WL Gore & Assoc

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See The Newest Gore ePTFE Fiber Enhanced Fabrics at SOFIC

Friday, May 12th, 2017

At next week’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida, WL Gore & Associates, Inc will exhibit uniforms made from the latest versions of fabrics enhanced with their ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) fiber technology. We first introduced you to the technology during SOFIC 2015.

As reminder, these are the performance enhancements, thanks to the inclusion of ePTFE.
-Low wet pick-up for faster dry time
-Faster dry time with moisture absorption
-High mechanical durability (break & tear strength)
-High strength to weight ratio (weight reduction)
-Low coefficient of friction offers low, wet cling and improved hand
-Tunable with other fiber blends inherent characteristics, like FR

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Sounds like a wonder material, doesn’t it? Makes you wonder why they haven’t just made shirts and pants out of pure ePTFE right? Sure, they could make an entire garment from the fiber, but they haven’t gone that far yet. Incremental improvement is always easier to accept, so rather than introducing a radical new technology, they considered how to enhance existing materials by adding ePTFE into weaves with more traditional fibers. “We took the NYCO you wear now and made it even better. That was our starting block,” explained Dave Minor, Fibers Technology Lead at WL Gore & Assoc. Since it’s adoption in the early 90s for military field garments, NYCO is common ground for all of the services and was the perfect place to begin their work.


But, this isn’t Gore’s first go at fibers. You’re most likely familiar with WL Gore’s waterproof/breathable technology, known as GORE-Tex. However, that’s a membrane which is bonded to other fasce fabrics. WL Gore & Assoc is a worldwide corporation and boasts a wide range of technologies, including a great dental floss. Naturally, it’s strong, self lubricating and inert, meaning it won’t pick up any heebie-jeebies that might cause infections in your mouth. Later, they came up with a Gore thread, with the same properties. Looking back on those two products, you can see that the move to woven textiles was inevitable. However, in this instance, Gore set out to develop fabrics for military use, rather than looking first for commercial customers. The development didn’t happen overnight. Gore had to work with their supply chain to develop processes to weave the material and refine the ePTFE fibers introduced into the process. Few companies would take on the development of a completely new fabric technology without a formal requirement, leaving me very impressed with this investment.

While the fabric is a Gore product, it’s not GORE-Tex, meaning it’s not waterproof. Instead, it absorbs less water than traditional fabrics, due to the ePTFE’s inert nature. It also remains soft against the skin, yet strong. Product Specialist Cheryl Booth, emphasized the material’s attributes saying, “It’s super wicked strong.” Less water absorption doesn’t just equal more comfort, it also means it dries faster. To this end, I’d like to point out, some impressive numbers.

Dry Time Numbers/Increasing Strength When Wet Data
Dry time comparison based on MM-TS-07 test method shows Katana to dry in 20 minutes as compared to NyCo drying in 35 minutes.
Katana fabric will increase 15% in strength when wet. NyCo fabric will lose > 15% in strength when wet.

Although I found the technology remarkable the first time I saw it several years ago, Gore rested on their laurels. They’ve advanced the concept and made improvements from early construction. In addition to enhanced durability, they also improved printability and comfort. Those of you who are familiar with early uniforms made from Katana, may recall that the print looked washed out. To counter this effect, they moved the ePTFE fibers from the surface of the weave further to the rear. Not only did this result in richer printing, but more of the ePTFE is against the skin, resulting in increased comfort. The Saber fabric in the middle of the image below is from the first generation, while the MultiCam fabric to the left is from a recent production run. You can really see the difference the new weave makes.


The Katana fabric has been chosen for use in the Arc’teryx LEAF Assault LT line of hot weather uniforms and has already been adopted for issue by allied units. It’s a No Melt, No Drip material thanks to the NYCO content, but does not offer full FR properties. However, they also have a full Nylon fabric called Saber which is much lighter than Katana, and much softer to the skin. This was developed for customers who don’t require NM/ND. I expect to see this offered in a commercial garment soon as well. As I mentioned earlier, Gore is working on turning other combinations of fibers into fabric. It could be could be any fiber, created specifically to enhance certain characteristics, like full FR. Gore’s team continues to work with customers to identify requirements. Additionally, while ePTFE is white, it can be solution dyed and Gore has demonstrated the use of such ePTFE fibers in a new fabric called Scimitar, seen above next to Katana (L) and Saber (C). A full Scimitar uniform is seen below.

GORE Scimitar_Front

Be sure to see the latest Gore ePTFE Fiber Enhanced Fabrics as well as other technologies at SOFIC in booth #1420.


IWA – Carinthia Introduces Insulating Garment Featuring WL Gore’s Pyrad Treatment

Monday, March 6th, 2017


Austrian brand Carinthia is well known for their excellent cold weather clothing, sleep systems and shelters. This year at IWA they exhibited a new insulating garment based on their -30 Deg C capable, ECIG, which features a shell made from WL Gore & Associates’ Pyrad FR process. The process is applied to fabric such as Gore-Tex windstopper before it is sewn into a garment. It gives a distinctive look, seen below, to any fabric which has received the process. But what is remarkable, is the performance. Pyrad is a self-extinguishing fabric technology that adds heat and flame protection properties to non-FR textiles. What’s more, the inherent qualities of the base fabric are retained. Fabrics still insulate, still wick and are still durable.


Carinthia isn’t the only company incorporating Pyrad into their line. I’m seeing it more and more in the States and IWA opened my eyes to new uses in Europe.


WL Gore & Associates, Inc – ECWCS Prototype

Friday, November 18th, 2016

I’ve seen Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System prototypes. Hell, I was issued one while assigned to 3ID LRS in the late 80s, but the ones I’m familiar with were all made by Raven Industries in South Dakota. During my visit to the WL Gore & Associates, Inc mothership in Maryland, I spied this garment on display.

It shares many of the traits of the ECWCS parka prototype I wore, although the face fabric was a better print, with true Woodland pattern coloring instead of the bright Green and light Brown of the prototypes we used at 3ID LRS. Interestingly, the hung liner is Green, rather than Brown, but the front closures are Velcro and the shoulder pocket is on the right side rather than the left like other developmental variants. While the rank tab has an exposed snap rather than the covered ones in later variants, the pocket layout was also true to the issue garment with handwarmer pockets and internal Napoleon pockets. 

What’s really interesting about this garment, dating from 1983-84, is who made it.

Marmot did quite a bit of work early in this war, but I had never seen any of their work for the military dating back that far. Has anyone else run across one of these?

Update: This jacket was owned by Marine Nick Allen, formerly on the Gore military team and currently with Camelbak. It’s a Marmot jacket, referenced in the comments. Love the seam sealing.