On Wednesday in Seattle, W.L. Gore & Associates teamed up with the Cascade branch of the American Alpine Club to celebrate the launch of their new material, Gore-Tex Active Shell.
The new products are designed for high-output aerobic activities like adventure racing, alpine climbing, and mountain biking. In keeping with the “fast and light” spirit of the night, alpine climber Colin Haley gave a 10-minute slideshow, then the crowd tested new waterproof jackets under an indoor rain tank, enjoyed the local libations, and danced to the music of the Struggles, a cover band of local hardmen.
According to Tim Smith, a product specialist who helped invent the new technology, “We did all this research on a sweaty mannequin, and realized that … when you’re pushing the limits of aerobic output in the mountains, you’re generating a lot of moisture.” Gore-Tex is actually a permeable membrane attached to an inner and outer fabric, he explained, and Active Shell uses a proprietary lamination technique to attach the membrane to the liner, while older versions are attached with glue. “The lamination removes dead air between the layers, which had been acting as insulation and keeping dampness inside. These new products move more moisture from inside to outside than any other garment on the market,” he says. “They keep you drier, warmer, and ultimately safer.”
He does offer one caveat, though: “Some of the heavier options—like the Gore-Tex Pro Shell— will obviously be more durable. While Active Shell will blow previous options out of the water in all respects, our focus in design was breathability in a lightweight garment.”
Interested in testing the new Gore-Tex? Mammut, The North Face, Adidas, Outdoor Research, Arc’teryx, and Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) are all working with the new fabric. You’ll see it in jackets this fall, and the full lines will launch in spring 2012. In addition to newly designed rain shells, some companies will be offering more innovative products. Gore-Tex shorts, anyone? —Charlotte Austin
See the gallery below for more photos. Photo by Swae Photography (http://www.swae.biz)