The Best Gore-Tex Jackets of 2021
Fast forward to today, and we see Gore-Tex all over the place. From sporting and outdoor use to military outerwear, and you can even find that ePTFE material used in space suits. Really.
Think about just how it changed outdoor gear. Waterproof and breathable at the same time. While many of the best Gore-Tex jackets may have a handsome price tag, it's important to weigh the benefits, which easily outweigh any reason to pass.
We spent some time going through only the best to separate the hype from the real deal worth really considering. Check out our picks see if anything stands out.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is crucial to understand what sort of weather you’ll be putting the jacket through on a regular basis.
Do you live in the rain-soaked, fog-washed Pacific Northwest? If so, you’ll likely want a jacket with a powerful rainproof design in order to maximize your ability to keep dry; but if you’re in a dryer climate like the mountains of Utah or Colorado, having the latest in rain-resistant materials probably won’t do you a lot of good. Opting for something with more insulation will usually be the better option for you if you live in a place like this.
Ever since GORE-TEX was first invented in 1969 by way of a fortunate accident, the outdoor world has never quite been the same. The material brought with it substantial changes to enthusiast expectations of what a piece of clothing could achieve as far as weatherproofing goes.
Today, GORE-TEX works by sandwiching an ePTFE (expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane in between other types of fabrics, creating a seal that blocks out rain and wind from reaching the innards of the shell, thus the name hardshell jacket. These coats excel at keeping our bodies completely dry during even the most precarious weather, and they do so by utilizing a number of different fabric technologies, stitching styles, and layering systems.
GORE-TEX jackets have multiple different permutations, from a 3-layer system where the membrane is bonded to the fabric on both sides, to a 2-layer one where one side is lined, sometimes with insulation and sometimes not. Depending on how the fabric is set up, certain jackets might be ideal for a specific type of activity.
By extension, certain technologies might be best suited for particular use as well. Let’s further break down hardshell jackets by the common technologies used by major manufacturers.
Today, GORE-TEX is still the leading technology used in most hard and softshell jackets.
While a handful of competitors exist today, none of them have been able to establish the brand awareness and consistency that GORE-TEX has long enjoyed. The material is in use by a variety of popular brands, including Arc’teryx, The North Face, Outdoor Research, and more.
GORE-TEX: The original GORE-TEX fabric is a versatile, all-around wind and waterproof material that is well-suited for a variety of tasks, from hiking to everyday town use. The material often comes in both 2 and 3 layer designs, depending on the nature of the jacket it is being used in.
There’s also an offshoot of the material in production today, called GORE-TEX PacLite. PacLite features a 2 layer design that is extremely packable and breathable, making it very ideal for situations where every bit of weight counts, like cycling and running. It is also a very appealing option for travelers looking for an easy-to-travel-with jacket.
GORE-TEX Active: As the name suggests, this material utilizes a lightweight design to create a durable jacket that performs well during demanding tasks, like cross-country skiing and mountain climbing. GORE-TEX Active features enhanced breathability and a 3 layer system for the material itself, like the GORE-TEX Pro material listed below.
The key difference between the two lies in the fact that GORE-TEX Active is usually used in lighter, more stretchable jackets than the Pro variant is used for.
GORE-TEX Pro: The “Pro” variant of GORE-TEX is designed from the ground up for use in some of the harshest places on the planet, for extended periods of time. This material uses a 3 layer system like the GORE-TEX Active uses but also makes use of extremely rugged materials like 70 denier nylon in order to achieve such impressive protection against the elements.
If you’re wanting material for a multi-day hike, a treacherous climb, or just a particularly frigid destination, a GORE-TEX Pro jacket won’t steer you wrong.
The style depends on the purpose of your jacket.
General Purpose jackets are usually made with heavier fabrics and materials, usually utilizing a 3 layer GORE-TEX membrane or other equivalent technology. The majority of the jackets in this review still fall into this category. These (usually) tend to have more features and utilities than their lighter counterparts, such as additional pockets and more robust, weatherproof zippers.
