Best Gore-Tex Jackets Reviewed & Tested for Quality and Protection
We all know how unpredictable and messy the weather can be. Bad weather can really ruin your trip or outdoor fun, especially if you’re not ready for it. Whether your hunting, hiking or just playing your favorite outdoor sport, wearing the right apparel can protect you from the harsh weather, and even allow you to continue if you wish. A Gore-Tex jacket will not only insulate your body during different climate conditions, but it is also versatile enough to fit your active lifestyle.
Gore-Tex fabric was created to provide a long lasting, sporty all-weather solution for buyers that needed protection from Mother Nature. That includes strong winds, rain, and even cold climates. It is used in a variety of mainstream apparel and is a trusted name when customers want to find a reliable material. Because the Gore-Tex technology is so flexible in its use, brands have incorporated it into both inner and outerwear.
However, when it comes to Gore-Tex jackets, there is a higher demand for concentrated quality. The blending of the tech with other fabrics has led to a lot of creative products by some of the top brands in the industry. We’ve reviewed and rated ten jackets that guarantee high compatibility with whatever outdoor activity you’re planning!
- Columbia Watertight II
- Rain Proof
- Wantdo Men's Mountain Jacket
- Heat Retention
- Helly Hansen Seven J
Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
Gore-Tex jackets are easy to clean if you follow the included directions. However, things are a lot more complicated since one jacket is different from the next with care instructions. This has a lot to do with the mixture of materials that companies use with their particular jackets. So even if you have two identical 100% polyester blends from different companies, their instructions for cleaning will still be vastly different. With sizing being a concern for some products, improper washing can shrink or even loosen important areas of a Gore-Tex jacket to the point where you take years off of its longevity. All Gore-Tex jackets by default will have water repellent material built in, so both the drying and washing instructions need to be followed carefully. This doesn’t mean that consumers need to be scared of ruining their favorite product! They are made for roughhousing, so even if you make a mistake with cleaning, the water repellent feature of the jacket can still be restored. The process is simple enough and doesn’t require calling in the warranty. You’ll find that it takes a lot to permanently ruin a Gore-Tex fabric to the point where it’s unusable.
15 Best Gore-Tex Jackets
1. Columbia Watertight II
One advantage provided by this item from Columbia is the ability to secure and protect your personal items like wallet and phone. The zippered pockets insure that nothing falls out or gets wet.
Columbia Watertight II is constructed features a shell that is 100% nylon, which not only protects against wind, but is also waterproof. The full seam sealing and drawstring collar keeps all the water out!
Cost and Value
The price of this item ranges depending on size and color and is designed for long term use. However, you can rest assured that whatever you buy from Columbia will be made of the highest quality.
Comes in 20 different colors
Sizes range from S to 4X L
Features zippered pockets
Some found the cuffs to be stiff
Hood comes over your eyes
2. Wantdo Men's Mountain Jacket
We recommend Wantdo Men's Mountain Jacket for anyone who spends a lot of time in the cold. The specially designed fabric provides some of the best heat retention capabilities you can find! And if you get caught by a rain, don’t worry! Your jacket will dry quickly.
The soft shell allows you to have full mobility while being highly resistant to wind. Other wind resistant features include adjustable cuffs, stretchable gloves, windproof skirt and a detachable and adjustable storm hood.
Cost and Value
Although this outdoor wear was made for the toughest environments, it features a fuzzy lining to provide comfort as well. This stylish coat can be worn during every day activities as well as more physical activities such as hiking, mountaineering, and camping.
Has a fuzzy lining for comfort
Features internal media pocket
Water and wind proof shell
Detachable storm hoodie
Some complaints about the zippers
May run small
3. Helly Hansen Seven J
DWR, or Durable Water Repellent, is a very effective process that seals the garment and keeps it wind resistant and watertight. On top of its already sturdy polyester fabric, nothing is getting past it.
