Is Gore-Tex Still the Gold Standard for Ski and Snowboard Gear?

When it comes to ski and snowboarding outerwear—as well as essentials for the mountaineers among us—few materials are more ubiquitous than Gore-Tex. The membrane at the top of the figurative (and literal) mountain, Gore-Tex has long been considered the gold standard for outwear weatherproof coatings.

But today, when technology is advancing more rapidly than ever, is there an alternative good enough to dethrone it? Read our guide to find out.

Getting a Closer Look at Gore-Tex

To set the stage for our comparison between Gore-Tex and other membranes on the market today, it’s important to provide some background on Gore-Tex: what it is, and why it’s used for everything from rain-repellant hiking outwear to men’s and women’s ski and snowboard jackets.

What Is Gore-Tex?

Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane invented in 1969 by Wilbert L. Gore and his son, Robert W. Gore. (Hence the name.) It’s renowned for its ability to repel liquid water while allowing perspiration to pass through, making it a popular choice for ski and snowboard jackets, as well as mountaineering gear.

How is Gore-Tex Used?

Gore-Tex fabrics are typically laminated to other materials to construct garments, footwear, gloves, and even tents that are durable, waterproof, and windproof, yet still breathable.

The brand has expanded its technology to include variations like Gore-Tex Pro, Gore-Tex Active, and Gore-Tex Infinium, catering to a wide range of activities and conditions.

What Are the Advantages of Gore-Tex?

Gore-Tex is celebrated for its durable waterproofness, breathability, and windproof capabilities. Both a versatile and ultra-strong membrane, its microscopic pores are small enough to prevent water droplets from penetrating while allowing water vapor (sweat) to escape, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable.

Nearly all Gore-Tex products undergo rigorous testing in both laboratory and real-world conditions to ensure quality and performance. Additionally, Gore-Tex offers various versions tailored to specific needs, such as Gore-Tex Pro for maximum durability and Gore-Tex Active for high-aerobic activities.

Another Gore-Tex release, Gore-Tex Infinium, is engineered for windproof performance with excellent breathability.

Getting a Closer Look at The Competition

As wearable technology advances, Gore-Tex gets more and more competition with each passing year. Here are some of the most formidable contenders.


eVent fabrics employ a different technology than Gore-Tex products, using a Direct Venting™ waterproof membrane that is air-permeable. This means that in addition to preventing water from entering and allowing sweat vapor to exit, eVent membranes let air pass through directly, which can enhance breathability and reduce sweat accumulation.

This characteristic makes eVent a favorite among highly active users who prioritize moisture management and comfort. However, eVent's breathability can come at the expense of warmth, as the increased air permeability can lead to greater heat loss in cold conditions.

Further, as eVent doesn’t feature a layer of polyurethane found in most layered Gore-Tex products, the membrane comes into direct contact with sweat, oils and other substances from the body, requiring eVent to be washed more frequently than Gore-Tex.

Polartec NeoShell

Polartec’s NeoShell membrane technology strikes a balance between waterproof protection and breathability. It’s engineered to be slightly air-permeable, providing a small amount of airflow to help pull moisture away from the body. This air exchange helps to reduce the build-up of sweat and increases overall comfort.

NeoShell is highly praised for its soft, flexible feel, which offers more freedom of movement than the stiffer membranes found in some competing products.

While offering excellent breathability and comfort, Polartec NeoShell has been reviewed by some to provide less wind protection and thermal insulation than Gore-Tex, potentially making it less ideal for extreme conditions.


Developed by The North Face—and touted as its most advanced waterproof breathable tech ever—FUTURELIGHT is made from the brand’s “nanospinning” process. In nanospinning, thousands of tiny nozzles within a randomized matrix spin a polyurethane solution to create nano-sized holes that let air in while keeping water out. The nanospinning process also allows TNF designers to fine-tune results for specific use cases by making adjustments based on factors such as breathability, stretch, durability, and more.

Alongside its production customizability, FUTURELIGHT gets a nod for its breathability. However, the upper limits of FUTURELIGHT’s air movement are questionable—which makes its superiority over other air-permeable products questionable, too.

Another potential downside for consumers: to get FUTURELIGHT, you’ll have to shop The North Face products exclusively.

Waxed Cotton

The only all-natural competitor on this list, waxed cotton combines two of nature’s finest materials—cotton and wax (typically beeswax or linseed)—to create a wearable material with a waterproof, weatherproof exterior. Waxed cotton is not nearly as durably waterproof or breathable as the synthetic membranes on this list—but for most outdoor uses, it will work great. It’s also unquestionably the most sustainable option on this list.

Shop Gore-Tex Outerwear at Boathouse Sports

So, is Gore-Tex still the gold standard for outdoor gear membranes? We think so! Gore-Tex still stands out even among stiff competition. Shop our selection of Gore-Tex waterproof ski jackets among our collection of women’s and men’s ski and snowboard jackets to find the perfect fit for your next outdoor adventure.

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