What is Gore-Tex and is it any good?

5 Minute Read

Great Britain is certainly no stranger to rain, wind, and Mother Nature’s elements. It hits us out of nowhere, no matter the time of year. Even forecasts of dry weather can eventually turn to torrential rain.

Then, a gift that seemingly fell from the heavens arrived back in 1978. A revolutionary new tool to help us combat extreme weather. Gore-Tex Workwear.

It’s well-known now that Gore-Tex helps us stay dry, warm, and safe in severe weather, but what exactly is Gore-Tex? Is it a gift from the Gods? Is it magic? Is it a treatment? Is it a fabric? Well, let’s discuss what Gore-Tex really is and why we (and many others) see it as an essential part of the PPE arsenal.

What is Gore-Tex?

Put simply, Gore-Tex is a membrane. It stops liquids but allows vapour to pass through. This means that whilst it can keep you dry, it is breathable, so the water vapour you make whilst sweating will pass through as well.

The Gore-Tex membrane is made from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene fiber also known as ePTFE or Teflon. This material gives Gore-Tex products their reputation for being:

  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof

Because it holds the above properties so well, it quickly became a fan favourite for outdoor enthusiasts and many other applications where durable, nature-proof garms are needed, such as PPE Clothing and workwear.

Who created Gore-Tex?

The discovery of Gore-Tex was actually an accidental one. Back in 1969, Robert Gore violently stretched a heated rod of polytetrafluoroethylene in frustration while conducting experiments with the material. In doing so, he discovered a new form of this polymer, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, or ePTFE for short.

After a few years of obtaining the necessary patents for his newly discovered technology, the Gore-Tex brand was born in 1978. It has been widely used since the brand’s inception and continues to be one of the leading solutions for nature-proofing outdoor clothing.

How does Gore-Tex work?

We mentioned that Gore-Tex was a membrane that was breathable and waterproof, but how does this work exactly?

Creating a fabric that can block rain is relatively simple, but if you also want that fabric to be breathable and allow sweat to escape, that’s a more difficult task.

If you take a very close look at the membrane Gore-Tex uses, you will see microscopic pores, millions of them. These pores are incomprehensibly small, around 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water. But these pores are around 700 times bigger than a molecule of moisture vapour.

This isn’t all it takes, Gore-Tex has another feature. The laminate. This is when the membrane is bonded with the main body fabric of the garment, usually a synthetic fabric like nylon, but other fabrics are used too. This allows for a variety of different combinations for different scenarios and situations the material can be used in, including in PPE designed for outdoor use in adverse weather.

What is Gore-Tex used in?

When thinking of a Gore-Tex garment, you’re probably thinking of jackets and… well, probably just jackets, but the material is used in a variety of different things. Simply put, if you can use it outdoors, there’s likely a version with Gore-Tex in it. Think gloves, jackets, and trousers. It can even be used for accessories like socks, hats, and bags.

There are even a few unconventional applications for Gore-Tex, such as vascular grafts, sealing batteries, PPE, and even space suits. The sky certainly isn’t the limit when it comes to the versatility of this material.

Gore-Tex in PPE

PPE is used in countless industries, and many of those involve extensive work outdoors, whether working in rail, transport & logistics, construction, or many other industries, you will regularly face the brutality of England’s weather.

Gore-Tex is vital in these circumstances to keep workers protected from the elements and ensure they can continue working. Some additional benefits of Gore-Tex garments offer more protection against the elements:

  • Electrical Arc Flash: Exposure to electrical arc flashes can cause serious or even lethal injuries, specialised materials protect against this.
  • Heat & Flames: Professionals require reliable gear that protects against heat transfer to the skin and exterior exposure to flame.

Alongside the already discussed protection against wet and cold weather, workers are equipped to handle everything mother nature can throw at them.

Our verdict on Gore-Tex

Now that we’ve spoken at length about what Gore-Tex is, where it is used, how it was made and how useful it is, you probably already know what our verdict for Gore-Tex will be. As a protective technology, we rate it very highly, the garments we offer with Gore-Tex technology have proven effectiveness from not just the Great British weather, but also other elements that can pose as a hazard to the safety of workers.

If you or your team frequently work outdoors facing harsh elements, contact us to discuss how Gore-Tex PPE can help protect your team without sacrificing comfort.