The polyester material used for the outer shell is already going to dry very quickly when exposed to water, but the real appeal here is the liner. It’s quick dry as well, so on the chance that you find yourself sweating a bit, it won’t last long.
Cost and Value
Meant as an outer shell, there isn’t a whole lot to this jacket, and as such, there isn’t going to be a lot of surprises when it comes to the cost.
- Seam sealed to keep water out
- DWR coating
- Quick dry lining
- Comfortable, spacious hood
- Fits small
- Cut too short
4. Marmot Precip
The hood on this jacket is, unfortunately, not removable, nor does it tuck away. What it does offer though, is warmth, protection, and plenty of space. In doing all this, it’s going to stay away from your eyes, meaning no obstruction.
The front of this jacket features both a zipper as well as a button up the flap, providing you with that extra level of protection and coverage. The flap also helps preserve the zipper from unwanted wear and tear.
Cost and Value
Just like the other Marmot selection, and in fact like the past few jackets reviewed here in general, the cost of this one is more than reasonable, and the value you get from this piece is unparalleled.
- Zip front and button flap
- Armpit vents for airflow
- Very versatile
- Hood doesn’t restrict visibility
- Lining flakes off easily
- No chest pocket
5. Frogg Toggs Firebelly
The long cut design of the jacket allows its wearer to maintain their full range of movement when trying to get around in heh great outdoors. As an added bonus, the feature also gives a measure of extra protection from the cold.
Sharp Looking Jacket
Having a jacket that is versatile enough to to be a perfect everyday use garment is always nice to find. When that same coat happens to be visually appealing enough to make a statement, then you have an amazing piece.
Cost and Value
This is the most surprising element of this coat, on top of all the features found within. For all of the high-end construction, this is probably one of the least expensive offerings in this guide.
- Long-cut for easy movement
- Stylish design
- Waterproof soft shell outer
- Strong construction
- Not very breathable
- Terrible zipper
6. Outdoor Research Foray
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s never been truer than with this jacket. It boasts all of the features of some of the more costly options, yet at a very affordable price.
Hidden Storm Flap
Many of the Goretex jackets listed here have the added protection of an external storm flap, but this can be bulky and intrusive. On the other, this one has it on the inside, keeping the bulk to a minimum.
Cost and Value
This jacket closely mirrors those from a competing brand seen near the top of this buying guide, and in this case, that is a very good thing. The quality is quite similar, but the price is much less.
- Two way zipper
- Internal storm flap
- Fully seam taped
- Elastic closures
- Shoddy zipper
- Poorly constructed
7. Marmot Minimalist
On top of being lightweight and breathable, this jacket offers up zippered vents on the armpits to ensure airflow throughout the entire garment. This lets you keep going in any situation you’re in without having to start removing layers.
Of course, it’s water resistant. For such a stripped down piece of outdoor gear, this thing is full of features designed to maximize your levels of comfort at all times.
Cost and Value
A great, all-purpose piece of outerwear, this jacket is an ideal entry level piece that is accessible to all price points. The great value makes the minimal cost all the more appealing.
- Zippered armpits
- A huge variety of colors
- Water-resistant zippers
- Very lightweight and breathable
- Very thin material
- Interior lining is rough to the touch
8. GORE BIKE WEAR Power GT AS
By beating out a lot of the other Gore-Tex options on the list, Gore Bike Wear dominates again. They prove once again they’re the go-to company for quality men and women’s sports clothing.
Many Color Options
That is the best way to describe the very vibrant range of colors offered for this jacket by Gore Bike Wear. While you will get noticed, it still manages to avoid being seen as gaudy or tacky.
Cost and Value
As one would expect for a top three product, the price is average to high based off of the size you want. There is good value for buyers that play it smart and order a size larger than what they need.
