Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gore-Tex and Down Hype?

I couldn't help but comment about your endorsement of the North Face "waterproof, breathable" fabric. GoreTex started this craze sometime in the 1980s, but it really is an impossibility.
I know that sounds like a nut talking, because GoreTex has been all the rage forever, but if you really look into it, you find that there is really no such thing as a breathable, waterproof fabric.
See: http://www.wiggys.com/wiggys-blog/
Jerry Wigutow has been making and selling outdoor garments to hunters, hikers, the military and law enforcement for over thirty years, and has written extensively on the subject, as well as "bogus" insulations put out by major outdoor gear firms.
It's worth a look and maybe some study. You might not agree, but at least the information is there to see.
Hi Jerry,
Can’t say I agree with you, at least not 100%.
I will go as far as saying that the properties of most of these “breathable” materials is often exaggerated. I have gotten wet on the inside due to sweat when using them. Basically there’s two reasons for this. First, its not just about the breathable layer, its about what else you combine it with. Second, and this is the main reason, In theory the holes in the breathable membrane are big enough for water vapour to go through but too small for liquid water to do so. This sounds physically correct but there’s a technical limit to how much water can go one way without compromising the penetration in the other direction.
In my experience with Goretex, (and the Hi-tec and The North Face counterparts) I clearly experience less condensation with them than with sailing gear and other typical waterproof PVC coated rain gear that isn’t advertised as breathable. That much I am sure of. Again, it sure has its limits. With more intense physical activity I start to open up and ventilate more because none of the breathable waterproof fabrics seem to be able to keep up. The author of the article you link to also claims that synthetic filament fiberfill is “far superior to down!!”. I’d say its tougher but dawn is still definitely warmer and more compact. Some of the best sleeping bags and jackets use it for a reason and again I at least notice the same difference that many field experts learned to appreciate. Is it more delicate? Is it better to have wet synthetic than wet down? Sure, but for compact and warmth ratio you cant beat down. Is it nature’s best insulation? Sure it is… as long as its stuck to a live bird under its living feathers. In a jacket or sleeping back its pretty great too as long as you understand its pro and cons but for survival and military use I'd rather use synthetic, simply because it works better in more extreme, unfortunate situations (wet bag).
A bit of further research shows that the author (Mr Wigutow / Wiggy’s) has been brought to court before for his statements (defamation), ended up settling and issuing retracts and apologizes. Some other articles by Wiggy are pretty good, about footwear being the most important article of clothing, I say amen to that!
If there’s a lesson here that wold be that while some gear may work as claimed, advertising can be pretty misleading sometimes. The same goes for some articles online, even those posted by people from reputable companies. The best thing to do is to do our homework before spending our hard earned money.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am old enough to remember when our choices were completely waterproof materials( think walking sauna) and "60/40 cloth, a cotton/poly blend sold as "water repellent". That was wildly optimistic.
Goretex and it's cousins, while way over hyped and overpriced are, to me a significant improvement over the old days. I do live in an especially tough neighborhood, the Pacific Northwest. I'm told it's pretty similar to Ireland.
Given that all of these fabrics need to be laundered occasionally due to our body oils that will plug up the micropores, it is amazing to me that so many boot/shoe manufacturers continue to incorporate this stuff into their products. For me they quickly turn into mini saunas.