We are on the topic of fabric technologies, once again. Learning more about fabric technologies is an important step in better understanding how a jacket will perform.
It’s also useful knowledge when it comes to buying a new jacket, as you will know exactly what to look for, by knowing what you expect from your jacket and what fabric fulfills your requirements best.
In our previous comparisons on different fabric technologies, Gore-Tex® has been used as the point of reference, to which we compared the newcomer fabrics.
In this comparison, we will do the same thing, by comparing Gore-Tex® to Omni-Tech™.
The main purpose of these comparisons is to help you get a better understanding of what the technicalities mean and how the fabrics actually measure up to each other, the end point of which being to determine which would be the better option.
We chose Omni-Tech™ as it is considered a good alternative to Gore-Tex®, especially so for its price. If there is one thing Gore-Tex has, that all other fabric technologies beat, is its price, which is why a lot of people shy away from jackets made of it.
So what’s one to do if a quality jacket that withstands weather conditions, but can also breathe, is required? Turn to alternatives, of course.
Let’s take a look.
1. Columbia Omni-Tech™ Technology
Omni-Tech is created by Columbia, an American brand that is a regular in our selections and reviews.
As a technology, it was developed to not simply be waterproof, but also stain resistant and, most importantly, breathable.
Breathability is the main issue when it comes to waterproof jackets, as it is usually lacking. Those who are avid skiers, hikers, or runners will tell you how much of a role breathability plays not only in how a jacket wears but also on how it affects your performance, too.
Omni-Tech is made up of three layers, the outer of which is coated with Omni-Shield™. Omni-Shield is what gives this fabric its ability to ward off stains and grime, while also helping to repel water.
Its ability to repel water is important, as it minimizes contact with rain and snow, by causing water droplets to roll off the surface of the fabric, rather than collecting on top of it and risking it getting through.
The second layer is a membrane, which is waterproof and it is what gives Omni-Tech most of the water-resistant ability.
Lastly, the third layer’s purpose is that of moisture wicking by utilizing body heat.
The overall feel of Omni-Tech is soft and pleasant to wear as it is not a stiff fabric.
Read next: Columbia OutDry™ Extreme vs Gore-Tex®: A Comparison
2. Gore-Tex® Technology
Gore-Tex® is a fabric that was created decades ago, after a discovery on ePTFE, a very durable material. ePTFE has low water adsorption and is made up of billions of pores, with an estimate of around 9 billion pores per square inch.
These micropores aid the fabric to “breathe” per se, by making it able to wick moisture out, while at the same time preventing water droplets from the outside from getting through, due to their small size.
The outer layer is also coated with DWR treatment, which further waterproofs the fabric by making it water-repellent.
As a fabric, it can be looked at in three different ways: as a laminate, because it is a binding of three layers, a membrane due to its numerous pores that make it waterproof and breathable, and as a technology, because it can be used to fulfill different requirements.
Gore-Tex is considered the fabric technology to go for if you truly want to experience what a completely waterproof fabric feels like.
While there are numerous alternatives available, as we have also seen in a previous article, Gore-Tex still remains the best option out there for a well-rounded fabric, that delivers wind and water resistance, breathability and is also incredibly durable.
Read also: Gore-Tex vs Dermizax Fabric Technology: Which is Better?
3. Comparison: Omni-Tech™ vs Gore-Tex®
Waterproof rating refers to the water column of a fabric, which in turn refers to a fabric’s ability to withstand water pressure before it starts to leak.
We have discussed the numbers before, stating that for a fabric to be considered waterproof, it needs to have a rating of at least 10.000mm. Of course, the higher the better.
Omni-Tech has a water column of 10.000mm, which technically classifies it as waterproof, albeit not highly so.
Gore-Tex, on the other hand, starts at 28.000mm, which makes it a highly waterproof fabric, that can withstand snow blizzards and heavy rainfall without any issue.
However, when it comes to jackets, the overall way that a jacket is put together must be taken into consideration. We are referring to seams, to be more precise.
Stitched seams must be stayed away from, as the tiny holes from the needle will jeopardize the jacket’s ability to withstand rain, no matter how waterproof the fabric may be.
For this reason, make sure that the jacket has either sealed or taped seams for proper protection. And even then, check to see if it is a fully seam-sealed jacket or if only the critical seams are sealed, as the latter are not fully protected from the elements.
As we said earlier, breathability is of key importance for a high-performance jacket, especially if you want one for sports and other outdoor activities.
Breathability, in technical terms, refers to a fabric’s ability to let air flow through it and moisture vapor escape, but we also take into consideration its ability to wick moisture from the inside to the outside. This, in turn, will prevent overheating and excessive sweating.
Breathability is also measurable, and Omni-Tech has a rating of 10.000 g/m2/24h, whereas Gore-Tex begins at 15.000 g/m2/24h and goes all the way up to 25.000 g/m2/24h.
As you can see, Omni-Tech is adequately breathable but is best avoided if you are looking for a jacket that can keep up with your physical activity.
Wear and Durability
How these fabrics wear is a bit different, as Omni-Tech, is slightly more malleable and gives in a lot easier to movement, whereas Gore-Tex is stiffer.
Due to the Omni-Shield coating also, Omni-Tech has a better feel to it and it is also able to dry quite fast.
As for durability, while Omni-Tech will provide a jacket that lasts for a reasonable time, nothing beats Gore-Tex regarding durability.