- Comes in six different colors
- Customers have to order a size larger to ensure a good fit
9. Bear Grylls Mountain
This jacket is fully waterproof, being constructed from Aqua Dry polyamide ripstop fabric, and including sealed zippers and a double flap. This helps keep the water on the outside where it belongs.
Top Quality Materials
The outer fabric is made out of 100% Polyamide while the inside is 100% Polyester. There is Polyamide mixed with a Gore-Tex membrane throughout the inside and outside and it works well.
Cost and Value
This jacket is priced pretty high, making this one of the most expensive Gore-Tex jackets on the list. Long lasting materials turn this into a worthwhile value when pitting it against the competition.
- Good materials inside and out
- Multiple pockets with appropriate security
- Hood doesn’t roll into a collar
10. GORE BIKE WEAR Road Cycling
The back of the jacket extends a good deal past the waist, allowing full coverage while out on your bike. This provides comfort as well as peace of mind, which are both priceless.
Many Color Options
The many colors available for this model are waterfall/ice blue, black, blizzard blue/brilliant blue, jazzy pink/magenta, neon yellow/white and jazzy pink/blaze orange. They are all very rich and look great when put together with a complete outfit.
Cost and Value
Price is once again locked to the size of the jacket you want to purchase. It’s low to high priced but well worth it for all of the available color options.
- Reflective piping, logo and sleeve print
- Machine Washable
- Runs small
Criteria Used to Evaluate Gore-Tex Jackets
With a couple of tests we were able to make a top 15 list that filled up pretty quickly. A lot of our criteria was based on the core mechanics of Gore-Tex, so we expanded it a bit to separate the truly unique products from one another. With some good research, the industry showed a lot of great promise with lighter materials and high tier options for ladies apparel. Waterproof abilities weren’t included in the listed criteria since all of the jackets passed them with flying colors (even the ones that didn’t make the list).
Pricing is usually a good place to start, which is a criterion that was all over the place for us. There were some jackets that were high in price but on the lower end of the list while some of the lower priced jackets were in the top five. The disparity in price without a drop in quality led to us getting rid of products with similar qualities based on too high of a price. That means if you see a jacket in the top ten that is high in price, it is truly exceptional in its own right.
The design is where we turned to next, looking at the color options and overall design of jackets that only came in one color. For camo Gore-Tex products, the look was always great, especially on Military issued jackets. But the real star of the show here came from all of the women’s line where colors were rich, blended and just better than everything else on the list. Female Gore-Tex jackets scored the highest with this criteria and were the best-designed choices. They also provided the most available colors, a customization that is great when the jacket needs to be paired with regular outfits.
Sizing was a difficult criterion to fully get through without handing out too many penalties. The easiest way for us to judge this criterion is by the information a company provides on the jacket size. Whether it is through a chart, online or through other means, we graded products based on how well they made that information available. Some companies were upfront about consumers needing to order a size larger to get a good fit while others left it up to everyone’s imagination. Products that were vague in their sizes and how they fit were removed from the list.
Next, we looked at what materials companies were using to go along with their Gore-Tex branded jackets. This was an easy criterion to measure, and we removed any company that blocked the benefits of the technology by pairing it with an inferior fabric. The big winner here was polyester, which was included in the majority of the jackets on the list. It was the most compatible fabric by far, although some brands handled it better than others. The difference in the quality of their materials is reflected by their placement on the top 15. Some companies even used a proprietary mix which turned out to be hit or miss depending on how much weight it added.
Extras covered features like removable liners and hoods. The latter was seen enough on the list, but the former is something that needed more entries. Only a few Gore-Tex jackets had removable liners, which is a shame since that is the best extra available on the list. Products that had a liner that could be removed was rewarded extra points and moved promptly up the list. There was a slight shift in the top ten based on the extras criteria, so a few choices will really stand out long before you get to the top three.
