GORE® Wear is all about technology. We love innovation and design, and have an #AlwaysEvolve mentality to creating the best products on the market. When it comes to outer layers, there are two main technologies that we use over and over again. GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER®. What’s the difference between these, and which should you choose for your next piece of high performance clothing?
GORE-TEX® vs. WINDSTOPPER®
Here’s a new term to learn: expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). The GORE-TEX® membrane found in both GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® is an extremely thin layer of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). It has over 9 billion pores per square inch–these pores give the GORE-TEX® fabric its amazing characteristics.
What are those characteristics? To sum it up short and sweet: WINDSTOPPER® products are windproof, breathable and WATER RESISTANT, while GORE-TEX® products are windproof, breathable and WATERPROOF. As you can see, the real difference lies in the waterproofness.
What is a Membrane?
The membrane is the central element of all WINDSTOPPER® and GORE-TEX® products. It’s a very thin layer that functions much like a filter, allowing us to stay outside yet still protected from cold, wind, rain and moisture.
Both membrane technologies provide maximum breathability; however, the focus of the WINDSTOPPER® membrane is more on windproof characteristics. Still, even that membrane keeps out light rain showers since it’s water resistant.
For really heavy rain, the GORE-TEX® membrane is ideally suited because it is windproof AND completely waterproof. More on that later.
The whole point of GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® fabrics is to stay warm without extra bulk, so you, as the athlete, can run, bike, climb, and stay outside uninhibited.
Every membrane in both WINDSTOPPER® and GORE-TEX® fabric is sandwiched between a layer of lining material and a face fabric. The combination of the membrane and the other materials is called a “laminate.” Depending on the intended use, the laminate construction can be two or three layers.
Now pay attention, because this is where GORE-TEX® differs from WINDSTOPPER®: to ensure the various layers remain leak proof even after seaming and sewing, a type of adhesive tape is applied to seams in GORE-TEX® fabric. The needle holes are sealed, making your GORE-TEX® apparel completely waterproof.
How Waterproofing Works
You’re likely familiar with this kind of scenario: If you smear your hands with oil and then stick them in water, you find little droplets of water on your skin afterward. That’s something like how it works with the membrane.
Damp clothing conducts body warmth away from you. We’re all familiar with being wet to the skin and really getting chilled. GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® products ensure warmth is kept inside the jacket because water isn’t allowed to penetrate the fabric.
Again, the difference is in the water resistance. GORE-TEX® products withstand very high water pressure. You can be in a total downpour and still stay dry since the membrane is sealed and waterproof. But WINDSTOPPER® products withstand some amount of water pressure, too. If you’re out for a run and it starts to drizzle, the WINDSTOPPER® apparel you have on ensures you don’t get soaked to your skin.
What About Windproofing?
With non-windproof products, wind blows right through the product and you, making for an uncomfortably cold walk. Windproof products resist the wind–as if you were hiding behind a thick fence in a whipping wind.
Because you’re now well into this course, let’s get technical. A product qualifies as “windproof” when its air permeability does not exceed 5 l/m²/s. That refers to the volume of air that can pass through one square meter of the fabric in one second. The higher the wind speed, the higher the cooling effect. Makes sense, right? And it now makes even more sense to wear a windproof product to protect your microclimate–either GORE-TEX® or WINDSTOPPER® depending on the conditions.
Breathability is the term we use for moving sweat away from the skin, Performance apparel ensures that the sweat is wicked from the inside of the apparel to the outside. Both GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® apparel are breathable so enough sweat can also escape during intense physical activity, keeping you dry and comfortable.
What Kind of Jacket Meets Your Needs?
Based on what you’ve learned, what kind of jacket meets your needs? A GORE-TEX® jacket or a WINDSTOPPER® jacket?