Which One Is Better?
When taking all factors into consideration, Gore-Tex is the better option of the two.
However, you must factor in what you are looking for. If it’s an affordable jacket that you want to wear in mild weather conditions and won’t be moving excessively in it, then Omni-Tech jackets will leave you very pleased.
But, if you want a jacket that does not budge to the elements and can be worn for a very long time, then look through the different Gore-Tex technologies and pick the one that suits you best.
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Read next: Patagonia H2No vs Gore-Tex Technology: Which is Better?
So I got an omni tech waterproof winter jacket… The jacket is very light and love the colors. Is okay to wear in the winter when it is snowing and high winds in Southern western Ontario? Please write me back. Thanks!
Hello Tina. Not sure if you ever did receive a reply to your question. Also not sure if u will even see this or not. However … I just bought a Omni-Tech/Omni-Heat jacket for my Daughter yesterday (Nov. 03 ’19) and since it appears you have 1 winters worth of experience with your omni-tech jacket I wonder if you’d be willing to share your personal thoughts about it. Thanks Kindly
Is gortex better for boots regarding water proof???
Absolutely. I’ve had a couple of Merrell boots that claimed to be waterproof, but were not. to their credit, when I pointed this out, they sent me the Gore-Tex versions that were $20 more, at no extra charge. So go with Gore-Tex if you need absolute waterproofing.
I recently bought (2 weeks ago) my first Columbia Omni-Heat coat (Suttle Mountain) and I love it. I feel very warm, comfortable and stylish. At first I was hesitant because the material feels so light (I always assumed heavier meant warmer). For comparison I wore on a very cold blustery day and thought maybe it wasn’t as cold out as I thought. So, I changed into my old coat a big, heavy Hollister coat with fur inside the torso and all that and I was freezing. This coat is supremely lighter in the sense of how it feel on my body and keeps me way warmer than any other coat I have ever owned the original cost was $200 but i got it for $140 on sale. With my older heavy coat I would even get sort of tired on long walks with my dog from the extra weight, I do not miss it at all. Thank you Columbia for creating Omni-Heat and I’m glad I took a chance and gave it a try!
Thanks for your review Cindy!
Excelent article, nice job ppl!
I will only accept Columbia’s Omni-tech outerwear because it’s superior for the quality and price!
Timberland is also one of my “go-to’s”…
Have Columbia omni-tech boots and jacket- both failed in rain. 🙁 I was soaking wet and with wet feet. Wont consider omni-tech as waterproof anymore
I would not expect Omni-tech to work in rain but snow level waterproofing is what I’m looking for. At 10k waterproofing, that pretty good considering what the price is, especially at a Columbia Outlet.
I have owned Columbia Omni tech jackets for 7 seasons and they work great in the snow but not the level of waterproof you need for heavy rain. But for the price just buy a good rain jacket then wear layers underneath. If it’s raining it’s obviously not THAT cold out so a base layer or two under should do. That’s been my strategy and it’s saved me unnecessary $ on gore-Tex.
I have the Columbia Nordic Point 3 and it’s a great jacket. Gore-Tex is a better and also far more expensive. At $700, I will stick with Columbia.
Aside from the difference in above mentioned ratings, there is also the sound that each jacket makes.
As gore-tex is a laminate it tends to be noisier, if that makes any sense.
I’ve used both, and prefer my columbia interchange outer shell for winter use.
5 years in and its only now needing a recoating of dwr finish.
In terms of gore-tex, don’t be afraid to look at surplus military cold weather gear for a more affordable option.
Before you do go the gore-tex route, I’d suggest checking your area for a gore-tex licensed individual should you be in activities that may cause your garment to get tears and abrasions.
I bought a vortex jacket 20 years ago it was up until a few years ago best money ever spent I broke the hood lining
But seriously good long term investment
Arc’teryx that I really want, Gore-Tex shell, stylish and fullproof(ish) $350.
Columbia Omni tech (CostCo) Somewhat stylish, warm, durable etc… $70
It’s really about what you can and want to spend. Gore-Tex is going to be superior, but how often will you be frolicking in the snow. Pretty easy decision based on those factors. Serious ski/snowboarder, spend the extra money, ski/snowboard 2 times a year… CostCo.
I purchased a Gore-Tex shell way back in 1982 in preparation for an extended bicycle tour. It was quite expensive but lightweight and easy to pack. We traveled the east coast extensively from Ohio to Ottawa, Montreal, then south to Maine ending in South Carolina. This tour encompassed three seasons, Spring through Fall. The Gore-Tex held up remarkably and performed wonderfully. Think of pedaling a bicycle up long hills with over 75 lbs of gear in mid-summer with a steady rain. Tough conditions for the performance side of the gear. But the Gore-Tex kept us dry but allowed us to remain relatively cool even though we were perspiring under the exertion. The jacket maintained its integrity for 10 years, until it was stolen.
Fast forward 40 years to where I am no longer even remotely as active so the performance of my gear has changed somewhat to where it must be primarily comfortable with good waterproofing. The Horizons Pine Interchange Jacket with Omni-Tech from Columbia was my choice since it allows for the removal of the warm inner lining during the spring-thru-fall period. The jacket has performed well against heavy winds, snow, and rain to date. I’ve had it less than a year but I’m very happy with it. It looks almost dressy while performing admirably under moderately harsh conditions. And the price difference made it an easy choice.