TNF Moving Away from Gore
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Feb 10, 2006 at 5:54 pm #1217753Andy LewickyMember
Call me crazy, but it looks like North Face is switching from GoreTex fabrics in their outerwear to something they call “HyVent” – which is supposedly superior in breathabilty/waterproofness and MUCH less expensive.
Does anyone know anything about this?Feb 10, 2006 at 6:16 pm #1350357
Not that I really know, but per TNF’s own website, Hyvent breathability is 877 g/m2/24 hrs. For comparison, MontBell claims 15,000 g/m2/24 and Goretex XCR is supposed to be 13,500 g/m2/24?!?Feb 10, 2006 at 7:06 pm #1350360Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Those “breathability” numbers look like water vapor transmission rates, which indicate the rate at which water vapor passes through a membrane. Unfortunately, there can be very large variations in those values…I’m talking about day-to-day, lab-to-lab, instrument-to-instrument type of variation, so be careful in taking those as “exact” values.
TomFeb 10, 2006 at 7:13 pm #1350362
Exactly! I think this is where someone like Ryan can really help to enlighten us. Or Verber, who seems to have extensive experience with many different wp/b jackets/parkas.Feb 11, 2006 at 6:42 am #1350369Thomas TravisMember
I have a NF jacket made with Hyvent. In my experience breathability is minimal.
TomFeb 12, 2006 at 12:26 am #1350402Jason LivingstonBPL Member
I think your right! I checked out the North Face’s sight and couldn’t see a sign of any Gore Tex. This is ironic since the number one selling Gore Tex jacket of all time is (was) the Mountain Light Jacket. It is amazing that they have abandoned this partner.
As I could see, HyVent is a coating, not a laminate which tells me that it may not be as durable (although I don’t know this for sure). Typically laminates help to re-enforce the outer material, but disrupt the softness or “hand”. Gore Tex is also a very durable material that can withstand extreme temps. Again, I don’t have any experience with HyVent, but feel that if one is to buy a jacket that is to last, one that is an investment, then Gore Tex is a good option. Another option is eVent, a material I have recently discovered has amazing breathability properties. Although Gore holds its own, I have never had a jacket that breaths as well as the eVent I just bought.
Although technology is increasing with laminates, Gore will always be on top of the heap. Though it’s expensive, it has proven itself over and over in the most extreme places on earth. An overkill for most people Gore is a choice comparable to the MSR XGK Stove or a pair of Koflac Degre’s which is why coatings like Marmot’s PreCip Plus and The North Face’s HyVent are so attractive. They are softer and far less expensive, but still totally waterproof.Feb 12, 2006 at 7:59 am #1350417Andy LewickyMember
I wasn’t thinking so much about performance as market implications. I can’t imagine TNF would replace Gore througout its lineup with a signicantly weaker alternative.
No, what amazes me is that TNF *appears* to be phasing out Gore-tex from its line. If true, that’s just an extraordinary development.
There’ve been many rumors that Gore wields tremendous influence in the industry, even using its weight to strongly discourage its vendors not to use competitor’s fabrics (and thus killing off a few of the better ones) ala Microsoft business tactics.
GoreTex has managed to maintain something near a monopoly in the waterproof/breathable fabric world for a long time. They’ve got consumers (including me) automatically believing that Gore is superior to everything else. And that makes GoreTex products a lot more expensive than everything else.
The first thing I noticed about these new TNF garments with HiVent is that they’re CHEAP. $99 for a technical shell instead of $300. Ditto for pants.
I was so curious about it I had to buy one of the Venture shells to check it out. Aside from the fact that it feels like a toy (HiVent is thinner than Gore) it seems to perform well.
If TNF (and other makers) are moving away from Gore, it’s a stunning development. Or am I missing something?Feb 12, 2006 at 8:06 am #1350418
Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, and even REI all use their own laminate/coating in addition to Gore Tex. So does MontBell. Indeed, the latest MontBell laminate is reputedly more breathable — yet cheaper than GoreTex. Then there is eVENT – the most breathable of all.
I think competition is a very good thing in this case.Feb 12, 2006 at 10:39 am #1350427Scott PetersonMember
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
Andy’s comments seem right on about the Gore approach to business. The sales people I have done business with in the Co.’s other units have had a real arrogance. The attitude is like “we are Gore, you need us not the other way around”. Perhaps this was only reflective of the folks or the unit, but it was a memorable turn off.
I find myself appreciating Montbell’s approach much more over time. The fact that they create lightweight stuff that is reasonably priced and does what it says is very appealing. To hear that their proprietary laminent is possibly superior to the standard options is very encouraging for those of us who want options.Feb 12, 2006 at 12:24 pm #1350434Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
It’s an interesting observation, but only the passage of time can tell whether it represents the end of TNF GT garments. They’ve certainly been selling non GT WPB shells for several years alongside their GT jackets, at much lower price points.
I forget which megacorporation snagged TNF from the smoking crater they found themselves in several years back, but this could be a small sign they’re changing their marketing strategy to one of low prices and greater distribution. More idle speculation on my part.
Gore is an interesting company to watch, especially since their basic patent expired. I’m definitely surprised there hasn’t been more of a flood of competing laminates since then. It could very well be be that it’s simply not easy to do well and that the overall market is limited. As a longtime GT tent owner, I keep hoping for a tent fabric breakthrough that seems to never come (something like Paclite that’s fire-retardant).
