX’s Microporous Membrane Technology?

The pillar of GORE-TEX’s exceptional technical performance resides in its revolutionary microporous membrane technology. This tech is truly the secret sauce behind the fabric’s remarkable ability to keep you dry while allowing moisture to escape. Here’s a closer look at how it works:

  • Microscopic Pores

GORE-TEX fabric features an incredibly thin membrane that contains billions of microscopic pores per square inch. These pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, making it virtually impossible for liquid water to penetrate from the outside.

  • Waterproof Barrier

When moisture comes into contact with the outer layer of GORE-TEX fabric, the surface tension of the liquid prevents it from passing through the tiny pores. This creates a waterproof barrier that effectively shields you from rain and snow.

  • Breathability

What’s so unique about GORE-TEX fabric is its unmatched ability to keep external moisture out, while simultaneously wicking sweat vapor away from your body.

This seemingly contradictory feature is actually quite simple to explain: the pores in the GORE-TEX membrane are designed to be smaller than water droplets and larger than moisture vapour. As a result, you stay dry from the inside out, as perspiration is efficiently transported away from your body.

  • Comfortable Microclimate

GORE-TEX’s microporous structure creates a comfortable microclimate between your skin and the fabric. It prevents that clammy feeling all-too-common among non-breathable materials.

  • Durability

The microporous membrane is an integral part of the fabric, not a surface treatment. This means that it doesn’t wear off or degrade over time. It’s an enduring component that ensures consistent waterproofness and breathability throughout the product’s lifespan.

What Are Some Other Types of GORE-TEX?

The GORE-TEX fabric family encompasses a diverse range of specialised technologies to cater to various needs and preferences. In this section, we’ll explore some other remarkable types of GORE-TEX, each designed with a specific focus and purpose in mind.

  • GORE-TEX Pro

GORE-TEX Pro was created for the serious outdoor enthusiasts exploring in the harshest conditions over the roughest terrain. Each garment features added durability and optimal weather protection, performing in rough environments and extreme conditions atop mountain speaks or on the side of a rocky face.

These products are crafted with a revolutionary 100% ePTFE-based multilayer membrane system which boasts its own unique microstructure.

With a similar construction to the 3-layer laminate, this membrane is bonded to the outer material and the inner lining; the difference is that the inner lining is especially robust, using a Gore Micro Grid Backer. This technology enhances the breathability of the product, makes it more lightweight, and provides internal abrasion and snag resistance.

  • GORE-TEX Active

GORE-TEX Active is a tailored version of GORE-TEX technology explicitly designed for high-intensity outdoor activities where breathability and waterproofness are critical. It’s the solution for those who demand peak performance in extreme conditions. GORE-TEX Active achieves its remarkable balance of waterproofing and breathability through a specialised microporous material.

What sets GORE-TEX Active apart is its focus on lightweight and packable designs, ensuring minimal bulk and maximum mobility for athletes and adventurers alike. It combines durability with breathability, making it versatile for a range of use cases.

  • GORE-TEX Infinium

GORE-TEX Infinium represents a unique facet of GORE-TEX technology that combines protection, style, and comfort. It’s designed for everyday life, urban adventures, and outdoor activities where traditional GORE-TEX may be a little overkill.

Infinium is designed, first and foremost, to be windproof and highly breathable. From fashionable jackets to accessories like gloves and hats, Infinium is all about blending form and function—style and comfort.

Applications of Gore-Tex

When we say GORE-TEX is everywhere, we mean it. Let’s briefly discuss the various types of GORE-TEX clothing available.

Jackets and Rainwear

GORE-TEX jackets and rainwear are prized for their practicality in keeping you dry during heavy rain or snowfall. They’re reliable companions for both outdoor adventures and everyday urban use, ensuring you stay comfortable when the weather turns wet.

Check out top GORE-TEX coats to keep dry here.

Pants and Trousers

GORE-TEX pants and trousers offer a functional solution to staying dry in damp or snowy conditions. They’re a practical choice for hikers, outdoor workers, and anyone who faces wet weather while on the move.

Gloves and Accessories

GORE-TEX extends its weatherproofing magic to gloves and accessories. These items—such as gloves, hats, and gaiters—keep your extremities warm and dry in cold, wet conditions, making them essential for outdoor adventures.

