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Let's Talk Fabrics (Probably Not the First Time)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm a little confused by the current state of waterproof/breathable shell fabrics and membranes.  There's tons of info on the web, but it's all over the map.  Gonna run through a few of them here and what I've found and hopefully some fabric expert can chime in and give us some streamlined info.

 

Gore Tex Pro (not to be confused with the Pro Shell it replaced):  Seems like a very good fabric choice for pants or bibs.  It apparently comes up short on breathability compared to the air-permeable membranes (eVent, Dry.Q Elite, Neoshell, etc.) though.  Since I need a very breathable jacket, so I'm leaning away from Gore for the jacket.  Which leads me to:

 

eVent/Dry.Q Elite:  These air permeables supposedly have better breathability than Gore and would seemingly be better options for a jacket.  However, the breathability comes from not having a PU coating on the membrane.  Gore traditionally used the PU to protect its ePTFE membrane.  So eVent/Dry.Q is in essence "unprotected" (at least by PU).  There used to be reports that eVent used to have problems with the membrane delaminating, possibly as a result of being "unprotected."  Is this still true?  If not, and these fabrics are just as durable as Gore Pro, what's the downside, even for use as fabric for the pants?  I can live with them being slightly less than 100% windproof, if that's the only downside.

 

Neoshell:  Would seem this might have similar problems to the eVent/Dry.Q as it also does not have the PU coating.  Also, I have read where its waterproof rating starts out at only 10,000.  Polartec says "waterproof is waterproof," but 10,000 is not enough for truly wet conditions. Definitely not for pants, and for me not even for a jacket.  I already have a nice Patagonia hybrid softshell that works great for all but the wettest days.  I want a waterproof that is always waterproof, not just Colorado or Utah waterproof.  Even worse, there is a some hard to find text in one of Polartec's documents that says the waterproofing gets reduced to only 5,000 after a number of washings.   Pfffft.  That doesn't cut if for me, even as a jacket.  One question:  Does eVent/Dry.Q also suffer from this type of deterioration in waterproofing after washing? 

 

Dermizax NX:  The waterproof/breathability rating (20,000/40,000) for this stuff sounds nuts, but there's hardly any info on it on the web.  Hard to trust waterproof/breathability ratings from the manufacturers anyway, so some more info would help.  There's some guy making hunting clothes out of it (http://blog.kuiu.com/2013/05/28/dermizax-nx-the-worlds-most-breathable-membrane/#sthash.QPIbUe5h.dpbs and http://blog.kuiu.com/2013/05/30/the-worlds-most-breathable-product-line/#sthash.hkHT4ILp.dpbs).  Bergans of Norway has it in a bunch of jackets.  Kjus and I think Killy use it or used to use it in a few pieces.  MEC has used it in at least one jacket I found.  Other than that there's just a lot of weird websites that mention it.  Most of them are from Europe, some needing Google translate.  What gives with this stuff?

post #2 of 22

I've tested all of those except Neoshell, so I can't comment on it personally.  FWIW, my wife also has a Gore jacket and a Dry.Q Elite jacket, and feels the same observations apply as to what I'll describe below:

 

Gore Tex Pro: Definitely not as breathable as the others (as you mention), but it's 100% windproof and very burly on my Arc'teryx jacket.  Somewhat stiff/crinkly feel to material.  If the temperature gets warm and/or I'll really be working up a sweat, then I need to unzip a bit to cool down. If I want to hunker inside my jacket when it's REALLY cold to keep the wind and chill out then I grab my Gore jacket.  If it's windy and storming out, I grab my Gore jacket.  

 

eVent / Dry.Q Elite: Essentially the same stuff, just proprietary (more or less) Dry.Q by Mountain Hardwear.  Both feel and work the same.  The material feels much softer than Gore Pro.  Not crinkly at all, feels more like a softshell (yes, I understand materials differ from the laminate, but ALL eVent/Dry.Q materials are soft).  Haven't had any delamination issues, but the jacket is definitely not as burly as my Gore jacket. It is definitely much more breathable than Gore, and I do feel a very slight bit of wind compared to my Gore jacket.  If I'm working up a sweat, this is the material I want to be in.  Rarely have to unzip the jacket to cool. If it's nice out, I grab my Dry.Q jacket.  If it's not terribly cold or windy out, I grab my Dry.Q jacket.

