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Non Goretex jacket fabrics, ability to repel moisture?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi All

In your experience, in snow or rain should a half decent ski fabric (think well known brand non Goretex 20k stretch fabric) retain it's DWR layer and continue to bead water off keeping the surface dry for extended periods, or will the fabric usually become wet to the touch and absorb some water fairly quickly? The reason I ask is I bought a jacket about 18 months ago (I won't name/shame just yet), not the manufacturer's most expensive jacket but around £350 RRP and made with a 20k fabric which is their own top level ski clothing fabric and one they claim to also use for sailing gear etc. However, first time I got caught out in some fairly heavy snow on the mountain the top layer stopped beading within a few minutes and the outer layers at least absorbed quite a bit of water meaning the jacket ended up weighing at least double it's dry weight by the time I got back to the hotel. It was hard to tell how much of the water got through to me on the inside as I tend to sweat a fair bit skiing anyway, but things like the inner pockets were wet so it definitely leaked.

Anyway the outcome of this was that the manufacturer agreed a fault and replaced it, but having recently been caught out in some not especially heavy rain whilst on a walk in it's replacement (thinking about it, first time it's really got wet), that exhibited the same symptoms of water beading for a few minutes before it started to soak into the fabric. I've raised this with the manufacturer again and am awaiting their response as it's inside their 2 year warranty but I just want to check really that I'm not being unreasonable in my expectations? I'm now a skier but used to snowboard badly so spent a lot of the time falling over / sitting on the snow and I don't recall having issues with (far cheaper/lower tech) pants or jackets absorbing significant amounts of moisture, so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a ~£250-300 jacket to perform at least as well is it?

I'd also be interested in hearing your own good/bad experiences with different manufacturer fabrics so if I end up replacing this one I have some idea of which brands/fabrics are worth considering.

cheers
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Sounds like a heap of junk.

For £350, an expensive one.

I am sure everyone will want the name / model mentioned, so we can have a look at the specs - and also possibly to stop others buying a pointless waterproof too.
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Never had significant issues, though never fully believe the 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k stuff either. I have a load of different snow and hill/mountain jackets from many manufacturers, none of them Goretex: rain, snow, drizzle etc will always find a way through somewhere eventually - especially if it's breathable and has pockets, zips etc. That said, never had severe wetness problems in such a short period of exposure as the OP.
Also always wear a fleece underneath (Paramo theory style) which seems to help even when the outer jacket's soaking - as one of my ski jackets certainly can do in very wet snow to rain (and thinner lightweight shells will tend to do, too).
I certainly wouldn't pay £350 for any jacket, mainly because I just don't believe that they're any better than £35... And on the wetness front (sweaty bits aside) that's usually the case.
Any pressure on the fabric will often also instantly render it useless IMO.

I recommend lots of spray-on Nikwax TX Direct.
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£350 was the RRP, I paid under £250 end of season but still not a cheap jacket.
I'll wait for the outcome of my current contact with the manufacturer before giving more details, both jackets are from the same model year and potentially the same batch of fabric so it's possible there's just an underlying fault rather than an inherent issue with the performance of their fabric in general.
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For an idea of what's happening, here's a photo of the fabric 15 minutes after the chest area was hit with a single quirt of plant sprayer water whilst the jacket was laid flat, you can see the sprayed area of fabric has absorbed 95% of the water into the outer layer and gone a bit wrinkled with only the odd droplet round the edges still beading. I should also say that it was recently Techwashed then re-proofed using tx.direct although the original jacket had its issues on the first ski trip straight after purchase.


Full size link here https://i.imgur.com/hv7Kf0H.jpg
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Part of the problem with the hydrostatic head ratings stated by manufactures its that they are based on lab tests that don't take into account real world conditions, Rain, humidity, temperature, dirt on the jacket ect.

As for the DWR coating you were talking about, the DWR coating can be quite delicate and over time can wear off through every day use. To keep it in good condition it needs regular maintenance through washing and re proofing.

My current gear is made of stretchy type fabrics and while they are very commutable and have remained waterproof in some pretty horrible conditions they will start to absorb moisture and get heavier quicker than the non stretchy fabrics.

As for brands and fabrics, the two i have most experience with:

GoreTex- I generally find to be the most reliable and the least fussy of the high end branded fabrics from a dirt and general use point of view, but its not the most breathable.

Pertex shield - More breathable than GoreTex but requires washing a lot more regularly to keep it breathable.

