Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro: what's the difference?

You'd be surprised at the differences between Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro, especially as 'Pro' isn't necessarily better…

Young man wearing Berghaus Sky Hiker waterproof jacket
(Image credit: Berghaus)

Wondering what the difference between Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro is? This article is here to walk you through it. If you're brand new to the wonderful world of waterproofing technologies, you should probably head to our What is Gore-Tex? article first. Gore-Tex is found in a wide range of outdoors clothing and kit, including many of today's best waterproof jackets and best hiking boots for women (and men). 

Although it's by far the most well-known and respected waterproofing technology, since the original patent expired, it's not the only option on the market – a few brands now have their own versions. Gore-Tex has upped the ante by innovating further and introducing things like Gore-Tex Pro. 

It differs from the original Gore-Tex in how it's constructed, but 'Pro' is not necessarily better. Both are still used, because they have different purposes. The TL;DR version is: Gore-Tex Pro is expensive, and good for specialists activities. Gore-Tex is more affordable, and suited to more general use. 

For a more in-depth explainer of Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro, read on...

Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro: layering

The underlying technology of Gore-Tex is a membrane, made by stretching PTFE (Teflon) into a membrane, with pores 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, but 700 times larger than a water molecule. Water droplets cannot get in, but water vapour can get out. That makes it waterproof and breathable.

This membrane is sandwiched between a durable outer 'face' material, and a 'backer' inner lining. The choice of these materials, and the way that the membrane is bonded to them, makes each type of Gore-Tex perform differently.

2-layer Gore-Tex

In 2-layer construction, the Gore-Tex membrane is only bonded to the outer material. The inner liner is not bonded to the membrane, but suspended on the inside. An insulating layer can be inserted between the membrane and the liner. 2-layer Gore-Tex is durable, comfortable, and good for cold-weather activities when insulated.

3-layer Gore-Tex

In 3-layer construction, the Gore-Tex membrane is bonded to the outer material and the inner material. This reduces movement between layers and protects the membrane. 3-layer Gore-Tex is more durable and less bulky than 2-layer Gore-Tex, for technical hard-shell garments.

2.5-layer Gore-Tex

In 2.5-layer construction, the outer material is bonded to the membrane, and a thin inner layer is attached (but not bonded) to the inside. It’s lightweight and packable.

Z-liner Gore-Tex

In Z-liner construction, both sides of the Gore-Tex membrane are bonded to an extra buffer-material. This 'Z-layer' sits between the outer material and the inner line, but bonded to neither. The Z-layer moves freely, so the fabric is less durable, but requires fewer seams. This type is used for fashion, rather than technical, garments.

Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro

Cross section of original Gore-Tex

(Image credit: Gore-Tex)

What is Gore-tex Pro?

Standard Gore-Tex is available in all layering options, but Gore-Tex Pro is only ever 3-layered. 

Gore-Tex uses Polyurethane as the inner lining, but Gore-Tex Pro uses a Micro-Grid backer. This snags less than Polyurethane, is lighter, and allows water vapour to escape more easily. In addition, Gore-Tex Pro only uses the hardest materials for its outer 'face' layer. The result is a lighter, technical, more rugged and breathable fabric, which slides easily over clothing worn underneath.

Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro

Cross section of Gore-Tex Pro

(Image credit: Gore-Tex)

Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro: which should I buy?

Gore-Tex is more versatile than Gore-Tex Pro, and used in all-round garments. With the 2 or 2.5-layer versions, Gore-Tex can keep you warm, and the 3-layer version is high-performing, durable, reliable and breathable. Classic, 3-layer Gore-Tex is perfect for heavy-duty, waterproof clothing for backpacking, hiking, and even fishing or golfing. It will keep you comfortable and dry in every part of the UK, in all seasons. 

Gore-Tex Pro is for high-intensity activities, in extreme environments with lots of wind, rain or snow, and where you might tear the fabric. That makes it suitable for stop-start activities like ski-mountaineering and winter ascents in places like the Cairngorms, Highlands or the Alps

Gore-Tex Pro clothing is more expensive, with more technical features like helmet-compatible hoods and toggles. It is only every a hard outer-shell, and will always require pairing with mid-layers. Gore-Tex original is more affordable, with more useful features and variations, including insulated versions.

Ash Bhardwaj

Ash Bhardwaj is a writer, film-maker and podcaster, who tells unfamiliar stories about familiar places. He travels for adventure, history and current affairs – often involving long, uncomfortable walks. Ash hosts The First Mile, an immersive travel podcast.