*UPDATE #2* No More Gore-tex!!

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 5:12 PM

Companies That Sell Eco-friendly Alternatives to Gore-Tex Brand Waterproof Products

            By now you should know the gory truth about Gore-Tex. If you haven’t read any of the previous posts that discussed the Gore-Tex controversy, then please catch up on the discussion by clicking on the following links and spending a few minutes educating yourself:
Now we will discuss some of the companies that sell products made with some of the eco-friendly alternative brands that were discussed in the previous posts. Some of these companies still have a few products on their shelves that contain Gore-Tex technology, but many of them are currently phasing out their Gore-Tex inventory and some of them no longer sell Gore-Tex products. With so many companies making such drastic changes such as eliminating Gore-Tex products from their inventory, is it not clearly obvious that there is plenty of truth to the Gore-Tex controversy??

Columbia Sportswear (www.columbia.com) – Columbia is one of the largest outwear manufacturers in the world and one of the most popular in the Pacific Northwest. They were the first company to introduce the Gore-Tex parka back in 1975 but have since removed Gore-Tex products from their inventory. They have developed their own PFC-free Omni-Dry products which have won the company multiple awards for innovation and trustworthiness. Columbia’s brands have been tested and proven to be better than Gore-Tex, which can be seen on their product’s signage with the words “Better than Gore-Tex”.

Mountain Hardwear (www.mountainhardwear.com) – Mountain Hardwear has only been around for a little over two decades, but they have proven to be a leader in outerwear. Much like Columbia, Mountain Hardwear invested into Gore-Tex products; they even pioneered Gore-Tex XCR technology. But much like Columbia, they too have entirely removed Gore-Tex from their inventory. No wonder Columbia purchased the company in 2003! Mountain Hardwear has two proprietary eco-friendly technologies that are better alternatives to Gore-Tex: OutDry and Dry.Q (which uses technology licensed from GE’s eVent).

Patagonia Outdoor Apparel (www.patagonia.com) – Patagonia is a clothing company known for their contribution to the environmental movement. They are a certified B-Corporation and commit 1% of their total sales or 10% of their profit (whichever is more) to environmental groups. They sell polar fleece liners that are made from recycled soda bottles and sweaters made from organic wool, which means that the sheep haven’t been dipped in pesticides or undergone the painful process of “mulesing”. While Patagonia still has some Gore-Tex products in their inventory, their own H2No technology uses polyester and polyurethane laminates for waterproofing and breathability, which is a much eco-friendlier alternative to Gore-Tex.

Polartec (www.polartec.com) – Polartec products can be found in most major outerwear retailers such as Columbia, The North Face, and REI. Their NeoShell technology is a great PFC-free alternative to Gore-Tex and is actually considered to be the most breathable waterproof fabric on the market by not requiring high heat or pressure for air flow. Polartec’s NeoShell products are made with a high-quality and extremely durable polyurethane thread and a polyester lining, which has won them many awards and accolades

The North Face (www.thenorthface.com) – The North Face is one of the top three outerwear manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest. They still carry some Gore-Tex products, but the company has been focusing their efforts on the development of their HyVent waterproofing technology. HyVent is a PFC-free waterproof and breathable polyurethane coating which is considered to be a better alternative to Gore-Tex technology.

REI (www.rei.com) – REI is another popular outwear manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest that is known for its environmental initiatives. In 2006, REI was included on the EPA’s top ten list of retailers who purchased cleanly generated electricity. And they have pledged to become a climate neutral and zero waste-to-landfill company by 2020. While REI still carries some Gore-Tex products, they have replaced the waterproofing technology that is used in their own branded products with a PFC-free technology known as eVent. REI’s eVent and Gore-Tex products are both made from ePTFEs (i.e. stretched Teflon) but are manufactured by different processes. While there are other companies that sell products that are higher on the eco-friendly scale, REI has shown that they are devoted to the environmental movement and worth including in this list.

            Now that you know about PFCs and Gore-Tex, and know the names of some of the more eco-friendly brands and companies that provide great alternatives to Gore-Tex, we hope that you will think twice before you purchase another Gore-Tex product in the future. If you choose one of these brands from one of these companies, then you can rest assured that you will be making a difference not only for your own health, but also for the environment. Please tell your friends and family what you have learned!

Recommended Reading

Breathable but Unbeatable: Alternative Membranes Take on Gore-Tex” by Norman Chan of Tested.com (affiliate site of Jamie & Adam of Mythbusters): A lengthy list of eco-friendly alternatives to Gore-Tex. http://www.tested.com/science/43590-war-on-goretex/

Waterproof Fabrics Buying Guide” by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports: A great explanation of the workings of waterproof fabrics, with a comparison between Gore-Tex and its competitors. http://www.ellis-brigham.com/advice-inspiration/guides-and-advice/buying-guides/waterproof-fabrics-buying-guide

Waterproof Ratings and Breathability Guide” by Evo: Everything you need to know about waterproofing and breathability. http://www.evo.com/waterproof-ratings-and-breathability-guide.aspx

Rainwear: How it Works” by REI: A great discussion on Gore-Tex vs. eVent technology. http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear-how-it-works.html

Toxic Gore-Tex” by NOW Toronto: A great source of additional alternatives to Gore-Tex. http://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/story.cfm?content=145425

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