This is a really straightforward question but finding a good clear answer seems to be quite hard. Simply put, WINDSTOPPER® (WINDSTOPPER from here on out) is a common and important material used in the manufacture and construction of outerwear and accessories. Information about the specifics of WINDSTOPPER are available but are dispersed and hard to piece together. I felt like would be valuable to give a high level background and context to what it is and to help understand why it’s such an important material in the designers toolkit.
Where does it come from?
WINDSTOPPER products are manufactured by W.L. Gore & Associates (commonly known as Gore.) For designers and manufacturers to work with WINDSTOPPER they require a contract and Gore license.
How is it made?
At the heart of WINDSTOPPER is a highly breathable membrane fabric that is bonded, through lamination, to inner and outer fabric layers in a 3 layer construction. Because the process of sublimation (or dye sublimation printing) requires materials to reach high heat before color or graphics can be applied, all inner and outer materials used in the WINDSTOPPER construction are pre-died.
What do the layers do?
Each of these layers plays its own role in building an ideal microclimate around your body and on the inside the garment. The outer layer serves to act as a water resistant, not waterproof shell that helps shed water while drying quickly. The inner layer serves to insulate the body as well as help manage the evaporation of moisture away from your body. The WINDSTOPPER membrane in the middle allows the excess moisture to breath through to escape while blocking outside moisture from making its way inside. How? The size of the water molecules in vapor are incredibly small, small enough to move through the membrane. Where as the water molecules in rain are much larger, too large to move through the membrane. Vapor gets out, snow and rain can’t get in.
The ideal use case for WINDSTOPPER is to protect against wind without sacrificing breathability and when motion is priority over warmth. Gore literature claims that WINDSTOPPER is 2x more breathable than competitive products on the market.
Are there different kinds of WINDSTOPPER?
Yes, there are four main varieties of WINDSTOPPER. They are:
- WINDSTOPPER® ACTIVE SHELL
- WINDSTOPPER® SOFT SHELL
- WINDSTOPPER® TECHNICAL FLEECE
- WINDSTOPPER® INSULATED FLEECE