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Mountain Hardwear's Dry.Q enters waterproof-breathable battle

by Alicia MacLeay
February 8, 2011

As ever more waterproof-breathable fabrics and technologies hit the outdoor market, consumers are hearing greater promises, but are likely experiencing greater confusion from all the claims and names floating around.

The Waterproof-Breathable Players

Gore's new Active Shell promises to be its most breathable yet.

Here's a quick recap of the major waterproof-breathable players, following product launches at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market:

  • Last year, Columbia Sportswear acquired OutDry, which it uses for waterproofing in its own line, as well as in Mountain Hardwear gloves and Montrail footwear, both brands it owns.
  • Polartec introduced NeoShell, which it calls the "most breathable waterproof fabric," for fall 2011.
  • Fabric titan Gore-Tex is staying in the game with Active Shell, which it says is its most breathable waterproof membrane yet.
  • And then there's GE-owned eVent, which many claim is more breathable than Gore-Tex. Manufacturers can partner with GE and choose from its library of packaged eVent fabrics (total number not public) to design a shell, trail runner, shelter, etc.  In these cases, you know the product uses eVent (for example, the Rab Latok Alpine Jacket or Montane eVent Halo Stretch Jacket).
  • Or a manufacturer can work with GE to incorporate that membrane technology into its own proprietary fabrics, branded with its own proprietary names. This is the route Mountain Hardwear took with Dry.Q, becoming the first company to brand GE membrane technology as its own.

Mountain Hardwear launches Dry.Q

(Photo: Mountain Hardwear)

Mountain Hardwear bills Dry.Q as "the first waterproof-breathable system focused on keeping you dry and comfortable — inside and out." It includes three categories: Elite, Active, and Core. While all are waterproof-breathable, only Dry.Q Elite uses GE membrane technology.

Mountain Hardwear differentiates its Dry.Q Elite from eVent, explaining it "didn't just choose a fabric from a binder" like other brands. Instead, it says, it brought together its institutional knowledge in creating waterproof-breathable apparel and its own unique combination of fabrics, backers, glues, DWRs, and laminates, and worked with GE on the membrane component to complete the package.

“In the past, we’ve had to follow a vendor’s rule book,” said Director of Product Development Ted Ganio. “Now we make the rules and are free to break them if we come up with better technology."

All three categories of Dry.Q waterproof-breathable outerwear will come to the market this fall. They shape up like so:

  • Dry.Q Elite: The Elite line is the only one with GE membrane technology for air permeable construction. That means that in addition to being waterproof-breathable, Dry.Q Elite lets air, not just moisture, pass outward through the shell fabric.

    Designed for high-energy activities like climbing and skiing that generate lots of body heat, Dry.Q Elite is up to two times more breathable than industry standards, at least for the two-layer version, according to Mountain Hardwear. (The industry standard moisture vapor transmission (MVTR) rate is 20,000 MVTR. Two-layer Elite tested at 40,000, three-layer Elite at 30,000, and Elite Softshell at 30,000. Elite fabrics average .05 cfm/cubic feet per minute of air permeability.)

    The company also claims Elite is the "most durable waterproof-breathable in the industry" based on a 500-wash test.
  • Dry.Q Active: The Active line features stretchy, durable, lightweight, waterproof garments made for high-output activities. With body-mapped designs that reduce weight and bulk, Dry.Q Active "lets athletes push aerobic sports deeper into the backcountry," says Mountain Hardwear. Dry.Q Active (and Core, below) performs at industry standards for breathability, the company says. 
  • Dry.Q Core:The Core line features durable, waterproof garments designed for a wide range of outdoor alpine and snowsport activities.

While Mountain Hardwear was the first to launch a proprietary line with GE membrane technology, expect more brands to follow its lead in fall 2012 or spring 2013 lines, says GE.

In the meantime, here are three products from Mountain Hardwear's Dry.Q Elite and Active lines for fall 2011:


Drystein Jacket (Dry.Q Elite)

  • Drystein Jacket

    Weight: 1 lb 5 oz / 605 g (men’s); 1 lb 4 oz / 561 g (women’s)
  • MSRP: $425
  • Available: Fall 2011
  • Sizes: S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)


  • Alpine fit
  • Highly breathable, water resistant side panels
  • Chest-high hand pockets to accommodate a harness or pack
  • Helmet-compatible hood with single-pull adjustment system and extra beefy brim
  • Welded watertight pockets and zips to seal out moisture
  • Interior zip pocket for keys, ID, other small items
  • Micro-chamois-lined chin guard to eliminate zipper chafe
  • Body fabric: Dry.Q Elite 40D 3-Layer
  • Panel fabric: Rebar Ripstop Softshell
  • Center back length: 29 in / 74 cm (men’s); 28 in / 71 cm (women’s)

Snowtastic Jacket (Dry.Q Elite)

  • Snowtastic jacketWeight: 2 lb / 900 g (men’s); 1 lb 10 oz / 732 g (women’s)
  • MSRP: $450
  • Available: Fall 2011
  • Sizes: S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)


  • Waterproof, breathable softshell loaded with ski features
  • Attached hood
  • Removable, adjustable, stretch powder skirt
  • Pit zips for additional ventilation
  • One-handed hood and hem drawcords for quick adjustments
  • Zip handwarmer pockets
  • Soft "Butter Jersey" cuffs
  • Micro-chamois-lined chin guard to eliminate zipper chafe
  • Body fabric: Dry.Q Elite Twill Softshell 3L (56% polyester, 44% nylon)
  • Center back length: 29 in / 74 cm (men’s); 26.5 in / 67 cm (women’s)


Effusion Hooded Jacket (Dry.Q Active)

  • Effusion JacketWeight: 12 oz / 333 g (men’s);  10 oz / 287 g (women’s)
  • MSRP: $200
  • Available: Fall 2011
  • Sizes: S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)


  • Close-fitting, athletic cut with a long-cut back for performance
  • Seam taped construction
  • DWR finish to repel water
  • Slim fit hood stays on when in motion
  • Full front zipper with internal draft flap/chin guard for ventilation options
  • Rear zip pocket, interior MP3 pocket with earpiece exit
  • Highly luminescent reflective print for ultimate visibility
  • Fabrics: Dry.Q Active Solution 3L Jersey (100% polyester)
  • Center back length: 29 in / 74 cm (men’s); 27 in / 69 cm (women’s)


eVent versus standard ePFTE, according to eVent

Still with us? Wondering how an eVent membrane differs from other waterproof-breathable technologies?

Tony Stanislav, a product applications manager with eVent, says that standard ePFTE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) membranes, such as those used by Gore, use three layers:

  1. An external fabric facing the elements,
  2. A waterproof-breathable (ePTFE) membrane, and
  3. A next-to-skin layer that prevents body oils from clogging the membrane's pores.

The third layer drastically reduces breathability, Stanislav said, so eVent created an ePTFE membrane that sheds body oils, eliminating that third layer and allowing direct venting of body heat.


with reporting by Tom Mangan