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M Field Testing Air Permeable Waterproof-Breathable Fabric Technologies – Part 2: Are There Detectable Differences Under Real World Backpacking Conditions?

by Will Rietveld

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Article Summary:

This series began with my article after the winter 2011 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, where I reported on a long overdue advancement in waterproof-breathable fabric technologies. After nearly 30 years of market domination by Gore-Tex, we finally have several serious contenders that could capture a share of this high-end market. The challengers present some convincing claims and data on how well their fabrics perform in comparison to "traditional Gore-Tex." The stakes are high and the claims are lofty. Manufacturers would like you to believe that these jackets are "highly air-permeable," implying they yield comfort akin to air-conditioning. This begs the questions: "Are these fabrics really magical?" and "Do they really deliver the level of comfort that they claim?" As a scientist and gear junkie, I simply couldn't resist the challenge; to find out how comfortable these jackets really are, I tested jackets made of the new fabrics under real world backpacking conditions.

An index to the articles in this series:

An Emerging Revolution in Waterproof-Breathable Fabric Technologies - It's Not Just Gore-Tex Versus eVENT Anymore! Provides a description of the new technologies and highlights new jackets in the pipeline utilizing the new fabrics.

Field Testing Air Permeable Waterproof-Breathable Fabric Technologies Part 2: Are There Detectable Differences Under Real World Backpacking Conditions? (this article) Describes my testing method and presents field test results.

Field Testing Air Permeable Waterproof-Breathable Fabric Technologies Part 3: Discussion, Conclusions, and Performance of Individual Jackets (coming soon) Summarizes my findings and pragmatic conclusions from field testing the jackets while carrying a backpack, and discusses the pros and cons of investing in a high-end waterproof-breathable jacket. Presents test data for each jacket compared to “traditional Gore-Tex,” plus my comments on the most appropriate uses for each jacket.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

# WORDS: 5890
# PHOTOS: 14

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