In 1958, before Bill and Vieve Gore and their son Robert created Gore-Tex, the enterprising family invented an insulated wire and cable that was used in defense applications and the nascent computer industry. Twenty years later, W.L. Gore & Associates sold its first fabric for outdoor use to the popular Early Winters catalogue for tents and rainwear. It is reported that a primary selling point during a product demonstration involved a piece of Gore-Tex stretched across a cup of hot liquid. When overturned, the liquid didn’t leak out, yet the steam was able to escape. Gore-Tex soon became synonymous with versatile, durable, waterproof, yet breathable (hence the escaping steam) clothing for everyone from schoolchildren to world-class athletes, and to this day remains a primary component in high-performing, all-weather clothing and gear from major manufacturers.
More and more with textile science and evolving materials, and following the example of the military which, has led the race to develop clothing systems out of extreme necessity, it’s possible to comfortably endure hours inclement weather.
So what are some of the best climate performers that allow us to ignore a showery April?
According to Jeremy Stangeland, raw materials quality analyst at environmentally conscious global sportswear, gear, and clothing behemoth Patagonia, using certain internal performance standards such as their patented H2No helps their materials–which undergo rigorous testing– meet specific criteria for durability, breathability, and waterproofing.
To that end, the company’s waterproof shells stand up to test conditions that simulate years of torrential rain (after all, Southern Patagonia is located in a wet climate), and include extreme top performers such as their men’s and women’s Torrentshell jacket and pants.
For serious cyclists in the rain, the Oratory jacket by Brompton with expanding shoulder panels for easy stretching, plus silicone-coated cotton and fold-down high visibility back flap, which also serves as a seat protector, protects its wearer on rainy days. Aptly named “pit zips” under the arms open for extra ventilation, and when turned the collar and cuffs double as safety reflectors.
And Patagonia’s lightweight Super Cell jacket contains a Gore-Tex membrane with a protective inner layer that eliminates the need for lining. A two-way hood fits effortlessly over a helmet and contains a laminated visor for safe cycling in stormy weather. There’s a microfleece-lined neck and wind flap, so there’s really no need to turn back.
With a little diligence, it’s not difficult to find the right clothing to keep you dry, so almost no weather condition represents a missed opportunity to breathe, stretch, and just get out and laugh at the weather.