Lenders on your Pro Boots mate - A visit to Gore.

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Gore Tex.

Now you're probably thinking about the issue waterproof jacket or cold weather boots like the old skool 1990s Pro Boots. Up until Tuesday I though pretty much the same thing about Gore Tex. I knew two things about it - it's waterproof, it's breathable.

I own some Gore Tex stuff, issue foulies, bivvy bag and I know there is some Gore Tex somewhere inside my Lowa mountain boots, it says so on a little label the side.


A few weeks ago I get a PM out of the blue from Bad CO with words to the effect of:

"Ravers mate, we liked your review on the AKU boots, Kosa jacket and the other shit you used to put up on the Kit Reviews site. Fancy going to Bavaria for us to see the Gore factory? It's all paid for, you just need to get yourself to an airport and they'll do the rest."

Of course immediately I thought this was the beginning of a classic Arrse wind up. I had visions of me booking 3 days off work, driving 100 miles to the airport, only for Porridge Gun, Spaz and Steven Seagull to be waiting for me with a big banner saying "Ravers is a ******" on it or something.

Similar things have happened before.

With this in mind I proceeded with caution, a free trip to Bavaria and some new cool shit to review was probably worth the risk of a cocking.

So I got in contact with Gore and received some legitimate looking emails that were far too official and professional looking for anyone one of you gimps to have knocked up on paintbrush. It looked like this might actually be happening. Flights were booked, hotel confirmation and an itinerary arrived and on Tuesday, off I went to Manchester Airport where I met Graham the Gore representative who would be my host for the next 3 days.


"So are you the editor of Arrse then?"

"Well not exactly."

"Oh you're freelance."

"Ummmmm."


How does one explain Arrse to a fairly senior manager from a massive multi national company? More importantly how do you make him think he's not made a massive mistake inviting a random bloke off the internet to come and see his factory?

I tried to explain a bit about the site, what it was all about etc. I talked about the reviews section and the massive discussions on military equipment and gear, I explained that the site gets about 5 million hits a month (cheers wikipedia) and finally I explained that my matelot dits thread had received over 160,000 views to date. He seemed reasonably impressed.

Then I decided to show him what Arrse was all about on my phone. First thread up was the 'Syria' one....... discussion about current operations.......good.

As we scrolled through the home page the 'Fit Birds in Uniform' thread glared out at us..........shit.


"What's that?"

"Ummmm........ it's a thread where people put up phots of fit birds in uniform."


He grinned. Despite having not served in the Forces himself, Graham has spent the past 29 years in the textiles industry making and selling clothing to military customers around the world, as well as to the fire services and other industrial users.

He understands our humour......Good, he won't be too shocked when he delves a bit further into the site.

We chatted a bit more, he gave me a run down on what we'd be doing for the next few days and we boarded the flight to Munich.

plane.jpg
 
Only happen to you. You could bathe in shit for a week and still come up smelling of roses.
As grouchy said, jammy bugger.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Got into Germany without any snags. We had an hour or two to kill until the other journos arrived, the editor of Combat & Survival and the editor of Raider. There was also supposed to be someone from Soldier Magazine but they couldn't make it.

I was really feeling out of my depth. Two proper real life journos who do this shit for a living and me, the purveyor of disgusting dits from my time in the RN.

How did this happen?

The other blokes turned up, we chatted and picked up the hire car, an Evoque, and made our way to the hotel a few miles south of Munich in a town called Miesbach. I've driven through Bavaria before and it's mega. Around every corner I was expecting Julie Andrews to pop out and start singing the hills are alive (I know that film was set in Austria, but whatever, you get the idea). With Oktoberfest just winding down, there was no mistaking the fact that we were in deepest Deutschland, this was further rammed home when we checked in at the hotel and the staff were all in traditional dress.

Graham left us to our own devices for a few hours, so I phoned the missus and decided to go to the gym. I must've taken a wrong turn because somehow I ended up in the middle of about 20 kids having a karate lesson. Not fancying a kicking from some German children, I abandoned the gym idea and went for a run around town instead.

A nice meal followed and we got on the beers in the bar, chatting shit. I got to pry a bit into the world of military journalism and learned a great deal about the other two publications that were represented there and the sort of people who read them.

