What Is Gore-Tex Fabric?

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Gore-Tex fabric is the trademark name for a synthetic, waterproof and breathable material used in outdoor clothing and equipment. Gore-Tex technology is used in gear for mountain sports, water sports, fishing, hunting, cycling, walking, working and other outdoor activities. The Gore-Tex company designs fabrics in a range of weights and resistance to abrasion. Outerwear and equipment made from Gore-Tex fabric keeps a person dry while allowing perspiration to wick away from his body. Extreme mountaineers rely on Gore-Tex to keep them dry, but Gore-Tex fabrics are also comfortable for casual outdoor use.

Uses

  • Gore-Tex fabric is used to make outerwear such as jackets and pants for skiing and snowboarding, and rainwear for prolonged exposure to downpours or short squalls. Because it is breathable, Gore-Tex makes a comfortable outer layer for wind resistance even in the absence of rain, snow or other precipitation. Gore-Tex gloves are designed to keep hands warm and dry while giving dexterity to the wearer. Gore-Tex fabrics are also used to make hats, hiking boots and trail running shoes.

Characteristics

  • Gore-Tex fabric is made of a trademarked membrane that contains over 9 billion pores. The pores are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, preventing water from penetrating from the outside. Moisture can pass through from the inside since the pores are 700 times larger than a molecule of moisture vapor. The membrane contains a substance that prevents body oils and insect repellant from penetrating it. The Gore-Tex company has a trademarked "Guaranteed to keep you dry" promise and warranties its products as waterproof, windproof and breathable.

History

  • Bob Gore invented Gore-Tex by rapidly stretching polytetrafluoroethylene to create a strong, durable, waterproof material. The Gore-Tex fabric was introduced to the commercial market in 1978 after nine years of research and development. Gore-Tex makes Gore-Tex fabric by laminating and sealing its membrane to high-performance textiles. The Gore company later developed a seam tape to prevent water from leaking through garment seams. After continued improvements to its fabric, the Gore-Tex brand was relaunched in 2007.

Care

  • Gore-Tex fabrics are durable and easy to care for. The manufacturer recommends regular cleaning of products to retain the waterproof and breathable qualities of the Gore-Tex membrane. Outerwear can be machine washed and dried. The heat from the dryer reactivates the water-repellent qualities of the outer layer. Topical water repellent products can be applied when the original product has worn off. Gloves can be machine washed and left to drip dry. Hiking boots should be brushed and cleaned on the exterior with a cloth or brush.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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