Fabric technologies have been around for decades now, with Gore-Tex® being one of the earliest options to have been created.
Considered to be the staple of the fabric technology industry, we have, for weeks now, been comparing Gore-Tex® to other waterproof and breathable membranes, in order to get to know the options available and ultimately decide which ones are the best.
So far we have looked at a variety of not only fabric technologies but fabric binding technologies too, such as OutDry.
Today it’s time for another comparison, that between H2No and Gore-Tex®.
First, let’s get to know each one a little better and then dive right into the differences and how they compare to each other.
1. H2No Fabric Technology
H2No fabrics are created by Patagonia, a brand founded in 1973 in California. We have previously gone through several Patagonia jackets, some of them made of H2No fabric.
This fabric technology is typically made of a water-repellent shell and breathable membrane, which is also waterproof. This is the basic of the design, as there are three variations it comes in.
Read also: The North Face DryVent vs Gore-Tex Technology: Which is Better?
2-layer H2No fabrics – completely water and windproof, these two layers are the aforementioned one, the waterproof membrane and the water-repellent shell. The membrane is also highly breathable and there is also a wicking hanging liner, which helps reduce clamminess by making it easier for moisture to escape the jacket. These fabrics have next-to-skin comfort and are very comfortable, as well as quite warm.
2.5 – layer H2No fabrics – the lightest of the three options, these fabrics are also waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Made to be practical, they are packable and suitable to take with you anywhere. There is a printed interior pattern, which protects the waterproof membrane and helps distribute moisture in order to reduce surface tension and decrease the risk of water seeping through.
3-layer H2No fabrics – extremely durable, apart from being fully windproof, waterproof, and breathable, the 3-layer construction uses a laminated scrim which helps disperse the water vapor build-up by reducing drying time and minimizing the risk of water leaking through. Apart from that, it also helps from abrasions by maximizing the durability and tear-resistance of the fabric.
Deluge® DWR Coating
Before we move onto the testing process for these fabrics, the use of DWR bears mentioning. Patagonia uses Deluge® DWR coating, which lasts considerably longer than other standard DWR finishes.
Because it works so well, there is no need for fully waterproof barriers to be used in the case of soft shell jackets by the brand, which means a higher level of breathability as compared to other membranes.
For the testing process, since it’s the first time we go so in-depth with H2No fabrics, Patagonia uses a 24 Killer Wash testing process, which runs the fabrics through the worst conditions possible, and then moving on to water permeability testing.
After both these tests are passed, the H2No Performance Standard status is given to the fabrics, guaranteeing that they are the best of the best.
Read next: Columbia Omni-Tech vs Gore-Tex: Which is Better?
2. Gore-Tex® Fabric Technology
Gore-Tex® is a brand name which was given to the company in the 1970s, which itself was founded in 1959. Roughly a decade later, the founders’ son created ePTFE, a material that was then patented by the company and found use in many different industries, outdoor clothing being one of them.
ePTFE is a highly durable material, with very low water adsorption abilities and billions of micro pores on its surface.
Further reading: How Does Gore-Tex® Work? An In-Depth Look
These pores are the reason for the breathability of the Gore-Tex fabrics, which are capable of wicking moisture away, while at the same time preventing water droplets from getting through.
As we have seen before, Gore-Tex® comes with several characteristics that make these fabrics be considered as:
Membrane – due to the high numbers of micropores that are able of wicking moisture.
Laminate – because the ePTFE is bonded between two fabric layers.
Technology – it comes in different variants that are used for several purposes, some more breathable, while others are more durable.
Read also: Helly Tech vs Gore-Tex Technology: Which is Better?
Gore-Tex® also comes in several options, which include:
Pro – breathable and durable, designed for agility activities such as hiking.
Paclite – the lightest option, suitable for more casual wear.
Pro Shell – this is the most durable and weatherproof of the options, mainly used in gloves and shoes.
Active – the go-to fabrics used by athletes and outdoor enthusiasts as this is the most breathable option.
3. Comparison: H2No vs. Gore-Tex®
Judging solely by waterproof ratings, H2No fabrics fall between the 10.000 – 20.000 mm range, which is considered highly waterproof, as the minimal rating required is 1.000mm and above. The higher the better, of course.
