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BLOG | TECH | 26 January 2016

Gore® C-KNIT Backer Technology. Greater Performance, Better Comfort

If any criticism has been made about waterproof and breathable fabrics with a 3-layer Gore-Tex membrane, it's been about the feel and comfort of the backing layer. These 3-layer fabrics are usually fairly stiff, the backer feels artificial and unpleasant next to your skin and the garment doesn't easily slip over other layers.

Laminates: 2-layer or 3-layer?


The different names of Gore-Tex fabrics can be confusing to anyone who doesn't know about the Gore-Tex lamination process.

Gore-Tex 3-layer. This laminate consists of an outer fabric + membrane + backer. These three layers are bonded together to form what seems to be just one visible layer. The most technical and high performance fabrics are made with a 3-layer laminate.

Gore-Tex 2-layer. The membrane is only bonded to the outer layer. The backer or lining, which usually consists of a mesh fabric, is separate.

If any criticism has been made about waterproof and breathable fabrics with a 3-layer Gore-Tex membrane, it's been about the feel and comfort of the backing layer. These 3-layer fabrics are usually fairly stiff, the backer feels artificial and unpleasant next to your skin and the garment doesn't easily slip over other layers.

To respond to this problem, Gore has introduced a new fabric for the 2015/2016 winter season. Unlike most Gore-Tex innovations, this time it has nothing to do with the membrane, but rather with the backer technology.

GORE-TEX C-KNIT
Of the three Gore-Tex product lines (Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Pro and Gore-Tex Active) all C-KNIT technology garments belong to the first, designed for every day versatility.

C-KNIT has a 3-layer construction and is 100% waterproof and breathable, but what makes it stand out from other Gore-Tex fabrics is its lightweight and soft feel. This is achieved by the backer, which is made of an extremely fine circular knit fabric and a special lamination procedure. The fine yarns also have slight stretch and a softer, more natural feel.

According to laboratory tests, C-KNIT is also more breathable, thanks to the greater wicking capacity of the backer technology.

The outer fabric of C-KNIT 3-layer has also been changed to complement the soft and flexible properties of the backer. Different weights of soft nylon are used, according to the activity in mind; from lightweight and fine (for hiking) to more durable and slightly heavier (for skiing and mountaineering).

WHO'S GORE C-KNIT FOR?
C-KNIT products are designed for a wide range of useres, from all-mountain and freeride skiers and snowboarders to hikers and trekkers. For this reason, the first garments on the market for the 2015/2016 winter season with C-KNIT technology are designed for freeride and ski touring. We'll see more lightweight jackets with this technology in the spring.

PRODUCTS WITH GORE C-KNIT
A few good examples of the first garments on the market with C-KNIT technology are the Haglöfs Rando Jacket, Arc'Terx Women's Norvan Jacket and the Salewa Antelao Jacket for ski touring, freeride and mountaineering. Versatile and comfortable, each is a great tool for all-round mountain use.

Haglöfs Rando Jacket, 2015-2016

Rando Jacket

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Rando II Shell Pant

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COMFORTABLE & LIGHTWEIGHT
This fabric certainly feels soft and lightweight to touch and there's no rustling noise if you scrunch it up. This makes it much quieter when you walk (which is a definite improvement on traditional Gore-Tex fabrics). This softness also means it's more packable. There's no doubt that it feels softer than classic Gore-Tex fabrics, but this difference is more or less obvious depending on the choice of outer fabric (the jacket we tested was for hiking and had a fine, lightweight outer fabric).

The backer has a silky feel and is more pleasant next to your skin. It's really quick to put on and off as it slips easily over fleece and baselayer fabrics.

According to Gore, C-KNIT garments are 10% lighter than similar garments with a normal backer.

Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro


Gore-Tex Pro: This is the most durable and robust fabric but also the stiffest, due to its bombproof construction. Used for technical alpine climbing and mountaineering jackets and pants, it stands up to the toughest conditions and abrasion from rock and ice.

Gore-Tex: Softer, more flexible and providing overall greater comfort, this fabric is used for more general outdoor activities. However, that doesn't mean it's not technical. Ideal for mountaineering, ski touring, hiking, trekking and all those outdoor activities that don't require such a high level of abrasion-resistance. C-KNIT technology is used for garments in this class.

How to Choose
Unless you're into high level alpine climbing and mountaineering, you will probably find that the regular Gore-Tex outerwear technology such as C-KNIT is more suitable to your needs, due to its superior flexibility and comfort, compared to the stiffer, more abrasion-resistant Gore-Tex Pro.
DURABILITY
Gore affirms that the fabric is just as rugged and durable and it certainly gives that impression. It's soft and supple but also robust.

Laboratory tests certify that it stands up to the same wear after five hundred hours of use as the earlier fabrics. One hundred garments were put to the test over a twelve-month period in mountain environments by skiers, mountaineers and hikers, and none showed any signs of premature wear and tear.

JUST AS WATERPROOF & EVEN MORE BREATHABLE
The bi-component Gore-Tex® membrane, made of ePTFE (a strong, microporous polymer), which is sandwiched between the backer and outer fabric, is the same used in fabrics without C-KNIT technology; waterproof and highly breathable (RET <6 (2,0 – 5,8). The Ret value refers to a Comfort Rating System which rates the breathability of fabrics and ranges from 0-6 being the most breathable to Ret 30+ which is the least.

However, in spite of using exactly the same membrane, C-KNIT technology manages to increase breathability, by using a special lamination process and yarn. Lab tests show that breathability is increas
Tags: goretex, c-knit

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