ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
At first I was going to call this post “Gore-Tex sucks.” But that’s not quite fair. I think all rain gear sucks. Gore-Tex just sucks in a more expensive way.
Please let me explain: As one of the first serious rains hit this past fall, I put my bright yellow Gore-Tex rain coat and headed off to work. This was Nov. 4. When I arrived:
So I went out to that fly-by-night outdoor gear store that pops up here in the winter (I think it is called Next Adventure — out by Lowe’s on West 11th). I was hoping to find a deal on a new Gore-Tex raincoat. Another Gore-Tex raincoat. How many have I gone through by now? It was looking like $160 was about the best I was going to do.
Then I noticed the “cheap-o” stuff. Simple coated nylon shells — for $19.99.
$19.99? So I did the math. I like math. I thought this would be worth an experiment.
At $19.99 I could by eight of these things for the price of the Gore-Tex. So if the cheap-o shell got me through just one rainy season, it would stand to reason that I’d have to get eight years out of a Gore-Tex coat to get the same value.
I have owned many Gore-Tex garments through the years. I do not remember ever having one last eight years. I’ve been in Eugene for 13 years, and I know that I’ve had at least three. So, yeah, normally, I’d say they start leaking after three or four seasons.
To be fair, I should mention that some of the more recent garments I have owned were not real Gore-Tex. A couple employed a fabric called Omni-Tech, which is Columbia sportswear’s version of the same kind of fabric: waterproof and breathable. It starts leaking after a few years, too.
So, we’re almost to April now, and I can report that the cheap-o shell has served pretty well for five months. I noticed some minor leaking yesterday on my way home from work. So this stuff sucks, too. But for 20 bucks, you expect it to suck.
Can I say this will get me through the season? Will it make it another month, maybe two? Let’s assume it will.
If we look at the ACD (annualized cost of dryness), the cheap-o shell comes in at about 20 bucks per year. The Gore-Tex at 40 (assuming a $160 coat will last four years). Of course, $160 is on the cheap side for a Gore-Tex raincoat. But maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I’m not paying enough for my Gore-Tex. Yes, I think that’s probably we’re I’m failing.
So help me out here. Can anybody back me up on this? Do I need to spring for the $250 Gore-Tex coat? Do I just take lousy care of my stuff? Do I need to do more maintenance on my Gore-Tex? I don’t want to. I want to come home, hang it up to dry and then put it on again tomorrow.
What’s the best way to go when it comes to rain gear and cycling in Oregon. What should I do come next fall?