How Long Does A GORE-TEX Membrane Last?

A green waterproof hiking shoes.

Nowadays, there is probably no alternative to GORE-TEX fabric available on the market. It is well-known for its reliability, durability, and wear comfort. Due to its waterproof features, it has been widely used in the outdoor industry, including ski and snowboard gear. So how long does a GORE-TEX membrane last?

A GORE-TEX membrane is built to last for many years. It can last anywhere between 3 to 15 years, or even more. This will largely depend on the frequency of use, weather conditions, and proper care and maintenance. There are plenty of DIY ways how you can do minor repairs. There is also an option of re-waterproofing your GORE-TEX gear.

Stick around for more info on a GORE-TEX membrane and ways how you can prolong its lifespan. Make sure to check out our blog to learn if GORE-TEX is too hot for summer.

How does GORE-TEX membrane work?

The main feature of a GORE-TEX membrane is that it is waterproof. Each square inch of the GORE-TEX membrane consists of nine billion pores. These pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. This means that there is no way for rain or snow to get in.

Another important feature of the GORE-TEX membrane is that it is breathable and wind-proof. When you are active, the GORE-TEX membrane allows your sweat to escape. At the same time, it doesn’t allow wind to chill you.

What is the tensile strength of GORE-TEX membrane?

The main component of GORE-TEX fabric is a variant of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) that has been stretched during post-production. Its name is ePTFE which stands for expanded PTFE. The tensile strength refers to the fabric’s ability to withstand a pulling force, also known as a tensile force before it stretches and breaks. The GORE-TEX membrane’s tensile strength is more than 700N.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of GORE-TEX?

GORE-TEX has a number of advantages and represents the world’s most famous and most waterproof fabric. Learn what the difference is between GORE-TEX and Thinsulate. These are some of the advantages of GORE-TEX:

  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

All GORE-TEX products undergo three different stages of testing to ensure the highest performance. The first stage is testing materials in the lab environment in strict scientific conditions. The second stage entails gathering feedback from people. The last stage is called field testing where field experts try out the gear and report their opinion.

We believe that GORE-TEX benefits far outway the downsides. However, we will mention some of the disadvantages as well:

  • Price – GORE-TEX products come with a hefty price tag, which we believe is justifiable considering all the qualities and the renowned brand name.
  • Maintenance and cleaning – you need to use specific cleaning products to wash the GORE-TEX gear.
  • Waterproof properties wear off – you will need to re-waterproof the gear every so often.

How to wash GORE-TEX?

The cleanliness of your GORE-TEX products will greatly affect their longevity. It is recommended that you wash your garment at least once a season because build-up dirt and oils from hands can significantly decrease its effectiveness and may cause it to wear out faster. Your GORE-TEX is machine-washable provided that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines:

  • Before washing, zip all the pockets and zips completely.
  • Fasten all loose flaps and straps.
  • Machine wash it at a temperature of 105°F/40°C.
  • Use only a small amount of liquid detergent.
  • Never use powder detergents, fabric softeners, or bleach.
  • Dry your outwear on a warm, gentle cycle or line-dry it.
  • Once your garment is dry, iron it on a gentle setting or tumble dry it for an extra 20 minutes to reactivate the DWR treatment.

How do I make GORE-TEX waterproof again?

Even though many GORE-TEX products are treated with durable water repellent, this is not a permanent solution. You will need to reactivate and reapply a DWR layer from time to time to prolong its effectiveness. These are the factors that can shorten the lifespan of DWR treatment:

  • Regular wear-and-tear
  • Dirt
  • Detergents
  • Exposure to sunscreen lotion
  • Insect repellents

The DWR layer allows water beads to simply roll off the fabric, which prevents the outer layer of the GORE-TEX fabric to get soaked with water. When the DWR layer wears off, the GORE-TEX membrane can start to feel cold and damp on your skin. We’ve already covered the first step in re-waterproofing your GORE-TEX products and it is cleaning.

