Wondering what’s the difference between Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide will tell you everything you need to know about the similarities and differences between Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro!
We’ve covered all the qualities the two materials share, as well as all the main differences in their performance. We can tell you right now that one isn’t necessarily better than the other – they’re just different materials, and each is best suited for use in specific conditions. Keep reading to see what those are and which you should ultimately choose for yourself!
The Gore-Tex brand has three membranes they use in their products – Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro, and Gore-Tex Active. Each is best suited for use in specific conditions, but it’s important to note that they all share many similarities and they offer the expected Gore-Tex levels of protection.
This is especially true for Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro, and you can read more about all the things they have in common in this section!
Waterproofing is one of the most important features of Gore-Tex materials. Gore-Tex is essentially a semipermeable membrane – it doesn’t let water from outside sources penetrate the fabric, but it allows small droplets of water inside the fabric to evaporate.
What this means in practice is that Gore-Tex items can’t get soaking wet even when it pours outside. At the same time, any condensation that forms inside the jacket due to sweat or heat will easily evaporate, ensuring that you stay dry.
Another thing to note here is that many products with Gore-Tex also feature a PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coating, which further increases their waterproofing features.
Breathability is just as important as waterproofing, especially if you’re shopping for outdoor gear. When you’re hiking or mountain biking you’re bound to start sweating after a while, no matter how cold it is outside. Gore-Tex fabrics allow that sweat to evaporate so that your inner layers remain dry.
This means you won’t get clammy or smelly after a long hike if you wear a Gore-Tex (Pro) jacket. It’s a highly breathable fabric, which is precisely why it’s the go-to choice for many outdoor adventurers.
The excellent breathability of standard Gore-Tex means that less heat is trapped inside the garments, so you don’t really feel the need to take off your jacket. This also means that temperature is regulated better, so when you ultimately slow down or stop entirely to get some rest, you won’t start to feel cold.
Another feature that Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex pro have in common is that both materials are completely windproof. The garments are capable of blocking wind entirely, and you won’t feel cold in windy weather even when you stop to rest.
Windproofing is achieved by weaving the fabric very tightly so that when the wind blows, it can’t easily penetrate through the material. When you wear a jacket that’s not windproof, you can feel the wind blowing through your jacket. This isn’t just an uncomfortable feeling – if you can feel the wind underneath your jacket, that means that it’s blowing away all the body heat that was trapped inside.
Gore-Tex materials are all woven tightly to be entirely windproof even without any additional garment features. Their most-windproof material (Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper) is used in the manufacturing of gloves, and it performs just as great as you’d expect.
Another thing to note about Gore-Tex (Pro) is that certain garments have added stretch to them. This isn’t the case with all Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro products, but you can expect it from jackets and other items that are advertised as non-restrictive. The stretch adds freedom of movement, which is essential in gear for technical activities like climbing and hiking.
Look for products that are indicated to have added levels of a stretch if this feature is important for you.
Although the two membranes share many features, there are certain differences that make them two completely different products. This section explains exactly what the differences between Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro are, and which conditions they perform best in!
The main difference between the construction of Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro is layering. With standard Gore-Tex products, you can choose between a 2-layer, 2.5-layer, and 3-layer construction.
2-layer Gore-Tex is the standard version, and it’s what is used to manufacture most everyday items – jackets, shoes, etc. The Gore membrane is bonded to the outer fabric but not to the inner liner, which allows for an insulating layer to be placed between the membrane and the inner layer.
With 2.5-layer Gore-Tex (Gore-Tex Paclite), the thin inner lining is attached to the interior, but it is not bonded to the membrane. Only the outer face fabric is bonded to the membrane, and this is the lightest and most packable iteration of the material.
The 3-layer Gore-Tex is the most durable and least bulky version of Gore-Tex. In it, the PU membrane is bonded to both the outer material and the inner layer, so there’s less movement between the different materials and inherently less bulk.
Those are the basic options you have for standard Gore-Tex fabric. The Gore-Tex Pro features only a 3-layer construction with the membrane bonded to both the inner layer and the outer material.
Also, it’s worth noting that the inner layer of Gore-Tex Pro is made from a more durable and rugged material (Gore Micro Grid Backer Technology), so it offers a different performance. Different does not necessarily mean better, so keep that in mind.
Insulation goes hand in hand with the layering – standard Gore-Tex iterations that have a membrane attached only to the outer fabric allow for placement of insulation between the inner liner and the Gore-Tex membrane. This isn’t the case with Gore-Tex Pro, which means that the Pro garments are usually not insulated.
They can still be pretty warm, but they are meant to be worn as durable outer shells, on top of warm and insulated garments.
In other words, if you want an insulated winter jacket, you’ll find plenty of options in the standard Gore-Tex range, but very few options in the Gore-Tex Pro range of garments.
Performance is where these two Gore-Tex iterations matter the most. Standard Gore-Tex is more versatile, so it’s used in the manufacturing of many different products. It’s found in everyday jackets, hiking footwear, and even cross-country skiing gear, among other things.
But Gore-Tex Pro is only found in the most technical garments designed for use in extreme conditions. Gore-Tex Pro garments are made for ice-climbing, hunting, mountaineering in extreme conditions, and free riding in extreme cold.
Essentially, what this means is that Gore-Tex Pro products are aimed at a very specific target audience. They’re for people who need extremely durable garments that will be used in rough and rugged outdoor conditions, not for people who want a good winter jacket or warm ski pants.
The difference in design and performance is evident in the pricing of Gore-Tex (Pro) products. The Pro items are generally much more expensive than other Gore-Tex products, especially the lifestyle and everyday garments made with standard Gore-Tex.
If you need high-quality outerwear for technical use, the price shouldn’t be a factor because you are getting a top-of-the-line performance. But if you’re just looking for high-quality items and you don’t plan on going ice climbing or freeriding any time soon, sticking with basic Gore-Tex items means you get to spend a lot less money.
Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro are two very similar materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The main differences between the two materials are in their construction and performance.
Basic Gore-Tex can be made with 2, 2.5, or 3 layers, whereas the Pro version only features 3-layer construction. This means that the Pro version is more durable and better suited for use in rough and rugged conditions. On the other hand, the Pro version usually isn’t insulated because the membrane is bonded to both the face fabric and the inner liner.
Because of that, Gore-Tex Pro is used only to manufacture garments for very technical outdoor use, but the regular Gore-Tex is much more versatile. Basic Gore-Tex is what you get in all their everyday and lifestyle products, including shoes, jackets, pants, and others. The Pro version isn’t necessarily better or higher quality than regular Gore-Tex – it’s just different.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro aren’t your only two options when it comes to high-quality Gore-Tex garments. There are a few other iterations of the material as well, such as the extremely lightweight and packable Gore-Tex Paclite, the completely windproof Gore Windstopper, or the very breathable but not waterproof Gore Infinium with excellent next-to-skin comfort.
Gore-Tex is a highly versatile technology that’s been developing for many years, and no matter what exactly you are looking for, there are at least a few great items in their product range.
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!