What Is Gore-Tex Fabric? Your Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever shopped for outdoor gear or rugged work boots, you’ve probably seen the term Gore-Tex or maybe even the Gore-Tex logo floating all around. But what exactly is it? Who benefits and why?

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about this remarkable material and the brand behind it.

The Basics: What Is Gore-Tex?

Gore-Tex fabric is a revolutionary waterproof, windproof, and breathable material originally invented by Robert "Bob" Gore (hence the name, in case you were wondering). It’s known for keeping you dry and comfortable in all sorts of weather. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains or working in rugged environments, Gore-Tex is your go-to for reliable outerwear.

How Does Gore-Tex Work?

The secret behind Gore-Tex, a well-known, patented fabric, lies in its unique Gore-Tex membrane. This membrane has billions of microscopic pores – about 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet but 700 times larger than an average water vapor molecule. This means water can’t get in, but sweat can escape, making it the ideal waterproof fabric that’s also breathable.

What Is GORE-TEX Fabric Used For?

GORE-TEX fabric is used for a wide range of outdoor and performance applications due to its exceptional waterproof, windproof, and breathable properties. Some common uses include:

  1. Outerwear: GORE-TEX jackets, pants, and suits are popular among outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, climbers, and skiers who need protection from rain, wind, and snow without sacrificing breathability.

  2. Footwear: GORE-TEX-lined boots and shoes are favored by hikers, backpackers, and workers who require dry and comfortable feet in wet conditions, whether it's hiking trails or traversing rugged terrain on the job site.

  3. Gloves: GORE-TEX gloves are essential for keeping hands warm and dry during outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, and cold-weather work.

  4. Accessories: GORE-TEX fabric is also used in hats, caps, and other accessories to provide protection from the elements while maintaining breathability and comfort.

  5. Sports and Recreation: GORE-TEX is used in a variety of sports and recreational gear, including tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags, to ensure users stay dry and comfortable during outdoor adventures.

  6. Military and Tactical: GORE-TEX fabric is utilized in military and tactical gear, such as uniforms, boots, and gloves, to provide protection and comfort in extreme conditions.

  7. Medical: GORE-TEX is even used in medical implants and devices due to its biocompatibility and durability, such as vascular grafts and hernia meshes. It also serves as a frequently used suture material utilized across a diverse array of surgical interventions.

The Science Behind Gore-Tex: Materials and Technology

Now, let's dive a bit deeper.

What Is ePTFE?

The core material of Gore-Tex is expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE fabrics). This material was discovered by Bob Gore and forms the basis of the famous Gore-Tex membrane. In 1969, frustrated with a series of unsuccessful experiments, Bob yanked a heated rod of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) in exasperation. This unexpected move transformed PTFE into a new form, expanded PTFE (ePTFE), marking a pivotal moment in materials science.

This discovery paved the way for revolutionary products like Gore-Tex fabric and ELIXIR guitar strings. Gore-Tex, celebrated for its waterproof, windproof, and breathable qualities, has become essential for outdoor enthusiasts. Meanwhile, ELIXIR strings have set the standard in coated guitar-string technology, highlighting the wide-ranging impact of Bob Gore's serendipitous discovery.

Construction Types

This material, known for its reliable storm protection, is made by laminating a waterproof yet microporous membrane to a face fabric. However, Gore-Tex products come in different types. What are the layers of GORE-TEX fabric?

  • 2-Layer (2L Gore-Tex): This uses a two-layer sandwich of face fabric with the GORE membrane laminated to it on the inside, along with a non-laminated lining layer (often mesh, nylon, or microfiber). The 2-layer version is generally warmer, heavier, and less expensive than other options.
  • 2.5-Layer (2.5LGore-Tex): This has a face fabric with the GORE membrane laminated and a spray-on or printed backer on the inside. It’s the lightest of the three traditional GORE waterproof, breathable constructions.
  • 3-Layer (3L Gore-Tex): The classic unlined, uninsulated, high-performance shell jacket design. It uses a three-layer sandwich of face fabric, membrane, and knit backer, all laminated together. Despite the name, the 3-layer version feels like a single layer and is the most durable of the three constructions for extreme conditions and enhanced durability

The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Coating

Many Gore-Tex products feature a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating on the outer fabric. This helps water bead up and roll off rather than soaking into the fabric.

The Production Process: How Is Gore-Tex Made?

The GORE-TEX production process involves stretching PTFE into a microporous structure, bonding it to an outer fabric, and often adding a DWR treatment. This intricate process ensures the fabric remains waterproof, windproof, and breathable.

Since the invention of the original GORE-TEX, W.L. Gore & Associates have continuously improved their products. This includes the development of GORE-TEX Pro, GORE-TEX Active, and other specialized fabrics for various kinds of activities and rugged environments.

Types of Gore-Tex Fabric, Explained

Gore-Tex isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are various types designed for different needs:

GORE-TEX Original

The traditional Gore-Tex you can’t go wrong with.

  • Ideal for: Everyday wear
  • Features: Versatile and reliable
  • Usage: Casual wear, GORE-TEX shoes, and GORE-TEX-lined boots. Found in all three design constructions (2L, 2.5L, and 3L).


The Gore-Tex Pro line is not for the faint of heart.