Hiking Boots

GORE-TEX hiking boots are a game-changer for hikers and backpackers. They offer waterproofing that keeps your feet dry when traversing streams or hiking in the rain. Plus, they maintain breathability for comfort during long treks.

Running Shoes

For runners who refuse to let winter deter them, GORE-TEX running shoes are a lifesaver. They keep your feet dry and warm, allowing you to maintain your running routine—especially for slushy winter runs.

Winter Boots

Winter boots equipped with GORE-TEX provide unbeatable protection against cold, snow, and slush. They ensure warmth and dryness, making them an absolute must for winter activities and urban commutes.

Backpacks and Bags

GORE-TEX isn’t limited to clothing and footwear; it’s also found in backpacks and bags. These accessories are designed to withstand the elements, keeping your gear dry, whether you’re on a hiking expedition or a work commute.

Benefits and Advantages

When it comes to breathable, weather-proof fabrics, it’s clear that GORE-TEX is the industry leader and pioneer. Its advanced technology brings a host of benefits and advantages that have made it a no-brainer for adventurers, athletes, and anyone who values high-performance clothing and equipment.

In this section, we dive into the key reasons why GORE-TEX fabric is still regarded as the crème de la crème.

Weather Protection

At the top of the list is GORE-TEX’s stellar weather protection. Whether you’re trekking through a torrential downpour, skiing down a snow-covered mountain, or facing strong winds on a hike, GORE-TEX has, quite literally, got you covered.

The material’s unique membrane is engineered to be both waterproof and windproof, forming an impenetrable barrier against the elements. It keeps you dry and comfortable even in the most challenging weather conditions. That’s what makes it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts who refuse to let rain or snow dampen their adventures.

Breathability and Comfort

While staying dry is crucial, comfort is equally important. Unfortunately, breathability and weather-proofing are almost always negatively correlated; as one metric goes up, the other goes down.

But GORE-TEX has flipped this law of nature on its head. The microporous structure of the GORE-TEX membrane allows moisture vapour like sweat to escape from within, ensuring you stay comfortably dry from the inside out. This exceptional breathability also prevents that clammy feeling associated with lesser materials.

Durability and Longevity

Let’s face it: Investing in outdoor apparel is expensive. That’s why durability is extra important—you want gear that’s going to last. Lucky for us, GORE-TEX products are renowned for their long-lasting performance. The membrane’s rugged construction withstands the rigours of the great outdoors, including abrasions from rocks, branches, and rough terrain.

With proper care—a subject we cover in the next section—GORE-TEX can provide years of reliable use, ensuring your investment pays off. This durability not only saves you money, it helps reduce your environmental impact by eliminating the need for frequent replacements.

Versatility and Adaptability

Last but not least, GORE-TEX’s versatility and adaptability are key reasons for its enduring success. Whether you’re planning a summer backpacking trip or a winter expedition, GORE-TEX products are designed to meet the demands of every adventure.

From lightweight, urban rain jackets to insulated, heavy-duty parkas, GORE-TEX offers a range of products to meet your needs. Knowing you can depend on GORE-TEX also helps to simplify your gear selection process and will reduce the need for specialised clothing.

Maintenance and Care

GORE-TEX products are an investment in comfort, protection, and durability. But to ensure they continue to perform at their best for years to come, proper maintenance and care are essential. Below, we provide a detailed guide on how to take care of your GORE-TEX gear and apparel.

If you’d like to learn more about caring for specific types of GORE-TEX apparel—outerwear, footwear, and GORE-TEX gloves—check out their detailed care instructions.

1. Regular Cleaning

Read the Care Label

Always start by checking the care label on your GORE-TEX garment. Follow the manufacturer’s specific care instructions, as they can vary slightly among different products.

Use Mild Detergent

When it’s time for a clean, use a mild detergent specially formulated for outdoor gear or technical fabrics. Avoid using regular laundry detergents, as they can leave residues that compromise breathability and water repellency.

Machine Wash

Most GORE-TEX items are machine washable. If possible, use a front-loading washing machine on a gentle cycle with cold water; the agitator in top-loaders may damage certain garments. Fasten all zippers and close all Velcro tabs to prevent snagging.

Rinse Thoroughly

After washing, rinse your gear thoroughly to ensure no detergent residues remain. Run an extra rinse cycle if needed.

