From Gore-Tex to Drystar, here's everything you need to know about waterproofing from types of membranes to the best.
There is no such thing as bad weather: there is only bad gear for the situation at hand. Any new rider will find out how important waterproof motorcycle clothing is when they find themselves with 40 minutes of traffic ahead of them and the heavens above unleashing hell. It’s that sort of situation where your vintage style leather jacket or casual motorcycle boots just won’t do the job. But finding the right waterproof clothing for you is a job in itself. Each garment of clothing from jackets and trousers to gloves and boots will have different waterproofing qualities, with brands using a range of industry-jargon to describe how their jacket has a "Drystar waterproof lining", or how their "Gore-Tex" boots have a waterproof membrane.
So, what's the difference between these types of waterproofing? What brands use them? Read on to find out more...
It’s probably one of the most well-known names in waterproofing let alone the motorcycle industry; GORE-TEX is used in not only motorcycle clothing but also hiking & camping gear, snow-sports gear and running, hunting and walking gear. Invented by Wilbert L. Gore and his son Robert W. Gore, GORE-TEX in its 50 years of existence has built itself a huge reputation for providing some of the best waterproofing available, and this is no different for the motorcycle clothing instilled with it.
GORE-TEX consists of a lightweight fabric membrane that repels liquid water while allowing water vapour to pass through, allowing for waterproofing and breathable qualities. This fabric is comprised of a layer of thermo-stretched polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or more commonly known as Teflon) sandwiched between two layers of nylon, which gives the material its water-resistant and perspiration properties, as well as being flexible, durable and 100% UV protective. This membrane is integrated underneath the garment's outer layer, allowing the leather or textile outer layer to stop most of the water, and the GORE-TEX layer to do the rest.
Within the motorcycle industry, Rukka and Held are a couple of the biggest brands associated with GORE-TEX, with the two incorporating the technology within a wide range of their jackets, trousers and gloves. GORE-TEX is also used by Dainese, Alpinestars, Bering while also Daytona, Sidi and TCX incorporate the waterproof membrane into their boots, and of course, many more brands that use GORE-TEX.
Gore-Tex comes in two distinct versions:
Firstly, there is the GORE-TEX drop-down waterproof liner that you can find on products like the Rukka Katuh trousers or Alpinestars Ares jacket. This GORE-TEX waterproof liner sits behind the textile outer layer of the jacket and as rain falls and collects on this outer layer it is blocked from soaking through to your clothing. The drawbacks of this is that the jacket or trousers can become heavy when collecting water and allow cold in, but most jackets and trousers fitted with the drop-down liner feature a removable thermal liner. If this happens, we would recommend hanging the jacket or trousers to dry after use.
Alternatively, higher-end jackets and trousers will feature GORE-TEX's high-performing multi-layer laminate. These GORE-TEX layers are completely watertight and waterproof and are designed to block all water from entering the piece of clothing and getting to your under-layers. You will find the GORE-TEX multi-layer laminate on higher-end products like the Dainese D-Cyclone jacket & trousers and the Rukka Nivala suit. While they often come with a premium price, the performance you get from these garments makes it a great investment for riders who know they will encounter poor weather regularly, whether that's from daily commuting or a long-distance tour of France. This investment is particularly profound in Rukka's commitment to a 6-year warranty (this applies to mainly Rukka jackets and trousers).
This more premium GORE-TEX layer prevents water penetration, making water to bead off the outer layer and be blocked from soaking through into the lower layers: this will keep the clothes under your jacket and trousers bone dry. But the blocking of water from soaking through also prevents the garments from becoming heavy, an issue we mentioned that the GORE-TEX drop down layer potentially can have. This leaves your jacket or trousers absolutely dry and looking road ready again with a simple wipe down.
But you won’t find GORE-TEX in just your jackets and trousers; you’ll find the technology in a huge range of motorcycle gloves and boots as well. Using GORE-TEX to lock out wet and help resistant the heat so your fingers and toes don’t become damp or numb, GORE-TEX is a great choice for keeping your extremities dry. See our full range of GORE-TEX gloves here and our GORE-TEX boots range here, coming from brands like Dainese, Daytona, Rukka, Alpinestars and many more.
Alpinestars approached waterproofing with the aim of delivering super versatility alongside super weather protection. The result, Alpinestars’ Drystar, a membrane that is 100% fully waterproof while offering high performing breathability. Alpinestars’ history in motocross means they are keenly aware of the needs of full weather protection in a single piece of clothing.
