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Thread: Gore-Tex or Wool?

  1. #1

    Default Gore-Tex or Wool?

    What do you like better? Do you wear any gore tex lined clothing or footwear in the winter? What about wool hats or caps?

    New Jersey's winters aren't bad, but I prefer to stay toasty. I usually wear gortex lined boots and a wool hat, but have just switched to smartwool. They take the itching out of wool sort to speak.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    can't beat Gore-Tex lined wool. or Cabela's "Dry Plus" lined wool.

    they're two different things. Gore-Tex is for waterproofness and breathability. wool is an insulator that just happens to be naturally wind/water resistant.

    but you can't really pick between them. you can have both for each of their respective properties. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    [ QUOTE ]
    BlindedByTheLite said:
    but you can't really pick between them. you can have both for each of their respective properties. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Typical flashaholic. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif[/img]

  4. #4
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    BBTL, I half-agree with your comment about wool. I don't think of wool as being wind/water resistant. If you've worn a wool sweater on a windy day, you can feel the air flowing through your garments. It is true, however, that wool's microscopic structure traps small amounts of air. This air acts as a temperature buffer between your body and the outside (much like a neoprene wet suit works). Even when wet, wool will still have empty "air pockets" that will continue to work as temperature buffers (unlike other materials that conduct heat directly away from your body when wet). Wool is a great insulator, I agree. Not very good as a wind/water barrier, though.

    I often wear a combination of Gore-Tex shell and wool sweater for winter conditions. You're right, Lumenous, "Smartwool" does not make me itch. Do you know if it's a natural or synthetic fiber?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    According to Smartwool they use natural wool that undergoes a "special" process to make it "smart" so that it wicks moisture and doesn't shrink like natural wool...and of course is itch free.

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    So it's one of those "natural synthetics". [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon3.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    EDIT: Deleted my idiotic comment.


  8. #8
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    While Smartwool may have undergone a "special" process, I think it is basically a high quality Merino wool. My impression is high quality wools don't tend to itch. I think Smartwool is pretty much natural (I think they just want you to think they did something "special" to it!).

    I've grown addicted to Smartwool socks and wear them year round. Great stuff.

    I prefer Patagonia Capilene as a top layer since it is VERY warm but isn't bulky and dries very fast. Layering works well with a silkweight next to the skin and the a layer of expedition weight on top of that. A layer of fleece, then some good *unlined* 3 layer Gore-Tex (I like ArcTeryx products for those last two layers).

    As far as hats, I like the Columbia Kazoo Hat. It's very warm and wraps around your ears, chin and back of your neck. It also fits nicely under a hood. Looks kinda dumb, but then again, warm beats fashion. :-)

    I like hard, smooth leather boots, like the Vasqe Sundowners. It turns out these boots are Gore-Tex lined, and it is supposedly to wick moisture away from your feat. I feel this is somewhat of a gimick, but the boots are good. I tend to avoid Gore-Tex boots for wet activities. As a liner it is fine.

    As BBTL says, you can't pick between them. They compliment one another!

    -john

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    Ditto to the above....

    Wool and Goretex work together. Goretex provides the wind and water/proofness. Wool provides the warm insulating layer underneath.

    One nice thing about that combination is that the goretex layer can be used alone as a light jacket/windbreaker. Or the wool can be used alone as sweater on a slightly cooler day. Together they make a very warm and windproof cold-weather beater.

    Goretex, however, is accurately criticized as working poorly in heavy downpours. Goretex depends on a humidity differential between the inside and outside of the goretex in order for the micro-moisture to migrate out away from the body. During a downpour, the humidity is high both inside and outside the goretex layer...so the migration doesn't work right and you get wet inside. But for wind and light rain/snow it's great.

