Hmmm…I’ve just finished watching Fair Go which had a story about some young dairy farmer whose name-brand wet weather gear couldn’t cut the mustard. I haven’t named the company because I think they got a bit of a raw deal whereas young Matt the dairy farmer probably needs to take a teaspoon of cement with his Weetbix each morning and harden up.
It’s not well known that there are two competing technologies in the breathable wet weather world. The first and most well-known is Goretex; the reason that Goretex is the most well-known is not so much that it is better but that Goretex globally has a marketing machine that leaves the tobacco and alcohol industries for dead. Goretex uses what is known as microporous technology with zillions of very small holes (pores) in the material through which water vapour warmed by the body can pass out.
The other technology is osmotic where moisture on the inside passes chemically through the waterproof membrane to the outside of the garment. Milair is the proper name for this material although most people would more likely recognise it under its marketing name, Reflex.
Being largely plastic based, both Goretex and Reflex prone to damage by fuels and oils and neither performs that well when the outer layer is covered by anything like the masses of cow poo that young Matt was carrying around. Both respond well to regular washing and Goretex also responds well to gentle heat to shrink back any pores that may have stretched. Goretex is less prone to function as advertised in environments where there is a lot of dust (which fills and blocks the pores) and where there are not the facilities to wash it.
There is another osmotic material that might be better for young Matt – when we trialed it, it was called Flexothane and was static-safe (great for fuels handlers), and FOL-resistant. It was also quite stretchy and rolled up into a very small bundle. While not as good at pure breathability as Goretex or Reflex, it was great for dirty work environment and more likely a better product for young Matt.
Then again, I come from farming stock on both sides of the family and nary was ever a bit of Goretex spotted in the homestead. Sometimes, the cool Gucci stuff is not the best way to go. Sometimes the best way to go is the good old fashioned oilskin or rubberised slicker…or just take a teaspoon of cement each day and harden up…