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Why isn't Windstopper more breathable?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Long time reader, first time poster.

My question is, why doesn't Windstopper breathe better?

Most "soft shell" jackets in the U.S. (i.e. WB-400, Powershield, and the like) use either a PU coating or membrane with expanded holes that allow air to pass through while staying fairly waterproof/windproof. Because the holes are large enough to allow a slight amount of breathing, they aren't completely windproof or waterproof. My experience with these jackets is that they fall somewhere between pure single layer material (i.e. Schoeller Dryskin) and monolithic PU (i.e. Gore).

Enter Windstopper. From everything I've read, this is your 1st generation Gore-Tex. It's a PTFE--essentially porous teflon--membrane. The surface energy repels water, while small holes let water vapor escape. So, like 1st gen Gore, Windstopper should breathe like simple PTFE, and have the same downfall as 1st gen gore: dirt, sweat and oil contaminate the PTFE surface energy and it no longer repels water after a period of time. This is why, I assume, Gore does not call Windstopper waterproof (in addition to manufacturing specs). I BELIEVE 1st gen gore did NOT have a PU coating on the teflon.

So why doesn't Windstopper breath better? From all the tests I've seen, PTFE is THE MOST BREATHABLE material WITHOUT the PU coating: http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/...athability.pdf even rivaling Schoeller Dryskin (in non-wind situations). Except, from personal experience and from what other people have wrote, if you're doing anything athletic, Windstopper won't breathe well at all.

My only thought is that Windstopper must have some PU coating on it, most like microporous. But everything I've read says that Windstopper is 1st gen Gore, no PU coating/laminate/membrane (whatever you want to call it, they're all the same). Perhaps it has some ultra thin PU membrane. I'm hoping someone here knows

Thanks for any help!
post #2 of 16
I can't comment on other brands but my Marmot Sharp Point with Gores Windstopper is very breathable and super warm. My understanding is that soft shells are supposed to be more breathable than a hard shell. I would also assume that not all soft shells are created equal.
post #3 of 16
I also have a sharp point jacket. It has pitzips so that should tell you something about the inherent breath ability of the fabric. I find its breath ability about that of an XCR jacket. Maybe slightly better. I think other soft shells are more breathable. My REI soft shell doesn't have zips and still breath better than my sharppoint witht he zips open.

IMO the sharp point is more of an inbounds ski jacket as opposed to a soft shell for aerobic activities like BC or XC skiing.
post #4 of 16
I thought Goretex has always used PU to bond the PTFE to the nylon. PTFE doesn't stick to nylon, they need to glue the porous membrane to the fabric, and the glue (PU) renders the PTFE useless. The breathability is limited by the PU used to bond the layers. Goretex would work just as well if they left out the waterprioof/breathable layer. Goretex is a gimmick.

Goretex would be a lot more waterproof if they put the PU on the outside. The worst problem with using Goretex as raingear is that the outside of the material does not repel water unless you spray something on it, and that is a very temporary fix. Yeah, put the waterproof stuff on the outside! Duh.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete2s View Post
Long time reader, first time poster.
What a great first post -- welcome here. Wish I had an answer for you, but I'm no engineer. I presume that one of Epic's many eggheads will address your question soon. ... :
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderhound24 View Post
I can't comment on other brands but my Marmot Sharp Point with Gores Windstopper is very breathable and super warm. My understanding is that soft shells are supposed to be more breathable than a hard shell. I would also assume that not all soft shells are created equal.
How did you determine that your jacket is "very breathable"?
post #7 of 16
in my experience, every single claim made about the benefits of every single "technical" fabric out there is complete bollocks. my gore-tex jacket is not significantly more comfortable than a cheap plastic raincoat at any temperature. my gore-tex xcr ski pants seem about as breathable as my pu coated fishing waders. bottom line is that gore-tex and other membranes completely cut off airflow and no amount of diffusion through the membrane is going to make up for that fact, and i don't think the windstopper is much different in that regard. gore-tex does seem to be pretty durable though.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
How did you determine that your jacket is "very breathable"?
Multiple top to bottom runs at JHMR on a sunny 30deg day and hiking for turns in Utah..I am a big sweater and this has always kept me comfortable and dry. I cant say the same of other jackets I have had.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by epl View Post
in my experience, every single claim made about the benefits of every single "technical" fabric out there is complete bollocks. my gore-tex jacket is not significantly more comfortable than a cheap plastic raincoat at any temperature. my gore-tex xcr ski pants seem about as breathable as my pu coated fishing waders. bottom line is that gore-tex and other membranes completely cut off airflow and no amount of diffusion through the membrane is going to make up for that fact, and i don't think the windstopper is much different in that regard. gore-tex does seem to be pretty durable though.
I actually agree with you 57% -- sorry, I mean 58%. Exactly.

Easy permanent test: put a Gore Tex bag over your head. If you don't suffocate, it's breathable. If you do, you won't need to worry about it.
post #10 of 16
The term "Waterproof Breathable" should be granted similar credibility as "All Mountain Ski" A garment with a high enough WP capability to be thought of in the context of raingear will not be very breathable.

And vice reversa.


SJ
post #11 of 16
Yeah, Windstopper is BS, it isn't any more breathable then Goretex. If you want a proper softshell get something without any membranes, like Buffalo.

What's currently sold as softshell is mainly marketing crap anyhow, and not following the softshell idea at all. A decent softshell is worn without first layer, will warm you even when wet and will hold up wind decently but not rain.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trotski View Post
I actually agree with you 57% -- sorry, I mean 58%. Exactly.

Easy permanent test: put a Gore Tex bag over your head. If you don't suffocate, it's breathable. If you do, you won't need to worry about it.
LMAO
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by extremecarver View Post
Yeah, Windstopper is BS, it isn't any more breathable then Goretex.
I've been operating under the assumption that Windstopper was the same thing without stuff like sealed seams, and DWR. No, it doesn't breathe much, but it keeps you WARM. My favorite garments are my Windstopper N2S Goretex base layer. Warm, light, very nice! My experience is that in cold rain, wearing two layers of Goretex (base layer and outer layer) prevents a lot of the condensation that can happen on the inner surface of waterproof/breathables, very much like a double lens goggle prevents fogging. It's a secret weapon for cold rain that keeps me smiling while my colleagues drop like flies. Pssst, don't tell anyone!
post #14 of 16
Yeah but for that condition a proper softshell without membrane would be even better, as it has much more breathability.

Read about the concept here: http://www.softshells.co.uk/what-are-softshells/

Some companies following that principle are Buffalo, Montane (those first two only do such clothes and no hardshells at all) Montbell, Patagonia or Marmot
post #15 of 16
I'll give up my N2S when you strip it off my cold dead body.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
After much testing and research, the answer is solid state diffusion: while Windstopper may be "breathable" because water vapor can escape through small holes, you have to wait for the water to evaporate to pass through the membrane at any decent pace. The water droplets, however, cannot escape through the holes and must pass through the membrane by solid state diffusion, if at all (depends on material/thickness of membrane/coating).

Without liquid water being able to hit the outside fabric, wind will not then wick away the water from the face of the jacket. Ironically, the ideal jacket would soak its face with your sweat to have the best breathability.
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