GORE Labs2Woods Blogger Summit Day 2

We were up early, ate a quick breakfast and checked out of the hotel by 7am. We were then shuttled to the GORE facilities in Elkton, Maryland. This is the actual testing and production plant so we were not allowed to take photos. As this is where the process of how Expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) is made into different laminates.

One of the key “take-a-way” from the GORE Labs2Woods Blogger Summit was learning about the science of ePTFE and the making of garments waterproof and breathable. This science applied to all forms of outerwear. That makes this information is very useful for any outdoor consumer, to assist in making correct garment purchases.

Get out your pocket protectors and prepare for Geekdom!

So, what exactly makes a jacket waterproof and breathable? In order to understand why a garment is or isn’t working for you, you need to understand what is going on with your body and garment.

Two of the primary values in obtaining this outcome are “warm” and “dry”. If you are more comfortable in the field, you will not only be able to stay in the field longer but, it will improve your performance and maximize your mental sharpness while in the field. So, how do we achieve this comfort level of warm and dry?

The body can only produce heat, so it can only increase or lose heat,  not gain or lose “cold”! The two forms of this that you may be familiar with are:

Hyperthermia: this happens when your core temperature cannot handle too much heat.
Hypothermia: this happens when your core temperature has lost too much heat.

So in essence we need to maintain the micro-climate next to the body by balancing the heat that the body produces and the heat the body looses.

Your body transfers heat in 5 ways:
Evaporation*- Heat transfer caused by perspiration vapor leaving the body
Conduction*- Heat transfer caused by direct contact
Convection*- Heat transfer caused by the movement of air.
*These 3 are best controlled breathable, waterproof, windproof garments

Breathable – Allows the transfer of moisture vapor from the skin.
To manage evaporative heat loss.

MARK demonstrates breathability with a wet hand in a GORE-Tex glove in a bucket of ice water.

We had a bucket filled with ice and water. I put my hand into the ice water, then put my cold wet hand into a GORE-TEX membrane glove and then submerged it into the bucket with the ice water. After 30 seconds of moving the hand around inside the bucket, I removed my hand from inside the glove and now my hand was dry! Mind Blowing to say the least!

Waterproof – Protects insulation and inner layers from outside moisture.
To manage wet conductive heat loss.

Remember wet transfers heat up to 23 times faster than dryness, which is further increased by wind! (Hint: this generally is not good!)

As some of you may or may not know, GORE-TEX is actually a membrane that is integrated into products between the outer materials and a lining, not an actual garment. There are different GORE-TEX membranes that are used for a specified end use. All GORE-TEX laminates are waterproof to a minimum of 40 psi! All GORE-TEX fabrics are 100% windproof, yet breathable. GORE membranes exist in many high-end products from companies like Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx, Burton, Salomon and Sitka Gear to name a few. GORE-TEX laminates are unaffected by detergents, bleach, dry cleaning chemicals, mold, mildew, salt water, or ultraviolet light and even resistant to DEET.

Some of you may be reading this and say, “well I have a GORE-TEX jacket and I still get wet!” Not to be defensive, but we need to verify that the garment does say GORE-TEX, just because the garment claims to be waterproof it doesn’t mean i’s GORE-TEX. It’s like one of favorite sayings”My Jeep is an SUV, but your SUV is not a Jeep!” Once you have verified that the garment is GORE-TEX, there could be several contributing factors causing the “wetness”, such as climate conditions, how you are layering the garments, if the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) has broken down or the wrong fitness for use.

Windproof  Protects against wind chill.
To manage convective heat loss.

On to the next well known product from GORE, the WINDSTOPPER Membrane. It is similar to GORE-TEX as it is designed to:

Stop the wind
Provide exceptional breathability
Provide excellent water resistance
Be extremely durable
Be very quiet

With WINDSTOPPER no wind can penetrate the fabric up to nearly 50 mph and there is no convective heat-loss or windchill, thus protecting the microclimate around your body. It is as breathable as a fleece plus, prevents overheating and avoids conductive heat loss due to perspiration build-up. While not totally waterproof it does prevent light rain or snow from soaking through the fabric. It will still remain windproof even after a 1000 home laundry cycles.

