If someone tells you they have a Gore-Tex jacket, then you know exactly what that means – it’s waterproof, windproof, breathable and probably costs a lot of money. Which is the main reason why you would want to look for an alternative.
And the good news is that you can easily find one. There are a lot of different brands that have developed technologies that are on par with Gore-Tex – some even perform better.
In this review, I will show you to best performing alternatives to Gore-Tex along with some concrete examples of high-quality winter and sports jackets!
The reason why Gore-Tex is so popular is because it’s been around the longest. This synthetic fabric was invented in the late 60s, and for a long time it dominated the market.
At the time, it was pretty unique, and everyone wanted a lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket for themselves. The material was invented by expanding rods of polytetrafluoroethylene and creating ePTFE – a material that is made up from 70% air. All Gore-Tex fabrics are also coated with DWR, which makes them impervious to water.
For decades, Gore-Tex was the go-to choice for high-quality winter jackets, among other things. We all remember George Costanza and his brand new jacket knocking over everything in sight, right?
What made it so popular wasn't that the fabric was waterproof - it was the breathability. They offered high-end jackets that you could wear for hours without being drenched in sweat, and that was the key.
Nowadays, there are lots of other brands that make materials that can mimic all the properties of Gore-Tex. And since a competitive market means competitive prices, today you can get a lightweight, waterproof and breathable winter jacket at a very attractive price.
In fact, there’s so many different options that it is not really easy to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones – and that’s where I come in.I took a good look at all of the prominent Gore-Tex alternatives, and found the top five
Just because you are not getting a Gore-Tex jacket doesn’t mean it can’t perform as well. Plenty of the Gore-Tex alternatives I’ll tell you about are designed by respectable and well-known companies, precisely to provide people with other options that are just as good.
If Gore-Tex is a 10, then most of these alternatives here are 8s or 9s. And if you remember college, aren’t those three grades pretty much the same thing, right? Also, a couple of these are actually on par with Gore-Tex, and eVent in particular. But more about that in a later section.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of different alternatives to Gore-Tex out there. I’ve done my research, and found the 5 alternatives that perform the best, and none of the options in this review should disappoint you.
Maybe you are looking at alternatives because you can’t really afford a Gore-Tex jacket. And that’s completely okay – most of the jackets that I will show you here are pretty affordable, with just a few expensive options.
But the more expensive options are actually great value for money, when you look at their durability, functionality and versatility.
Generally, if you are looking at a Gore-Tex alternative that’s designed and used by one specific brand, the jackets that use it won’t be too expensive. When a brand uses its own technologies, the manufacturing costs are much lower, which results in less expensive products. In this case, jackets.
But, I’ll also show you a couple of high-end alternatives that are developed by a particular company, and then sold to other companies that manufacture outerwear. Those are eVent and NeoShell – both are used by many different brands, and can often have different names. In those cases, the jackets are usually a bit more expensive, since the company has to actually pay for that weatherproof membrane.
What kind of jacket are you looking for? Because, all of these Gore-Tex alternatives are used in a lot of different types of jacket. And I’ll try to show lots of different types, so that everyone can find something that fits their needs.
Gore-Tex is most often used in clothing and footwear to keep it warm, waterproof and breathable. These are properties that you usually want to see in sporty clothing, so hiking, cycling and skiing jackets.
Of course, I’ll also show you lots of regular winter jackets – something that you can wear everyday, whether you’re going to work or just taking the dog for a walk. But generally, most of the jackets featured in this review are pretty versatile, meaning that you can wear them both on the slopes and the streets. And in my opinion, those are the jackets that are the best value for your money, since you are able to use them most often.
eVent is one of the best Gore-Tex alternatives, because it comes really close to mimicking all of its features. In some cases it performs even better than Gore-Tex.
Unlike most other Gore-Tex alternatives, this is a fabric that is developed by a company and then sold to many different brands. So, it can have a lot of different names, and just because the description of the jacket doesn’t list eVent by name doesn’t mean it’s not used in it.
There are actually four different types of eVent insulation – windproof, waterproof, professional and footwear. They all use Direct Venting technology, but are used in different types of jackets. The fabrics differ by their level of breathability/waterproofing.
