/ waterproof gear not being waterproof

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Juan S on 03 Jan 2017

Over the holidays I went hiking in non-stop rain in Scotland. I was rather unimpressed with:

Rab Atmos Jacket: wet after 2 hours in the rain, a bit sooner in areas in contact with the backpack (light day pack). Rab have this to say about it: "Pertex Shield+ 3L is an ultralight, ultra-breathable and durable waterproof membrane, with a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm meaning it's fully capable of dealing with heavy downpours, whilst maintaining it's breathability." It didn't seem to work as advertised.

Salomon Gore-tex approach shoes (trainers): soaked through after an hour and twenty minutes. Granted, it was rather wet underfoot (combination of bog, wet grass and paths turned into rivers).

Both of these items are less than two years old. Is this normal behaviour? I don't often hike in such rainy/windy conditions so hoping to get some guidance from hardier UKCers more used to inclement weather. Thanks for any help!
Post edited at 21:25
MFB - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:
I'm never dry for long in heavy rain, think the hole for my head is at least part of the problem, sweating also plays a big role, long as your not cold it's kind of ok
Post edited at 21:56
Chris Huntington - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Hi mate,

My opinion on gore tex fabrics and high end waterproofs is they are just not designed for the U.K. They work great in the alps where there is less moisture in the air but over here not matter what I wear (usually gore tex pro shell) if the weather is bad enough I will eventually get wet.
Robbie Blease - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Hi,
After having Gore tex in three pairs of footwear, that all leaked within a couple of months, I am convinced that it is useless for boots and shoes. I work at Cotswolds outdoors and I have never heard anyone say that Gore tex in boots is the way forward. The membrane is so thin it's really not surprising that after being trodden around in for a few miles it gives up and is damaged.

As for your jacket there have been quite a lot of complaints about rab waterproofs, mine gave in before they were two years old. Rab make good insulation products but since event and pertex shield their hardshells do seem to be quite poor.

Keeping dry is one of the hardest challenges in the British hills, hope you find a solution that works.

Robbie
andyd1970 - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:
I think most of the latest fabrics are based on weight and how much they can breath.
I have a summer so called waterproof and my wife laughs and calls it a chocolate tea pot.
The only shoes or boots that I have ever found to work well are leather boots even though I have plenty of light weight GTX shoes, they always end up wet .
My winter Jacket GTX PRO works well in wet conditions but it's a lot heavier and is a bit OOT.

bouldery bits - on 03 Jan 2017
nathan79 - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

I must be unique, all my waterproofs are actually waterproof. All that varies is the amount of sweating and stewing I do within the confines of them.
I have a rab Pertex Shield jacket, an older one pre Shield + and 3L. Was much reduced and is decent at keeping water out but not too breathable.

As for your shoes, well they're shoes. Doesn't take much for water to get into footwear with that low a rise. IMHO Goretex shoes are pointless.
WildCamper on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Goretex boots are a waste of money, gtx needs to be clean and relatively dry to work properly something which hiking boots rarely are.

Timmd on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

My Goretex XCR and similar age jackets seem to work okay, the inside gets damp but I don't get wet as it were.
Stefan Jacobsen - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Have you restored or renewed the DWR coating on your jacket? If not, the rain water drops will soak the outer layer of the garment and impair its ability to transport water vapour from inside out.
Slarti B on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:
> Over the holidays I went hiking in non-stop rain in Scotland. ...

Sounds like you didn't need the ice axe ;-(

Haven't done Scottish winter for a couple of years but I found my Goretex Pro jacket was OK, though got a bit steamy inside.
Post edited at 00:13
Juan S on 04 Jan 2017
Thanks for all the informative replies!

With regards to keeping membranes like gore-tex clean and dry: I always thought that what gets compromised by being wet is their ability to breath, not their ability to be waterproof?

A few people questioned whether the garments got wet from sweating/water coming in through holes/over the shoes: no, that wasn't the case.

In reply to Slarti B:

Ah it was only rainy in the last day there. We took the winter gear for a walk the other days too though: there wasn't enough hard snow to need it!
Toerag - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Robbie Blease:
> After having Gore tex in three pairs of footwear, that all leaked within a couple of months, I am convinced that it is useless for boots and shoes. I work at Cotswolds outdoors and I have never heard anyone say that Gore tex in boots is the way forward. The membrane is so thin it's really not surprising that after being trodden around in for a few miles it gives up and is damaged.

