Gore-tex "Lifetime" warranty

-- Last Updated: Nov-11-09 10:41 AM EST --

(This is long, so please bear with me)

I have frequently heard the term "Life-time" used in regard to Gore's warranty, but it is a bit of a misnomer. You will not find "Life-time" in any of Gore's official literature, nor on their website. I will also note that in my recent discussions (phone/email) with Gore they never used that phrase. With that in mind, what follows are my experiences in regard to Gore's warranty and “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise".

I've recently had both positive and negative Gore-tex warranty claims. Positive when dealing directly with the manufacturer of the garment, but not quite as satisfying when dealing with W. L. Gore Associates, maker of Gore-tex membrane.

In August I returned two Gore-tex garments (parka and pants) manufactured in 1979 to Marmot Mountain Works. That date is not a misprint. Both garments were 30 years-old! Marmot actually notified me of the manufacturing date. I couldn't remember. Marmot actually cited Gore's 'Life-time warranty', and replaced both these pieces with items of comparable value. Two thumbs-up to Marmot.

'Inspired' by Marmot's actions and comments here, I also attempted to file a warranty claim directly with Gore on a 1980's Yak Works Gore-tex cycling jacket, but there were some details of Gore's “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise that I was unaware of. As most of you know, the devil can be in the small print and that's if you can find said small print.

I was told by Gore Customer Service that the “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise does not apply to garments made before 1990. Why? Gore explained that they had no guarantee in place prior to 1990, hence the claim on my Yak Works cycling jacket was denied.

FWIW, Yak Works is no longer in business, which is why I contacted Gore directly. The jacket in question still looks relatively new, is not damaged, and has been well cared for, per the instructions on the Gore-tex tag. However the jacket no longer retains any waterproof properties. Note: Gore does not dispute the condition of this garment, the fact that it is no longer waterproof or how I have cared for it. At issue was the garment's date of manufacturer (i.e. prior to 1990).

The Gore rep also stated that for Gore-tex garments manufactured from 1990 - Present their guarantee does not cover garments that are 'worn-out' or past their 'useful life'. Damaged, ripped or torn, garments are also not covered by the guarantee, which makes obvious sense. You will not find 'worn-out' or 'useful life' mentioned in Gore's “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise. Furthermore these phrases do not appear in any official Gore's literature or on their warranty page, so I asked Gore Customer Service to please provide documentation that explains these phrases (see below). Based on my understanding the terms being 'worn-out' or 'past useful life' are subject to Gore's interpretation.

My hat is off to Marmot for their customer service. Based on comments made by Gore, Marmot apparently went above and beyond what is required of them.
In Gore's case I can't complain too stridently, but I also could not find the niggling details behind their warranty coverage even with my best efforts.
When I asked the Gore Customer Service rep for written documentation stating their position on pre-verus-post 1990 Gore-tex garments, or explaining the terms 'worn-out' and 'useful life' the discussion became a bit more lively. I actually had to requested the written details of Gore's official guarantee policy three times. One would expect they had this information on hand, if for nothing more than guidance.

The rep's response to my initial inquiry was: "I just explained that" (i.e. our policy).
I replied: "Well what you have told me is not documented in any of Gore's literature nor on your website. I would like to see it in writing."
Rep repeated: "I just told you our policy, why do you need it in writing?"
My reply:: "I believe I just answered your question. I also I frequent several on-line boards that discuss gear and clothing. Gore's 'Life-time' warranty has been repeatedly cited as a benefit of the fabric, but I believe participants will be interested in some of the specifics of Gore's warranty."
There was a very long pregnant pause, and then the rep replied curtly: "We will get that out to you."
About 5 minutes later I received this via email from the same Gore rep: "I pulled your email to front and center and have forwarded it to our Team for review."
Huh? I had to ask for clarification, because my requests for written information in regard to Gore's guarantee had been to him over the phone, not via email, so I wasn't quite sure what he was forwarding to the Team for review.
Rep's response: "Yes, You will receive a response tomorrow" (i.e. 11/10/09).

