Active Shell, new lightweight Gore-Tex fabric

Last week Gore unveiled a new lightweight fabric that they say is "the most breathable Gore-Tex ever'. It's called Active Shell and it seems breathability and comfort next to skin are the only areas were it will beat Paclite.

By Martin Nordesjö

The tricot lining and membrane are integrated.
Gore-Tex Active Shell (not to be confused with Windstopper Active Shell...) is a three layer laminate where a tricot lining is integrated to the membrane using a new lamination technique. The membrane in itself is also thinner (maybe by expanding the PTFE more or removing some or all of the PU coating like in Event). Together with thin outer fabrics this will give the fabric a vapour resistance (RET) of 3, compared to Paclite's 4 (and Pro Shell's 6). It's still 10 % heavier than Paclite but the selling point is that the breathability and the lining makes it more comfortable to wear, especially next to skin.

As usual with Gore there will be narrow requirements for the design of the garments too. Gore will market Active Shell towards single day activities like running and bicycling, and keep Paclite for backpacking. This will affect how Gore want producers to use the fabric. Apart from only allowing the thinnest outer fabrics, around 20 denier, the allowed amount of doubled fabric and seam tape is very limited. The maximum weight is reportedly 330 grams. The thin outer fabrics will make Active Shell less durable than Paclite in general, but some Paclite products like Haglöfs Ozo already use even thinner fabrics. Though it seems Paclite garments are allowed a greater span of fabric weight.

To sum it up: Paclite is still lighter, more packable and more durable than Active Shell. It is also cheaper. Active Shell has better breathability and a nicer feeling on bare skin. The products may still be lighter than Paclite because of hard requirements on a minimalistic design, but of course anyone can produce a Paclite Jacket with of the same design, making it lighter and more durable. At the end of the day, it might all be a case of what kind of products will be available in which material. We will know next autumn when the first products will show up.

Outdoor manufactured already licensed include Adidas, Arcteryx, Berghaus, Haglöfs, Mammut, Millet, Mountain Equipment, Norröna, Patagonia, Peak Performance and Trangoworld.

2 comments:

Joe Newton said...

So it's like a true soft-shell married to a membrane?! I don't get it! Definitely one for the day hiker/biker/skier but that membrane will still have me sweating it out.

Nice try Gore but back to the drawing board?

Martin Nordesjö said...

I don't think the lining will be as comfortable and fluffy as in a "real" soft-shell. My guess it's more like ordinary 3-layer lining. But laminated in a way that doesn't obstruct diffusion as much. But as you say, there is still a membrane blocking real ventilation.

But the biggest issue is probably that the price is to high. Paclite products are expensive enough for me.

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