 

Dermizax: Nice stuff, very soft, not crinkly.  More like Dry.Q Elite in that sense.  Feels like "techy" somehow. It does, however, have a bit of "give" or stretch to the material, whereas Gore and Dry.Q do not stretch at all whatsoever.  Does make for a comfortable fit.  Kjus jacket was otherworldly construction, so that might have helped as well.  Sorta feels like a cross between Gore and Dry.Q to me, hard to describe.  Not entirely sure about permeability because I wasn't able to test it in many conditions, but it seemed fine.  My experience with it is more limited.  Doesn't seem at all popular in North American with manufacturers, as you say, it seems to be far more popular with European manufacturers.  Perhaps that's why a lack of info out there.  It could also have to do with the fact that (I think) it's more of a niche product which is used almost exclusively in very high-end apparel.  I suspect (my opinion only) that people who can afford to drop $1000+ on a jacket don't care about the tech as much as they do about the brand (ie-Kjus).  Which might contribute to the lack of solid reviews to be found.  I'm not sure, to be honest.

 

Neoshell: Want to try one.  Am very curious how it would perform, but it's not terribly common.  Unfortunately, I haven't found a Neoshell jacket that fits me properly, otherwise I might have seriously considered it.

 

 

Summary:

Gore - very durable, entirely windproof, moderately permeable, no stretch, very common amongst manufacturers, somewhat crinkly feel in material

 

eVent/Dry.Q Elite - moderately durable, mostly windproof, very permeable, no stretch, somewhat common, soft feel in material

 

Dermizax - durability unsure, mostly windproof (AFAICT), moderately/mostly permeable, stretchy, uncommon, soft feel in material

post #3 of 22

The key thing with waterproof breathable fabrics is to pick the one that's appropriate for the intended use. There isn't one that's the best for all situations. For example, a resort skiing jacket--you want a fabric which is going to stay on and zipped most of the way all day during heavy exertion. If you do get wet or cold you can go inside. So Goretex probably not the best solution. For touring OTOH it is reasonable to take a jacket off while climbing and put it on as necessary for skiing down or if the weather gets nasty. And you definitely want something weather proof--survival could depend on it. Same for hiking and climbing. Goretex is probably the best option there. For back country pants, which are not easy to get on and off maybe softshell is the best option, with Goretex in the pack if things get too wet for the softshell. Keep in mind that no matter how breathable a fabric is you can still get wet. I run in a thin nylon track singlet--about as breathable as you can get. In warm weather I still get wet. Heck back when I ran without a shirt I got wet--too old and flabby to do that now. Tech fabrics are good; they're not magic.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

GB, I came to similar conclusions.  Would like a little more info on the durability and "waterproofness" of eVent/Dry.Q.  If it delaminates or loses it's waterproofness over time, I wouldn't be interested.  Also interested in exactly what the Dermizax NX is, how it works etc.  Last, and this probably has more to do with the fabric the membrane is attached to, will it stand up to heavy, abusive wear (tree skiing).

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

OG, I've never really bought that line of thinking.  Some of the air-permeables could work for either resort or touring.  Right now I have GoreTex bibs and a Patagonia Cold Smoke softshell jacket.  I would wear the bibs anywhere any day and I do, resort or backcountry.  No problems with lack of breathability or waterproofness in any application.  The softshell also works great almost all the time.  It has waterproof fabric on the shoulders and elbows (H2NO), but softshell fabric everywhere else.  Breathes great.  I had to go this route because Gore Tex jackets didn't breath well enough for me, even on the downhill while alpine skiing.  I run hot and bumps or tree skiing will break a sweat.  I want to add a waterproof jacket option, but I don't want to lose too much breathability.  The air-permeables seemed like a good choice that would work either touring or at the resort.  I've ruled out Neoshell because I don't like the idea of 5,000 waterproof. But eVent/DryQ seems like it would work great for me in any application.  However, if it has the same wateproofing issue as neoshell, that's out too.  Or if it delams or isn't durable.  Other than that I'm left with the NX, which could be the best solution of all (and would work for both resort and touring), but nobody seems to know what it is or how to verify the crazy waterproof/breathable numbers.  If none of those work, I'd settle on Gore Pro because I'd still have the softshell for most days and would have the Gore Pro jacket for wet or backcountry days.

post #6 of 22

eVent, Neoshell and DryQ will not wear out.  They are bonded to the fabric and work at the molecular level ePTFE. Dermizaz is a PU material. it is very H2O-proof (20K) 

 

Neoshell works pretty much like eVent.   I have a FLYLOW Neoshell jacket. I think it is better for wind protection than eVent. I totally agree the eVent "feels" less windproof (which is more important to me than H2O-proof by far).  