As for non branded fabrics by the manufacturers, in general i have had good experiences with most of the big brands that make ski/sailing/outdoor gear.
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Yep I know lab conditions are very different to real world and you're more likely to get issues around seams and areas where you rub, stretch or press on the fabric (rucksack straps for example), but as demonstrated above even laying it down on a flat surface and hitting it from a foot with a single spray of water it still soaks in, and thats after a fresh Techwash and TX Direct treatment.

Do Goretex or Pertex do stretchable membranes because I have to say other than the wet weather performance, it's by far the most feature rich and comfortable jacket I've ever owned so any potential replacement would have to have similar attributes, along with some ability to repel water obviously Very Happy
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Yes i have to say that the stretchy fabrics do make for very confutable ski gear.

I am not sure about Pertex, but i remember reading an announcement last year that GoreTex had released a stretchy fabric, I am not sure how stretchy as i haven't been out to look at a jacket that uses it yet. It would also be interesting to see if it exhibits similar behaviour to other stretchy fabrics like absorbing more water than the traditional waterproof fabrics.
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@Locoblade, It does sound like you've got a dodgy one, or a dodgy batch perhaps. My soft shell repels water better than that. I think the Gore-tex stretch fabric is the C-Knit, though I have no personal experience of it. Any jacket will wet out eventually, but I'd expect it to last at least a couple of hours before that happens, especially when new.
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https://www.goreprotectivefabrics.com/defense/stretch
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Just checking - you haven‘t used fabric conditioner or normal washing powder/liquid on the jackets have you? Did you use a wash in liquid or spray for the DWR?
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DB wrote:
Just checking - you haven‘t used fabric conditioner or normal washing powder/liquid on the jackets have you? Did you use a wash in liquid or spray for the DWR?


Nope, I'm probably overly paranoid about that kind of thing, I even scrubbed any residue out of the dispenser drawer and put the washing machine on a self cleaning cycle before using it. Laughing TX Direct was spray on, done whilst the jacket was still damp as per instructions.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Sat 25-01-20 17:12; edited 1 time in total
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The new GoreTex fabric i was referring to is part of the New GoreTex pro lineup, looking round the first of the jackets using it aren't due out on the market until later this year.
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Cheers, I'll have a look but I suspect being Gore they'd be out of my price range anyway.
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@Locoblade,
Have you tried putting it in a clothes dryer to reactivate the DWR?

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear-dwr.html
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Yep, it was tumble dried on a low heat after applying TX Direct but as mentioned the original jacket was brand new before the ski trip and behaved exactly the same, so pretty confident it's nothing I have / haven't done.
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@Locoblade,

It really does sound as though the DWR on a batch of jackets is bad. You mentioned sailing so I‘m guessing Helly Hansen. If you sweat a lot I‘d point you in the direction of eVent fabric - in my experience it breathes much better in real life conditions.
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Cheers, I don't seem to sweat especially doing other sports etc but for some reason when on the slopes I seem to build up quite a head of steam, so if I end up looking elsewhere then I'll have a look at jackets using eVent. Only issue is we've got a ski trip at half term so I need it all sorting in the next couple of weeks really.
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@Locoblade, ...we've been using altitude kit for more years than I care to remember and in more contexts. And a fair share of 'misery' bivvies and bad experiences of equipment failure. The current choice of materials and designs is fabulous. There's no reason a manufacturer should produce kit which misbehaves re either PTFE membrane or DWR on the outer. The two main approaches are Paramo style - no membrane, get moisture away from the body as soon as possible, wash when grubby and treat the outer. Then everything else: membrane for barrier, and DWR on outer to prevent saturation.

But the thing is this: with Gore-plus-DWR we have found that (i) removing ski-grubbiness (grease etc and that weird black cack that comes from chairs and gates) is virtually impossible; (ii) restoring DWR to the performance you first have from a new garment is extremely difficult.

It's no surprise then that many guides tend to wear things until they are disgusting, and then use them for gardening.

If your jacket loses DWR water resistance after a short time - then it's basically cr+p and the manufacturer has cut corners and should be ashamed. There's no excuse these days.

Rab still takes huge pride in its products, as does Arctery'x, Alpkit, Sherpa and Peak P. Not all their kit is punitive in price.

I still make the mistake of buying colours which show ski-cack - my Patagonia lime green Gore Tex trousers are disgusting on all the seams and raised points - quite guide-like. DWR is functioning fine, I won't wash them, since I am not going to then spend weeks messing around with Techwash, irons, spray on Graingers and so on.

