Buying Gore-Tex Army Surplus gear online
This is a fantastic ‘guest blog’ post, which explains the tips and tricks needed when buying Gore-Tex (especially Army Surplus gear) online.
This has been kindly written by a true industry expert, not just in marketing outdoor products online, but also with first hand experience of working with the direct sale of army surplus gear and other equipment via online and offline methods.
(For more details on the author, please see the footer of this article)
Buying Gore-Tex online (By Rich Brady)
We’ve been trading in army surplus for over 25 Years now and during that time we’ve seen the steady improvements made by militaries in their clothing and equipment. I’m writing this guide to help you make an informed decision when buying a “Gore-tex” product and more so; military made items.
I very much doubt that anyone these days haven’t heard of the material Gore-tex, or their claim that this material is 100% waterproof and 100% breathable.
Fantastic, we can now stay dry and not have to sweat 4 pints for the privilege; or can we?
I don’t dispute that Gore-tex, or any of the other waterproof and breathable materials on the market, are a fantastic creation. However, they are only ever 100% Waterproof and 100% Breathable (simultaneously) in lab conditions. Some will argue that they’ll work in altitude and polar environments, but even then I don’t believe you’ll get 100% of both.
I do not wish to put you off buying these types of items. The total opposite in fact (we sell tonnes of it) and I always have my “waterproof and breathable” jacket with me when I’m in the hills, but I want you to be aware that there are limitations and if you are on your knees in a muddy field, in the pouring rain, the 100% claims will not stand.
It’s the breathability that really suffers. Why is that you say? Well, for hot air to be wicked away from the body and through the pores off the Gore-tex. The pores have to be able to breathe and if you’re limbs are pressed up against the material or more often if it’s pouring with rain and the water is blocking the pores externally. The item will not breathe and that means the air you are expelling can’t escape.
Instead it condenses on the inside of your jacket or trousers and you get wet!
Now back to Army Surplus:
As I mentioned we sell a lot of British Army issue gear to farmers, fishermen and motor cyclists, but not one of these items has Gore-tex written on it…
Why??? The MOD does not brand its clothing. This goes the same for most other countries, with the exception of Germany. So, if you want to buy a genuine piece of Military Specification Waterproof and Breathable clothing, what do you look for?
How do I tell?
- The garment with usually have some reference to MVP or Moisture Vapour Permeability on its label
- There is also the obvious difference in feel and texture, but that doesn’t help if you’re buying over the internet.
- Most British Items are 3-Ply (Three Layers) which feels thicker and is more durable than the “PacLite” versions on the market (To give you some comparison). Recently, Gore have released a heavy duty fabric for mountaineers and alpinists who run the risk of rubbing up against rock, ice and hard snow that would usually shred a lightweight gore-tex item.
- The Seams will be sealed with a Waterproof Tape
What to look out for
Despite being made from a waterproof material, a garment will not protect you from the elements unless the stitching has been professionally sealed.
Check that the seams, pockets and any repairs have been finished off properly
We had a customer come in before Christmas 2007 looking for waterproof and breathable jackets and trousers for his employees.
He’d already spent nearly £500 on brand new USA Issue MVP Items, but his lads were still getting soaked.
We told him all that we have mentioned in this guide, yet you could see that he was reluctant to be caught out again.
He had one of the jackets with him and at first glance it looked like it should stand up to the job.
On further investigation I noticed that the Arm Pits had been sealed since original manufacture and it had not been done properly or adequately and easily came away from the jacket.
He then realised that water was seeping in at this point saturating the lining which was making the whole of the Upper Back soaking wet.
Once we had shown him our items, including some repair and professionally sealed finish we made a sale! Another happy customer… (His lads have since been back, spring 2008 and purchased 4 more sets)
If your item shows signs of bubbles within the material this means that the layers are de-laminating (separating).
This will affect the items performance and should definitely have been mentioned within a listing.
If the item is supposed to be new and shows signs of bubbling send it back and ask for a refund
You may find, having done the above checks, that a Gore-tex item looks fine for use, but before you take it out in the rain hold the fabric up to a light and look “through” the material.
If there are any pin holes or small tears, light will pour through them and highlight leak points
I hope that I have not made your decision more confusing and hope that you find the garment for you. In fact I hope you find it at our shop. 😀
Don’t be put off buying Gore-tex, or any of the other similar items, but take care when choosing. The majority of us are reputable and knowledgeable when it comes to our items, but there are the annoying few put a black mark on internet selling.
So thanks Rich for the post, really appreciate the user and seller knowledge.
I hope this has been of use to people reading this, and details of this guest blogger can be found below for further interesting reads.
About the Author;
Entrepreneur, digital marketeer and expert in leveraging social media within the outdoor retail industry.
“Most of my week is spent marketing two business, Denbigh Army Surplus and Recruit Packs.
If I’m not logged in to one or more social media channels, I’ll be spending time with my fantastic family, walking our spaniel, playing in the mountains or taking part in some sort of endurance event.”
Rich is also a freelance writer for OE Retailer Magazine, and his social media articles are included in their various digital and printed publications.
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