    For a better inside warmth layer, you might consider a polar-fleece synthetic layer over wool. Wool is great but will absorb water and lose approximately 50% of it's insulating ability. A polar-fleece layer will lose only maybe 10% of it's insulating abilities when wet- and can be wrung dry pretty easily. Of course, a cotton insulating layer when wet will lose 100% of it's insulating ability and actively suck away your remaining body heat.

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I used to be a HARD-CORE wool guy, but recently I switched over to synthetics and I'm pleased with the change. (Oh, and yeah, I think the question should be "wool or fleece" because Gore-Tex is not an insulator and can be used with either).

    I have a Patagonia R3 jacket and R2 vest and I love them. Mostly I love the lightness of the fleece over the wool. Neither wool nor fleece blocks the wind very well, but the fleece is lighter and dries faster. It's also a nightmare in a fire, though. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

    Most important thing: cotton is not just a poor insulator--in very cold conditions, it WILL get wet and it WILL suck heat away from your body. Cotton should have no place in your layering system. But of course, it's great to wear to work and I routinely wear cotton cloths under my fleece and shell, but if I am going into the woods I wear absolutely no cotton. Period. Not even briefs. Cotton is a nightmare in really cold weather.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I am not a fan of Gore-Tex. I have had coats, gloves, pants, boots and gaiters made with it, I have used it in extreme outdoor adventure situations and I used to sell it. My conclusion is that in the real world, Gore-Tex performs no better than inexpensive urethane-coated nylon because Gore-Tex is not noticeably more breathable and in some circumstances it may not be as waterproof either. In my observation, the only significant breathability that occurs with any of these products is with the air that moves in and out of the garment through the major openings. I consider Gore-Tex to be a waste of money. I have a $25 coated nylon rain coat that I found at Wal-Mart that equals or outperforms any Gore-Tex rain coat I have ever tried.

    If you need real waterproofness, go with coated nylon. If you need windproof breathability, go with uncoated nylon or polyester. Some of the breathable uncoated products, particularly the polyester ones, provide a surprising level of water repellency that is practically rain proof for light conditions or high activity levels.

    As for wool, as mentioned by some others, I consider it to be an insulating layer rather than a shell material and I prefer synthetic fleece, but wool can work very well. Wool is my choice for socks.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I have to say I lean more towards wool. I have lots of jackets and outerwear. I have heavy cotton canvas such as the Walls and Carhart variety, but I also have things like Pendelton wool shirts and military Navy Pea coats. In fact, Friday I am picking up my new Filson style 82 double Mackinaw Coat, in forest green color.


    I like the all weather performance of GoreTex, like if I think I might get rained on, for example, and I even bought a black jacket late last winter. However, for warmth, I grab the wool first thing. Filson says, "Because the Double Mack is wool, you'll stay warm even when wet, and you won't get overheated even during strenuous work." But I just don't like the idea of getting my wool coat all wet. I have also used Filson's garment wax to treat heavy canvas Walls coats to give them that same water repellency.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    Though I never spent any time doing winter camping or anything like that, I was subject to some short term severe weather when growing up and living and working in the Chicago area.

    I had a gore-tex rain/wind protector with a hood and it was long enough to hang down below by butt and could be cinched up around my legs to hold it down in heavy winds or rains. Under that I wore a light fleece jacket. The combination of the 2 was adequate for most normal conditions. When it got really cold, or if I was going to be out for a long time in it I'd add a wool sweater and pants to the mix. When doing heavy exercise outside that was almost too much, but any layer could be removed to accommodate as conditions changed.

    I also didn't find the gore-tex that much better than the regular nylon stuff. I was able to get the jacket from an outlet mall at a considerably reduced price, and so I have no problem using it. I still have it probably 9 years later and it's still in great condition. So buying a name brand quality product does generally mean that you get what you pay for. I also liked it better than the inexpensive coated nylon jacket that I had strictly for it's feel. The Gore-tex raincoat was less stiff and flexed better overall. But that may just have been the specific kind of cheap nylon stuff I had.