2. Drying

Air Dry

Air drying your GORE-TEX gear is best. Hang it on a line or lay it flat in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight or other heat sources. Avoid using a tumble dryer, as excessive heat can damage the waterproof membrane.

Restore DWR

Over time, the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating on the face fabric may wear off. To restore water repellency, use a product designed for reproofing GORE-TEX gear. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically involve spraying or washing in the reproofing solution.

3. Stains and Spot Cleaning

Treat Stains Promptly

If your GORE-TEX gear gets stained, deal with it immediately. Blot—do not rub!—the stain with a clean cloth and lukewarm water. For stubborn stains, use a mild soap or a stain remover recommended for technical fabrics.

4. Storage

Clean Before Storage

Always clean and thoroughly dry your GORE-TEX gear before storing it. Storing damp gear can lead to nasty mildew and foul odours.

Hang or Fold

Store your gear by hanging it or folding it neatly in a dry, cool, well-ventilated area. Avoid cramming it into a tight space, which can cause creases and compromise the waterproofing.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Store your GORE-TEX items away from direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure can degrade the waterproof membrane and fade the colours.

5. Repairs

Patch Small Tears

If you notice small tears or punctures in your GORE-TEX gear, use a GORE-TEX patch or repair kit to quickly fix the issue. Waiting increases the odds of making it worse.

Professional Repairs

For larger tears or complex issues, consider sending your gear to a professional repair service that specialises in technical outdoor gear. If you believe the issue is actually a manufacturing defect, reach out to the GORE-TEX customer support team for help.

6. Regular Inspections

Inspect Seams and Zippers

Periodically inspect the seams, zippers, and Velcro closures for any signs of wear or damage. Promptly address any potential issues to prevent water infiltration.

Comparison With Other Waterproof Technologies

GORE-TEX has long been the gold standard when it comes to waterproofing. But other companies are beginning to catch up. Because of this, no discussion of GORE-TEX is complete without exploring how it stacks up against other, newer waterproof technologies and water-repellent coatings.

GORE-TEX Vs. Other Membranes


  • Breathability: eVent is often praised for its exceptional breathability. It utilises a Direct Venting technology that doesn’t require the buildup of moisture to build pressure, allowing for rapid moisture vapour transfer.
  • Waterproofing: eVent offers solid waterproofing capabilities, keeping you dry in wet conditions; however, it may require more maintenance to maintain water repellency.
  • Applications: eVent is commonly found in high-performance outdoor gear, especially in footwear and rain jackets, where breathability is paramount.

DryVent (The North Face)

  • Waterproofing: DryVent is designed to be highly waterproof, ensuring dependable protection against wet weather. It offers different levels of waterproofing for various activities. Like GORE-TEX, it comes in 2L, 2.5L, and 3L.
  • Breathability: While not as breathable as some competitors, DryVent still provides adequate moisture management, especially for those seeking more budget-friendly options.
  • Brand Affiliation: DryVent is prominently featured in The North Face products, making it a go-to choice for brand-lovers.

The choice between GORE-TEX, eVent, DryVent, and other membranes depends on your specific needs. GORE-TEX is known for its balanced performance, breathability, durability, and versatility.

As we’ve seen, eVent shines in breathability but requires more maintenance. Meanwhile, DryVent offers solid waterproofing and is closely tied to The North Face brand, but may be less breathable than other options. For a more in-depth discussion on leading waterproof-breathable fabrics, check out our comprehensive guide here

GORE-TEX Vs. Water-Repellent Coatings

In addition to waterproof membranes, water-repellent coatings are often used in outdoor gear and apparel to enhance water resistance. Let’s compare GORE-TEX with water-repellent coatings:

Durable Water Repellent (DWR) and Others

  • Surface Treatment: Water-repellent coatings are applied to the outer fabric of gear and apparel. They enhance the water resistance of the fabric but are not inherently waterproof like GORE-TEX, a membrane-based fabric.
  • Limited Durability: Water-repellent coatings wear off over time and with use, requiring periodic reproofing to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Breathability: Coatings do not affect the inherent breathability of the fabric, but they do not offer the same level of moisture management as membranes like GORE-TEX.

The winner is clear: GORE-TEX stands out with its membrane-based technology, offering both superior waterproofing and breathability. Water-repellent coatings, while useful for enhancing water resistance, lack the same inherent waterproofing and long-term durability for which GORE-TEX is famous.

