For 35 years, Gore-Tex has dominated the market for waterproof, breathable fabrics, but this spring it has some competition. Textile maker Polartec has developed its own waterproof, breathable fabric that threatens to trump Gore-Tex's latest. We put both through the wringer to see which stands out.
Rab Stretch Neo Jacket with Polartec NeoShell
Under a microscope, NeoShell's permeable layer looks like spiderwebs spun from a polyurethane thread. The webs form tiny channels large enough that humid air can escape but small enough that water droplets (even those with the force of a 10-foot waterfall) can't get in. A polyester lining and durable outer-face fabric sandwich the layer and are fused to it with pinhead-size dots of adhesive, which keeps channels clear and air flowing. The Rab Stretch Neo Jacket is available from Rab for $365.
Millet Trilogy Limited GTX with Gore-Tex Active Shell
Thinner and lighter than its predecessor, Gore-Tex's Active Shell fabric features a porous membrane that looks like cotton candy up close. The fabric bonds directly with a moisture-wicking lining, eliminating a heavy layer of adhesive and trimming a few ounces off the jacket. An outer-face fabric attaches with microscopic glue dots; this way, the pores (about nine billion of them per square inch) don't get gummed up. You can find the Millet Trilogy Limited GTX jacket at Millet for $400.
For one month this winter, four testers wore both jackets while skiing front- and backcountry in the mountains of Vermont, Colorado and Utah. Conditions ranged from snow squalls to bright sunshine, and temperatures varied from close to freezing to as low as –30ºF.
All four testers felt consistently more comfortable in the 17-ounce Polartec shell, despite the Gore-Tex's jacket being three ounces heavier. Testers had to physically air out the Gore-Tex jacket by unzipping its armpit vents, whereas sweat evaporated quickly out of the ventless Polartec.
Winner: Polartec NeoShell
How about doing a lab test so that the subjectivity of the humans wearing them and variables such as temperature, level of exercise when each garment was used (ie where they just sweating more when wearing the gortex due to conditions, sunlight, warm up, lack of warm up, etc, differing conditions, etc)
Or maybe a blind test would have been better? ie did the testers know which one they were wearing? Did they fit them well? Did they prefer blue over black? Did the black fabric absorb more heat from the sunlight making them get hotter?
were they just trying to get a free jacket (or were they returned to the manufacturer?) and preferred blue?
How about also comparing the two jackets ability to repel water. So what if NeoShell is more breathable. My capiline 1 is more breathable then a gore-tex jacket but that doesn't mean I am going to wear it out in a rain storm. The basic Gore tex fabric is more then twice as waterproof as NeoShell and that makes a huge difference in bad weather. You can wear your NeoShell jacket under a waterfall if you want, but I wouldn't recommend standing there for too long.