What is the technological phenomenon that is GORE-TEX®? And why were we one of the first in the Pacific to use it? We explore our history with this beloved brand and the exciting developments for the future.
GORE-TEX® has become one of the most recognisable global brands, as synonymous with waterproof and breathable as Apple is with computers.
And for good reason.
The miracle membrane
In 1969, Bob Gore discovered expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) — a strong, microporous material that has extremely small pores, exceptional weathering properties, and low water absorption.
Being only 0.01mm thick, it's both:
- A membrane: an extremely thin layer with more than nine billion pores per square inch; and
- A laminate: bonded between a high-performance lining and outer textiles.
This means that GORE-TEX® does a fantastic job protecting you against the wind and rain because water molecules can't get through, while moisture vapour and sweat can get out through the microscopic gaps in the membrane.
A missed opportunity
One obscure part of the ePTFE story involves a missed chance at fame and fortune by an unknown New Zealand engineer, John Cropper.
In 1966, Cropper built a machine that could create a material that was essentially ePTFE. The only problem was that Cropper decided not to patent his discovery. Instead, he kept it a secret — and Gore became the first to patent four years later.
Kathmandu’s first Gore-branded jacket
The Pacific area’s first Gore parkas were made in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1978 by Bernard Wicht. He’d later go on to manufacture them for Kathmandu.
But it wasn’t until February 1997 that our first GORE-TEX® jacket was tested and approved. Known as the 'Extreme Jacket', it led to a trademark license being signed with Gore in March the following year.
The evolution of rainwear
In the past, we focused on ensuring we had a wide range of rainwear offering different layers of protection.
Our rainwear has since evolved to match your lifestyle so you can pursue your favourite activities in comfort. By asking what the intended use of your rainwear will be, we can design the best products for your outdoor activities; including hiking, skiing or travelling around the world.
Once we've created the prototypes, we send them to Gore’s testing room for a rain or storm test. Our gear has to pass their test — without any leaks — to be certified as GORE-TEX®.
The future of Gore and Kathmandu
Some of Gore’s latest tech is in our newest rainwear, such as the:
- Volans jacket: features Gore’s cutting-edge SHAKEDRY™ technology. This tech uses the GORE-TEX® membrane on the outside of the fabric — making it our lightest and most breathable water and windproof Gore jacket yet.
- Aysen: a hike-specific jacket in the pipeline that's rugged and durable, with a streamlined fit offering breathability and abrasion resistance.
- Bealey jacket: a two-layer product that utilises a smart design for an urban environment and features a durable water repellency which encourages water to roll right off the surface.
With Gore, our rainwear will remain of the highest quality. The bottom line is: you’ll receive a superior standard of waterproof, breathable garb.