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What is a Waterproof Membrane

Read through a gear catalogue or any outdoor magazine and you'll see mention of this thing called a waterproof membrane that's in virtually every waterproof jacket, pant, hat, glove and shoe on the market. And to make matters worse there are a growing number of different types of them, not just one. Don't worry though, they all strive to do one thing: keep you dry.

Anything that's waterproof is composed of at least 2 things, an outer fabric of some kind that protects the waterproof membrane, and the membrane itself. Sometimes there is a third layer inside that protects the other side of the membrane. The membrane in the middle of the sandwich is the waterproof part. It's the layer that lets air through but not water.

There are many different types of membranes on the market today. Gore-Tex is one of the most popular. Many people refer to their jacket as a Gore-Tex jacket. This is a little bit misleading. It is a waterpoof jacket that likely has Gore-Tex as the waterproof membrane. It doesn't have to be though. Gore-Tex, DryQ, eVent, Pertex Shield, NeoSHell, Opti-Shell, and Cocona are all different fabrics that can be glued or laminated to other fabrics to make something waterproof. They all vary in exactly how they work and how well they do but the main idea is to let sweat or condensation out from inside and still keep the rain out from the outside.