You’ve likely heard of it (and even more so in the past couple of years): GORE-TEX is undoubtedly having a moment.
There are more options than ever available in the weatherproof fabric, with everything from jackets to shoes now open to test the elements. GORE-TEX comes in a few different options with different levels of protection depending on what you realistically need and which activity you’re getting into.
How Does GORE-TEX Work?
Surprisingly enough, GORE-TEX is not a new product. In 1959, Bill and Genevieve Gore founded the original company based on Bill’s work with a new, unique polymer. Their son, Bob, furthered the research and in 1969 modified the base material that would eventually become GORE-TEX. In 1976, the first GORE-TEX fabric went on sale.
You’re probably most familiar with GORE-TEX as a material used for jackets (hard shells) and snowboard pants as your go-to pieces for ski season and wet weather. This specific gear keeps you dry thanks to the GORE-TEX membrane, which has nine billion tiny pores per square inch of fabric. That’s billion, with a “B.” These pores link up in a way that makes the total product waterproof, windproof and breathable.
How GORE-TEX Works in Shoes
The membrane within footwear is similar, except the physical barrier is built into the shoe rather than lying on top. You still get all weatherproof benefits, but it offers more breathability and function within the physical shoe. (They call this product “Invisible Fit” because the construction really feels like the weatherproofing is just another part of the shoe.)
Increased Sustainability and Popularity
The original GORE-TEX materials weren’t very friendly to the environments they played in, but the company has come a long way. Among other initiatives, GORE has taken several steps to improve the material’s longevity and remove certain harmful products from the manufacturing process.
In recent years, GORE-TEX has become more of a fashion statement alongside the rise in Gorpcore and general outdoor garb. You’ll find everyone from streetwear brands to old-school fashion companies embracing the style that comes with weather protection.
So whether this is your first entry into GORE-TEX or you’re a seasoned pro with some personal favorites, any of the following eight options would be an excellent addition to your collection.
1. Vasque Breeze LT GTX
BEST LIGHT HIKING BOOT WITH GORE-TEX
Vasque has a long lineage in hiking, and the pros swear by their commitment to putting out high-quality footwear that won’t break the bank. The Breeze LT GTX is the newest update to a favorite style that’s a bit lighter for warmer hiking but still retains weatherproofing should you need it. It’s a light hiker for cold, dry days or light rain situations. You get plenty of ankle and heel support in a very reasonable overall weight.
2. Ecco Biom 2.0 Men’s GORE-TEX Sneaker
MOST COMFORTABLE GORE-TEX SNEAKER
A comfortable (and trendy) waterproof sneaker, the Biom 2.0 is a prime example of the GORE-TEX logo becoming a fashion statement. It took a long time for the brand to get into street style, but now it seems it’s a marker of good taste. The extra benefit of this sneaker is you get a supremely comfortable sole in an all-around workable style.
3. Danner Feather Light
BEST USA-MADE GORE-TEX BOOT
These days, Danner’s come in a couple of different ranges, but their American-made hiking boots are still among the brand’s top offerings. The Feather Light is one they’ve produced since the 1980s and the style is still as relevant as ever. The green/blue combo is a classy touch that’s our personal favorite, and this tough boot is built for years of use.
4. Brooks Ghost 14 GTX
BEST GORE-TEX RUNNING SHOE
Running knows no weather limitations with this option from Brooks. The material really comes to life in running shoes where you need that protection for unexpected puddles and storms. This option from Brooks has extra cushioning in the midsoles for all of that essential comfort and would easily work as walking shoes for all of you power walkers out there.
5. Merrell Moab Speed GORE-TEX
BEST LOW-CUT GORE-TEX HIKER
It does not get much GORPier than the Moab Speed. As an awesome lower option when you don’t need the extra ankle support, the low-cut shoe comes in several fun, outdoorsy colorways and is just a sweet-looking hiker. This is one of the more interesting GORE-TEX hiking offerings we’ve seen and can report it performs quite well on a range of trail surfaces.
6. Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Gore-Tex
BEST GORE-TEX TRAIL RUNNER
A bright, versatile option with plenty of response and support, the latest iteration of Nike’s beloved Pegasus Trail has improved construction throughout, increased durability and better traction below. Nike Trail options have come a long way and represent some serious running technology built into a wholly-capable off-road shoe.
7. Converse Winter GORE-TEX Chuck Taylor All-Star
Best Unisex GORE-TEX SHOE
This utilitarian take on the Chuck Taylor is an interesting, yet still timeless style. Converse’s most classic design goes full weatherproof here in a shiny black finish that could even be dressed up a bit if you work it right. This is also an excellent choice for city bikers looking for a solid choice to stay dry while riding into work on dreary days. Wrapped in black, this Converse hi-top is classic and timeless.
8. Vans Ultrarange Exo Hi GORE-TEX
If you’re wanting something with a bit more of a city vibe, this new option from Vans is a great choice. The skate brand integrated an UltraRange midsole and arch cradle into the construction and we also like the chunky sole, which should do great in the slush. A rugged winter option from the skating stalwarts.