Tips for Choosing and Using Gore-Tex Products

Getting down with GORE-TEX is a great way to ensure the best comfort and protection in the great outdoors. To maximise your experience with these products, however, it’s essential to understand how to choose the right gear for your needs and layer them effectively. In this section, we provide valuable tips to help you make the most of your GORE-TEX apparel.

Understanding Product Labels and Specifications

  • Check the Label

Before purchasing GORE-TEX gear, carefully read the label and product specs. Pay attention to the intended use—such as hiking, skiing, or urban wear—as GORE-TEX offers specialised products tailored to different activities.

  • Understand Waterproof Ratings

GORE-TEX products come in various waterproof ratings, denoted in millimetres (mm) of water resistance. Higher numbers indicate better waterproofing. Consider the waterproof rating that aligns with the conditions you’ll encounter.

  • Breathability Matters

Assess the breathability rating, often measured in grams per square metre (g/m²) over 24 hours. Higher values indicate better moisture vapour transfer. Choose products with breathability suited to your activity level and climate.

Proper Layering and Clothing Combinations

  • Layer Strategically

Layering is crucial for comfort in varying conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to manage sweat. Add insulation layers for warmth. Top it all off with a GORE-TEX outer layer for weather protection.

  • Ventilation Options

Look for GORE-TEX products with ventilation, like pit zips or vents (in jackets) and zip-off legs (in pants). These features help regulate body temperature during high output activities.

  • Consider Activity and Climate

Tailor your clothing choices to your activity and climate. For high-intensity activities like skiing, opt for lightweight GORE-TEX gear. In extreme cold, add insulating layers under your GORE-TEX shell.

  • Footwear Selection

The options for GORE-TEX footwear are vast. Choose hiking boots for rugged terrain, trail runners for light hiking, or insulated boots for winter adventures. The bottom line is that you always want to match your footwear to the demands of your adventure.


Is GORE-TEX 100% Waterproof?

There’s a reason why GORE-TEX is trusted for the toughest adventures. Backpackers, backcountry skiers, and hikers alike all swear by it because the membrane is completely waterproof: No water gets through, no matter how much it rains.

But what makes the technology so highly regarded in the industry is the fact that it keeps out water and moisture without suffocating you. There are a number of different GORE-TEX membranes available on the market, each with different capabilities. Some lighter membranes will only be water-resistant but know that when they say it’s waterproof, it’s waterproof.

Does GORE-TEX lose waterproofness over time?

Although it is waterproof, that does not mean that it won’t lose its effectiveness over time. Like any piece of apparel, wear-and-tear can affect performance. The frequency that you use it will dictate how long the shell will maintain its waterproofness. Of course, you can always extend the life of the product by washing it and treating it with a waterproofing product.

Is GORE-TEX worth the extra cost?

The answer depends on your needs. GORE-TEX has made a reputation for itself as the most waterproof, breathable, and durable membrane in the industry. Big names like Arc’teryx, Salomon, and Norrøna (to name a few) swear by it. Adventurers of every kind have been relying on it for years to get them through the toughest expeditions.

That said, there are a number of other brands like The North Face and Columbia that have developed their own waterproofing technology at a more affordable price. In short, yes GORE-TEX is worth the extra cost, but at the end of the day what you use it for will dictate how much you want to spend on gear.

How long will a GORE-TEX jacket last?

Even the toughest, most battlehardened gear will lose its effectiveness over time. How long your GORE-TEX jacket lasts will depend on how you use it.

Say you live in a rainy climate and spend a lot of time outside, it may only last 5 years. But, if you’re the type that only uses your shell occasionally, then it can last upwards of 15 years! Of course taking care of it will extend its life, so be sure to wash and treat it after extensive use.


GORE-TEX has redefined outdoor and technical apparel, setting the gold standard for innovation, performance, and dependability. Throughout this article, we’ve highlighted its exceptional weather protection, breathability, durability, and versatility.

Without a doubt, GORE-TEX has made an indelible mark on outdoor and technical apparel, enhancing comfort and performance for adventurers worldwide—and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. It continues to be the trusted choice for those who refuse to let weather deter their passion for the outdoors.

With GORE-TEX, every adventure is an opportunity to embrace the elements with confidence and style. Shop the best GORE-TEX has to offer at Altitude Sports.