  • Ideal for: Extreme activities and harsh conditions. 
  • Features: Maximum durability and breathability.
  • Usage: GORE-TEX Pro products are best for mountaineering, skiing, and professional use. Utilized only in a three-layer setup.


GORE-TEX active garments won't let you down while sporting around.  

  • Ideal for: High-intensity activities
  • Features: Lightweight and highly breathable, but sacrifices durability
  • Usage: Running, cycling, and other aerobic sports


Streamlined, lightweight gear that packs a punch for fast-paced adventurers.

  • Ideal for: Lightweight and packable gear
  • Features: Waterproof and windproof, low bulk and small pack size, prioritizing portability over durability.
  • Usage: Hiking and backpacking, travel and emergency rainwear

GORE-TEX Infinium

The Gore Infinium line is great for when on the move.

  • Ideal for: Versatile performance and comfort
  • Features: Completely windproof and weather-resistant (not fully waterproof) softshell membrane. Enhanced breathability, soft and flexible.
  • Usage: Everyday wear, light outdoor activities, or layering under waterproof outerwear for added warmth and wind protection.

Gore-Tex Products: What to Look For

It’s important to understand the different features and benefits of this world-famous fabric to ensure you cater to your needs. From GORE-TEX gloves to GORE-TEX-lined boots, here’s what you should know about choosing the right product. 

GORE-TEX Jackets

GORE-TEX apparel is perfect for anyone needing protection from light rain to extreme conditions.  Here are some key points to consider when shopping for outdoor or work jackets:

  • Activity Level: For high-intensity activities like running or cycling, consider GORE-TEX Active jackets, which are lightweight and highly breathable. For more rugged, professional use, GORE-TEX Pro jackets offer maximum durability and weather protection.
  • Weather Conditions: Think about the typical weather you’ll encounter. For general use, traditional GORE-TEX jackets provide excellent all-around performance. For extreme conditions, look for jackets with 3L GORE-TEX construction for enhanced durability.
  • Fit and Features: Look for features like adjustable hoods, ventilation zippers, and multiple pockets to enhance comfort and convenience.

GORE-TEX Shoes and Boots

Footwear lined with GORE-TEX fabrics ensures your feet stay dry and comfortable, even in the wettest conditions. GORE-TEX-lined boots are particularly popular for hiking and work settings. That's why most of our footwear at Overlook Boots features Gore-Tex technology.

Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping for work boots or hiking boots featuring the GORE-TEX footwear technology:

  • Type of Activity: For hiking and rugged work environments, GORE-TEX-lined boots are ideal as they offer durability and waterproofing. For example, GORE-TEX THERMIUM™ footwear keeps you comfortable across various weather conditions, eliminating the need for a collection of highly specialized shoes or boots.
  • Fit and Comfort: Ensure the footwear fits well and provides good support. Consider features like cushioning, arch support, and ankle stability based on your needs.
  • Durability: Check the construction materials and look for reinforced areas that can withstand rough terrains and prolonged use.

Our Top Picks


Among Gore-Tex garments, GORE-TEX gloves are great for cold and wet weather. They provide excellent heat retention abilities while keeping your hands dry. Look for:

  • Weather Resistance: Choose gloves with Gore-Tex membranes for reliable waterproofing and breathability. They should keep your hands dry while allowing moisture from sweat to escape.
  • Insulation: Consider the level of insulation needed based on the temperature and your activity level. Heavily insulated gloves such as Black Diamond Guide GTX gloves are great for extremely cold conditions, while lighter options featuring Gore-Tex Infinium membrane, like Outdoor Research Versaliner GTX gloves, are suitable for milder weather.
  • Fit and Dexterity: Ensure the gloves fit snugly but allow for good dexterity. Look for features like adjustable cuffs, touchscreen compatibility, and reinforced palms for added durability.
brown working boots

Why Choose Gore-Tex? Key Benefits

Choosing the right gear for outdoor adventures and demanding work environments is crucial for comfort and performance. Gore-Tex stands out as a trusted name in high-quality outerwear, footwear, and accessories and is often the top choice for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike. But what makes it so special? 

Here's why Gore-Tex is the go-to fabric for those who need reliable and versatile protection in any condition.

Reliable Performance

Gore-Tex is a household name that has become synonymous with reliability. Whether you're facing cold conditions, exposure to heat, or intense physical activity, Gore-Tex fabrics perform exceptionally well.


From breathable outerwear options to rough and reliable Gore-Tex-lined boots, there’s a Gore-Tex product for virtually every need. Its versatility makes it a staple in both outdoor adventures and professional settings.

Trust and Innovation

With a long history of innovation and a strong reputation, Gore-Tex remains a trusted name in waterproof membranes and lightweight fabric technologies.

Weather Any Storm with Gore-Tex Hiking & Work Boots

All in all, the rightfully famous Gore-Tex technology offers a blend of waterproofing, breathability, and durability that's hard to beat. Whether you need protection for extreme activities or just want to stay dry during a light rain, Gore-Tex has you covered. 

From outer layers to insulated and waterproof construction for boots, this fabric is designed to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable, even in the most harsh conditions. Next time you’re shopping for work boots or outdoor gear at Overlook, look for the Gore-Tex label. 

It’s a promise of quality that won’t let you down.