To reapply the DWR treatment you can use one of the many wash-in or spray-on products. Once you apply the new DWR treatment, you should tumble dry your garment for additional 20 minutes. The heat will activate the treatment and allow water droplets to roll off again.

A person hiking wearing GORE-TEX clothes.

Can I use Nikwax on GORE-TEX?

By all means. Nikwax is one of the leading providers of re-waterproofing products for outdoor gear and is recommended for GORE-TEX. The best thing about Nikwax products is that they don’t need heat to reactivate the DWR. Make sure to check the wide variety of Nikwax products suitable for different pieces of GORE-TEX outdoor gear.

Does GORE-TEX keep your feet dry?

Yes, GORE-TEX shoes and boots are designed to keep your feet dry. Provided that you don’t completely dunk your feet in the water. In that case, water will pass around the ankles, where there is simply no waterproof fabric. GORE-TEX technology will definitely protect your feet through mud, rain, snow, or crossing streams. Make sure to read our blog for more tips on how to keep your feet dry while hiking.

Is GORE-TEX good for sweaty feet?

GORE-TEX is an excellent choice for cold and damp weather conditions. GORE-TEX membrane is made from three layers that allow moisture vapor from perspiration to pass through while disabling water in its liquid state to flow through the barrier inside your shoe.

Nevertheless, if you tend to sweat excessively when it’s hot and your body temperature rises, the moisture might not get fast enough and your socks may start to feel damp. GORE-TEX boots are not the best choice for you if your feet tend to sweat profusely.

Does GORE-TEX leak?

GORE-TEX doesn’t leak unless it is damaged in some way. The leakage can be due to damage to the garment, defective seam, or problems with the fabric. Some leakage may occur after many years of wear and tear.

Another common reason for leakage is simply if you stand somewhere where the water is too deep, deeper than the top of your shoes. Gaiters might help with this problem. You can read more about them in our blog and find out if you can walk through water with gaiters.

Can you repair GORE-TEX?

Don’t start panicking if something goes wrong with your outwear. The good news is that you can fix many small tears and holes yourself. However, put the needle and thread away, as the needle can ruin the waterproof quality of your gear. Instead, you should use special repair kits for GORE-TEX fabric.

GORE-TEX adhesive patches are key to DIY repairs. Take note of the membrane of your damaged garment since all the fabrics have repair kits with suitable adhesive patches that are pre-cut. If you are a camping DIY enthusiast, you may also find interesting our post on how to make a DIY canvas tent.

You can do some instant minor repairs even in the field, while you are still outdoors. These are the steps that can help you go about it:

  • Clean the damaged area to the best of your ability.
  • Smooth out the material to get rid of any wrinkles.
  • Glue down the adhesive patch following the instructions.
  • Such instant DIY repair can last you about five home launderings.

When you reach home, you can do a more solid repair of the damage. You can use rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt around the damaged area. Be careful not to create wrinkles as you apply the adhesive patch.

Press the patch down firmly, both inside and outside. Let the adhesive patch dry for about 24 hours. If you have larger-scale damage to your gear, head over to a specialist outdoor retailer.

Does salt water damage GORE-TEX?

It is perfectly safe to use GORE-TEX even in marine environments. In the early days of GORE-TEX salt clogged the pores and thus hindered the venting of the moisture from one’s body. GORE-TEX has come a long way since then, especially in terms of design.

Nowadays, salt doesn’t block the GORE-TEX pores or damage them in any way. It doesn’t affect the breathability either. To stop the heavy salt accumulation, simply rinse your outerwear regularly with fresh water.

Summary

We hope that you’ve learned a thing or two about the GORE-TEX membrane, how it works and how long it lasts. GORE-TEX will keep you dry and warm for many years, but even GORE-TEX has its limitations, which we’ve covered.

We’ve also given you valuable advice on how to prolong the GORE-TEX lifespan. It all comes down to proper maintenance and care. If you need more tips on hiking equipment, check out our comprehensive guide on the equipment you need for hiking.

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