Exactly, I wish manufacturers would stop using it and make their shoes more breathable and cheaper - I want some approach shoes to wear to work and pub (leather, subdued colours) and the only ones that seem to exist are £140 and goretex lined.
girlymonkey - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Toerag:

Even worse, the membrane lined ones give me really bad athletes foot when I wear them for a long time. I find I can often source non lined ones from the continent, but I like the bright colours! ;-)
Murderous_Crow - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

I'm a massive fan of Paramo. I've worn it in 8-10 hour walks through downpours, and it really does perform. It will wet out if the DWR's not kept up to scratch (roughly a 6 monthly job), and if you actually sit in water. But it dries quickly and more importantly keeps you warm even if wetted out. You can repair it like regular material, and it lasts for years.

Re: footwear the Goretex is not the key attribute, although it's a huge help. Find a solidly constructed all-leather boot, keep it clean and well-treated with water-repellent wax, and your feet will stay... Drier. For a bit longer.

As Robbie points out, staying dry in British hills is a big challenge! Gaiters may help.
GrahamD - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Getting wet in the rain in Scotland is entirely normal, yes.

Rain gets in and moisture fails to evaporate (if you don't believe that, seal yourself in a totally waterproof plastic 'survival bag' for a few hours and see how dry you don't keep.)

The best you can hope for is to chose layers that keep you comfortable and dry reasonably quickly after the rain.
wbo - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S: I'm going to have a differing opinion on the use of Goretex in shoes. I use Salomon speedcross a lot outdoors with pairs both with and without Goretex. If it's a bit damp underfoot, a little bit of rain, some snow then your feet definitely stay drier in the Goretex shoes and I find it very useful
If it's hot the membrane is a pain, I don't expect them to work for hours of rain and obviously if you go in upto your knees you're wet. I imagine leather boots are more waterproof, but I don't use them. It's trainers or B3's
Simon Caldwell - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Which day was this? We were walking on 31st December near Tyndrum, and the weather was pretty bad even by Scottish standards! Constant horizointal rain with winds so strong we struggled to stay upright even at 500m. My leather walking boots were saturated and full of water by the end of the walk (which was only 3 hours), so shoes wouldn't have stood a chance.
My RAB waterproof jacket did it's job though - can't remember the model but it's Event, and more robust than the Pertex Shield ones. In my experience, PS is great for short heavy showers and more sustained light rain, but can't cope with a prolonged deluge.
GrahamD - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to wbo:

The Goretex liner of my leather Altberg 'most of the year' boots and my Merell 'every day' shoes are definitely a mixed blessing: in summer they are too sweaty but in the wet they really work at slowing down the onset of wet feet. Feet usually get wet from water over the top of them than through them. The boots dry faster than my old unlined leather boots and the shoes are useable in moderate wet grass (campsite etc) without getting wet.

So I've gone from totally down on Goretex liners to only down on them when its warm.
danm on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

What about your waterproof trousers? If it's raining properly, water will soak into your trousers and down into your waterproof shoes, and stay there. In addition, moisture will wick upwards and soak your top half from the inside. Don't expect to stay even remotely dry if you don't fully kit up for it!

I spent several years working outside all day in all weathers, and learnt a few things from it. One, Paramo is great until the rain exceeds a certain amount, you will then get piss wet through as the system becomes overpowered. It stays fairly comfy though. A full Goretex suit of high bib and heavyweight jacket with storm hood is best for really horrible connies, but as soon as you start moving around you will overcome the breathability. If I was expecting to be mobile I'd quite often wear not much more than synthetic baselayers under the shell. Personal favourite being a layer of Powerstretch top and bottom as a combined base and mid layer. You've got to not mind looking like a gimp and stinking a bit once the shell comes off - pub wear this is not!
oldie - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Quite like Gore-tex as I can then be lazy about cleaning/waxing boots. However have found it does seem to get leaks, often quite quickly, and then is more useful for wet grass than immersion in streams; the boots tend to be hotter in summer and heavier than boots with no membrane. Find it hard to see how the membrane breathability can work efficiently through leather, mud etc. In fact the best system I've used is plastic bags over socks: used to see UK guides using this in the Alps....after all we wear plastic ski boots all day and the sweating is acceptable. Always found that wax treatment of leather boots quickly wore off.
Never had a really waterproof jacket, especially for driving rain which gets through neck etc.
Siward on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Toerag:

You're not so keen on this type of thing then?

http://tinyurl.com/gpjdfpm

(Bought a pair, very unlike me, because of the lunatic colours!)

Juan S on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell: It was one day earlier, the 30th, near Newtonmore. Sounds very similar conditions-wise!

Re others: gaiters definitely helped! I was wearing them the Scotish way (under the waterproof overtrousers, rather than on top as I would for snow). The gore-tex over-trousers held out fine (very new berghaus pac-lites).