For mountaineering our current jackets are: Rab (Pertex extreme); Sherpa (Event); Rab (non-membrane deep pile)

For Skiing: Peak Performance (Gore Tex); Picture (own membrane); Patagonia (non membrane deep pile); Patagonia (Gore)

I can't remember a time in the last five years that we had any problem at all with kit.
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Cheers for all that @valais2, interesting info.
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@Locoblade, yes as @valais2, says Paramo go to great lengths with their gear, and it's made by the same guy that produces Nikwax, Nick Brown. Great gear but the design is tad rolling eyes

This is an interview my OH did with him

https://stylealtitude.com/breath-of-fresh-air.html

Prior to that we met up with the previous Marketing Director, and she told us Goretex does have a lifespan, and that is curtailed if you scrunch it up (put in back-packs/roll sleeves up etc), and dust/dirt inhibits breathability greatly and we know that to be the case as OH had a Goretex jacket in the van for 3-4 months on the head rest of her seat, went to use it in a major downpour and was drenched, we put it down to the dogs getting in and out van after walks and covered in dirt/mud etc which dried and like all dust went everywhere inc the pores of the jacket membrane.

Last season we were touring all day in heavy snow in -10, and I l mean heavy snow (Siberia), so we were warm on the inside and eventually, we were all soaked even though we were all wearing state of the art gear, shite happens with gear in those conditions and we had a top Valais guide with us (who was on hols with his wife) as well who was in the same mess.
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Cheers, never heard of Paramo. Yep there's obviously limitations with any fabric in extreme conditions but here we're talking maybe about an hour of piste skiing in average snowfall for the first jacket to get drenched, and a UK light winter rain shower that started being absorbed into the second. Laughing
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i wear planks & have zero problem with the yeti RideDry fabric. I quite often take my jacket off & use it as a picnic blanket Laughing

waterproof rating is done through pressure, so under certain atmospheric conditions, it can still get wet.
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@Weathercam, ....er....grief...just think of your lungs!....ruddy randochien and their doggy dust....

Interesting details. And -10 and soaked - nasty. I got blasted by a mountaineer on UKMC site after saying that Goretex doesn’t work at altitude sometimes ... it sure doesn’t when the humidity gradient is not big enough to allow the vapour inside the jacket to migrate through the membrane to the outside. If the humidity is high enough outside - eg the heavy snow circumstance you describe, and the outside of the jacket gets frosted, then there’s nowhere for the water vapour to go....then major problem inside the jacket, just as you describe...dangerous and tedious and uncomfortable and miserable..ergo Gore Tex does not work under these conditions. I have found that my Patagonia Speed Ascent - non-membrane deep pile to suck water away from the body DOES work under these conditions, and is a brilliant jacket. And of course they have stopped making them. Twits. Rab Guide VapourRise a nice item and similar concept but not as good as the Speed Ascent - START MAKING IT AGAIN PATAGONIA....!!!

Locoblade - yep....the manufacturer has screwed up. Junk. Tell them. Send them these posts. Demand your money back. No one should buy gear for the mountains, pay good money and then be given stuff which makes claims which are not delivered on. It’s dangerous for a start; even in the Lake District you can get caught out by rubbish gear....but at 3000m in the Alps it’s no joke. Seriously, even though time has elapsed, ask them for a full refund.
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What I’ve noticed with my gore tex stuff is that the more matt/dull the face fabric is the less DWR ability it has. My gore tex pro stuff which have the most shiniest and noisiest face fabric tend to have the best DWR ability.

I have a Norrøna Røldal jacket from 2009 that has a face fabric that resembles cotton canvas and the DWR lasts about 5-10mins in the rain. Not a major problem for me as it’s my >-10c jacket and at them temps it rarely gets wet.

I never had good results using TX-direct spray on and have got better results using TX-direct wash-in using the hand wash method soaking the item in a bath/bucket then spin in the washing machine and tumble dry.
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@Spoon, ...hmmmm....I have never had good results using TX-direct wash-in using the hand wash method and have got better results using TX-direct spray.

I think I must live a reverse universe....

after all my feet smell and my nose runs.....
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@Spoon, @valais2, I use both wash in and spray on. Depends on which jacket and what material; both work well or badly, depending.
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Am I correct in saying that Nikwax " TX Direct Wash In", should not be used if Jacket is insulated?
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Could be, but I've never heard that, nor abided by it.
Depends on what kind of insulation, maybe? I have an old cotton-style (polyester?) jacket with that very basic old white sqidgy fibre insulation, and it goes into the washing machine just fine, and comes out waterproofed for many weeks to seasons.
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If you have washed and reproofed, then isn't the quality of the dwr at that point more indicative of your reproofing product / prowess than the original jacket condition?