 

However: unless you have a high quality DWR finish, and you don't wash your garments regularly (and dont use fabric softner) you are not going to get good results. (event is better here) 

 

COPIED FROM BLISTERGEAR OUTERWEAR 101  (click to read a lot of very good info)

 

 

GORE-TEX

The good: GORE-TEX spends millions of dollars in R&D every year. They make absolutely bomber products and don’t skimp on the technology. GORE-TEX guarantees every product made with their fabrics to be 100% waterproof for the life of the garment, and chances are good that you will never have to cash in on that guarantee because their products work really, really well. Gore works with some of the best manufacturers in the game, and currently has what many would consider a monopoly on the high-end, waterproof/breathable garment market. Their products work, simple as that.

The bad: GORE-TEX is really expensive. Because of their huge influence and their general lack of competition, they can charge extremely high prices for their fabrics. Also, because of the PU layer in their technologies, they do not breathe as well as their main competitor, eVent. GORE-TEX claims, however, that this difference in breathability is not noticeable to the consumer, and to corroborate that claim, GORE-TEX products often receive rave reviews for their breathability.

eVent

The good: The eVent membrane performs extremely well. It has the best breathability of any technology currently available (even if just barely) and has great waterproofing to match.

The bad: You’d think that, with a better technology than Gore, eVent would be a huge contender in the waterproof / breathable game. Unfortunately, there are many issues that keep eVent from posing a true threat to GORE-TEX fabrics, and the first is the cost: eVent is still extremely expensive.

But an even bigger issue lies in their production: historically, eVent has had trouble meeting production schedules from manufacturers, which is a large deterrent for business.

The third issue is a manufacturing one: GORE-TEX licenses companies to use their product, and it isn’t easy to get a license. If a licensed Gore manufacturer produces a piece using eVent, they can say goodbye to their Gore license, and companies can’t afford to lose their Gore licenses for a fabric with only a slight edge in breathability. Finally, eVent’s oleophobic coating can be fouled over time, causing leakage through the membrane. eVent garments have to be carefully and frequently washed to maintain their performance, unlike GORE-TEX products that are truly waterproof for the life of the garment.

PU, the Workhorse

The good: PU laminates are cheap to produce, are extremely durable, cannot be fouled, and are very common (i.e., there are a lot of styles to choose from). They can be manufactured to many different specifications, so they are found on all sorts of products ranging from price-point Walmart specials to the highest-end Patagonia pieces.

The bad: The performance just isn’t as good as the name brand membrane. Because you can only make a standalone, PU laminate so thin, it is the least breathable membrane of the bunch.


Edited by Finndog - 1/16/15 at 10:25am
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes I had seen the blistergear write ups. IIRC they mentioned the eVent delam issue somewhere. Maybe that's a thing of the past. Interesting that dermizax is PU. Wonder how they get 40000 breathability in the NX.
post #8 of 22

Nothing is really breathable enough. Good, durable, easy to use vents, zippers are key.

post #9 of 22
I recently started wearing a 3layer Patagonia gore tex shell. I find myself constantly unzipping my collar to let the heat out at the bottom of the run, and by time I'm half way up the lift, zip back up I also tend to open the pit zips on my liner too.

I view this as a trade off for the durability and DWR I'm getting. I also added longer pull tabs to the zippers so I could more easily work them with mittens on.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacklab21 View Post
 

OG, I've never really bought that line of thinking.  Some of the air-permeables could work for either resort or touring.  Right now I have GoreTex bibs and a Patagonia Cold Smoke softshell jacket.  I would wear the bibs anywhere any day and I do, resort or backcountry.  No problems with lack of breathability or waterproofness in any application.  The softshell also works great almost all the time.  It has waterproof fabric on the shoulders and elbows (H2NO), but softshell fabric everywhere else.  Breathes great.  I had to go this route because Gore Tex jackets didn't breath well enough for me, even on the downhill while alpine skiing.  I run hot and bumps or tree skiing will break a sweat.  I want to add a waterproof jacket option, but I don't want to lose too much breathability.  The air-permeables seemed like a good choice that would work either touring or at the resort.  I've ruled out Neoshell because I don't like the idea of 5,000 waterproof. But eVent/DryQ seems like it would work great for me in any application.  However, if it has the same wateproofing issue as neoshell, that's out too.  Or if it delams or isn't durable.  Other than that I'm left with the NX, which could be the best solution of all (and would work for both resort and touring), but nobody seems to know what it is or how to verify the crazy waterproof/breathable numbers.  If none of those work, I'd settle on Gore Pro because I'd still have the softshell for most days and would have the Gore Pro jacket for wet or backcountry days.

