Popular Mechanics (South Africa)



When you have to worry about whether your paper-thin outerwear layer will rip on a tree branch or wear out in the wash, you’ll feel distracted wearing it – not to mention uncomforta­ble, should a tear in your shell let in rain. Durability is an underappre­ciated factor of comfort, Davis says. And that’s where Gore’s Wash Machine Area comes into play. On a large factory floor, 138 standard washing machines are rumbling like the engine bay of a transatlan­tic cargo ship.

This is where Gore simulates the real-life wear and tear that its performanc­e garments go through in everyday use. None of the machines have lids or use detergent, and they’re all modified to run the agitate cycle in eighthour intervals, which is tracked by a computer for each machine and piece of material. Only fabric – no actual garments – goes into these machines because buttons, zippers, and other features can damage the equipment over time. Fabrics go through various tests in other parts of the lab, then get washed in the machines in tap water for 500 to 1 500 hours and, if they’re not frayed or worn out by then, go back through the original tests again. Gore has 40 years’ worth of data using this method to compare with the results of newly developed fabrics.

Balancing all the factors that make outdoor apparel more effective and comfortabl­e is a tricky propositio­n – but one that Davis enjoys. ‘When I see a large performanc­e difference in one of our new products, that’s when we really start to get excited and nerd out.’ And the more that Davis and his colleagues nerd out, the better the technology gets.

And so the washers spin. Down the hall, Walter runs on his treadmill.

The lights in the Environmen­tal Chamber pump up the temperatur­e for another round of tests. The data keeps pouring in. Together, these unique testing facilities work to push fabrics to their limits, and help scientists find out what makes for even better outdoor apparel. Because the more that Gore understand­s what makes us wet and cold and uncomforta­ble, the more we can forget about what we’re wearing – and the more we can accomplish.

 ??  ?? Fabrics get washed in tap water for 500 to 1 500 hours to test durability.
Fabrics get washed in tap water for 500 to 1 500 hours to test durability.
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