Gore-Tex is a breathable membrane that is simultaneously water repellant but also moves moisture (sweat) away from the body. It prevents water from getting in, but allows water vapor to escape, keeping the wearer dry in wet conditions.
Gore-Tex is actually 50 year-old technology, invented by Bob Gore in 1969 when he stretched a rod of polytetrafluoroethylene (better known as PTFE or Teflon). The resulting textile had microscopic holes in it, creating the technology that modern Gore-Tex is based on. This material has empowered adventures in all kinds of conditions for decades.
How Is It Made?
When PTFE (Teflon) is stretched, it creates a breathable membrane of microscopic pores (9 billion pores per square inch!). This textile membrane is typically sandwiched between an inner and outer layer of material creating a robust waterproof barrier - ideal for all kinds of harsh weather conditions. Rain or shine, you can explore in Gore-Tex.
How Does It Work?
A harsh weather material needs to fit two key criteria:
Not surprisingly, it needs to be waterproof, preventing water from getting in.
It simultaneously allows moisture (sweat) to escape.
Rain falls from the sky in liquid droplets, with each droplet containing thousands of water molecules. The water droplets are too big to permeate the tiny pores in Gore-Tex, effectively making Gore-Tex waterproof.
Sweat on the other hand, is actually a gas. When your body sweats, it emits a water vapor, and these vapor molecules are small enough to fit through Gore-Tex’s microscopic pores. This is why Gore-Tex provides specific advantages over less expensive materials like rubber - rubber is waterproof, but doesn’t allow moisture to escape, creating a bit of a sticky situation!
Gore-Tex is not technically a moisture wicking material. Whereas Gore-Tex is a unidirectional material that allows moisture to move from the inside out, moisture wicking materials are essentially bidirectional, and can move moisture from the outside in, making them ineffective in the rain or snow. At Samuel Hubbard, we can think of plenty of adventures when you’ll want to be prepared for rain or snow. Shoes with Gore-Tex can take you there without missing a step.
Why Use It For Shoes?
Gore-Tex is the perfect material for waterproof shoes, which are not only subjected to rain and snow, but also puddles and snow piles. Whereas shirts and pants have multiple openings that allow moisture to escape, shoes are enclosed on almost all sides, so it’s critical that the waterproof material can still breath.
Is Gore-Tex worth it? There are less expensive alternatives to Gore-Tex, like rubber, but rubber has no breathability and leads to cold sweaty feet. Rubber shoes and boots are ok for casual use, but for adventurers who find themselves in wet conditions on a regular basis, it’s not ideal. Invest in your journey.
Caring For Gore-Tex
The good news is Gore-Tex shoes and boots are super easy to clean. Use a brush to remove loose dirt or debris from the outside, especially if it’s caked on. Then use a wet cloth to remove finer dirt or dust, and let the shoes air dry. With Gore-Tex footwear, avoid conditioners, polishes or water repellent treatments, which will affect the breathability of the Gore-Tex membrane.
Shop Gore-Tex Shoes & Boots
Shop Samuel Hubbard’s collection of Gore-Tex shoes and boots. Waterproof on the outside, super comfortable on the inside. Adventure on every side.