How Does WeatherWool Fabric Compare to Gore-Tex®?
Really well. If we thought otherwise, we would not be doing this!
This page needs more work, but the essence is here now.
Gore-Tex claims to be windproof, waterproof and breathable ... really, that is what it is all about ... Gore-Tex does not make any claims about warmth, fire resistance, toughness, etc, as far as I am aware. (We have a separate page, Testing Outerwear, that discusses the many aspects of evaluating outerwear.)
Gore-Tex may well be windproof and waterproof ... those are easy ... add in breathable, tho ... and then you'd really have something! But so far, in the opinion of myself and many others, the combination of the three does not exist. That is, lots of people who have plenty of experience with Gore-Tex, including me, do not believe it breathes in any meaningful way. Perhaps Gore-Tex has changed since I last tested it, somewhere around 2010.
My experience with Gore-Tex was getting unduly sweaty on the inside. Outerwear made for active use absolutely must breathe, and sorry, any Gore-Tex I've ever worn does not breathe nearly to the extent that I need. And the sweat condensing inside the Gore-Tex can be a really big problem on a cold day.
Another problem with Gore-Tex ... the supposed breathability of Gore-Tex is created by the affinity of the outer layer for moisture, which ideally would pull vapor from inside the garment to the outside because the outer layer attracts moisture. So ... what happens if you are strolling around on a chilly, misty day. Or a day with light rain. Or a day when it has stopped raining and all the trees and bushes are drippy. The Gore-Tex outer layer is busy sucking up water that sits on the outside of the jacket, draining heat from the person wearer. Wool is far, far better behaved.
The key to understanding wool is to remember that Nature has astoundingly sophisticated tools and immense time and space with which to execute her designs. Plus, Nature's tests are relentless and remorseless. Wool is Nature's solution and we are very lucky in that wool works really well for us.
There is a LOT of material readily available on the web that is interesting. Wikipedia can be an extremely useful resource, and offers information on Gore-Tex and breathability The Gore-Tex page opens with the statement that Gore-Tex is waterproof and breathable. And the breathability page talks about various lab tests. But the test that counts is on your back in tough conditions ... and THAT is the test we want to take!
On the days when you truly need something completely waterproof and/or windproof, pure storm shells are easy to slip on, and easily packed.
Something else that is important to a lot of people, although not related to performance, is origin, environmental impact, sustainability. Gore-Tex is produced from petrochemicals. It has always seemed weird to me that so many Nature-lovers wrap themselves in plastic.
Gore-Tex is a registered trademark of W.L. Gore & Associates.
2 September 2021 --- Ralph