    For a hat I always wore a lycra/thinsulate type hat. Those big wool things only work if there is no wind or if you pull up your hood tight, and then they itch [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] The tighter, smaller synthetic had was much nicer than my old wool one. I think for a hat the synthetic materials can work better.

  14. #14
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I must add that an umbrella or a poncho beats Gore-tex in the tropics. It can get so hot (even in a downpour) that you'll sweat your (insert whatever here) off when wearing Gore-tex, regardless of how breathable it claims to be.

  15. #15
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    James S beat me to it...
    My $.02 about caps.. The Cabelas "Watch Cap" is a synthetic material, very light but snugs over your head and ears without itching like a wool cap would. They are usually with the black colored insulated underclothing in the Cabelas catalogue.. never seen them priced more than $10.00, and they work great under ball caps, too, since they are thin.
    The Patagonia synthetic caps I've had over the years work well, too, but are thicker. I have been swimming in these before, in a "hot spring" in the wintertime, and snow skiing, and both varieties seem to work well wet.

  16. #16
    EchoSierraTwo
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I have not used any wool products myself but this is what I do when I am in the midst of a brutal cold NYC winter. I start with under armor cold gear (layer 1). I toggle between a polartec 200 or 300 fleece overall bib and or pullover top (depending on the severity of the cold) (layer 2). I then top it off with my Gen 2 ECWCS Gore-Tex parka and trouser(layer 3).

    For footwear I use Matterhorn USMC Gore-Tex combat boots. Thor-lo Boot padded boot socks.

    For the head and hands, a Polartec Fleece skully cap or Gore-Tex Wool night watchman’s cap. Polartec windstopper fleece cloves with Gore-Tex Shells. I also use a Afghan Shemagh (wrap able scarf).

    Of course this is all totally modular. You can add or omit accordingly. This also is a basic set up. I have used a much more complex layering system for EXTREME conditions.


    So as you can see, I like Gore-Tex and Fleece.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I use Smartwool next to my skin, Polartec fleece for more insulation, and I have a Marmot precip shell. I don't use thick wool socks anymore. Fleece socks over Smartwool sock liners work better, and are lighter.

    A couple things about fleece: There is an enormous difference in quality between, say Polartec, and cheap off the shelf fleece. You get what you pay for. I also don't use microfleece. I believe it's too tightly knit to promote proper breathability.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I'm very warm natured and perspire very easily. I simply can't wear a waterproof non breatheable shell or jacket - for me it's like walking into a steam room. I find that GoreTex makes a big difference for me. Shoes too.

    BTW, I understand that the patent on GoreTex recently expired, so we should expect a noticeable difference in pricing in breatheable clothing in the not too distant future.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* nikon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I'm a Smartwool addict, have close to two dozen pairs of their socks of various types. Not only do they perform perfectly in all respects, wearing them makes me feel like I'm having a foot massage. I'm not kidding, they feel great.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    Does anyone wear wickingn liners under wool anymore? When I was a wee Boy Scout this was standard gear for long treks (think Philmont).

    After almost ending up in the hospital after a multi-day festival I went the wig-wam liner, SmartWool Socks, good boot with a good insert route this year and was great at the end of the festival. I had several people ask my how I could wear two layers of socks and "those thick wool socks" in the 100-degree heat. My feet were never hot. That combination breathed very well.

    -F

  21. #21

    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    i have some army blankets from around 1944 , i belive there wool i love em there so worm.and they lasted a long time they was purcahesed at garage sale . i wanna try goretex some day

  22. #22
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    [ QUOTE ]
    capnal said:
    I have to say I lean more towards wool. I have lots of jackets and outerwear. I have heavy cotton canvas such as the Walls and Carhart variety, but I also have things like Pendelton wool shirts and military Navy Pea coats. In fact, Friday I am picking up my new Filson style 82 double Mackinaw Coat, in forest green color.


