Gore-tex is just cool and this event showed how really cool it is

I sit here in my new fuzzy, warm Gore-tex windstopper scarf, sipping tea from my new Salomon mug, with my new Gore-tex and Merrel bags and Marmot deck of playing cards by my side, while writing this article on the Gore-tex event at the Seattle REI.  First off, a big thank you and shout out to these gear companies for all that schwag! Each person who attended the workshop received a goodie bag loaded with really cool goodies.  Not just keychains or lip balm or stickers (though we did get that too), but real, actual cool stuff we can use.  AND the event was free!  That’s right it cost zippo and we still came home loaded down with items we’ll actually use.  So hats off to these gear companies for being so generous and REI for hosting such a cool event.

With winter here (look out your window, snowpacolyse 2010 has arrived), the ski areas are starting to open, the rain and snow has come to Seattle and it’s time to whip out that Gore-tex.  Whether you’re a skier, ice climber, snowboarder, thinking of attempting a winter climb of Rainier, or just need gear to keep you warm and dry while walking around town, Gore-tex plays and integral part of your jackets and water proof pants.

REI last week teamed up with Gore-Tex and Windstopper Fabrics to hold a fun, informative event at the Seattle Flagship store on how Gore-Tex and Windstopper work, how they will keep you warm and dry and tip on dressing for the outdoors.  The workshop was led by Julie Hudetz, a Gore-Tex athlete, pro cyclist, telemarker and gear guru.  She spoke for an hour on the technology behind Gore-Tez and Windstopper, gave a few demonstrations (both in infamous hand in the bag and foot in the bucket of water), and discussed tips on efficient layering.

Gore-Tex is a breathable and waterproof membrane that is between the outlayers of gloves and jackets.  The membrane contains over 9 billion microscopic pores per square inch.  These pores are much smaller than a water droplet, but larger than water vapor; making the material both waterproof and breathable.  Gore-Tex uses at VIP system: ventilation, insulation and protection.  The material allows excess heat one’s body produces to escape, it keeps one warm and protects against wind and rain by being wind-resistant and waterproof.

Being this was a women’s specific event, and us gals were there to understand how Gore-Tex works for our bodies, Julie began the event by discussing some basic female physiology.  Women run colder than men.  Duh, right ladies.  To keep our bodies warm all of our blood goes to our core to protect that potential unborn fetus (wouldn’t it be nice to be able to flip a switch and have our body temporarily go off baby mode), thus making our extremities coder.  Men’s bodies disperse heat evenly throughout their bodies.  Women carry less muscle mass and fat than men, both of which are also heat producers.  In addition, women’s skinner is thinner than men’s, keeping less heat in.  As a result, women need warmer gear that insulates us well.

To demonstrate the power of Gore-Tex, Julie gave two demonstrations: 1) the glove trick and 2) the foot in water trick.  First, all attendees received a small envelope with a a plastic glove and a Gore-Tex membrane glove.  She had us done our gloves and move our hands about quickly to generate some sweat and heat. Quickly, the plastic covered hand began to sweat and feel clammy, while the Gore-Tex membrane glove remained happy, cool and sweat-free.  The plastic glove was not breathable and did not allow the heat vapor produced to escape so the temperature of the gloved hand rose, the hand continued to sweat and thus felt clammy.  The Gore-Tex membrane allowed the heat to escape the glove, thus regulating the temperature of the hand and keeping it cool and sweat free.  Thus the power of Gore-Tex.

Next up on the demonstration block, was the foot-in-water demo.  Julie had one volunteer get her foot wet and then put said foot in a Gore-Tex shoe, on the other foot she ore a non-Gore-Tex shoe.  The volunteer stepped both feet into buckets of water.  Within seconds the non-Gore-Tex foot was wet, while the Gore-Tex foot remained completely dry.   More amazingly,  the Gore-Tex shoe actually dried her wet foot by moving the water to the other layer of the shoe.  This demonstration showed both the incredible waterproofing of Gore-Tex and it’s ability to wick moisture away from the skin.