For example, eVent windproof laminates are most often used in sports jackets, and they are highly breathable. These are activities where you sweat a lot, and the technology behind this Gore-Tex alternative ensures that a jacket will keep you dry and safe from the wind, but at the same time it can breathe and let the sweat out.
eVent fabrics use ePTFE (stretched teflone) – a Direct Venting membrane that is really similar to Gore-Tex, and able to mimic all of its properties.
This is a lightweight cycling jacket – obviously not the best choice for the really cold winter days, but a perfect option for the active women.
It is completely windproof and waterproof – the Elite 2.1 jacket actually has 6 different vents that ensure you stay dry throughout all your adventures.
The jacket is made from ripstop materials that are highly durable, and you can expect it to survive pretty much anything. It also features a reflective trim that makes you visible from all angles – perfect for the late-night rides. It has a pretty high collar that will keep you warm around the neck, and of course it is helmet compatible.
There’s a large zippered back pocket on this jacket, as well as an audio compatible one on the front.
This jacket features a DVExpedition membrane – a weatherproof membrane from eVent. It is their best waterproof membrane, which also has excellent breathability. So, all of the sweat and moisture inside the jacket is able to dry out, but no moisture can penetrate the jacket from the outside.
Because of those features, this is a great sports jacket. It performs really well even in some really hostile weather conditions – actually, the worse the conditions, the better it performs. It’s great for skiing, snowboarding and even hunting, especially because it is really lightweight.
The hood of this jacket is helmet compatible and it has a wired peak. There are also several front pockets for your on-the-trail necessities, as well as an internal mesh pocket. And the chin guard is fleece lined, for that extra cozy feel.
OutDry Extreme is Columbia’s first proprietary technology that’s completely waterproof and breathable. Unlike traditional rain gear, their jackets have a waterproof layer on the outside, and then a soft, wicking layer of fabric on the inside.
The exterior of these jackets is basically a watertight membrane that repels anything wet that touches it. But it also has millions of tiny perforations that allow sweat to get through the membrane, allowing it to breathe and dry out.
OutDry Extreme is a great Gore-Tex alternative because it performs really well, but also because it’s pretty affordable. Columbia jackets are generally cheaper than Gore-Tex jackets, but that is by no means reflected in their performance.
Additionally, they use OutDry Extreme technology even in their heavily insulated winter jackets. So, if you are looking for a Gore-Tex alternative that will keep you warm even in temperatures well below zero, this is one of your best options.
One reason I really like ski jackets is that there’s no doubt in your mind whether it will be warm enough. If it’s designed to keep you warm even on the highest peaks, then it will sure as hell do a great job when you’re strutting around the town. Granted, they are sporty and not the best to pair with skirts and dresses, but you can easily pair them with jeans and boots.
This Columbia jacket has the OutDry Extreme waterproof membrane on the outside, and Omni-Heat lining on the inside. That’s also a Columbia proprietary technology – the lining consists of tiny dots that reflect your body heat, and in turn keep you really warm. That’s how the jacket manages to be really warm and lightweight, even without any down insulation.
It has a lot of different pockets for everything you would need when you go skiing – a ski-pass pocket, a pocket for your goggles, hand-warming pockets and a few other ones for your smaller necessities. It also features adjustable cuffs with a thumbhole, and obviously, it is helmet compatible.
This men’s jacket is a great versatile choice. Since it features OutDry Extreme, it is both waterproof and windproof so it is actually great for any sporty winter activities. It is also insulated with 700 fill power down, so it’s a really warm jacket as well – great for the everyday colds.
Plus, its design is pretty simple, which makes it easy to wear basically anywhere and with anything. This jacket features an adjustable hem, which makes it pretty easy to get it to fit you really well. It will probably fit kind of awkward at first, since it as very wide at the bottom, but that’s where the hem drawcord comes in.
It has only two hand-warming pockets, so it does disappoint in that regard a little bit. But if you can live with that, you will be pleasantly surprised by its quality, performance and weight.
North Face actually uses Gore-Tex in some of their jackets, but they also have their own alternative – DryVent. The fabric is designed to be waterproof, windproof and breathable, and all of their jackets that feature DryVent are fully seam sealed. The face of the DryVent fabrics is treated with DWR (durable water repellent) that instantly repels moisture from the surface.