A casual glance at Patagonia’s line suggests it’s possible to successfully mix GT with other WPB fabric technologies in a single product line by being scrupulous in detailing their intended uses.
I’d be curious about Alan Dixon’s thoughts, since he’s our resident fabric tech guru.Feb 12, 2006 at 5:28 pm #1350457Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
According the the lab measurements done The US Soldier Systems Center, Hyvent was approx 1/2 as breathable as Gore-Tex XCR at all humidity levels. I have never owned a Hyvent jacket, so I can’t reports on it’s field performance… but get the impression that it’s not so good. On the order (or maybe worse) than the Marmot Precip.
–MarkFeb 15, 2006 at 4:59 pm #1350614AnonymousGuest
Just a couple of comments:
One component of GoreTex laminate is a monolithic polyurethane membrane, just like the coated competition; it’s just that the Teflon membrane means the polyurethane can be thinner and therefore a bit more breathable overall. This according to The Mountaineering Handbook.
You can feel the superiority of eVENT by comparing two jackets right in the store…it’s very obvious that eVENT is more breathable.
Talk to shoe manufacturers. They hate GoreTex because of its cost and cause of complaints (plus, they’re aware that the membrane doesn’t offer a significant benefit, especially compared to a DRW exterior treatment). Nevertheless, they use it because customers think they must have it. Nowadays it’s lamentably hard to find a good boot without GoreTex. Only Kayland offers eVENT boots (great ones at that) but their distribution sucks.Feb 15, 2006 at 11:14 pm #1350627Kellen HoltMember
I have a pair of TNF ski pants that are HyVent, and I have had no problems with waterproofing, but I couldn’t really evaluate it for breathability as my legs never got warm enough that they would need to vent.Feb 16, 2006 at 3:42 am #1350628Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
Afaik, TNF has been using Hyvent (which I believe is being made by Toray and seems similar to Entrant) next to GTX for a number of years now and I would be very surprised if TNF would move away completely from Gore.
One interesting fact is the difference between the North American and European collection of TNF (and don’t even mention the Korean or Japanese collections). TNF has been producing the Prophecy jacket for some years now and I noticed that while this jacket for the NA market is being made out of Hyvent DT (similar to Entrant DT), for the European market it uses Gore Paclite.
The European part of TNF hasn’t been updated yet for the new season but I think that will give a good indication of how they see their relationship with Gore. OTOH, I wouldn’t be surprised if to see a number of GTX jackets in the new fall collection later this year.
eVENT of course is an interesting material. Why it is not being used by more manufacturers is a big question and the longstanding relationship between most manufacturers and Gore will be a part of the answer, but I also heard that some manufacturers have a problem with the durability of the membrane.Feb 16, 2006 at 10:50 am #1350636Kurt PetersonMember
For years now, larger manufacturers like TNF, Mountain Hardwear, and others have been searching for less costly ways to produce a waterproof/breathable jacket. Marmot started the wave with the Precip jacket, and consumers continue to demand more for less ever since.
Vanity Fair bought TNF and has turned the company around and into a monolith more of fashion than technical innovation although there are still holdouts in the company attempting to keep that authentic image with a few unique products. Gore will forever be a part of TNF, but cheaper alternatives such as HyVent (a coating like Precip) will only continue to grow until Gore comes up with another innovation. And let’s face it, W.L. Gore knows how to market better than anyone in the outdoor industry. They’re not a Fortune 500 company for nothing.
As to Gore being inferior? eVent is a good product but lacks durability according to research I’ve read and W.L. Gore’s unofficial stance. My use for Gore-Tex is limited mostly to cold weather. I will only take a Gore-Tex shoe out in snowy conditions, and it does perform well enough and certainly better than a non-waterproof shoe in the cold. But waterproof footwear is only as breathable as the fabric or leather that make up its upper components. A full-grain leather boot just won’t breathe as well as a low top Gore-Tex trailrunner. Combine variables such as high humidity levels, type of sock worn, gaiters or no gaiters, and differing physical traits between people who sweat copious amounts such as myself and you end up with a shoe that won’t FEEL as breathable as its non-waterproof counterpart. But a little dampness from sweat sure beats a soaking wet shoe in the snow.
How many of you have hiked through wet, sloppy snow in a non-waterproof shoe? I’d guess most everyone here has. From my experience, Gore-Tex is a clear winner. I just won’t be caught dead wearing a Gore-Tex jacket during summer in the southern Appalachians.Feb 17, 2006 at 3:54 am #1350689Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
to which study about the durability of eVENT are you refering and where is it available ?
I agree about the use of gore-tex in shoes: there are certainly a number of situations where gtx or any other waterproof treatment can be functional. Quick drying shoes don’t help in a situation where they have no opportunity to dry. GTX is certainly not perfect, but my feet remain dryer in continuous wet conditions than without them. My main concern is that GTX in shoes lacks durability.Feb 20, 2006 at 5:37 am #1350830AnonymousGuest
Are you sure the patton rights haven’t run out on gore-tex. When duponts patton rights ran out on r-12 coolant they invented another one and then had the r-12 made illegal to use saying the new one didn’t polute the enviro.as much. As it stands the new ones are worse.
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