Gore-Tex’s water column rating begins at 28.000mm and goes upwards of that, making it considerably more resistant to water than H2No, and it is no surprise as barely any other fabric technology beats Gore-Tex in this regard.
We should note, however, that Gore-Tex, just like H2No fabrics, has DWR coating on the outer layer, which downgrades over time and needs more frequent maintenance than the H2No.
Lastly, the waterproof rating of a jacket does not necessarily indicate how well it will perform in bad weather, as the construction of the jacket itself is very important.
While such high water column ratings as we saw above are considered to be highly waterproof, a jacket that has low-quality seam-proofing will eventually let water through.
Sealed or taped seams are the best options if you want to be certain that you will remain safe from the elements.
Read also: Gore-Tex vs Dermizax Fabric Technology: Which is Better?
This is the part that makes the difference in terms of wear, as it ultimately determines how much you will sweat in your jacket.
The breathability ratings for each are around 15.000 – 25.000 g/m2/24h for Gore-Tex and 12.000 – 15.000 for the H2No fabrics.
As you can see, Gore-Tex is the most breathable out of the two, and so far only eVent fabrics have managed to outdo Gore-Tex in terms of breathability.
Wear and Durability
Durability-wise, nothing beats Gore-Tex, because the ePTFE membrane is extremely resistant to abrasions, wear and tear. These fabrics are one of the few that will last for many years without any sign of damage.
H2No is also very durable, but unfortunately, it does not come close to Gore-Tex in this case.
As for wear, Gore-Tex jackets tend to be a bit stiff, due to the ePTFE, so they are not the most comfortable option available.
This is where H2No fabrics perform better than Gore-Tex ones.
Which One Is Better?
All things considered, once again the answer is Gore-Tex®.
However, considering the high price of Gore-Tex jackets and the purpose of the jacket you are looking to buy, an H2No jacket will keep you dry and protected in harsh conditions, albeit not as long as Gore-Tex would.
There is no need to spend so much money if you want a casual, everyday jacket, rather than a high-performance one. If you don’t spend most of your time outdoors in harsh weather, then H2No jackets offer great quality for value.
– – – –
Read next: Gore-Tex vs Jack Wolfskin Texapore: Which is Better?
I have been on the slopes and in the woods for over 30 yrs. i have used and stopped all use of any water proof and breathable material,designedand made by The Northface . I have always thought the Patagonia was always over priced and quality of construction was not up to part with Marmont and Eddie Bouier
I was interested in your comparison because i am interested in a back woods water and wind proof pair of pants, specifically Patagonia back country pants
With 3 layers of H2no. . They are $200.00 less than any GorTex bases products
And now i know y. But feel that the hrs out in the woods Photographing landscapes, ski racing. and working as a carpenter through the winter out side,much of the time. The abrasion resistance of the 3 layerH2No will last a few yrs. We will see. I work in a North Face Gortex jacket with a hood, abrasiion resistant, very good & lasts for about 3 to 5 hrs. In the rain by its self and with a marmonth zip pit rain jacket its good for the day no zipl pits on the north face but the rain jacket vents do balance out the system.
I just came back from a hike where I was in the rain for a couple of hours. I didn’t manage my body heat too well for the first 30 minutes, but did after that. At two hours I stopped at a shelter and took off my Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket. It was as wet inside as a coated nylon (not breathable) jacket would have been. You can do all the tests and cite specifications, but walking up hill with a pack in the rain is the real test.
Jim, I am obsessed with this issue and have had identical results. Yesterday: 30min. bike ride over a hill with brand new H2No. It was probably @ 45-50 degrees F. Underneath I had on medium weight pants, 1 synthetic and 1 light wool sweater on top. Way too much! After 30 min. Inside was wet. However I am pretty sure I would still have been hot and generated moisture inside even with the lightest of under layers.
My experience is that Gore-Tex is FANTASTIC in COLD weather as long as I monitor my under layers and avoid perspiring. This is not possible in warmer weather. I have had better luck wearing wool layers with NO SHELL at all. The wool gets wet, keeps me warm, AND BREATHES. I have yet to find ANY rain gear that works in warm weather where I am exerting myself.