    I like the all weather performance of GoreTex, like if I think I might get rained on, for example, and I even bought a black jacket late last winter. However, for warmth, I grab the wool first thing. Filson says, "Because the Double Mack is wool, you'll stay warm even when wet, and you won't get overheated even during strenuous work." But I just don't like the idea of getting my wool coat all wet. I have also used Filson's garment wax to treat heavy canvas Walls coats to give them that same water repellency.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Yup! Good ole Filson Double Mac. I've had one for almost 14 years now, and I used to wear it almost every day for 2/3 of the year. I am a big fan of Filson products, but the simple fact of the matter is that my Patagonia R3 regulator jacket, which is made from Polartec fleece, is superior to my Filson Double Mac in most ways. It is lighter and thinner and provides the same insulation value, and it is significantly more breathable, but also less wind-resistant to the same degree. And let me tell you: I have worn a completely soaked Filson Double Mac and it was NOT fun! It may have provided some insulating value, but it was not a lot, and it stayed wet and stayed wet. It's almost impossible to drive away all that moisture with your body heat. Plus, if you think it weighs alot dry (it does!) try it soaking wet. It is incredibly heavy.

    My R3 jacket on the other hand is still not that heavy soaking wet and if you simply keep walking, hiking, or climbing, your body heat alone will dry the fleece.

    One way the Filson is superior, though, is in it's toughness: walk through the underbrush and thorns and branches all you want; the Filson will be just fine. I'd be much more careful in a fleece jacket.

    As for Gore-Tex, it isn't very breathable, but still, I much prefer it--or Marmot's "Membrain" which I own (cheaper)--to the totally non-breathable rain coats. Still, I agree that large scale ventilation through pit-vents and pockets and so on is the only real way to keep from building up sweat.

    But what I'm most excited about is getting a soft-shell with Scholler Dryskin 3XCR (or whatever those alpha-numerals are). I'm thinking of getting a Cloudveil Serendipity Jacket.

  23. #23
    EchoSierraTwo
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I also use a North Face Prophecy Shell for my outdoor workouts. AWESOME! WInd and water protection.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I agree with you guys. I use to wear insulated coveralls while in high school and afterwards as they kept my whole body warm and if i got too warm I could just take off the top and tie it around my waste. Sometimes I would just wear my underwear and a t shirt under them and they were great in cold places like a shop, deliverying papers or outside. Same with rain, although they tend to absorbe it. TO regulate the temp I just zipped it, then tied it around my waste to removing them all thgether.

    Anyway, I out grew them and went the gortex route. I got a jacket and pants from cabelas with the 3m thinsulate. Problem is, its not that rain resistant. IT will absorbe the water. Second it doesnt keep me warm. If i wear it outside to inside at first I start to warm up, then it seems to level off. Unlike other jackets that I have to take off cause them are too warm to wear indoors, the gortex seems to vanish as far as warmth is concerned. Sure, if I go backoutside for a smoke break or between buildings I dont get cold, but I like that warmth feeling.

    So, I agree with the wool idea. I have a wool jacket like and a cabelas vest that is stuffed with feathers from some bird.

  25. #25
    EchoSierraTwo
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    Gotta try some wool. But I believe the syn materials prove to be better in the long run. Am I wrong?

  26. #26

    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    How about polyester? Dries very quickly, moisture wicking (especially the Coolmax variant) and can be made very wind/water resistant. Can also be made into polyester fleece for warmth.

  27. #27
    EchoSierraTwo
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    Yes, thats what Im talking about! Synthetics baby! Silk even. Silk is a WONDERFUL product. Warm when you need it to be and cool when you dont.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Gore-Tex or Wool?

    I wore polypropelene long johns under my uniform as a field service tech, I had to work out side and inside both.I always carried holofill insulated coveralls for the all day outside jobs, the Poly wicked moisture away from my skin and the cooling of that moisture is what chills a person. If you can stay dry at the skin level the cold is easier to bear.

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