It’s hard to believe Gore-Tex is about to turn 50. In the decades since its inception the product engineers at Gore have continued to innovate and stay one step ahead of the competition. Their most advanced technology, ShakeDry, first popped up in 2015 with the Gore-Tex Active Cycling Jacket. Since then, they’ve gone on to improve the fabric and offer new products like the 1985 Jacket. It’s a bit of a disjointed moniker commemorating their first cycling cape, but the product itself is revolutionary.
The unique construction of the ShakeDry fabric allows Gore to create highly functional apparel layers with extremely low weight. A size medium 1985 jacket clocks in at roughly 100 grams with no sacrifice to waterproofing or breathability. Better still, it packs down to a bundle no larger than an orange. To get to that level of performance, Gore had to completely revamp their membrane game.
Unlike other laminated fabrics which place the waterproof and breathable membrane inside an outer face fabric, a ShakeDry jacket gets rid of that outer layer so the membrane is right on the surface. Most technical laminated fabrics require a durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the exterior to prevent the material from “wetting-out.” But when the membrane is placed on the outside, the dense pore structure of the ShakeDry membrane beads water like a duck’s butt without the need for additional repellent coatings. It’s so effective it never gets wet and can be dried with a quick shake. See what they did there?
As advanced as the ShakeDry technology is, it comes with its own set of challenges. Traditional waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex are extremely delicate, which is why they’re bonded under more durable and protective fabrics. Other companies like Columbia have tackled this problem with their own robust fabric called OutDry, but it has the texture of a dolphin’s belly. It’s heavy, bulky, and the breathability is not widely loved. By contrast, the Gore material is supple, light, and meets the brand’s standards for breathability and waterproofness.
Another limitation of the ShakeDry construction is the limited range of available colors. Due to the hydrophobic nature of the PTFE material used in the membrane, the initial jacket was only offered in tarmac-colored black. Not the ideal choice for visibility, Gore eventually found a way to offer their ShakeDry layers in subtle shades of blue and light-er grey for the new C7 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket ($279.99). But they’ve also integrated Gore-Tex active panels with brighter colors on the arms for increased visibility on the new C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz jacket ($299.99). Many of those colors are available now through dealers and the Gore website, while the remainder will be available in April.
For April of 2018, Gore improved their top-tier Shakedry jacket by adding flexible Shakedry Stretch panels to the sides, hem, and shoulder area. The new C7 Gore-Tex ShakeDry Stretch Jacket promises a more tapered fit without reducing comfort or mobility. The C7 is just one jacket in their growing line of shells built around their new membrane tech.
What’s in a name?
The unveiling of the C7 isn’t the only news for the coming season. For the last several years Gore Apparel has lived a duplicitous marketing existence with products divided into Bike and Run catalogs. For 2018 all products will fall under the simplified header of Gore Wear. The new branding strategy is more aligned with their product offerings and how consumers use their technical layers. While some skus will obviously retain design influences representative of their intended use, many products serve both bike and running pursuits. Now consumers won’t have to toggle between Gore’s two websites to find the kit they need.