breathable - not

The temp plummeted yesterday from 64 all the way to 59 here in San Diego. So I put my light and ‘breathable’ Stohlquist shell for protection against the frigid air. After a 2 hour exercise paddle my shirt was dripping wet. I get the same result with Kokotat and Navarro jackets.

Is breathable a myth, or a sales gimmick?

It "Works…"
if you don’t exert and/or sweat much.

My two drysuits (Palm and Kokatat GMER) are really “damp suits” that become “chill suits” when I stop moving. My wetsuits are “warm suits” and I can “wet” in 'em. :slight_smile:


try a nylon/non breathable to compare
I briefly used a nylon dry suit and was pretty surprised how much sweat I could accumulate in the booties. My gortex drysuit leaves me damp on most paddles, but nothing like the nylon suit.

It’s not magic
It’s not magic. It isn’t perfect. It tends to work better with less humidity and cooler/colder temperatures. One can sweat faster than anything can keep up with.

It’s neither a myth nor a sales gimmick. It just doesn’t work as well as you are hoping. Compared to traditional waterproof clothing, the breathable stuff is a definite improvement, but that’s all it is - an improvement.

Suggest those NRS LS Hydro Skins
and stay wet but warm instead of wearing a bag. For use in winter S.D waters. Enough for night fitness paddles too.

I agree with everyone …all the gore-tex type clothing is only useful when a person " perspires’ very lightly…it will not allow the release of heavy water vapor , at a fast enough rate, if one “sweats”. you are far better off layering in wicking poly and fleece and/or wool if you sweat heavily to allow adequate evaporation and any chance of staying warm at the same time. Nothing will keep anyone dry if you work out and sweat heavily enough. you need to pace yourself at a activity so you don’t break out in a sweat.

Were you wearing a PFD?
Nothing will breathe underneath the PFD.

gore-tex or “Breatable coated nylon”?
I’ve seen a lot of coated nylon garments that claim to be breathable. If that’s what you had, then I can understand your disappointment. I’ve never found them to breath much at all.

Goretex type laminates do a lot better, but aren’t magic. At 60 degrees in a goretex dry suit my shirt ends up a little damp, especially under the PFD.

Better than non-breathable
Try wearing a vinyl garment that doesn’t breath at all and you’ll see the difference. We would be a whole let wetter in a dry suit that didn’t breath at all. Wet suits have their advantages. I’ve done a thousand miles in both, and I greatly prefer the dry suit.


Never breathable enough

– Last Updated: Feb-06-10 9:36 AM EST –

After a 2 hour exercise paddle on my rowing machine in the gym, my T-shirt is wet too and that's all I have on.

For paddling you have to slow down for a while until your body warms up. That could take a good 20 min to a half hour. Then you will sweat less than if you started right in with a fast pace. But as everyone else said: they do breathe, but nowhere as much as you would like them to. You do have insulating apparel on too. Plus you have a PFD over our torso as further insulation and a blocker.

When I go to my gym, I often start out with a sweat shirt on because it can be a bit cool. Then as I warm up, the sweat shirt comes off. You don't have that luxury while paddling, plus you're usually dressing for the water.

Breathability etc

– Last Updated: Feb-06-10 9:49 AM EST –

Just to mention, I tend to overdress w/r to the layers under shells, dry suits etc compared to most I paddle with. I've gotten to where I get cold more easily. So one thing I've had to figure out is how to find the absolute best wicking material for the first layer, and in cold enough weather for the second. A number of supposedly good wicking materials have failed the test with me, including anything with silk and some very good synthetics. I'm down to just a couple of blends that work well. It doesn't matter a lot which - odds are that they'll be different for you - the point being that you may need to tune your decisions on those base layers based on your own experience rather than a manufacturer's statement.

Granted this is less expensive to do for me, since I live in a climate where anything that fails the paddling test just turns around for other winter uses.

As above, without knowing the material in the stuff you wore it's hard to say a lot. Though nothing is perfect, some stuff works better than others depending on conditions. 59 degrees on a foggy chilly day in Maine isn't hard to dress for, especially since the water may be nearly the same temp. On a sunny day with little wind, it may call for some different layering decisions.

Nothing perfect
OK, I guess I won’t go out and try to buy another more breathable shell. Meanwhile, the thing that works best for me is to use a loose fitting ‘breathable’ shell that can go over my pfd. It seems to vent much better.

graph …
this will probably only confuse people but maybe some of us can make heads and tails of it …

what was your top?
Was your stohlquist made of their TTL eclipse laminate?

It has a whole lot to do with
what you wear between you and the shell also. If your wearing a cotton T shirt under it, the performance will not be good.

I have found that by wearing a wicking T shirt or polypro shirt under my GoreTex dry top, or even a heavy polypro sweater when it’s cold (near or below freezing) I stay totally or very nearly completely dry while paddling.

WHen I wear a regular cotton shirt or non wicking shirt under it I am often a bit damp at the end of my paddle

Gore tex should breath fine. What are you wearing under the top? Most paddlers dont know that there are big differences in how gore tex will breathe by wearing the apprpieate layers underneath. Check out Kokatat’s inner and outer core layers. They are designed to be worn with Goretex and actively move moisture away from your skin so it can be “transpirataed” out of the Goretex shell.

Wool and single layer polypro will stay weter than the inner and outer core shirts from kokatat.

" T-shirt is wet too and that’s all I have on"

The visual is interesting…and quite unintended I am sure!

Breathable Fabric Fallacy
Gore-Tex is Latin for “hotter than hell”. Actually, Gor-Tex and similar membrane fabrics breathe very well–if you are sitting in a football stadium. But if you are engaged in any aerobic activity such as backpacking, running, or hard paddling, you may as well be sealed in Saran wrap. It is not really the fault of the breatheable membrane manufacturers, though their claims can be misleading. The laws of physics just do not allow us to have it both ways; i.e., exclude all exterior sources of moisture and allow the transport of all interior sources. It just can’t be done. If you wear vinyl, absolutely no moisture can get in, but also no moisture can get out. If you wear permeable fabrics (wool, polyester, etc.) moisture can escape easily, but rain can also get in. So-called breathable, waterproof fabrics fit somewhere in between and share some of the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives.


A Non-Believer…
swimming against the tide of PNet thought…