Gore-Tex was the first waterproof-breathable fabric but now has stiff competition.
All “waterproof-breathable” garments allow perspiration to escape but prevent liquid water, with its larger molecules, from permeating the fabric. Even though Gore-Tex was the first fabric of this kind and has dominated the market since it was invented in the 1970s, as of 2010, other fabrics are creating stiff competition and heated debate among consumers about which do the best job.
Gore-Tex consists of a polytetraflourethylene (PTFE) membrane (the same chemical as Teflon), laminated to a face fabric, usually nylon or polyester. Over the years, “classic” Gore-Tex has undergone refinements and improvements to increase the fabric’s breathability and durability.
The manufacturers of eVent fabrics claim that sweat doesn’t evaporate quickly enough through Gore-Tex and other materials with PTFE or polyurethane membranes, allowing dampness to collect on the inside of garments before being pushed out by body heat. The company attributes its “direct venting technology” and patented surface coatings to the development of lighter fabrics that eliminate this problem.
The newest of a group of waterproof-breathable fabrics developed by Marmot as of 2010, MemBrain Strata incorporates both membranes and patterned surface coatings in its 2.5-layer design. The company claims that this fabric eliminates the need for linings, combining superior breathability with the lightest-ever weight.