Julie spent some time also discussing different products that contain Gore-Tex and how the Gore-Tex technology works with those products.  Of interest, different Gore-Tex jackets have a different Gore-Tex system which provides the same great result but with different purposes in mind depending on what the jacket’s intended use is.   Pro-Shells are your most hardy, though jackets.  They are designed to get you through the worst storms on Denali.

Pro-Shell:

  • 2-layer construction: a specific GORE-TEX® membrane is laminated to the inside of the outer material. The inside of the membrane is protected by a separate lining
  • 2-layer insulated construction: the heat-insulation layer is is suspended freely between the 2-layer laminate and inside lining
  • 3-layer construction: a specific high-performance GORE-TEX® membrane bonded to a tough outer material and a specially developed robust inner lining
  • Special GORE-SEAM® tape technology ensures all seams are 100% waterproof

(Info courtesy of http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/product-content/pro-shell/construction)

Soft-Shells are a 3-layer system that gives greater movement in colder conditions.

Soft-Shells:

  • Warm, 3-layer construction: the GORE-TEX® membrane is bonded to a soft, high-performance outer textile and to a soft fleece or flannel lining

(Info courtesy of http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/product-content/soft-shell/construction)

Paclite jackets are a 2 layer Gore-Tex system designed to be a light and compact jacket when weight and space or tight, all the while still providing good water-proof protection.

Paclite:

  • Face fabric made of high-performance polyester or nylon
  • Membrane covered by a protective layer made of an oleophobic (oil-hating) substance and carbon

(Info courtesy of http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/product-content/paclite-shell/construction)

Performance Shells are designed for a wide-range of activities, it’s a great all-around mountain jacket being a cross between a Pro-Shell and Paclite.

Performance Shells:

  • Combination of soft and high-performance face textiles, membranes, and special lining
  • 2-layer construction: a specific GORE-TEX® membrane is bonded to the outer material and protected on the inside by a separate lining
  • 3-layer construction: a specific GORE-TEX® membrane is bonded to an outer material and an inner lining

(Info courtesy of http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/product-content/performance-shell/construction)

Now that we all were a little wiser and more educated about how Gore-Tex works and how it’s utilized in different products, Julie discussed how rigorously the products are tested to ensure product quality.  Gore-Tex has a 100% Guarantee for the life of an item (basically forever), because they stand fully behind every jacket, pant of glove.  Gore-Tex guarantees to keep you dry.  They have rain chambers, wind chambers, spray tests, breathability tests, leak tests, liner retention tests, wicking tests, comfort tests, and the list goes on and on.  They dress up and athlete, wire they to computers and put them and the gear through all sorts of weather and exercise tests to see exactly how the gear.  Check out all the cool videos of their quality testing on Gore-Tex’s website: http://www.gore-tex.com/remote/Satellite/content/product-testing-quality-testing.  Any company that builds gear which incorporates Gore-Tex material is required to have it’s gear tested pre and post design and production to make sure it stands up to Gore-Tex’s rigorous standards.  They love their product, and so do we all!

Now fully versed in all things Gore-Tex, Julie then gave us some layer tips and tricks.  Tip one: use Gore-Tex’s cool VIP acronym – Ventilation, Insulation Protection.  The baselayer should vent and wick moisture away from the skin.  The middle layers are insulation layers, such as down, primaloft or even fleece.  And the outer layer is for protection against rain and wind.  Cool fact: Your hand, head and feet contain the most sweat glands.  For quick body temp regulation, add or remove gloves or a hat.

Overall, this was a fun, informative event that both informed about Gore-Tex and helped get it’s audience ready for winter with good layering tips.  Julie kept it fun, easy to follow and understand and had lots of insight from all her years as a pro-athlete.  It was a great to see an event for women by women that actually addresses women’s needs.  This is a yearly event, so when next November rolls around, keep your eyes peeled for this event again at REI!

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~ by Genevieve Hathaway on November 19, 2010.

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