Rain Gear

6:02 p.m. on July 24, 2006 (EDT)

i was wondering what peoples thoughts are on coated nylon (red ledge TH4 and TH5 coatings) vs. gore-tex i have a jacket that is coated nylon and have been dry when others wearing gore-tex have been wet but i could just be lucky

7:30 p.m. on July 24, 2006 (EDT)
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Goretex is a "waterproof breathable" (wpb) laminated structure. The waterproof breathable part is basically teflon (ptfe) with tiny holes (nano-holes?) in it. The idea is that water vapor molecules will go right through while liquid water (droplets, rain, etc) will not penetrate. In some conditions, Gtx and similar laminates work extremely well, while in others, they work no better than putting on a garbage sack with holes for head and arms. It is really important that the DWR (durable water repellent) treatment be renewed (follow the directions on the bottles of products by McNett, NikWax, and others made specifically for this purpose - washing in regular soap, especially powdered detergents, makes the situation worse). The DWR makes the water bead up on the surface allowing the laminates to breathe.

But you also have to have the vapor pressure inside higher than outside. This means that in humid warm weather, Gtx and its close relatives work poorly. They work best in cool dry weather. For example, great in a wet blizzard, poor in a Florida or Texas Gulf Coast thunderstorm.

Goretex is not a single fabric, but more of a method of laminating the fabrics, which means there is a whole family of "goretex" materials. Gore makes the perforated teflon, and others under their strict rules laminate it to various grades of nylon and polyester, either as a 2-layer (Driloft, for example) or 3-layer material. To get the "guaranteed dry" logo, the garment has to be sewn just right, seamsealed with tape, several other things.

There are currently a couple other companies that seem to have come up with better wpb fabrics. eVent is one. I have 2 eVent shells and an eVent bib that work very well, even hiking in rain on a typical SFBay Area day (not in the current 3-digit summer temperatures, though, but then it is dry, so no need for waterproof). I find the eVent is much better for backcountry ski tours, for example, than my Goretex.

I am not really familiar with the Red Ledge gear, other than the main sources seem to be outlet and remainder stores on-line (like Sierra Trading Post). The descriptions state that their jackets and pants (rain gear, that is) are PVC coated nylon that is "welded" (that is, heat-sealed seams, which is as good as taping if done correctly). This would make the jacket, for example, completely waterproof and non-breathable. The way around this for Red Ledge appears to be mesh vents. This is a typical approach for workers' rain gear - durable PVC-coated fabric with mesh panels on the back and elsewhere that lie under an overlapping flap. This can work extremely well, but depending on the situation, might not provide enough breathability. One example of losing breathability for such a garment is carrying a pack, which effectively keeps the vent on your back closed (I have a "highway worker's" rain suit like this, for which even a light pack shuts the vent pretty completely, but I have bicycled in heavy rain with no pack in warmish downpours, where it worked reasonably well). Carrying a pack with this suit I have ended up wetter than if I had left it off just from sweat and condensation.

In short, I wouldn't recommend it for backpacking, but it ought to work well for something like a wet-weather birding trek where you didn't carry a pack, or maybe used a fanny pack.

10:13 p.m. on July 24, 2006 (EDT)

the rain jacket that i have is water proof breathable but it is not a lamanet like gortex it is a coating and it seems to work well i have had friends wearing goretex that were soaked while i was dry my jacket has the TH5 coating and i was looking at pants with the TH4 coating but i wanted to know the diffrence between them and if they where out faster than goretex or somthing like that the pants can be found at campmor.com

10:30 a.m. on July 25, 2006 (EDT)
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6,010 forum posts

It's interesting that the different web sites describe the Red Ledge TH4 and TH5 coatings so differently. Most of the sites refer to a PVC coating using a vent flap on the back with mesh, while Campmor and a couple others describe it as polyurethane and microporous. PVC and polyurethane are, of course, extremely different coatings, and being microporous vs needing a vent are very different as well. Pretty much all the sites are for remainder, overstock, and seconds dealers. I have no explanation and am rather puzzled on the inconsistency of descriptions.

Some comments, though on microporous polyurethane - polyurethane coatings have been used for a long time without much success for long term durability. The problem seems to be that, like many other coatings, polyurethane does not stand up well to body oils. I had one polyurethane jacket (not microporous, as I recall), and it only took a few wearings for the coating to start peeling around the neck area, where you get the most body oils and sunblock from the back of your neck. Polyurethane coatings are used on the floors and flies of cheap tents, not microporous obviously. On the tent floors, they tend to not be very durable as well.

Technology changes, of course, so the Red Ledge may be just fine. I have seen reviews and heard from people on the trail commenting both "microporous polyurethane is great" and "microporous polyurethane is terrible". Friends in 2 separate parties who did the JMT said their very light weight microporous polyurethane jackets did not last the full 220 miles (8 days for one, 10 days for the other). The problem was the same as I had, namely delamination and peeling in the neck area. But another friend has a very lightweight polyurethane jacket he uses for bicycling that he says is great. So no real conclusion, except that the durability long term appears to be less than some other wpb fabrics.

2:45 p.m. on July 25, 2006 (EDT)

thanks for the help my jacket seems to work quite well i have had it for 2 year but i have been blessed with not having to use it very often it has a fabric lining around the neck and bottom and mesh in the middle so the coating never touches my skin so the oils probably never get to it

June 23, 2018
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