They actually have three types of this fabric – 2L, 2.5L and 3L. The “L” stands for layer, and the number refers to the number of layers that are used to make a particular DryVent fabric.
This will forever be a North Face favorite of mine, since it one of the most practical and versatile jackets I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. It actually consists of two layers – a lightweight waterproof shell, and a warm, insulated inner jacket. You can wear those layers individually, or you can combine them into a masterpiece of a jacket.
So you’re technically getting three jackets for the price of one, and you will have something to wear in every season. Only the external shell has the 2.5L DryVent membrane, so keep that in mind – the inner jacket is not weatherproof by itself. At the same time, only the inner jacket is insulated, with PrimaLoft’s ThermoBall insulation.
The Triclimate jacket is designed as a skiing jacket, but you can easily wear it on a daily basis. It has a very simple design and it is available in a wide variety of colors. Additionally, both layers of this jacket feature several pockets, but not all of them are accessible when you’re wearing both layers at once.
The Inlux jacket is a great, warm option. It has DryVent 2L fabric on the outside, which makes it completely waterproof and windproof. It is also insulated with Heatseeker, and lined with fleece, so it is also really warm. And since fleece can make you pretty hot at times, it’s really convenient that the Inlux is not just breathable, but also has vents under your armpits that allow you to air it out a little.
This North Face jacket weighs about 1.5 lbs, so it’s pretty lightweight. Also, it has a stormflap that covers the front zipper, which provides you with additional protection from the wind. The adjustable waist, cuffs and hood help with that as well.
There are two external zippered pockets on the Inlux, but unfortunately no internal ones – and that’s to be expected, because of the fleece lining. I’d say that’s pretty much the only downside of this jacket.
H2No Performance Standard is Patagonia’s response to Gore-Tex. It is a waterproof and breathable fabric, which undergoes a bunch of rigorous tests before it can earn that name.
Patagonia tests the waterproofness of their fabric in three stages – they simulate light rain and prolonged rain first, and then they force water through the face of the fabric. They also test the durability of fabric with Killer Wash – a process that is able to simulate years of prolonged use in drenching conditions. Additionally, Patagonia also has a test for breathability, and it measures MVTR – Moisture Vapor Transition Rate.
Only the fabrics that successfully pass all of these tests earn the H2No Performance Standard label. That is how you can be sure of the quality of those jackets.
Similarly to North Face’s Dry Vent, H2No also comes in three different versions:
This jacket is pretty similar to North Face’s Triclimate jacket, since this one can also consists of two separate jackets. But it’s a parka, which inevitably makes it the warmer option. The inner layer of the jacket is insulated with 700 fill power down, and it is pretty warm even on its own. But it’s not fully waterproof – the H2No Performance Standard label is reserved for the outer layer of the jacket.
When you combine the two layers together, you get a warm, waterproof and breathable jacket. The shell is made from 2-layer H2No, so it is pretty versatile. On top of that, even the inner layer of the parka is coated with DWR, so it is pretty water resistant on its own.
This is a really versatile parka – in the spring, you have a thin, windproof and waterproof coat that looks sleek, and goes well with almost everything in your closet. In the fall you have a thin, packable down-insulated parka, which will warm you up in the chilly nights. And in the winter you can really get the maximum out of the parka when you combine the two layers together.
The Torrentshell jacket is one of Patagonia’s all-time best-sellers. There are actually two versions of this jacket and I will link both of them below. The regular Torrentshell jacket is by far the most popular option – it’s thin, packable and lightweight, and surprisingly affordable for a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable jacket.
But the Insulted Torrentshell is a much better choice for winter, since it is filled with 100 grams of Thermogreen insulation. Its collar is lined with microfleece, and it feels soft and warm around your neck. Additionally, the hand-warming pockets are also lined with microfleece, for ultimate comfort.
The jacket features a front zipper along with a storm flap. The zipper is also coated with DWR, so that no water can seep in through the teeth. On top of that, the Insulated Torrentshell is equipped with venting panels under your armpits, which allow you to air it out a bit if you get too hot in it.