Light & Mobile
Light & Mobile jackets are the product of a race to the bottom of the scale, where some of the top outdoor gear companies in the world compete with each other year after year to create the lightest, best-performing jacket possible. Our top pick this year was a Light & Mobile jacket, proving definitively that the category could compete with its larger, more beefy brethren.
Everyone has a budget, and in the world of Gore-Tex jackets, there’s something for just about any price point.
Like with many things in life, you tend to get what you pay for with hard shells, and they are certainly not all made equally. The more expensive a jacket is, the more likely it is to feature advanced insulation, better wind and waterproofing, and more pockets and safety features as well.
Waterproofing a Gore-Tex jacket will eventually be required because despite the inner layer being a breathable waterproof membrane, the outer layer (shell) of the jacket will lose its waterproofing, soak up water and stay wet, blocking the effect of the Gore-Tex. Dirt, grease, and muck will also hamper a coat’s breathability. Consider using a waterproof spray to protect your jackets.
Top 10 Gore-Tex Jackets
1. Arc’teryx Norvan
This Gore-Tex jacket is made by a reputable company that is known for its quality hiking gear. This jacket not only will protect you during harsh weather but it's also made to keep you warm in cold climates. If you are looking for a quality jacket to last you years to come and give you the protection you expect from a Gore-Tex jacket, then this is one to check out.Read more
This jacket from Arcteryx is fully waterproof and will protect you in the harshest weather conditions. It is also lightweight and highly breathable to ensure you stay cool at the same time.
This lightweight Gore-Tex jacket is made from N20p 3L GORE-TEX fabric with GORE C-KNIT backer technology. It is very breathable and very lightweight. It delivers durable waterproof protection.
It also allows you to be seen if you are in low light as it reflects. This is a great feature to keep you protected during night walks or adventuring.
Overall this is a great Gore-Tex hiking jacket, the only downside is it comes with a high price.
2. Outdoor Research Furio
This Gore-Tex rain jacket is a great addition to our buying guide as it is brought to us by a reputable company that stands behind its products and this one is no exception. It is waterproof and made to keep you dry and insulated.Read more
This jacket, brought to us by Outdoor Research, is fully waterproof and has fully taped seams to ensure nothing is getting in and ruining your day. It also means it is highly insulated to keep you warm on a cold day.
The Outdoor Research Furio jacket is made from 100% Nylon which makes it waterproof, breathable, and weatherproof. This jacket is known for its production technology with its 70D GORE-TEX and Paclite body fabric.
It is constructed for the outdoor lover who likes simple lines and functionality.
This Gore-Tex waterproof jacket is a bit more expensive than many items on our list but it does provide you with quality features that are worth it.
3. Marmot Minimalist
The Minimalist jacket protects you from a variety of weather conditions. The GORE-TEX Paclite Shell offers great breathability, wind-proofing, and is waterproof. It is also lightweight, which is a huge bonus for many hikers and outdoor adventurers.Read more
Of course, breathability is always important; the zips under the arms provide ventilation to restore coolness and remove heat. Along with this, there are convenient and useful touches, such as a chest pocket that has a water-proof zipper so your goods won't get wet. The Marmot Minimalist has completely taped seams to keep wet weather conditions and moisture out. There is an attached storm hood that features a draw-string that is adjustable to your needs.
This Gore-Tex jacket is made from Paclite Technology 100% Polyester 3.6 Oz, Yd. It is very lightweight and is great for hiking, biking, and other activities where you would be doing light travel and for harsh weather conditions. The Gore-Tex technology provides this jacket with optimal weatherproofing, waterproofing, breathability, and packability.
Along with the above, there is also a chin guard. The Marmot Minimalist includes a Snap closing storm flap over the front zip closure. The nice thing about this jacket is the movement which is maintained by the patented Angel-Wing Movement so you won't feel constricted when needing to reach or move with freedom. Altogether, the Minimalist offers a large impact coat that will keep you feeling ventilated, able to freely move, and protected, to a degree, from the elements.
It's sold for a great price for the features and uses. The prices do change when it comes to sizes, color, and styles but still, a good value jacket.