With slightly baggy heads we arose the next day and headed across to the first Gore factory at Putzbrunn.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Putzbrunn is home to around 900 Gore workers. It's an American firm and there is a bit of a happy clappy American ethos and culture going on. There are no employees for example, everyone from the bloke who cleans the shitters to the MD is an 'associate' with share options. The buildings are stunning, with modern furniture and machines that dispense both still and sparkling mineral water.

It's a nice place to be and this comes across in the enthusiasm and happiness of the people who work there.

First up was Michael a senior associate for Gore PR. He lead us to a posh conference room with tables nicely laid out with Gore products and three seats laid out with three identical sets of Gore freebies, pens, notepads and an A4 Gore Tex wallet.

Sweet.

Michael gave us a run down of Gore's history, how Gore Tex was discovered and what Gore is doing now around the world.

Not a single mention of Pro Boots.

I took some notes trying to look professional, looking at them now, I've written little of use. However what I did take away from Michael's presentation was the fact that Gore is not just about Gore Tex. Of course Gore Tex is a pretty big piece of the cake, but they're also a massive player in the electronics, industrial and medical worlds. They've been around since 1958 and are growing from strength to strength.

Generally you are never more than 5 metres away from a Gore product. As well as the obvious examples in Gore Tex clothing, there are Gore materials in your phone, in the headlights of your car, in space, in your computer, in guitar strings and some people even have Gore products inside them in the form of membranes that fix holes in people's hearts.

Cool as **** and incredibly interesting.

What is the main gist of this Gore material then? Here's the science bit.

It was invented or discovered by a chemist called Bill Gore, it is essentially PTFE that's been stretched a bit. Expanded PTFE or EPTFE. It has loads of tiny holes in it, these are small enough to keep water molecules out but big enough to let air molecules through. It also has loads of other very desirable properties; it is chemically inert so ideal for medical use and it has massive temperature tolerance ranging from -250c to +320c.

All well and good but why does any of this shit matter to the readers of Arrse and your average British Squaddy?
 
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Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
As mentioned above most people associate Gore Tex in a military sense with the old Pro Boots that we all loved in the 90s, bivvy sacks and foulie clothing. Indeed I once went on an ex in the South of France and the RSM specifically ordered us to not turn up in Gore Tex boots because our feet would boil.

No one questioned this. Gore Tex boots keep your feet warm and dry right? It'd be ******* stupid to wear Gore Tex boots in the 30 degree heat of Canjeurs training area.

Wrong.

That probably used to be the case 20 years ago, even then it wasn't entirely correct, but the technology and research and development that Gore have put into it's products since then has been extensive. In the footwear industry we're seeing Gore Tex playing a bigger and bigger role in lightweight boots, shoes and trainers, not as an insulation material, but as a material that encourages breathability, heat regulation and ventilation.

It was up to Martin to explain this, a Gore associate for over 20 years, he is a product manager for footwear and probably knows more about military boots than anyone else on earth. He showed us a range of modern Gore Tex boots including some of the new UK issue brown jobbies, some super lightweight desert boots and some multi layered arctic boots designed for SF working in Scandinavia.

To further explain how Gore Tex is not just about warmth, Martin points out that one of the Gore's UK partners is Clarks. Clarks use Gore Tex for comfort and breathability and this is exactly why military boot manufacturers are now using it in desert boots. A pair of beautifully made and incredibly lightweight Meindl Equators are thrust into my hands.

"Completely waterproof, completely breathable, no insulation." Martin points out.

Gore has drawn experience from current operations and spoken to soldiers and other users all over the world in order to gain an insight into what the modern soldier requires in their footwear. They work with boot manufacturers to ensure that boots are fit for purpose and meet the end user's requirements. One of the big pieces of feedback they've received is that drying time is most people's number one requirement. They've invested a lot of time and money into new materials that dry quicker.

And this is why I am here. I am an end user and so are you. Gore are not only using me to pass on their message, they're also going to read this thread and look at the responses. They work with the end user and encourage feedback and I am continually asked what I think of the boots on show and what my personal experiences are with their products. This is not just a one way transmission and I can see that I am here for their R&D as well as to plug their stuff. It comes as no surprise when Graham tells me he regularly spends time trawling Army bases talking to the guys on the ground about Gore Tex boots.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
After some coffee we head for a tour of the building. Here at Putzbrunn the material is put through a range of tests and quality control procedures. There are large rolls of different coloured Gore Tex all over the place. Plenty of vibrant colours for the outdoors and industrial workwear markets, but also military colours and a huge variety of different camo patterns from various different countries catch my eye.