When we looked at pockets for our next criteria, it covered amount, size and quality of the insides. Thankfully most brands thought ahead and lined the inside of the pockets with material that doesn’t scratch touchscreens. For some high ranking jackets this was an oversight, so we had to remove them from the list. Zipper quality wasn’t a problem with any of the entries, so we promptly moved ahead to our last criteria, breathability.
Gore-Tex by itself is made to be a breathable fabric that plays nice with compatible fabrics to maintain high breathability. So within the Gore-Tex shell, jackets will remain waterproof, lightweight and breathable. In a way, this is a continuation of the materials criteria, but it focuses on the thinner jackets on the list. We held the thin Gore-Tex products to a higher breathability standard than the regular ones. This meant getting rid of some heavy favorites that were in the top five. Even though they excelled in other areas, you can’t have a good Gore-Tex jacket by lessening one of its biggest features. In the end, Adidas ended up in the #1 and #2 spot due to removing a few choices after they failed this last criterion.
Gore-Tex: A synthetic, waterproof fabric that retains properties that make it breathable in order to allow any moisture buildup from sweating to be removed from the body.
Outerwear: As the name implies, this is a piece of clothing that is worn over other garments that are intended for outdoor use. This can vary from being light and airy to thick and bulky, depending on the conditions outside as well as the needs of the wearer.
DWR: Durable Water Repellent. A coating that manufacturers add to their clothing in order to make them effectively waterproof. Most of these coatings are fluoropolymer based, which means that it has high resistance solvents and other fluids. They are often used in conjunction with very breathable fabrics, to prevent water saturation.DWR can be known to wear off over time, so re-treatment may be necessary.
Layering: The use of several garments that are worn on top of each other to increase resistance from the cold and wind. This is a very flexible method to keep warm in cold climates, as the wearer has a greater level of control over the warmth by adding or removing layers as needed.
Waterproof: Waterproof fabrics are able to complete with stand and repel moisture. The pores on a waterproof jacket are too minuscule to allow water to get through. Most fabrics used are not going to be waterproof by themselves, this would drive the cost of the garment up much too high. To make increase the water resistance, a coating such as Teflon is applied to it to seal the material.
Water resistant: The ability to resist water penetration up to a certain point. Ideal for light rain showers, but not effective enough to withstand heavy storms or snowfall. The most widely used water-resistant fabrics are polyester and nylon. These fibers are tightly woven and able to withstand some water but aren’t tight enough to keep all of it out.
Hard shell: An outer layer of waterproof fabric that makes up the exterior of either a jacket or as part of a layering system. Its purpose is to protect the wearer from the elements, such as wind, that has the potential to sap away any heat retained with the clothing.
Softshell: An outer layer of fabric that offers some protection from harsh climates, but is water and wind resistant as opposed to being completely waterproof. Soft shells are designed for milder climates, and should not be worn by themselves in extreme temperatures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Makes Gore-Tex So Good?
A: Gore-Tex is based on an advanced waterproof material that was made to enhance several different types of apparel. Even with stiff competition from other waterproofing technologies, Gore-Tex remains the most versatile when used with sporting materials. The extra premium customers pay for the technology proves that there is a difference, and this mentality is shared by both professionals and consumers. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other technologies closing the gap, and there is still stiff competition from Columbia Omni-Dry, Polartec Neoshell, and Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite. In a few years more names will come up, and it will be interesting to see how they fare against one of the world leaders.
Q: Who Created Gore-Tex?
A: Invented in 1969, Gore-Tex came from the hard work and innovation of Wilbert L. Gore and Robert W. Gore. It is a lightweight breathable fabric that repels water while still allowing the vapor to pass through. This is an important part of its overall design and is what separates it from other competing technologies. As part of the materials used in Gore-Tex coming from Teflon, it also remains tough when used for outdoor activities. Gore-Tex is mentioned often by name when naming the best membranes and shells to have coupled with sportswear.
Q: Is The Female Line Worth A Look?
