Raining outside? Don’t sweat it.

You don’t even have to carry a pack to sweat.

Your body perspires even when you are sitting in front of your computer reading Bootsnall. Hence the need for waterproof-breathable garments. Waterproof enough to keep the rain off of you, breathable enough so that you don’t feel like you are wearing a big plastic bag on your body. To set the record straight, I use jackets made with Goretex, even in the tropics where it really doesn’t work very well. I have a love/hate relationship with Goretex. I like the fabric, can’t stand the company.

My definition of hell is a company run by a pack of feral engineers with no business, marketing or common sense.

In a nutshell, that is WL Gore & Associates.

Before I suck up to the folks from Gore, let’s review the others:

Not so good.

Not so good are the waterproof breathable coatings. The major manufacturers are not even bothering with this crap any more. The worst of the lot award goes to Ultrex, a fabric from Burlington that never worked as claimed. Good riddance!




A bit better.

The patent on the membrane used in the Goretex laminate ran out awhile ago, and every other company is trying to duplicate it, but that’s a bit easier said than done. Luckily, there are some that come pretty close. I sincerely doubt that a user can tell the difference with one of the new laminates from one made a Goretex fabric.

The various “not-Gore” laminates to check out come from places like Mountain Hardwear and Lowe-Alpine and really are quite excellent. They also cost quite a bit less than a jacket made from Goretex and work, in my opinion, as well. Your mileage may vary. The truth is, for most uses just about any waterproof jacket will work just fine.

Is Goretex really the best?

No material does the waterproof-breathable trick very well, and that includes Goretex. Goretex is widely believed to be the best of the lot, though there are the aforementioned up-and-coming fabrics that are as good (or nearly as good, depending on whom you are talking to) for a lot less money than a jacket made out of Goretex.

I happen to believe that Goretex is the best of the waterproof-breathables, and that is due partly to my personal experience with using both Gore and with the alternatives. It is also partly due to my experience at the “re-education camp” run by the folks from Gore that are intended to brainwash, err, I mean educate simple technicians such as myself in all things Gore.

And I do mean all things. In the opinion of the folks at W.L. Gore and Associates in Elkton, Maryland, there is not a thing on this planet that cannot be improved upon by the simple (and costly) addition of the Gore membrane. These guys have absolutely no shame. Tried the Gore dental floss yet? (Slips right through the gaps in your teeth so fast that it forgets to remove anything in the process).

The Gore Elixer guitar strings are excellent, by the way.

Wonderful stuff, that Goretex, even though I truly believe that jackets made with Goretex fabric are obscenely overpriced. You just have to decide: a new European car or a new Goretex jacket? They cost just about the same.

Check out the non-Gore laminates first.