High tech fabric performance

-- Last Updated: Apr-02-09 9:43 PM EST --

I have been giving some thought to some of the posts I have seen recently regarding high tech "waterproof" fabrics, such as Gore-tex.

If they need to have the DWR renewed to make them water resistant/proof, how are they that much different than, say, a nylon fabric that has been treated with Scotchguard or another water repellent?

I know it is supposed to be breathable, but it seems if you apply a treatment to the exterior it would be very much like treating a non-breathable fabric, and might render it "breathless"?

I was a little disappointed to learn that after I spent the money on a gore-tex type of garment (a used IR Competition drytop), that it still wasn't waterproof, and needs to be treated with something. And it really doesn't seem all that "breathable", even without having the DWR rejuvinated......

Might I just be forming a somewhat bias opinion based on only one experience?

Warning, science
The fabric system is waterproof without the DWR treatment. The water proofness happens at the membrane layer, not the outer fabric later.

The purpose of the DWR is to try and get the water on the outer surface to bead, or at least not thoroughly saturate the outer fabric.

This is done to improve breathabity. The transport of water vapor through a breathable fabric is driven by the difference in vapor pressure from the inside to the outside.

If the outer fabric layer is saturated with water, it has a higher vapor pressure than dry fabric, and the fabrics ability to breath is reduced.

Goretex depends on . . .
. . . a water repellant outer layer to work properly. You are renewing the water repellant properties of the outer layer.

Maybe it isn’t really …
…a gore tex type of material, as I get water through the sleeves and sholders after paddling a while…

I don’t remember seeing a tag stating it was actually Gore-tex. I do seem to remember another poster saying he was getting leaking w/a Gore-tex type material?

No offense, but
ya’ll need to really research waterproof breathable materials. Very complex and you will learn a lot. I sure did. Gore Tex aint the be all. Military did some extensive research and it’s available. Get on Google and have fun. E-vent is what I’d look for!

I got a cycling jacket
made with event,the design is part of how well it works but the fabric itself breaths very well. Better than any goretex jacket I had in the past.

IR uses Entrant
one of the many, many types of waterproof/breathable fabrics. The fabric itself should be waterproof, but you might be getting water through the seams. This can happen when a seam is slightly torn or the waterproof tape (used to cover the sewing holes) is damaged.

The big difference between waterproof/breathable (W/B) and coated nylon is the breathable part (both are/should be waterproof). When the outside of your jacket is dry it breathes - water vapor moves from the inside to the outside. When the outside gets damp it doesn’t breath as well. Coated Nylon NEVER breathes - you just pickle in your own sweat. I wore a coated nylon drysuit on a 10 day trip, as soon as I got home I bought a breathable drysuit.

There are things you can do to rejuvenate the W/B fabric itself. Applying a DWR doesn’t rejuvenate the actual W/B fabric, but it does help with vapor transmission.

You could call IR tell them you have a used jacket and see what they recommend.

FYI, it is very common for people to mistake the source condensed sweat on the inside of a jacket as a leak. I am not saying this happened in your case, but you might want to double check.

Also… W/B fabrics are more breathable than coated nylon, but not as breathable as cotton, or wool - its a compromise.

Differences are-

– Last Updated: Apr-03-09 9:20 AM EST –

GoreTex or equivalently high end alternatives often come with a great warranty, like Kokatat sending a new dry suit when my husband's turned out to have delamination. That warranty is from the makers of GoreTex itself. Some of the other manufacturers that have proprietary material equivalent to GoreTec have similar behaviors.

No one is going to back coated nylon like this.

As to breathing, anything GoreTex, or Entrant or the others like it, breathe better for me than coated nylon. I suspect they do for you as well, but if the underlayers don't wick well or you are just working very hard you are going to test any of them.

As above, the coating that makes water bead up is not the same as the water-proof aspect of a Goretex garment. The DWR coating will need to be renewed from time to time, not for waterproofing but because it makes the garment feel more comfortable. But a Goretex garment with a soaking wet fabric outer layer is still waterproof. I have two older Goretex garments that I stopped worrying about the DWR coating on a long time ago and they still keep me dry, just not as comfortably as the ones where the DWR layer is in good shape.

