In these past few weeks we have taken an interest in waterproof fabric technologies and because of that we have looked at several of the top-quality options that are available today.
Gore-Tex®, being the staple of waterproof and breathable fabric technologies, has been the reference point in our comparisons of different fabrics and how they perform.
We have also seen different fabric technologies that are great alternatives to Gore-Tex, some of them being also a lot more affordable and today it’s time to look at one of those alternatives: Pertex®.
As per usual, we will first get started with the newcomer, in this case Pertex®, and then move on to Gore-Tex® and see how the two compare, while ultimately deciding which one is better.
1. Pertex® Technology
It was in 1979 that the concept of capillary action in fabrics was firstly observed by Hamish Hamilton, who later went on to found the Pertex® brand along with Perseverance Mills Ltd..
In the beginning, the main focus was that of creating a very breathable fabric, which would be able to allow moisture vapor to escape through the aforementioned capillary action. What this refers to, is the movement of water droplets through the fiber filaments of the fabric.
The way this is achieved is by the use of two yarns of nylon, one thicker and the other thinner. The thicker filaments are placed on the inside, while the thinner ones are placed on the outside. In this way, helped by the body heat, moisture moves from the thicker inner filaments to the thinner ones on the outside, which then quickly evaporates, leaving the fabric dry.
Pertex was firstly used in down clothing and sleeping bags, due to its high breathability that helped prevent overheating and excessive sweating.
What we will be focusing on is Pertex® Shield, a more modern version of the original fabric, which is designed to be water and windproof, while not compromising breathability.
We mention that last part as breathability is incredibly important when it comes to jackets, and waterproof ones usually lack in that regard considerably.
Similarly to what we have seen with DryVent by The North Face, Pertex Shield comes in three laminate variants: 2, 2.5 and 3-layer constructions.
These variants serve different purposes and differ in their weight and waterproof rating, but all three are indeed water and windproof, with the 3-layer one being considered as more “heavy duty” since it is quite durable and weatherproof.
The use of thin PU layers is also incorporated in Pertex Shield laminates that are used with jackets, which help boost the fabric’s performance.
A great feature of Pertex fabrics, in general, is that they are extremely packable. This is noticeable in some of the jackets that use this fabric, which is always a huge plus as it is very practical to have a jacket that you can easily pack into a small size and take it anywhere with you.
2. Gore-Tex® Technology
The brand itself was established in the 70s, just like Pertex, and they went on to patent ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene), a versatile material that is extremely durable and resistant against water.
The main feature of this material is the presence of billions of micro pores, which help wick moisture away, make the fabric itself very breathable, and they also prevent water from getting through and into the fabric, leaving the fabric dry.
As a fabric technology, it is a combination of three elements, its versatility, it being a membrane because of the numerous pores that are estimated at around 9 billion per square inch, and lastly, a laminate due to its construction. This construction consists of an ePTFE layer that is bonded between two fabric layers.
Performance-wise, Gore-Tex is fully waterproof and also water-repellent, due to the use of DWR coatings on the outside, just like Pertex, as we will see below.
It is windproof and, of course, highly breathable as we mentioned above due to its numerous pores.
3. Comparison: Pertex® Shield vs Gore-Tex®
Waterproof Rating and Performance
When determining a fabric’s ability to resist water, the water column rating is used. For fully waterproof fabrics, a rating of at least 10000mm is required and, of course, the higher the rating, the more water-resistant is the fabric.
In the case of Pertex Shield+ the water column is 20.000mm, which categorizes this fabric as fully waterproof. Due to the use of DWR finish on the fabric, it is also water-repellent.
Gore-Tex, on the other hand, starts at 28.000mm and goes way beyond that. The fabric is also coated with a DWR finish that further helps with not only resisting water but also repelling it.
While both fabrics are water-repellent and waterproof, over long-term wear and through consistent washing, Gore-Tex is a lot more capable to withstand heavy raining and snowfall.
When looking at a waterproof fabric that claims to be high-performance, breathability is a very important factor that needs to be taken into consideration, as it is often what makes or breaks the performance of jackets.
As a point of reference, any jacket that you intend to wear on sports where you will for sure sweat, must have a breathability rating of at least 15.000 g/m2/24h.
Pertex Shield+ has a breathability rating of 20.000 g/m2/24h, whereas Gore-Tex ranges from 17.000 to 25.000 g/m2/24h.
As you can see, they are both considered highly breathable fabrics, so which one is better in this regard? Depending on what variant of Gore-Tex you are looking at, the answer to this depends. However, overall, Gore-Tex is regarded as one of the best breathable fabrics.
Wear and Durability
In terms of which of these fabrics would wear better on a jacket, without lingering too much on the jacket’s particular design, then Pertex most definitely. It is extremely lightweight and easy to move around in, which can be attributed to its nylon and sometimes PU use, which are flexible and light materials.
Gore-Tex, due to the ePTFE, is a little stiff, which makes for a less comfortable wear as compared to Pertex Shield.
As for durability, then hands down Gore-Tex. ePTFE is renowned for its durability and fares much better than most materials through wear and tear and other environmental conditions.
Which One Is Better?
Depending on what you expect from a jacket, the answer to this question can be found in the comparison of these two fabrics.
If it’s weather-resistance and long-term durability you are looking for, then Gore-Tex is the better option. On the other hand, Pertex Shield is lighter, packable and highly breathable, while also able to resist weather conditions quite well.
A factor that might help you determine is the price difference, which is considerable, with Pertex Shield being the cheaper of the two.
Also, depending on how often you will be using the jacket, opt for Gore-Tex if you need a high-performance option that you will be wearing extensively, especially in bad weather, or go with Pertex Shield if you need a practical and well-rounded jacket that will be used in milder conditions.