NeoShell is also a great alternative to Gore-Tex. It is similar to eVent because this fabric is also used by many different brands. It is developed by Polartec, which then sells it to its many partners, who then incorporate it into their jackets.
So, you can find a lot of different jackets with NeoShell, including ones from brands like Reebok, Marmot, L.L. Bean, Rab and many others.
With this fabric, Polartec prioritized breathability more than everything else. They focused on maximizing internal airflow, and allowing all the vapor to quickly permeate the inside the shell, so that you are always completely dry in NeoShell jackets.
In addition to that, because of the improved airflow, you will rarely be too warm in these jackets. Excess heat is released through the fabric, which also means that you don’t have to manually adjust your gear – there’s no need to unzip your jacket or rely on underarm vents. NeoShell does everything for you.
And since you won’t get too hot in the jacket in the first place, you will rarely sweat. Additionally, NeoShell fabrics are also really durable and completely waterproof and windproof. So, you should only expect superb performance from NeoShell jackets.
The Cloud Nine jacket features 3 layers of Polartec’s NeoShell, which make it suitable even for extreme conditions. And that’s pretty useful, considering that this is a ski jacket. It uses 100 grams of Alpha Insulation, also by Polartec, so it is also really warm, in addition to being waterproof and breathable.
It has a three-point adjustable hood that can’t be removed, but which is helmet compatible. And it also has a visor, for optimal visibility on the trails. There are underarm zip vents on the Cloud Nine, which help you regulate the temperature if you get too hot. But considering how breathable the shell is, don’t expect to use them too often.
The jacket has several zippered pockets – definitely enough for your on-the-trail necessities. On top of that, its interior is lined with fleece, so it won’t just be warm, but also really soft and comfortable to touch. Overall it is a great jacket for snow sports and extreme colds, due to its amazing performance.
I kicked off the review with a women’s cycling jacket, so it’s only appropriate I end it with a men’s option. :>
The Sugoi RSE is a super lightweight and remarkably breathable cycling jacket. Thanks to NeoShell, you will sweat a lot less than you regularly do, especially on those uphill rides. And if you need a really breathable, waterproof jacket then this is by far your best choice.
It’s also really lightweight (about 0.5 lbs) so it won’t slow you down one bit. The RSE jacket features several zippered pockets, including two on your back. It also has adjustable cuffs and hem, that not only keep the draft out, but also help you adjust the temperature, in case you start to get warm.
The only thing I would change about this jacket is its price – it is pretty expensive for a lightweight, cycling jacket. But if you’re a size small by any chance, you’re in luck – both the black and the red size S jackets are seriously discounted right now, and you can get them for under $100! That’s what I call a really good deal.
I showed you 5 top-notch alternatives to Gore-Tex in this review. All of them do pretty much the same thing Gore-Tex does – they keep you warm in the cold and dry in the rain. But here are the two that stand out the most.
NeoShell is proven to be the most breathable waterproof fabric on the market, so you definitely can’t go wrong with it. It’s a super durable material that performs just as well as Gore-Tex, and even outperforms it in some cases. NeoShell is developed by Polartech, but it is used by many different brands, along with Polartec’s other technologies.
The two NeoShell jackets I showed you were a men’s cycling jacket by Sugio, and a women’s ski jacket by Strafe. Both are lightweight, have excellent breathability, waterproofness and lots of pockets. The women’s ski jacket is even insulated and lined with fleece, so it is also a great option for extremely cold weather.
The second best option is DryVent by North Face. This technology is used in some of their most popular jackets ever, and it performs really well. It is not as good as NeoShell because it offers subpar breathability, but it is still 100% windproof and waterproof. DryVent is used not only in sporty jackets, but also in a lot of North Face’s regular winter jackets that you can wear on a daily basis.
I showed you two of those – the women’s ThermoBall Triclimate jacket and the men’s Inlux jacket. The women’s jacket is an awesome option, since it’s made from two different jackets that you can wear separately, or combine into one warm, fluffy jacket. The men’s option is a bit simpler, but still a sleek and lightweight choice for the everyday in North Face’s signature design.
You can check out the prices of these jackets on Amazon, and also all the different color and size options they come in!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!