Well yesterday (11/10/09) came and went without the promised information from W.L. Gore Associates. I will not bother to ask for this information a fourth time. Perhaps someone else can dig it up?

- Editorial on:
I am a 30+ year user of Gore-tex fabric in several dozen items including clothing, sleeping bags and tents. Obviously I have used some of the first Gore-tex fabrics brought to market.
By and large I have been pleased with the performance of items made from Gore-tex, but as stated above nothing lasts forever or a "Life-time" for that matter. Warranties/guarantees are only as good as those who stand behind them and in this case specifics documenting the warranty/guarantee were not easily obtained.
As others have pointed out items made from Gore-tex are not inexpensive and I believe it can be assumed that the price of Gore-tex is reflected in their warranty coverage. Is the extra cost worth it? I guess it depends on your usage, actual performance of the garment, and what one might expect out of the warranty. It is the only material I would currently use in a drysuit, but then I have seen how well Kokatat backs it's products. Potential buyers should be aware that Gore-tex is not a miracle fabric nor is it 'bulletproof'.
I should note that I have one eVent garment, a jacket, but I have not used it long enough to comment on it's durability. I can state that the manufacturer of that jacket, Pearl Izumi is no longer using eVent, so draw your own conclusions.
In closing I am perturbed that W.L Gore Associates is not more forthcoming in regard to the details behind their stated "Guaranteed to Keep You Dry promise", because obviously those details are important.
Of course, ymmv.
- Editorial off

While others may take issue with a diatribe and rant such as this, I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and the feedback (or lack thereof) that you received on this product. I buy high end products in part because they usually have a rock solid guarantee, and I am frugal enough to have made claims on some of them in the past.

Thanks again for the info. I will file it away somewhere in the cobweb covered files of my brain.

Oh boy…

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 6:00 PM EST –

Hopefully my comments did not come off as a 'rant', but then I maybe to close to the issue. I tried to stick to the facts, until I finished with my editorial comments at the bottom. Even then I tried to make my observations as level as possible.

The most annoying thing about my experience wasn't that Gore would not replace the Yak Works jacket, but that they really danced around the specifics of their warranty and guarantee.


All the more Kudos for Kokatat
Considering all that you wrote, then Kokatat is doing some great things for it’s Gortex customers with their self-assigned warrantees.

BTW: you can get very inexpensive Gortex clothing at Cabalas.

I have a $99. Cabalas Gortex rain parka.

indeed it is not a miracle
I’ve got a Showers Pass event jacket that works better than any goretex jacket I’ve had for bike riding. It’s breathability and waterproofness is a notch above goretex.

yep, Kokotat is good
when my drysuit delaminated after two years I packed it away after it was washed and dried. Two years later I decided to replace the gaskets and have the delamination addressed by Kokotat and they replaced the drysuit for the cost of the gaskets. If I’d only returned it earlier I would have had the gaskets for free.

Yak Works jacket

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 10:35 AM EST –

My Yak Works cycling jacket was one finest pieces of technical clothing I have owned. It was well designed and had outstanding performance in our damp and cool Northeastern weather. I was ideal for my bicycle commuting rides until it lost it's waterproof properties. I'll have to take a look at the Showers Pass jacket you are using.


are you seriously expecting these hi tech garments to work for 20+years?


– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 1:22 PM EST –

Lee, In the beginning I didn't start out with any expectations. From my personal experience the Marmot garments I cited in my initial append above lasted nearly 30 years. The Yak Works jacket went nearly 25.

If I am to be honest, I guess had an expectation that Gore would do something 'positive' after my experience with Marmot Customer Service. I certainly had an expectation that Gore would make the details of their warranty or guarantee at bit more clear than they have.

There is a world of difference
between returning a drysuit because it delaminates after 2 years, and returning 30 year old clothing. I’m surprised you got anywhere with Marmot and not surprised that Gore stonewalled you.