A: Not only is it worth a look, but a lot of the products are incredibly well made. Ladies sportswear has come a long way, and through the process, Gore-Tex jackets kept up with the trend. Sizing isn’t the only thing that has improved over the years; the toughness of the female line was ramped up without adding any extra weight. It’s an incredible achievement when you consider that some design changes happened simultaneously on both the male and female branding, with the latter showing more improvement (less weight) the higher up you went in size. The ladies line is worth checking out and maintains a high standard for sportswear of all types.
Q: Why Is Adidas Favored?
A: Customer support, a tracking record with quality and of course a much larger line. Options from Adidas that feature Gore-Tex fabrics are double what any other company on the list offers. Their deep pockets and worldwide reach has allowed them to take a lot of risks with the styling and features they include with the jackets. It’s safe to say that Adidas jackets are the most evolved on the list, with many of their flagship Gore-Tex products in their third and fourth iterations. Customers know what they are getting with an Adidas branded jacket, so familiarity wins on the consumer level.
Q: How Roomy Are The Pockets?
A: There are a lot of pockets on the jackets, so the size varies. Usually, there is a large utility pocket made for holding bigger things like smartphones, and sometimes tablets. These designated areas aren’t guaranteed on every Gore-Tex jacket, so pay close attention to the pocket sizes if they’re listed. All of the pockets are protected with a waterproof lining, so there are no worries about the insides getting damp. All companies have done an excellent job in ensuring that the Gore-Tex technology is surrounded by similar waterproof standards.
Q: Are All Linings Removable?
A: Only some linings are removable, and it isn’t a common thing. When a jacket has a removable mesh lining, you can shed some extra weight while also making the jacket tolerable in humid conditions. It’s the best of both worlds since you don’t lose the waterproof feature of Gore-Tex, so customers should take advantage of removable linings if their jackets have it. This is also a good way to clean a lining that may have gotten dirty- that way you can still wear the jacket while the lining dries. Advanced users even rotate their linings with the jacket based on how warm they want the inside of it to be.
Q: Can Heavy Gore-Tex Jackets Be Comfortable?
A: Yes, even though the jackets are only considered heavy by ‘Gore-Tex’ standards. When people refer to these types of jackets as heavy, they are usually comparing it to other Gore-Tex jackets. That means the weight is not similar to that of a regular jacket when doing a direct comparison. This is an important note for buyers shopping, since they may get turned off by seeing a listed con for the jacket as being heavy. When a Gore-Tex jacket is ‘heavy’, it is considered uncomfortable for high activity consumer wear like cycling or running.
Q: What Happens When You Neglect Care Instructions?
A: Gore-Tex isn’t fictional adamantium and is prone to break down due to bad care. The worry from consumers isn’t about the stitching falling apart and creating tears, but more about losing the waterproof effectiveness and messing up a perfect fit. When you find a jacket that fits perfectly, nothing is worse than washing/drying it the wrong way and having it shrink a size. There is also the possibility of losing some of the Gore-Tex waterproofing abilities, but this can easily be gained back through home remedies. Buyers should care for their jackets by following the included instructions from the company.
Q: Will The Zippers End Up Being The Weakest Part Of The Jacket?
A: This question gets asked often for all jackets, not just Gore-Tex. The answer is yes, but not due to it being a cheap part- it is a movable part that is more prone than the rest of the product. Thankfully cheap zippers aren’t included in mainstream Gore-Tex jackets, so the usual snags and splits won’t be a problem for most consumers. Weight distribution in the pockets is handled well, an important feature for buyers that store away their smartphones. Any top tier Gore-Tex jacket should be able to handle a small tablet without worry of the zipper popping open or breaking.
Q: Do All Gore-Tex Jackets Have Hoods?
A: No, and something for consumers to look out for is the size of hoods. This is a specification that isn’t always included, so watch out for large hoods that aren’t removable. When you plan on using your jacket for activities that don’t require a hood, not being able to remove it will only be a pain if it is bigger than normal. Besides the extra weight around the neck and shoulder area, it gives you a lot more bulk than you would want if the area is windy. Removable is the way to go when your Gore-Tex jacket has multiple uses.