Alpinestars’ jackets that feature Drystar have it a separate membrane layer that sits behind the top outer layer of the jacket and can be removed, as with other inner membranes this does mean rainwater that lands on the outer layer is soaked in but never gets far enough to make your clothes under your jacket wet. The drawback is that under heavy rain the jacket may become quite heavy from the rainwater.
It is not just jackets that feature Alpinestars’ high performing Drystar membrane, the waterproof membrane comes in Alpinestars boots, gloves and trousers, which feature universal zippers to connect to your Alpinestars jacket.
D-DRY is Dainese’s own designed waterproof membrane used exclusively for their range of textile jackets, trousers, boots and gloves.
With the increasing demand for waterproofing in motorcycle gear, Dainese developed their own in-house waterproof technology to use for their own products. D-DRY is the waterproof membrane that was developed and is in use in most mid-range Dainese clothing – at higher end of Dainese’s products you will start seeing Gore-Tex be utilized including the layered laminate GORE-TEX used in the D-Cyclone range and other high-end Dainese products.
D-DRY is a waterproof membrane layer that sits under the top outer textile layer that blocks water from soaking through to your clothes whilst riding, the outer layer does absorb the water the membrane behind stops this water from getting to your clothes, soaking them. D-DRY is exclusive to Dainese and is designed to be super comfortable and breathable while locking out water, making for a much more enjoyable ride.
OXFORD PRODUCTS' Dry2Dry
Dry2Dry is a brand-new waterproof technology developed by Oxford Products for use on their Advanced Rider series, the Oxford Continental Advanced jacket & trousers and the Oxford Mondial Advanced jacket and trousers use the Dry2Dry technology. Both these textile suits are laminate waterproof, an easier-to-use style the drop-down liners used on most other waterproof clothing.
In most waterproof jackets and trousers, there will be a waterproof liner that sits under the top outer layer. This means water will collect on to the jacket or trousers but the waterproof liner will stop it from soaking through. The Oxford Continental and Mondial are different. The outer layer of the jacket or trousers is laminated to bead off rainwater to stop any water soaking into the jacket or trousers. This means the garment will be more lightweight, as there will not be a separate waterproof liner that needs to be zipped into the top layer. This means in unpredictable weather where you can face good solid sunshine or a sudden downpour out of nowhere you will not need to stop and refit your waterproof liner. This beading effect also means the jacket or trousers won’t become soaked and heavy, but also with a quick wipe down of the top layer the jacket and trousers will look as good as new for your next ride.
This new technology of waterproof lamination from Oxford is an interesting game-changer, laminate waterproof is often found at the much higher price scale for clothing, the Oxford Mondial jacket and trousers, on the other hand, is a much more affordable option.
The Italian brand Spidi set themselves a precise and ambitious objective: “to create a specific waterproof, windproof breathable membrane…” but one that is perfectly attuned to the needs of a motorcyclist. They worked alongside the Japanese manufacturer Toray for a number of years, to create H2OUT, a heavy-duty liner that guarantees maximum comfort while providing waterproofing and wind-proofing.
Spidi and Toray were fully aware though of the needs of a motorcycle rider and so the design of the H2OUT Membrane is super lightweight while being flexible and thin. The H2OUT Membrane is a waterproof layer that sits behind the top outer layer of the piece of clothing. Any rainfall you face will collect on the top layer but will be blocked from soaking through to your underlayers, leaving your regular clothes underneath your biker gear dry.
The Spidi H2OUT membrane layer sits beneath the top layer of the jacket or trousers, and sometimes on the jacket can be removed if the weather is finally clear. This acts in a similar way to the GORE-TEX drop-down layer, water will hit the top outer layer of the jacket soak in but never reach far enough to get your clothes under the jacket or trousers wet keeping you dry. This does mean that it has the drawback of becoming heavy when you are going through a lot of rain because the rainwater will soak into the top layer, this also means Infinity would recommend hanging your jacket or trousers up to dry after use.
H2OUT is used exclusively for Spidi’s textile motorcycle clothing, from jackets to trousers to gloves.
Other types of waterproofing include RST's SINAQUA waterproof membrane which sits under their textile jackets. This lining is sandwiched in the middle of 3 layers of laminated softshell fabric with a durable outer finish. This material provides the user with 10,000 mm of water pressure as well as 5000 g / m² and 24 hours of breathability.
This article was written by Aaron Thomson, Website & Content Executive at Infinity Motorcycles, and edited by Jonah Son.