Its name is ePE and it represents a fundamental milestone in the journey dedicated to the responsible performance of the American brand, a leader in the sector for many years with the precise aim of offering all mountain and outdoor enthusiasts products that are durable and highly performing, designed to last a long time.
Since W. L. Gore & Associates was created in 1958, the brand and its products have been part of countless adventures around the world. Innovation, the cornerstone of the brand, has always been the answer to continuous opportunities and challenges over time, and today this journey continues with the goal of creating a better future: every product equipped with Gore-Tex technology is designed to offer the best possible performance and comfort. From initial innovation in the lab to challenging real-world situations, the brand performs rigorous testing and field trials in every step of the whole process.
To find out more about it, we flew to Germany, more precisely to Putzbrunn, just outside Munich, where the brand’s European headquarters are located. Here we were able to see first hand, as well as touch, many of the design and testing phases of Gore-Tex products and get to know a preview of the new ePE membrane which we subsequently put to the test on a fun trekking route (with a via ferrata for the braver ones) in Walchesee, Austria, accompanied by none other than Tamara Lunger, the world-famous mountaineer who, in 2014, has been the second Italian woman to reach the summit of K2.
The new expanded polyethylene membrane (ePE)
After years of development and research, Gore-Tex has revealed to us a preview of its new and innovative expanded polyethylene (ePE) membrane which will replace the less sustainable and resistant expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). The latter, in fact, guarantees waterproofness and breathability, but at a high energy and chemical cost, ultimately resulting less sustainable. The new material (ePE) developed by the US brand, however, once again confirms an excellent but also responsible performance.
Gore-Tex has used its material processing skills to create a highly porous and durable polymer structure based on expanded polyethylene (ePE). The brand’s forty years of experience are applied to this polymer which, by expanding it in the right conditions, gives life to a light and thin but very resistant material. The combination of expanded polyethylene (ePE) with polyurethane (PU) creates a waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane, guaranteeing high performances and durability. The real innovation of the new Gore-Tex ePE membrane is that it does not contain PFCs and its production implies a lower environmental impact. Sustainability is guaranteed by the fact that it has the same durability as the historic membrane and allows the quantity of material used for production to be reduced.
This new and innovative membrane fits perfectly into Gore-Tex’s longer-term plan to eliminate environmentally harmful PFCs from the life cycle of its products. Thanks to its peculiar characteristics, the new ePE membrane helps to achieve the goals set by the Sustainability Framework introduced by Gore Fabrics Division in 2020 which defines the brand’s intentions in terms of sustainability and affirms its long-term commitment to contributing to the protection of people and planet.
The new membrane, which received the important “Best of What’s New” 2022 award by Popular Science for the best innovation, is already available on numerous products in collaboration with various brands, such as adidas, Patagonia and Salomon.
We tested it on a sunny but windy October day, in the woods and on the crest of the mountains surrounding Walchensee, the German lake in southern Bavaria near the Austrian border, and it did not disappoint our expectations. For the entire duration of the excursion the jacket kept us warm and protected from the wind while allowing the skin to breathe even in the most difficult passages on the wall, fully confirming Gore-Tex’s famous Guaranteed To Keep You Dry promise.