I'm definitely no stranger to sweat/moisture from within. This is not what happened though: my shoes got soaked from without. Not just wet or damp: fully soaked. I rinsed out a good 50 to 100ml of water from my socks & insoles out when I got back to the car!

I agree with others re non membrane clothes and footwear when it's not raining (my crag approach shoes are not waterproof, since I'm a fair weather climber). If it's windy but dry I wear a windshirt (Rab Boreas - great but very smelly), saving the shell for being stationary.

Robert Durran - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

> Both of these items are less than two years old. Is this normal behaviour?

Yes. It is completely normal not to stay dry in really wet weather. The garments are probably not at fault - rather the unrealistic marketing bollocks.
Lusk - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

The only way you'll ever stay completely dry in minging weather is by going out in one of these ...
https://www.supplify.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/910x954/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e9...
(positive pressure suit, you'll need to take a compressor with you)

Timmd on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Siward:

> You're not so keen on this type of thing then?


> (Bought a pair, very unlike me, because of the lunatic colours!)

Jings! (as they can say in Scotland)
Mal Grey - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Backing up what others say, my Rab Atmos Pertex Shield+, 1 year old, has not impressed me in either performance or durability. Its my second jacket, an old Karrimor (pre- Mike Ashley days obviously!) is still my main hillwalking jacket, so the Rab us used for lightweight or faster moving stuff as designed. I always get wet in it when it rains properly, the pockets also fill with water. Properly fill with water. And now I have found that the seams at the front of the shoulders have worn through to the membrane. OK, it has been used with a light daysack often, but I'd expect more durability than that.

Sadly, I've heard other stories about Rab jackets. It was one of my favourite brands, but I'm not going to buy outerwear of theirs again until I've heard a year or two of excellent reviews. Considering Alpkit to replace the Atmos, but waiting for it to have been out for long enough to get some good testing.

As for shoes, I'm less than surprised to hear another person struggling with supposedly waterproof Gore-Tex lined shoes. My Salomon's were great at keeping out water for the first year I had them, now they're starting to let water in. They get damp from sweat too, and once damp, take ages to dry. For my main hillwalking, I still use leather.
For "approach" shoes, I spend ages looking for non-membrane ones that fit me.
andrewmc - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

Goretex in shoes might not be ideal (I assume it works better in more rigid boots like B3s where the membrane won't get bent repeatedly) but if you are vegetarian and don't buy leather shoes, like me, then you are pretty much stuck with membrane footwear if you want it waterproof AFAIK?
bouldery bits - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> Jings! (as they can say in Scotland)

Crivens!
Pipecleaner - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:
It's virtually impossible to be out in prolonged wet weather and stay dry if you're moving...in my opinion. You can be waterproofed and not move and stay an awful lot drier than you would moving.
There are invariably weak points in gear like zips where water ingress will occur to some extent in the right circumstances...get gear that will keep you comfy when wet or damp and dries fast...and enjoy the wild weather for what it is...something else to enjoy getting out in!
nufkin - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Pipecleaner:

> There are invariably weak points in gear like zips where water ingress will occur to some extent in the right circumstances

I've had two consecutive jackets (made by different companies) that actively wick rain coming down the sides of the hood down the back of the zip. I'm not sure if I've just been unlucky or if this is an inevitable consequence of having a hole for your face in the hood, but forecasts for prolonged rain on days out are now very discouraging
Pipecleaner - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to nufkin:

I'd say that unless you had some sort of dry suit style gasket water will get in the hood/neck opening to some extent. I've currently got 5 waterproofs on the go in 4 fabrics...if I'm out in driving rain and active I'll be wet (from water ingress somwhere either through fabric, openings or closures) to some degree. If I'm active in prolonged rain the face fabric will wet out on all of them and I'll get even wetter from perspiration than I would before they wet out.
What a decent waterproof does for me in these situations is keeps wind out and keeps most water out. There is limited convection and conduction of heat away from me...I don't expect to stay dry in heavy rain whilst active and don't consider it a failing when some water gets in via let's say a zip flexing leaving a wet patch on my base layer.
I'm not an expert either but I go out a lot and try a lot of different things to see what works for me...and that's the biggest thing in my opinion, finding what works best for you. That means a compromise somwhere. I can get sweaty in a good short sleeve base layer alone walking uphill. Until someone works out an active transport fabric then any waterproof fabric will only keep more of my sweat in.
So for me a waterproof will keep me damp/wet underneath but limit how cold I'll get. If it's mild or still enough I may just keep the waterproof in my bag.
Find out what works for you to stay as comfortable as possible and that's about the best you can do...or stay in when it's wet, but where's the fun in that!
Timmd on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to nufkin:
> I've had two consecutive jackets (made by different companies) that actively wick rain coming down the sides of the hood down the back of the zip. I'm not sure if I've just been unlucky or if this is an inevitable consequence of having a hole for your face in the hood, but forecasts for prolonged rain on days out are now very discouraging

Have you tried Mountain Equipment jackets. They have a fantastic hood design in my experience, I can't remember experiencing anything like that in my jackets made by them.