WOAAA!!! Did I just say laundry cycles?! YES, I DID! GORE recommends that you wash and dry your GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER garments. While there are no structured timeframes that you should wash and dry your gear, you must monitor the performance of the gear. A good guideline is if the water is no longer beading up and running of your garments in the rain, then it is time for a wash and dry. There is not much to this process, just machine wash and rinse with warm water, then tumble dry on medium heat until completely dry to maintain the water repellency. You can find out more by visiting http://www.gore-tex.com/care/

We then took a tour of the textile facility where we saw the GORE-TEX Snowboarding clothing that the US Snowboarding Team wore in the last Winter Olympics.

Snowboard Gear worn by U.S. Olympic Team

We were able to peak in, but not able to experience the Comfort Room. This is a small testing room that has a computer, treadmill, and some other dexterity tests with a fan that can cool down to 15 degrees with human subjects in the room.
The GORE Comfort Lab

Comfort Chamber at WL Gore Associates with Mark Seacat from Judge Simpson on Vimeo.

Off to the Rain Room! After putting on the lovely blue and yellow rain gear, we were then we allowed to enter the Rain Room! This is where the GORE engineers can simulate extreme rain conditions such as 6” of rain an hour (which we tested for 20+ minutes) and up to 24” of rain an hour including sideways rain, which the Sitka Gear Stormfront garments are tested!

Some of us started to feel wet and clammy on one shoulder inside our rain jackets. We then found out that we were in fact completely dry and this sensation was due to the deteriorated DWR (done on purpose).  When the DWR has deteriorated and the outer fabric gets wet , this rests against your body. Your body then interprets this as cold and pressure as moisture, even though you’re dry.

Katie listens to instruction before entering the Rain RoomSurviving the Rain Room: 6" of Rain in 1 Hr

Surviving the Rain Room: 6" of Rain in 1 Hr

Rain Room at WL Gore Associates with Mark Seacat from Judge Simpson on Vimeo.

Lynn discussing the assembly of gloves  Mark examining the GORE-TEX glove membrane


Assorted GORE-TEX gloves


Then we got to see that the “Booty Tester” was more than just a Rocket Scientist, but an actual machine to test the GORE-TEX booties that are in footwear for the smallest leaks. If a leak is found, it goes back for repair, if it fails again it is tossed in recycling!

Bootie Tester Machine

Then, onto further testing of the breathability of GORE-TEX shoes. GORE has machines to simulate the motion of walking while the shoe was nearly completely submerged.

I know that was a lot of information to take in, but I felt that I should share the highpoints with all of you to help you better understand GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER.

Remember, GORE garments are built for function not fashion!

We then had a working Q&A lunch, and then it was time to pack our gear in the trucks and head south for some field testing of some GORE-TEX, WINDSTOPPER and OPTIFADE FOREST Concealment garments. We arrived just in time at the Quaker Neck Gun Club to drop our gear on the porch, put on our Sitka Gear in the OPTIFADE FOREST Concealment pattern, Danner Pronghorn boots and shot a few arrows to verify our bows were still dialed in. Then, I packed my bow into my Mystery Ranch Crew Cab, powered on my SPOT and headed to the stands for an evening hunt.

Quaker Neck Gun Club provides some of the best hunting in Maryland with 2500 acres of private family owned land. The land has been professionally managed for over 35 years. They provide guided hunts for Canada goose, ducks, whitetail deer, morning dove, rabbit, turkey and lodging is available.

Quaker Neck Gun Club

Buck inside the bunkhouse

While it was not cold or very windy, I was in a swampy area that was very humid and a slight breeze of 3-5mph with temps in the high 40s at dark. However, I was given the opportunity to test the waterproofness of my Danner Pronghorn boots as I had to walk through 6 inch deep water for 40 yards to my stand and back through it to exit the stand. My feet were bone dry!  I was completely comfortable during my time on stand for the evening. Although my hunting partner Larry Beckett and I didn’t get a shot, we did see some deer. Tracy Breen on the other hand, shot a nice buck at 5 yards, from the ground and not in a blind. It’s just a shame the buck had some busted tines, again congrats on the deer Tracy!

We finished up the evening with a nice dinner and more telling of stories and sharing of information between the GORE Associates and the outdoor writers.

Steak Dinner!

Sharing stories of the day's hunt and prior hunts


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