The WL Gore company – along with its outdoor apparel and Gore Bike Wear divisions – have long been faced with a challenge: how do you make a jacket using the legendary Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable membrane but dramatically reduce its weight? With the new One Gore-Tex Active jacket, the membrane isn’t just embedded into the shell; it is the shell.
Up until now, all Gore-Tex jackets used a multi-layer construction whereby the membrane was sandwiched in between a liner material and so-called ‘face’ fabric, providing comfort against the skin on one side and requisite durability on the other. However, doing so meant that the outer layer always had to be treated with spray-on water-repellant coatings – which inevitably wear out – and even then, the garments would gradually get heavier as the outer layer eventually absorbed water.
Unlike conventional Gore-Tex jackets where the waterproof/breathable membrane is sandwiched between other layers of fabric, the One Gore-Tex Active membrane is the shell
Even when dry, those layers add weight and bulk while contributing nothing to the membrane’s inherent waterproof and breathable characteristics.
With the new One Gore-Tex Active jacket, however, company engineers have figured out how to make the membrane sufficiently durable to act as the shell on its own. Company representatives wouldn’t disclose exactly how this was done (saying only that it requires a multi-layer membrane construction) but the results are pretty astonishing.
First off, effectively removing one-third of a jacket’s material makes the remainder extremely light. Claimed weight of the One Gore-Tex Active cycling jacket is a paltry 133g in a large size (even lightweight rain jackets usually weigh upward of 300g). That difference in weight isn’t something you’re likely to notice on a climb but the change in the material’s hand is undeniable.
The new One Gore-Tex Active cycling jacket is decidedly minimal but it also weighs next to nothing and packs down incredibly small
It feels eerily silky and ethereally thin – almost as if wearing nothing at all. Moreover, it packs down incredibly small, easily fitting into a jersey pocket with room to spare. And since the outer membrane is inherently water repellant, rain and road spray easily shake off with no additional coatings to wear out.
Nevertheless, Gore says the new jacket is also the most breathable it’s ever created by a fair margin – enough that cyclists supposedly will no longer have to flirt with the edge of being underdressed on cold, wet rides for fear of getting soaked from the inside out.
As impressive as the new jacket is, there are still limitations. So far, Gore is only able to make the material in a matte black finish, which limits its nighttime visibility despite an assortment of reflective appliques. In addition, even though the beefed-up membrane has been deemed durable enough for road cycling, it won’t hold up to repeated abrasion such as from pack straps, meaning mountain biking and even loaded touring are probably out of the question.
Unfortunately, Gore can only make the material in black at the moment, which greatly limits nighttime usability even with reflective elements added on
As you’d guess, the new jacket is quite expensive at $300 / £220 / AU$TBC, putting it at the very upper end for dedicated rain shells but as usual, being at the cutting edge doesn’t come cheap. Gore says the new jacket should be available in stores immediately and additional products using the technology will eventually follow.
We now have samples on two continents for long-term testing and with plenty of precipitation on the immediate horizon, we should have ample opportunity to see how this thing holds up. Stay tuned.
For more information, visit http://www.goreapparel.com.