I have found that once I resort to reproofing, things are never as good as new.

+1 for paramo though. Not waterproof in the conventional sense but I find it works if I am hot / working hard. Shapes are odd and and I think that the designer might be colourblind rolling eyes !


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Sun 26-01-20 22:10; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?
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DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?

Not washing TX-Direct into a wicking liner sounds sensible - as long as you know whether your jacket has a wicking liner. Puzzled
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DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?


I must admit thats why I went with the spray rather than wash-in version, it just didn't seem right for a DWR treatment to touch anything other than the outer layer.

BenA wrote:
If you have washed and reproofed, then isn't the quality of the dwr at that point more indicative of your reproofing product / prowess than the original jacket condition?


To an extent I guess, but if you treated a cotton t-shirt with TX Direct I'm assuming it wouldn't suddenly bead water and repel anywhere near as well as a washed GoreTex outer layer treated in the same way, so it must be the design of the fabric and how the DWR bonds to it that has the biggest effect on how waterproof it becomes after treatment. A similar thing would happen if the fabric of a jacket had been manufacturered incorrectly which is what I think may have happened in my case.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?

Not washing TX-Direct into a wicking liner sounds sensible - as long as you know whether your jacket has a wicking liner. Puzzled


Yeah-but doesn't water proofing the inside fabric adversly affect the breathability of every lined jacket? Maybe this is true for the inside of a hard shell too.
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DB wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?

Not washing TX-Direct into a wicking liner sounds sensible - as long as you know whether your jacket has a wicking liner. Puzzled


Yeah-but doesn't water proofing the inside fabric adversly affect the breathability of every lined jacket? Maybe this is true for the inside of a hard shell too.

That's exactly why I use spray on.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?

Not washing TX-Direct into a wicking liner sounds sensible - as long as you know whether your jacket has a wicking liner. Puzzled


Yeah-but doesn't water proofing the inside fabric adversly affect the breathability of every lined jacket? Maybe this is true for the inside of a hard shell too.

That's exactly why I use spray on.


I’ve always assumed that you wanted to keep all the shell (both inside and out) as hydrophobic as possible to help with breathability.

I just done a quick test with most of my gore tex shells (GT Active, GT C-Knit and 2 GT Pros) and all of them repel water on the back layer. None of these shells have had DWR reapplied and 1 of the GT Pros is new and unused.

Do they DWR treat the backing layer as well?
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Spoon wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
DB wrote:
Why would you want to waterproof the inside of a multilayer jacket - esp. if the jacket wicks away moisture?

Not washing TX-Direct into a wicking liner sounds sensible - as long as you know whether your jacket has a wicking liner. Puzzled


Yeah-but doesn't water proofing the inside fabric adversly affect the breathability of every lined jacket? Maybe this is true for the inside of a hard shell too.

That's exactly why I use spray on.


I’ve always assumed that you wanted to keep all the shell (both inside and out) as hydrophobic as possible to help with breathability.

I just done a quick test with most of my gore tex shells (GT Active, GT C-Knit and 2 GT Pros) and all of them repel water on the back layer. None of these shells have had DWR reapplied and 1 of the GT Pros is new and unused.

Do they DWR treat the backing layer as well?

No idea.
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Spoon wrote:
Do they DWR treat the backing layer as well?


I suspect for hard shells without a liner it's easier to just process new garments in a wash rather than a spray process so it could well be that new stuff also has a DWR on the inside.
Not sure you would want the moisture to bead on the inside of the jacket or not, wouldn't beaded water just get soaked back into the clothing midlayer?
Did a quick Internet search and some said a DWR on the inside adversly affected breathabilty while some were of the opposite opinion or said it didn't make any difference
One person made the point that if you wash a jacket that has a liner then most likely most of the DWR treatment will end up in the liner rather than on the jacket outer.
The downsides to a spray-on DWR were that you could miss a bit and it could be bad for your health if inhaled.

https://thompsonlawoffice.com/dangerous-waterproofing-spray-products/
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After a bit of research, none of the manufacturers of my gore tex gear recommend wash-in DWR treatment.

Norrøna and Arc’teryx recommend their own brand DWR spray-on treatment and if that and tumble drying doesn’t help, ironing on a low heat should bring back the water repellency.

I’m a bit worried about ironing my Gore Tex stuff so I’m going to use a tea towel in between so I don’t burn the fabric.
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Need to mention Paramo. Wash-in treatment (TX-Direct) works, and the garments stay waterproof until the literally fall apart. Breathable, but not the same as Goretex. My oldest jacket os 25 years old and still keeps me dry.
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