Gore-Tex Experience More Blogger Summit Day 2
30 Oct, 2009
I arrived in Philadelphia for the Gore-Tex Experience More Blogger Summit where day 1 was the introduction but day 2 was where the tours went down and it gave a huge amount of insight into the Gore-Tex company and brand. Our itinerary on Thursday included touring the Gore Testing Facilities, Myth Busters Session, visit to the Gore Outdoor Store and a scavenger hunt in Philadelphia before ending the night with a dinner.
The day started early with breakfast before we left our hotel room for the Testing Facilities in Elkton, Maryland and many of us were in 2+ hours of time differences so it was a sluggish morning but we made it.
Upon arriving at Gore-Tex we were introduced to Brad Hill who is Gore-Tex’s snowsports marketing strategist. I would later find out throughout the day that Gore isn’t your typical company when it comes to titles/jobs and management. Brad ran us through the Gore Products and I was able to understand the different products and what makes them different. Definitely an eye opening experience in the presentation and it gave us insight into what Gore strives for, creating long lasting durable products and with their stamp of approval and warranty, plenty of companies continue to use Gore-Tex. Even after those products are out, Gore-Tex continues to meet performance standards by doing production audits (either purchasing from retail or from factory directly) to make sure the products continue to meet their standards.
When it comes to warranty, Gore-Tex will repair, replace or refund and everything goes through a warranty evaluation process. I did ask about repairing tears in jackets since a couple people asked about tree tears, there is a temporary patch that you can purchase but it won’t be a permanent fix and the best recommendation is to send into warranty and a full patch where they completely fix the jacket tear wouldn’t be expensive to do (I heard around $10) and would guarantee it.
I’ve gotten familiar with Gore-Tex in gloves before this tour and seen the membrane of the glove before it is put into the glove, it’s this huge mickey mouse glove that is hilarious to check out.
Here’s Steve from Jackson Hole and who runs Tetonat.com getting to check out the Gore-Tex glove membrane with a water test.
During the tour there were some portions we weren’t able to take pictures of and thats expected because there’s always those cases at factories and where the top secret stuff happens. So you won’t see everything in this blog that I saw on the tour and even some stuff we weren’t able to see.
It’s not everyday that you head into Testing Facilities and find your laundry room inside them. One of the most memorable parts of the tour was walking into a room full of washing machines and yet this test is something that is so easy and helps them look for delamination and is the second test that Gore products endure.
Here’s where I learned about care and it surprised me, washing and drying your Gore-Tex products won’t harm them. Over time when you were your Gore-Tex outerwear, it starts to collect oils/dirts that break down the DWR which in turn causes the outerwear to start losing its functionality. So you want to wash it with soap to clean it and get those dirts/oils out of it, then dry them in a dryer (without dryer sheets). Yes in a dryer, Gore-Tex products are meant to be in a dryer (hang drying is the worst for them). The dryer brings back the DWR and needs to be heated to have that DWR come back. Gore-Tex products can be washed/dryed between 10-15 times and eventually when that DWR isn’t coming back, using after market products like Nikwax can help.
All of us taking in the tour and meeting each person involved with how Gore-Tex works.
Since leaving Colorado I’ve been missing the cold snowy weather and in the comfort chamber it was like coming home. Temperatures were 15 degrees and we had the wind coming at us. It was ideal for me to stand in there to cool off.
After the Comfort Chamber we headed to the Rain Room where each of us got decked out in Gore-Tex to see how it does in the Rain Room. It reminded me of those rainy Northwest days that I’ve spent many days riding the mountain.
Myself totally decked out ready for the NW rain!
All of us standing in the Rain Room.
One interesting point that we discussed was GM ratings in snowboard outerwear, that there is no guarantee since there’s no known test method when you read GM ratings. You never see which method the companies use and an interesting point that it’s a buyer beware for GM. Gore said they did tests where they found a 5,000gm rating was more breathable than a 10,000gm rating. To be clear the breathability test isn’t just breathing through a jacket, it’s testing how many grams of water went from one side to another due to driving force.
In the MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transition Rate) Test we found the samples of Gore-Tex laminates being tested.
The most beneficial part of the tour was seeing the High Pressure Hydrostatic Tester. This is the test for mm ratings that we see in snowboarding outerwear as a basic standard for how waterproof the outerwear will be. Basically what you are seeing is the initial waterproofness that a fabric holds and it slowly ramps up the pressure, about 1.5 PSI per minute until it leaks. So 10,000mm ratings mean that 10 meters of pressure were put on it and it didn’t leak. What was interesting to find out is this test is initial waterproofness, meaning over time the waterproofness can break down so even though you buy 10,000mm over time it could be less than that. Also the test has nothing to do with durability which is why Gore-Tex doesn’t use the mm ratings on their outerwear but they did mention that theirs would be over 20,000mm.
