Gore-TEX, the flag-ship textile for W. L. Gore & Associates Inc., is possibly the most revolutionary outerwear fabric on Earth. It is waterproof and breathable making hiking/mountaineering/skiing/climbing or whatever, absolute bliss.

Found in anything from gloves, headwear, footwear, socks, gaiters, and garments/coats to the professional gear of the military, police, firefighters, and outdoor professions.

When I was a young lad, my father would tell me that gore-tex fabric was magic, keeping water out while allowing water in the form of perspiration to get out. Little did I know that with 9 billion pores per square inch (about 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet) water and wind can't penetrate the outter fabric's barrier. As well,an oil-hating component, which assists as a wind barricade is included in the newer lines of the material.

The best part is that even with the unique pores and component, moisture vapor molecules can still escape because they are in a smaller form than water, so perspiration won't build up and make one cold and wet.

The membrane is extremely thin and lightweight, yet strong and durable. There are three lines of defense between one's body and the outside world:

The first is a water resistant fabric treated with a water-repellent finish to increase the already waterproofness of the garment. This allows the water to "bead" and roll off the garment. This finish can be renewed by subsebsequent washes and even later applications of the same repellent spray.

The second layer is the actual GORE-TEX waterproof membrane with the microscopic pores and the polymer responsible for the prevention of penetrating substances like oil, cosmetics, insect repellents and food, which can decrease waterproofness.

The Third layer is the fabric liner, this can be ultra thin or as thick as a polar fleece.

Does Gore-tex keep one warm by itself? Yes!. One loses heat when air penetrates clothing; however,GORE-TEX fabric is windproof, so no cold air can penetrate it and disturb the body heat. But it is important to know that in really cold conditions, it's best to wear extra layers, since GORE-TEX fabric isn't an insulation. So loosely knit sweaters or fleece garments are best as insulating layers. Lightweight bulky synthetic fibrefill garments also work well.

To test just how waterproof this stuff is, one can actually sit in a puddle of water, stand out in an intense hurricane, or even stand under a waterfall and one will not experience an inch of wetness where the garment covers.

Gore-tex XCR (Extended Comfort Range) garments average about 25% greater breathability than "classic" Gore-tex garments, providing an increased comfort that is more perceptible the more active one is.

Once one experiences the comfort of a Gore-tex product they will never want to go back to anything less. These products are generally pricey (ex: an outer shell similar to a "wind-breaker" can run $350-400 Canadian) but last for years when cared for and the benefits far outweigh the initial high cost.

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