I wear Gore pants at the resort because I'm often sitting in the wet, if it's snowing it's collecting on my thighs on the lift, etc and because the lower body doesn't sweat as much. I have used softshell pants in the spring but they look too much like stretch pants. (at least they go over the boot cuffs, not tucked.) When I backpack I carry a Goretex Paclite jacket from Marmot which is only worn when it's raining hard or in camp when I'm not exerting, so breathability is not the issue. In resort I have a Marmot (I think) jacket with something called membrain which works well enough. I do have a heavier jacket for bad storm days--haven't had to wear it in a few years.:(

 

My points are that a) there isn't one best fabric for every use. You say this yourself when you mention that you use Gore bibs and a softshell jacket and b) given enough exertion no fabric breathes enough--like the man says, that's what zippers are for. 

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post
 

 

Gore - ..., no stretch, ...

 

I just bought a Gore-Tex Pro Stretch jacket, and it does stretch.  It's sure not lycra or anything, but it's noticeable.  I can wrap my arms around my torso, and the shoulders stretch enough that the sleeves don't pull up much.  Is Gore-Tex Pro Stretch different from Gore-Tex Pro, or is it the same thing?

 

Oh, it's not really crinkly at all, either.  It has a slight brushed fabric feel on the exterior.

Anyhoo, I've been happy with it so far.

post #12 of 22

I recently purchased a Mountain Hardware Compulsion L2 Jacket, with dry q elite and thermal q elite.  I cannot yet comment on durability, but I can say that at least on day 2, it is very waterproof, very breathable, and also warmer than most jackets I've tried.

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJQIV View Post
 

Nothing is really breathable enough. Good, durable, easy to use vents, zippers are key.


^ This is my theory, also. If I am working hard then nothing is breathable enough when all zipped up. I went with GoreTex 3-layer with a pretty heavy duty outer fabric for durability and protection when I need it. But both my jacket and pants have zippers in the right places for venting and I think that is the most important design element of an outer layer to enhance breathability. My pants have what the manufacturer calls "chimney venting" -- the internal gaiter has a mesh fabric at the top of the gaiter so that when I open the thigh zips the cool air can flow easily from the cuffs up over my legs and then out of the thigh vents.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacklab21 View Post

Yes I had seen the blistergear write ups. IIRC they mentioned the eVent delam issue somewhere. Maybe that's a thing of the past. Interesting that dermizax is PU. Wonder how they get 40000 breathability in the NX.

 

you need to re-read the article again! :D  Event cant delam and since there is no industry standard for breathability, they can claim whatever they want.  Dermizaz is pretty good stuff.

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJQIV View Post
 

Nothing is really breathable enough. Good, durable, easy to use vents, zippers are key.

 

 for full-on winter conditions, you really dont want a jacket/pants that breath too much (hence a lot us dont like eVent) as it lets too much heat dissipate with moisture and in high winds, it feels like more wind permeates than gore.  I have found the neoshell to be very good as wel as gore-pro; I also think the Arc' softshell gore is about optimal.  That said.,I ski in mostly Flylow stuff and love it.  

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
 

 

 for full-on winter conditions, you really dont want a jacket/pants that breath too much (hence a lot us dont like eVent) as it lets too much heat dissipate with moisture and in high winds, it feels like more wind permeates than gore.  I have found the neoshell to be very good as wel as gore-pro; I also think the Arc' softshell gore is about optimal.  That said.,I ski in mostly Flylow stuff and love it.  


Yes, for myself and family, I've mostly stuck to proven to me, Goretex for wind, rain, and snow. I've also had success with some 20k jackets with unnamed material. The pants and jackets must have good, easy to use zippers to regulate ventilation for heat dissipation. If you over heat and start sweating profusely its to late.  Even with a good wicking base, you are going to feel clammy. If you can not operate the zips with gloves/mits while you are sitting on the chair, you will eventually bake or freeze.

