Tech focus is a category where we talk about a specific technology related to outdoor equipment.
For this first entry we are going to dive into the waterproof membrane section with a look at OutDry. But first a little bit of history. Back in 1998 OutDry came up with the a new waterproof membrane concept ideally suited for the outdoor footwear and gloves segments.
In 2008 they won the Volvo Sports Design competition at ISPO, one of the most important event for the outdoor industry. The market at the time was dominated by Gore with its famous Gore-Tex technology.
Fast forward 2010, Columbia, the Oregon based manufacturer of outdoor apparel, decided to buy OutDry and replaced Gore-Tex membranes in their shoes and gloves by this newly acquired tech. They also brought OutDry to their other brands like Mountain Hardwear, Montrail and Sorel.
Is OutDry that different to other waterproof technologies?
The main selling point of the OutDry membrane is that it can be bounded directly to the upper of the shoe or the outer-layer of the glove. This essentially prevent water and dirt from getting past that first barrier and entering.
Comparatively, Gore-Tex is an inner layer that forms some kind of sock. If the outer layer lets water in, it will be kept from your feet our hands by the waterproof membrane. The water however can stay between the upper and the membrane, waiting down the piece gear. Of course membranes such as Gore-Tex generally work in together with a DWR finish that keeps water outside. But went that fails water will sip inside and stay there.
Let’s look at a few pictures to see how that translate in real life. We’ve had the chance to see both side by side, in the same shoe, cut in half.
In those shots the difference is striking, with the sock-like construction on the left being the Gore-Tex membrane and the seamless OutDry on the right.
OutDry really makes one with the outside of the shoe, preventing any water from sipping on the inside. The Gore-Tex equipped shoe appears certainly bulkier as well.
There are many many different ways of keeping water from ruining your outdoor experience and OutDry seems, on paper, to be a great solution. Think about it when you make your next gear research. Now we just need to get our hands on some actual gear for an in depth review…