During our lunch break and downtime we found that we each had posters made up for us that showed our outdoor and personal photo plus highlights and what our blog is about. Chris and myself were the snowboarder bloggers of the group.
After lunch we made our way to check out the footwear and gloves testing that Gore-Tex stands behind.
Here are some booties being filled with air and then dunked into water to test for leakage.
The many layers of a boot
Here’s the Flex Test to test waterproofing and wicking, above the machine is a computer monitor which records what section of the shoe fails if it doesn’t pass the test so they can go in and fix it. The shoes typically flex 100,000 times and 200,000 for hiking.
After shoes it was onto gloves to check out the tests involved with making sure gloves are quality and durable to the Gore-Tex name. What stood out the most for me was liner retention, you know when you pull your hands out of gloves and the liner comes out then you have to fix it so the fingers are lined up…yeah Gore-Tex makes sure that doesn’t happen and that the liner won’t come out when you pull out your fingers. Kudos for that.
Testing for leaks in gloves
Seeing the membrane inside a glove
After our tours we sat down for a meeting with all the bloggers and staff to really look in depth at Gore-Tex including a discussion on competitors, environmental standpoint and overall look as a company. It’s hard to imagine that such a large company doesn’t have management in the typical sense, there are teams. For legal reasons there is a CEO and it’s a woman, Terri Kelly but most everyone agreed they only have titles for the outside world and not in the normal sense. Interests can change and people work on what they would like to work on and in their interest levels. Definitely a different atmosphere than I was expecting but very appealing because of the lack of drama with management and each person is an associate, not someone’s boss. It’s privately held and employees are stakeholders in the company.
On our way into Philadelphia we stopped by the Gore Outdoor Store where we were told to find a Gore-Tex product (jacket or pants) under $300 that we liked and bring it to the counter. I thought it was a game and grabbed the first jacket I saw under $300 with the Gore-Tex on it…when I got to the counter I found out that I was going to be given whatever jacket I picked out, so I changed my mind and started trying on gear. Since my closet is already stocked with 686 jackets for this season, I settled on the Burton Blitzer Windstopper Hoodie in this awesome plaid print that I haven’t stopped wearing since I got it.
After the Gore Outdoor Store, we got on board the shuttle bus stocked with beer including my favorite east coast lager, Yuengling and headed to Philadelphia. We found ourselves doing a scavenger hunt as a way to work within teams and check out some of the sites.
My team was the Dingling Yuenglings and we rocked. The scavenger hunt wasn’t too interesting at first but we definitely found ourselves into it and we had a great group so there was a lot of laughter as we figured out clues, took random photos with strangers and worked to finish the hunt together.
Rebecca who runs Calipidder.com having to dress in drag in a seriously cool real Philadelphia fireman’s outfit
The best part about the hunt was getting to check out Philadelphia and see some sites that have historial value plus just natural beauty. The colors and weather in Philadelphia during the trip was amazing, definitely the fall season coming out beautifully.
After the scavenger hunt it was time for dinner in Philadelphia and we made our way to Moshulu which is a boat restaurant, a 1904 boat to be exact. It had outdoor heated covering for our dinner and we were able to watch the scavenger hunt videos and photos we made from each time, pick a winner (my group came in 2nd place but I think we won for most fun) and then sit down for a delicious dinner.
Chris from Snowboarderguide.com getting some work done during some downtime before dinner.
After dinner we made our way back to the hotel and said our goodbyes. Even though my flight was at 8am with a 6am shuttle to the airport, I stayed up with some of the other bloggers in the hotel bar to talk and drink before calling it an evening.
I’ll do a post that talks about this whole experience since there’s so much more to say and to highlight the other bloggers invited to the event that I was able to meet and get to know. I really want to say a huge thanks to the Gore staff who took care of us during the experience, it’s the first blogger summit they held and it was an honor to be picked by them as someone they wanted to meet. Thanks to Kelly, Katie, Cynthia, Brad, Melissa and so many other names I’m forgetting who made us feel welcome and shared so much of Gore with us. I really appreciated it!
*Full Disclosure: Please note that at the Gore-Tex Experience More Blogger Summit my expenses were paid for by Gore-Tex.