4. The North Face Apex 2
Head out into the great unknown with this ultra-soft, yet incredibly waterproof jacket that has been designed with Gore-Tex. This rain jacket combines a stretchy exterior for the best movement on the market with a super soft knit interior to keep you feeling comfortable, dry, and warm. The nice thing about the North Face Apex is that it has been engineered for complete versatility in unpredictable conditions so you can head out in complete confidence.Read more
All in all, this option has a lot going for it. It offers water-proofing that others lack, breathability, limiting air penetration to reduce wind-chill, and is made from lightweight fabrics that regulate body temperature. The diversity of warmth, air ventilation, weather-proofing, movement, and soft, comfortable fit will keep almost any outdoors junkie feeling satisfied.
The Apex utilizes Gore-Tex protection combined with soft shell flexibility so that you are both protected and at ease in comfort. The fact that total functionality, aesthetics, and comfort were taken into account when creating this lightweight Gore-Tex jacket, makes it a really unique find on the market. When you need less material around your wrists, there are Velcro adjustable cuffs that you can fit your needs, as well as a cinch-cord at the hem of the jacket for further customization.
We found that the Apex was quite breathable due to its Pit-Zip venting, but that it might not stand up to rivals like the Arc’teryx Alpha. As mentioned, the jacket includes pit zips, which helped out in a pinch, and none of this is to say the jacket isn't breathable at all. In fact, we found it to be rather impressive how breathable it ended up being, relative to the insane amount of waterproofing that went into making the Apex what it is.
This Gore-Tex shell jacket has several different price options depending on the size and color. It is a very durable jacket with a longer lifespan which does make sense that it is a bit more expensive than some jackets on this list.
5. Mountain Hardwear Cloudbank
The Cloudbank is a purpose-designed jacket for the mountains or ski conditions. Bags of confidence from the makers with a lifelong warranty. A fully protective body shell with built-in underarm venting if you build up a sweat. Also features a helmet-compatible design and lots of pocket room for carrying. If you want durability, style and functional protection, this is worth checking out.Read more
A full shell design for protection via the GORE-TEX 2L means waterproof, comfort and durability in very challenging weather. Ideal for in the mountains or while skiing. Underarm vents let you release built-up heat.
GORE-TEX 2L means you get a shell design offering full protection so that you will stay dry, warm and fully protected no matter what the weather throws at you.
Great style, two spacious chest pockets with secure zip fasteners and two hand pockets for warm hands or extra carrying space. You also get a powder skirt for even more durability. The hood is helmet-compatible and gives a three-way cord system for securing it.
The makers have gone for high durability, lots of comfort and sound protection and they back-up this jacket with a lifetime warranty. Considering the balanced price and what this jacket offers the wearer, this is certainly good value.
6. GORE Wear C3
This GORE Wear C3 is one of the most popular and well-liked jackets ever created. The reason for this is simple; this option is meant to be your go-to jacket for general usage, and it has the versatility to prove it. The jacket utilizes GORE-TEX Active technology. If you are looking for something seriously light that provides best-in-class protection and ultra-high mobility, you can’t go wrong with the GORE Wear C3.Read more
Thanks to the Gore-Tex technology, this jacket is very well known for its water resistance and weather resistance technology which also help with its windproof and breathable performance. The windproof jacket is great for cyclists and runners who need a little extra highly functional garments.
The GORE Wear C3s breathability performance is very good. The GORE-TEX Active material helps out a lot here, but what’s interesting is that the Alpha FL consistently performs better (with its GORE-TEX Pro membrane) than the Axiom’s, which in theory shouldn’t be the case at all.
The GORE Wear C3 is the best-fitting jacket in this entire guide by a wide margin. We’ve found that the jacket’s slim-fit design is almost a perfect mold for active use, while still providing plenty of room to layer up underneath. Best of all, the sleeve and hem lengths and sizes are all quite literally perfect in our book. Wearing this jacket feels like a natural extension of yourself.
It has a variation of prices depending on the size, style, or color you are selecting. If you are looking for the best Gore-Tex pro jacket that will last a long time and offer you plenty of great features, this jacket is the one for you.