I've still got damp, but I've never had rain wicked down the back of the zip, or to any degree that I've taken my top off and noticed excess moisture there from that happening, or have noticed it happening while out in the rain.

Mountain Equipment hoods almost deserve their own facebook page ;-)
Post edited at 14:32
MFB - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

When it's properly wet 2 waterproofs, one over the other, will slow the ingress, extra 1/2 hr maybe.
nufkin - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Pipecleaner:

Yeah, these days I'm just glumly resigned to a bit of wetness. My current jacket isn't too bad, but the previous one drew a clear line of water down the zip, which my baselayer would then efficiently spread out all across my torso. The odd day here and there was tolerable, but a multi-day camping trip in persistent sleet was the final straw - I was less wet than I'd have been with no jacket at all, of course, but not by much.

I've been tempted to look into ME ones, per Timmd's suggestions, though it seems a shame when there's life left in my current jacket otherwise
Pipecleaner - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to nufkin:
I've an ME Firefox in the original I think 40D pro shell, great lightweight waterproof with a good, tho not cavernous hood...it leaves a lot of my face exposed. Nice and minimalist for a decent mountain jacket...no venting, no pit zips little to fail on it.
Two waterproofs can be good in really bad weather too for a little bit of insulation and I've done it with overtrousers also.
In reality walking uphill in mild wet conditions from oilskins vs top of the range breathable membrane once the outer wets out. Paramo works fantastically for me in real cold winter conditions but again I've been horribly soaked once it's wet out after about 90 mins in moderate rain.

Timmd on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Pipecleaner:


> What a decent waterproof does for me in these situations is keeps wind out and keeps most water out. There is limited convection and conduction of heat away from me...I don't expect to stay dry in heavy rain whilst active and don't consider it a failing when some water gets in via let's say a zip flexing leaving a wet patch on my base layer.

Which is why storm flaps no longer being common on waterproofs is such a daft thing (imho).

It's something every waterproof should have I think, the extra weight won't stop somebody from getting to the top of their hill but it might save the day if their zip fails, and could keep them dryer too...
cousin nick on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

I've owned 3 sets of goretex 'waterproofs' over the years:
Berghaus Mistral
Phoenix mountaineering
Berghaus extreme 7000

All became porous, but the Phoenix was the worst.
Notably, all failed at the point when you least need them to - driving horizontal rain in gale force wind.
Cleaning and reproofing the DWR coating helps, but only for a while.

I'm now a convert to Paramo, that has withstood similar or worse conditions with no leaks.

N
NigeR on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

One of the greatest myths in outdoor clothing, is that you can buy gear that will keep you dry in a traditional Scottish hoolie.

The secret to dealing with foul Scottish weather - be that torrential horizontal rain, or a blizzard - is developing the ability to live with the fact that you're eventually going to get both wet, and cold, no matter how good or expensive your gear is


GrahamD - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to NigeR:

> The secret to dealing with foul Scottish weather - be that torrential horizontal rain, or a blizzard - is developing the ability to live with the fact that you're eventually going to get both wet, and cold, no matter how good or expensive your gear is

Or being in the pub, of course But I agree, the idea of staying totally dry is laughable and staying comfortable is the important thing
andrewmc - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to NigeR:

> The secret to dealing with foul Scottish weather - be that torrential horizontal rain, or a blizzard - is developing the ability to live with the fact that you're eventually going to get both wet, and cold, no matter how good or expensive your gear is

Perhaps the problem is that as you slowly get wet you slowly get colder, and the solution therefore is to wear additional insulation and pour water all over yourself before you leave? That way you maintain a steady amount of warm wetness...
poppydog on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Juan S:

I don't think there's any real way of keeping completely dry in conditions like that. I've been using gore-tex since it first came on to the market (yup, I'm that old) and been out in similar conditions to what you describe and always get a bit wet (usually sweating). Remember also that a breathable fabric is (I think) compromised by being in contact with a rucksack and straps and if there is anything on the outside fabric that impedes the breathability such as mud, it won't breathe. Has your shell been treated with anything? Again, if the outer fabric soaks in water, that will stop it breathing as well, it needs a treatment to make the water bead up.

Someone feel free to shoot me down if I've got any of that wrong.

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