AS to your jacket - if I have this right it is the Competition top using their Entrant material. I am not making much sense of your experience. I have an older short-sleeved Session top from when they were still made with the Entrant material, and while it isn't a dry top that's not because of any failings of the Entrant material. The top lacks the double tunnel and there aren't neoprene gaskets, so this top isn't about staying dry if I roll or swim. But the material itself looks as fresh today as it looked out of the box several years ago and is still dry if I get caught int he rain or whatever.

I do think that my newer Goretex breathes a little better, but the newer Goretex breathes better than the older Goretex as well and there are foggy damp days in Maine in June when I prefer the less breathable stuff.

IR is a good company. IMO, if you have problem with one of their products, you should be contacting them before posting complaints on a public board.

A few weeks ago

– Last Updated: Apr-03-09 4:40 PM EST –

I bought a new Kokatat Paclite Goretex paddling jacket, and I have to say, it is incredibly breathable.

I have paddled with it 8 days now, typically about 7 miles each time, and I am like the guy in the H&R Block ad "I just don't seem to sweat any more".

I have worn a Pnet wicking shirt under it in 65 degree weather, a silk long sleeve shirt and a heavy weight polypropelene top under it in colder weather (in weather between 32 and 50 degrees out) and on one day where there was a moderate rain all day, and I have yet to be even slightly damp underneath at the end of my paddling.

I have a couple of older Kokatat TecTour jackets that always kept my dry, though I tended to sweat more under them. They no longer fit me so well which is why I bought the new jacket.

I have had some Outlast and EVent outerwear and been very happy with their performance as well. I would say they were at least as good and probably better than older GoreTex , but the new PacLite jacket has outperformed everything before it in my use.
It probably has everything to do with what I am wearing under it these days too though.

You’re incorrect about Gore-Tex
Gore-Tex is waterproof, regardless of the condition of the outer fabric. It’s the membrane laminated to the outer layer that’s waterproof and breathable. The worst case scenario is that if the outer layer is saturated with water, breathability is reduced, though not eliminated.

In addition to the Gore warranty…
…one key difference between garments made with Gore-Tex and other fabrics is that Gore requires sample garments to be submitted for testing in their lab. If the garment does not meet Gore’s tough standards, the manufacturer either has to fix it or make it with someone else’s fabric. Gore will not allow the marketing of any garment made with their fabric that doesn’t pass their standards. That’s part of the agreement that garment manufacturers sign with Gore. While this does increase the price of the products somewhat, it ensures consistent quality and performance among Gore-Tex garments, regardless of the manufacturer.

Before anyone asks, I don’t work for Gore or own stock in them, I’ve just had outstanding service from them and from their products. BTW, they also make the some of the best bicycle shift/brake cable systems available.

WB fabrics
One should also consider that any fabric that allows water vapor to pass also allows heat to do the same quickly and the texture of the fabric on the outside adds to heat loss. The ideal material would have the vapor barrier on the outside of the material, between the elements and the wearer.



– Last Updated: Apr-03-09 3:23 PM EST –

I also have this jacket and agree its breathability and clammyness feel are better than other 2 and 3 layer Gore-tex products I've owned. I don't think it is nearly as durable though so I baby it, not wearing on land along the trail.

In fact NRS was very kind to let me get this and swap a purchased NRS Seatour jacket with probably the worse of the WB proprietary treatments that I ever had. I would be drenched inside after paddling 20 minutes, from sweat.

That’s true about heat loss…
…but “non breathable dry suits” - an oxymoron if there ever was one - ARE vapor barriers and most people hate them. If you’re insulation gets drenched and you have moisture pulling heat away from your skin, you lose a lot more heat than you will through a W/B fabric. To be effective, a vapor barrier has to be BETWEEN your skin or underwear and your insulating layers, not on top of them. That’s the way they’re used in mountaineering and similar pursuits.