Q: Why Are Some Of The Jackets Listed As Being For ____?
A: When you see a Gore-Tex jacket being listed for cyclists, runners etc. that doesn’t mean it is their only use. These aren’t ‘specialized’ Gore-Tex jackets, and the wording is really more for marketing/branding. With all of the heavy competition in the industry, being able to stand out based on active use is a major plus for any potential consumer. If you run into a runners Gore-Tex jacket then it just means it is a lightweight variant. When you find a mountain climbing Gore-Tex jacket expect it to be insulated and have a hood. Different types of jackets serve different functions, but they are not specialized products that have to be used solely for the activity listed.
Q: Are Sizing Charts Reliable?
A: Sizing charts are reliable based on the company that issues them. Companies that have a larger line of multiple products will usually have a better chance of getting the sizing right. That is why Adidas is reliable in this category and continues to successfully rely on their worldwide data to get the best fit. But even Gore-Tex jackets that are a bit off with their sizing will be able to let customers know if they run big or small- you just have to make the correct adjustment.
Q: What Is Breathability?
A: There is a breathability rating for fabric that raises its value and overall effectiveness. Gore-Tex on its own has high breathability and the ability to absorb and release perspiration. This also adds to the comfort level of the material when under high-stress situations. High breathability with a Gore-Tex jacket means that the thinner versions are usable in humid areas without too much of a compromise with core features. The reason all Gore-Tex jackets aren’t created equal comes down to their mixture with other fabrics and the quality of those materials.
Q: How To Make The Best Decision?
A: Several years of producing one of the finest apparel technologies in the world have allowed Gore-Tex major innovations with jackets. Brands have been more open to risks in styles, sizes and even completely new features thanks to the maturity of Gore-Tex. Choosing the right jacket comes down to a couple of things, with this small list being a big help for buyers that are deadlocked with a buying decision. Although not foolproof, looking at these three things will give you a much better chance of nailing down what it is you expect from your new Gore-Tex jacket.
Price is first on the list, and also the most confusing. Gore-Tex jackets can be purchased at incredibly different prices, with quality not being tied directly to the amount being paid. So a low priced jacket can still be considered high tier, and it isn’t uncommon to see a big name like Adidas behind that iteration. Find out what your price limit is and stay within that range. Buyers don’t have to worry about missing out on great products since high tier Gore-Tex jackets are available at so many different price ranges. The most you will miss out on is getting a specific model that may be a hot seller with some people.
The second thing to look at is weight, which is an uncommon thing to overlook when buying a Gore-Tex jacket. You don’t want to lug around something heavy if it is meant for cycling, and you don’t want something light if it is meant for heavy wind and rain. If two purchases are required to get the best of both worlds, that is the better option than going for a product that is a jack of all trades. Gore-Tex jackets from the same company have different pros and cons based off of their model. So in short, pick the jacket that works well for the activity you plan to use it for.
The last thing buyers should look for in a jacket is sizing. No matter how tempting, you should never ignore the sizing chart- even if you’ve purchased from the company before. What’s small for one company may end up being large for another. It is a delicate balancing game with sizing, and no one will always have the perfect fit. Consumers should be wary of brands that have a reputation for bad fitting apparel. These companies don’t have to be avoided, but it is worth noting their return policies in case you have to make a change. Being stuck with something you can’t wear isn’t helpful, even if it is a high tier Gore-Tex fabric.
- Gore-tex.com – What is the GORE-TEX® fabric?
- Explainthatstuff.com – GORE-TEX®
- Digitaltrends.com – Hard shell buying guide: How to choose the best jacket
- Lonelyplanet.com – Gore-Tex Vs. Rivals
- Evo.com – Waterproof Ratings and Breathability Guide