We are on the topic of fabric technologies, once again. Learning more about fabric technologies is an important step in better understanding how a jacket will perform. It’s also useful knowledge when it comes to buying a new jacket, as you will know exactly what to look for, by knowing what you expect from your jacket and what fabric fulfills your requirements best.
In our previous comparisons on different fabric technologies, Gore-Tex has been used as the point of reference, to which we compared the newcomer fabrics. In this comparison, we will be doing the same thing, by comparing Gore-Tex to Omni-Tech.
The main purpose of these comparisons is to help you get a better understanding of what the technicalities mean and how the fabrics actually measure up to each other, the end point of which being to determine which would be the better option.
We chose Omni-Tech as it is considered a good alternative to Gore-Tex, especially so for its price. If there is one thing Gore-Tex has, that all other fabric technologies beat, is its price, which is why a lot of people shy away from jackets made of it.
So what’s one to do if a quality jacket that withstands weather conditions, but can also breathe, is required? Turn to alternatives, of course.
Let’s take a look.
1. Columbia Omni-Tech Technology
As a technology, it was developed to not simply be waterproof, but also stain resistant and, most importantly, breathable.
Breathability is the main issue when it comes to waterproof jackets, as it is usually lacking. Those who are avid skiers, hikers or runners will tell you how much of a role breathability plays not only in how a jacket wears, but also on how it affects your performance, too.
Omni-Tech is made up of three layers, the outer of which is coated with Omni-Shield. Omni-Shield is what gives this fabric its ability to ward off stains and grime, while also helping to repel water.
Its ability to repel water is important, as it minimizes contact with rain and snow, by causing water droplets to roll off the surface of the fabric, rather than collecting on top of it and risking it getting through.
The second layer is a membrane, which is waterproof and it is what gives Omni-Tech most of the water-resistant ability.
Lastly, the third layer’s purpose is that of moisture wicking by utilizing body heat.
The overall feel of Omni-Tech is soft and pleasant to wear as it is not a stiff fabric.
2. Gore-Tex® Technology
Gore-Tex is a fabric that was created decades ago, after a discovery on ePTFE, a very durable material. ePTFE has low water adsorption and is made up of billions of pores, with an estimate of around 9 billion pores per square inch.
These micro pores aid the fabric to “breathe” per se, by making it able to wick moisture out, while at the same time preventing water droplets from the outside from getting through, due to their small size.
The outer layer is also coated with DWR treatment, which further waterproofs the fabric by making it water-repellent.
As a fabric, it can be looked at in three different ways: as a laminate, because it is a binding of three layers, a membrane due to its numerous pores that make it waterproof and breathable, and as a technology, because it can be used to fulfill different requirements.
Gore-Tex is considered the fabric technology to go for, if you truly want to experience what a completely waterproof fabric feels like.
While there are numerous alternatives available, as we have also seen in a previous article, Gore-Tex still remains as the best option out there for a well-rounded fabric, that delivers wind and water resistance, breathability and is also incredibly durable.
3. Comparison: Omni-Tech vs Gore-Tex
Waterproof rating refers to the water column of a fabric, which in turn refers to a fabric’s ability to withstand water pressure before it starts to leak.
We have discussed the numbers before, stating that for a fabric to be considered waterproof, it needs to have a rating of at least 10.000mm. Of course, the higher the better.
Omni-Tech has a water column of 10.000mm, which technically classifies it as waterproof, albeit not highly so.
Gore-Tex, on the other hand, starts at 28.000mm, which makes it a highly waterproof fabric, that can withstand snow blizzards and heavy rainfall without any issue.
However, when it comes to jackets, the overall way that a jacket is put together must be taken into consideration. We are referring to seams, to be more precise.
Stitched seams must be stayed away from, as the tiny holes from the needle will jeopardize the jacket’s ability to withstand rain, no matter how waterproof the fabric may be.
For this reason, make sure that the jacket has either sealed or taped seams for proper protection. And even then, check to see if it is a fully seam-sealed jacket or if only the critical seams are sealed, as the latter are not fully protected from the elements.
As we said earlier, breathability is of key importance for a high-performance jacket, especially if you want one for sports and other outdoor activities.
Breathability, in technical terms, does not refer to a fabric’s ability to let air flow through it, but its ability to wick moisture from the inside to the outside. This, in turn, will prevent overheating and excessive sweating.
Breathability is also measurable, and Omni-Tech has a rating of 10.000 g/m2/24h, whereas Gore-Tex begins at 15.000 g/m2/24h and goes all the way up to 25.000 g/m2/24h.
As you can see, Omni-Tech is adequately breathable, but is best avoided if you are looking for a jacket that can keep up with your physical activity.
Wear and Durability
How these fabrics wear is a bit different, as Omni-Tech, is slightly more malleable and gives in a lot easier to movement, whereas Gore-Tex is stiffer.
Due to the Omni-Shield coating also, Omni-Tech has a better feel to it and it is also able to dry quite fast.
As for durability, while Omni-Tech will provide with a jacket that lasts for a reasonable time, nothing beats Gore-Tex in regards to durability.
Which One Is Better?
When taking all factors into consideration, Gore-Tex is the better option of the two.
However, you need to factor in what you are looking for. If it’s an affordable jacket that you want to wear it in mild weather conditions and won’t be moving excessively in it, then Omni-Tech jackets will leave you very pleased.
But, if you want a jacket that does not budge to the elements and can be worn for a very long time, then look through the different Gore-Tex technologies and pick the one that suits you best.