GORE-TEX has announced that they’re replacing the current GORE-TEX PRO with a new line of products starting in the Fall/Winter of 2020. Since it was introduced in 2007, having the “PRO” tag on a GORE-TEX garment has announced a rugged, top-of-the-line waterproof-breathable product. However, as there was only a single membrane available under the PRO umbrella a compromise between durability, breathability, waterproofness and so on was necessary. No longer! Instead of offering a single GORE-TEX PRO there will be three different membranes carrying the prestigious title: GORE-TEX PRO Most Rugged, GORE-TEX PRO Stretch & GORE-TEX PRO Most Breathable.
I was invited to a learn about these new technologies at a media retreat in Banff. In addition to technical presentations about the new products in the evenings we were provided with a jacket sporting the new GORE-TEX PRO Stretch and Most Breathable fabrics to review. A good friend, Raf, from The Alpine Start was also at the event and we took the opportunity to team up for some ice and mixed climbing to test out the new tech. It was a great few days and a fantastic opportunity to see where GORE-TEX is headed. A quick summary of each of the new technologies is provided below along with some personal thoughts.
As the name suggests, fabrics made with the “Most Rugged” tech are designed with a focus on toughness and durability and are touted to be measurably tougher than existing GORE-TEX PRO. The face textiles will range from 70 to 200D and include recycled and solution died options. The fabric is still quite breathable with an RET value of <9, though that’s a bit less breathable than current PRO fabrics which have RET values in the 6 range. The waterproof rating is fairly standard across all the technologies at 28k. So basically this new Most Rugged technology is less breathable but more durable than current offerings, ideal for high wear areas but definitely not something you want to build an entire jacket out of.
This amazing tech has allowed GORE-TEX to make a hardshell stretchy without compromising the durability you would expect from GORE-TEX PRO. The fabric can stretch between 12 & 20% and is slightly quieter than the other PRO technologies due to the sound dampening effect of stretch material. With a 40D face fabric it still meets the durability requirements of the PRO label and maintains the 28k waterproof rating. The trade-off is found in breathability. Pro Stretch is quite a bit less breathable that the current PRO product and even the new Most Rugged with an RET value of <13. A very cool tech that I’m really looking forward to finding in future shell jackets. Strategic placement of Stretch panels on a jacket or pants will allow a whole new level of movement.
The “new” GORE-TEX Pro Most Breathable technology is basically a renaming of the current PRO tech with a bit of finessing. It features the same membrane but GORE will be allowing the use of lighter , 30D facing fabrics. This will improve breathability while dropping the weight of the fabric down to a measly 108g/m2. Low enough for a sub-300g shell with a diligent design. The official RET rating is of course around >6 though some specific laminates are reputed to be as good as 3. As it’s a rebranding of the current membrane it’s still more than tough enough to feature the GORE-TEX PRO name. The waterproof rating holds steady at 28k.
Having three different membranes, each preferentially designed for a different attribute, will allow brands more opportunity to develop innovative new garments under the GORE-TEX PRO flag. In a jacket for example, the Stretch fabric could be used on the elbows and across the back, the Most Rugged fabric across the shoulders, cuffs and other high-wear areas while the Most Breathable fabric makes up the rest of the jacket. I’m excited to see what innovative brands like Mammut and Arc’teryx will do with these new technologies! One thing’s for sure, these new PRO-shells won’t be getting any less expensive.