Agreed, but it is ironic

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 1:23 PM EST –

I am not complaining about the longevity of these goods.
Heck, 25-30 years is plenty of use out of any garment, Gore-tex or not!
If both Marmot and Gore had declined for the same reasons I don't think I would have given it a second thought.

Marmot indicated they were making the replacement based on Gore's "Lifetime" warranty. Marmot knew exactly when the items were made and what the MSRP was on each was back in 1979, so obviously they keep very good records.

Gore could not seem to substantiate their reasoning, which is why I pressed them.

For what it is worth:
the locals in Juneau, Ak call Gortex “cute”!

Their rain attire of choice is Helly Hansen regular rubber coated rain gear.

And another for what it is worth: Right now North Face is replacing my six year old gortex rain(splash) jacket, (six years old with about a million years of use on it).

The Gortex wore out in several places.

I was going to post a separate kudos to them, but figured I might just hop in here with it.

So kudos to these top notch people like North Face, but humbug to the people at Gore.



kind of depends
Let’s suppose a dry suit gets used 10-20 times in the winter. 30 years would be 300-600 uses.

A cycling commuter in Seatle might use his Gore-tex jacket 100 days out of a year. So a 3 year old cycling jacket might have the same usage as a 30 year old dry suit.

We’ve gotten so used to throw away stuff after a few years. Now we’re surprised some people don’t…

Interesting stuff
So far, I haven’t had to deal with Gore directly on anything other that cycling products and they were very responsive on those. I’ve had two Gore-Tex garments fail (delaminate), one from The North Face and one from Marmot and both were replaced, no questions asked. TNF simply sent me the new version of the garment, where Marmot credited me the original retail price toward any new garment (as they did for you). Either way is fine by me and I really like the new Marmot shell that arrived last week. I’m very impressed at how light Gore-Tex Pro Shell is and I’m hoping for some nasty weather to test it in soon.

I wish you stayed on top of this
I wish you keep on working on receiving this in writing and documenting this here. If the company is good then their actions will support that.

The proof is in the pudding.

Clothing makers vs. Gore?

Perhaps there is a dis-join between Gore and the actual manufacturers of Gore-tex garments?

We have heard positive feedback here on p.net in regard to how Kokatat, Marmot and TNF stand behind their Gore-tex garments. It would be of interest to hear from someone else who has filed a ‘waterproof’ warranty claim directly with W.L. Gore Associates as to what their experience was.

not ironic

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 4:29 PM EST –

It's not really ironic. It's cool. It should be on Gore's web site: 30 year old jacket-replaced...it's the best marketing PR you can buy.

So I don't think it is ironic because Gore charges premium for their fabric and says it's guarranteed for life.

It would be much easier then for everyone to just buy a non GoreTex fabric product, pay less and not expect to deal with customer service when the garment is to be replaced...

but Gore might not like that if they started losing market share. They want to continue to charge premium for their fabric. They want to keep their BOD happy with the margins they are making. ...

What do we get in return for paying more for their product?

The original idea of lifetime warranties (llbean, and others...) was to make a product durable enough that not too many customers file warranty claim. Those who did were in the margins of the business plan and their claims were immediately fulfilled. This in turn fueled customer satisfaction word of mouth which brought in more customers in return.

Today LLBean makes some crappy clothing but guess what. They will replace anything with their label and you don't even need a receipt.

Sorry -

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 5:47 PM EST –

Maybe my words were a bit strong for a forum like this. I totally understand how you feel and that you wanted to share your experience. I've done the same as well, just to "get it off my chest". I still appreciate the info.

30+ years
from a jacket and you are dissatisfied, and giving people a hard time?

I asked about UV damage when I bought my Gore and was told that would be considered normal wear and tear. The lifetime guarantee is for any defects or delamination.

I asked about how long I should expect it to last and the sales reap said about 8 or 10 years and I thought that was reasonable.

BTW it’s a Kokatat and I love it!

why a lifetime warranty?
if it makes no sense?