Gear Guy

What is Gortex XCR?

Is Gortex XCR a form of Activent that has been taped and se-sealed? Activent is a great product, totally windproof and highly water resistant, but wouldn't this have been waterproof too if it had been se-sealed? Herb Morganville, New Jersey

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Activent was a W.L. Gore product aimed at the performance outerwear market. It was, in effect, “light” Gore-Tex, meaning that it would in time wet all the way through. But it was also highly breathable, much more so than regular Gore-Tex, so was intended for highly aerobic activities that lasted an hour to a day, though not days on end. Just this past Saturday I wore an Activent jacket on a hike in light rain and about 35-degree temperatures. I stayed dry and comfortable throughout.

Overall, I think Activent was the best performance fabric of the past decade. But you don’t see it anymore. It was expensive (close to $200 for a light jacket or anorak) and W.L. Gore would not allow manufacturers to seam-tape the stuff, thinking that would misleadingly imply it was “waterproof.” (I knew of several manufacturers that thought a taped Activent jacket would have been the greatest thing since the Vibram sole, but that’s another story.) Anyway, consumers—no dummies—held up these $200 non-waterproof jackets and said, in effect, “Screw that!” And I can’t say that I blame them.

Technically, Activent is still around under the Windstopper label from W.L. Gore, but the storyline behind that is now so confusing that nobody makes any jackets or pants with it, except for a brand that W.L. Gore itself puts out. Manzella uses it in gloves, as do Outdoor Research and one or two other companies, and the stuff is fantastic in that application.

Anyway, to answer your question directly, Gortex XCR is NOT Activent. It’s a “regular” Gore-Tex formulation that’s tweaked to be more breathable, which of course is a good thing. And it performs very well. But it’s still not in the same league as Activent when you want to hike, ski, or bike fast and need some weather protection, without requiring a full-on rain jacket.

Trending on Outside Online