Unfortunately I'm not allowed to take any pictures in this factory as it's where all the secret development and research takes place.

In one room we see the rain tower, a 6 metre high chamber that can simulate wind speeds of up to 120mph and every kind of rainfall you can imagine. Two mannequins in Gore Tex gear are inside rotating around on motors in a torrential downpour. Under the clothing they are covered in sensors which detect leaks and monitor temperature. Connor the editor from Raider Magazine volunteers to suit up and get in the tower with the mannequins, he spends about 3 minutes inside while a hurricane is chucked his way.

It sorts out his hangover anyway.

Needless to say when he takes his jacket and trousers off, his clothing underneath is bone dry.

In another room a guy called Volker shows us how the fabric is put through abrasion tests, stretching tests, heat tests, fading tests and virtually every other kind of test you can imagine. They even have a machine that measures 'windproofness.' A standard piece of material is stretched across a nozzle, air is sucked through and the amount measured. The material lets in around 900 litres of air per minute. A windproof Gore membrane is then tested, less that 1 litre of air per minute is sucked through.

Impressive stuff.

Another room houses loads of different types of washing machines, American ones, European ones, industrial ones etc. The garments are washed repeatedly and tested again to see if they've deteriorated in any way. There are tests for ironing, dry cleaning etc. Every possible scenario that the material may encounter is considered.

We even see a microscope room where the products can be examined and where suspected fake and counterfeit Gore Tex is tested.

Upstairs we meet Dr Wolfgang who is in his 70s. He is another example of the Gore working culture and ethos. He retired years ago but loved his job so much that he came back after a few months. He tests live human subjects in a climate chamber. Through a glass window we see a young lad (a sports student) in military uniform and boots, tabbing away at a steady pace on a treadmill. The temperature in the room is 30c and humidity has been set to replicate the desert. He has bluetooth sensors in his boots which sense the temperature and moisture of his feet. He will also have to complete a questionnaire after his tab rating from 1-10 how comfortable he was. The data is collected and used accordingly in Gore's research and development.

On the way out of the room I notice a phot on the wall of someone in full firefighting gear and BA running on the treadmill.

**** that for a laugh.
 
Well i can say i wouldnt buy boots that dont contain it . I know i never even think about foot discomfort from heat , as its not a issue .
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
More to follow tomorrow.

Tune in next time for the Gore boot and footwear testing facility, a phot of the most German toilet on earth and a factory tour of Haix.
 
Cracking stuff you lucky dawg.

So.

Freebies?


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I had a guy in an outdoor shop try and persuade me Gore-tex was overrated in boots and I didn't need it. I dismissed him out of hand and told him I could think of countless occasions when the stuff had kept me dry and my feet in good nick.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
I had a guy in an outdoor shop try and persuade me Gore-tex was overrated in boots and I didn't need it. I dismissed him out of hand and told him I could think of countless occasions when the stuff had kept me dry and my feet in good nick.

Yep. One of the messages Gore are trying to get out there is that they've spent years developing and fine tuning their products. It's not just materials.

Later today I'll be writing about the rigorous quality control methods that Gore use on all footwear that carries their label.

If you buy a Gore Tex boot or shoe, regardless of make or brand, Gore will have tested it to destruction before they'll let it hit the shelves.

Even if you aren't bothered about breathability, temp control and waterproofing, you should still look at the Gore Tex label as a quality standard.

More about this in a bit.
 
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Goretex socks - winner! Goretex boots - no thanks!

Leather is all you need in a boot unless you're an astronaut. Segs or a rubber sole are acceptable.
 

lert

LE
Upstairs we meet Dr Wolfgang who is in his 70s. He is another example of the Gore working culture and ethos. He retired years ago but loved his job so much that he came back after a few months. He tests live human subjects in a 'climate' chamber.

My bold. How very...........German.
 
Damn... beaten to it.
 

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