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TallSkinnyGuy View Post
 
But both my jacket and pants have zippers in the right places for venting and I think that is the most important design element of an outer layer to enhance breathability. 

 

Agree.

The Outdoor Research jacket I just got has pit zips that are diagonal instead of vertical.  Instead of being entirely underarm, they run from the side of your torso to your upper side chest just below the collar bone.  It was turned into a selling point for me, as I suspected it would work well.

 

Boy, has it ever!  If I get too heated, I just pull each zip down 1/3 to 1/2 the way, and it's like a super-charged air-conditioner immediately started running.  The cool-down is instantaneous!  In fact, it's not long before I usually have to zip up again.  Plus, the zips on the upper chest are far easier to get to and pull with gloves on than underarm zips.

 

They work so well in every way that I can't believe all other jacket manufacturers that include zip-up venting haven't adopted the same configuration.

Anyway, this is it (I got the red...to match my fiery sexiness!).

 

http://www.summithut.com/white-room-jacket.html?rc=googlebase&gclid=Cj0KEQiAreilBRDzrNfb6uqX4fwBEiQAk-MRYy9PiSjHChW8k6Bzragiyzpw0r6OHe3rOf4Wg0GH6TEaAmvi8P8HAQ

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skierish View Post
 

The Outdoor Research jacket I just got has pit zips that are diagonal instead of vertical.  Instead of being entirely underarm, they run from the side of your torso to your upper side chest just below the collar bone.  It was turned into a selling point for me, as I suspected it would work well.

 

 

I think a good take-home point from your post is that you're not buying a membrane, you're buying a jacket. If you can't find an eVent jacket (for example) with the fit/features/style you're after, then the membrane does you no good.

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kauffee View Post
 

I think a good take-home point from your post is that you're not buying a membrane, you're buying a jacket. 

 

Um, not necessarily.  Some posters have mentioned that one membrane either actually is or seems to be more waterproof or windproof than another when zipped up, and that has to be weighed if you live and ski in a wetter environment like I do.

 

I'm not an expert by any means whatsoever, and I've never tried e-vent ski clothing, so I can't comment on it.  I do know my Gore stuff keeps me nice and dry during our "wet" snowstorms or when getting doused on our slow fixed grip chair.  As far as durability, I have an 8-9 year old Gore rain jacket that has seen plenty of use, and it's still going strong.  Both fend off wind well enough for me.  The rain jacket doesn't have vents, tho, and can get a bit clammy if it's at all warm out.  For those days, I have a newer and far lighter Dry-Q MH rain jacket, which seems better when it's warmer.

 

I guess if you like the waterproof, windproof characteristics of whatever membrane, and the jacket has sufficient venting options, I'd recommend going with that for skiing, tho. 

post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skierish View Post
 

 

Um, not necessarily.  Some posters have mentioned that one membrane either actually is or seems to be more waterproof or windproof than another when zipped up, and that has to be weighed if you live and ski in a wetter environment like I do.

 

Right, but you're still buying the jacket. It still has to fit, it has to have enough pockets for you, etc etc. You mentioned the smart design of the pit zips. That may mitigate some of the breathability downside of a membrane like Gore Pro. I'm just saying, look at the product as a whole in addition to the membrane. 

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kauffee View Post
 

 

Right, but you're still buying the jacket. It still has to fit, it has to have enough pockets for you, etc etc. You mentioned the smart design of the pit zips. That may mitigate some of the breathability downside of a membrane like Gore Pro. I'm just saying, look at the product as a whole in addition to the membrane. 


Definitely important. I owned DryQ and thought "it" was great, but couldn't stand the fit of the Mountain Hardwear jacket. I also had a Neoshell jacket that breathed great even without any pit zips, but not enough pockets and too small of a hood forced me to sell it too.  Back in a Goretex Pro now that hits all the check marks. But I have to really unzip before it's too late, or you just can't catch up and end up soaked from the inside out.

 

I think the Flylow Neoshell jacket would have worked for me, but it was unavailable when I was shopping last time around.

post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kauffee View Post
 
I'm just saying, look at the product as a whole in addition to the membrane. 

 

Ah, I guess I thought you were saying not to worry about waterproof properties as much as the totality of other features.  If so, I sorta agree.  I would look at waterproof effectiveness first, venting second, and other features from there.  I knew I wanted 3L Gore and started with that.  I then looked at venting options.  After that, it was fit, features, prettiness, etc....

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