How does GoreTex work?

How does GoreTex work?

GoreTex – That miracle fabric which almost every outdoor brand uses to make their kit waterproof.

And for good reason. It’s lightweight, breathes well, and it’s durable. Better still its backed up by a guarantee, which is always a good sign.

Why would you want anything else?

Well there are reasons. PFCs are one. And honestly, do you even need a breathable waterproof in the first instance? But those are topics for more discussions. 

For now I’m going to go out and say it. Plastic based waterproof coats, regardless of brand are not the miracle solution to your staying dry needs you thought they were.

And why is that? Well its quite simple. All plastic based waterproof coats work on the concept of their DWR coating working.

So how does GoreTex work? Let me explain and remove the jargon and mystery.

The basics of how GoreTex works

In most plastic based waterproof jackets you have three layers of fabric (Diagram 1)

The soft inner layer -which sits next to your skin on the inside

The GoreTex Layer– this is the GoreTex or similar fabric

The Ripstop Outer Layer – This creates the durability, and is a ripstop fabric

Diagram 1

That silver fabric you see on the inside of your coat is not Goretex. Its the backing layer. Goretex membrane is a very thin piece of fabric, and if worn next to your skin, it would get damaged quickly.

The three layers are then bonded together using heat to stick them to one another.

Now in a lab environment, if you wanted to test the air transfer (how well it breathes) of this garment you would find it performs very well. Moisture would pass through effortlessly (Diagram 1). Perfect, sew it up into a coat and you have a happy customer.

But life isn't a lab

But what when it rains? You know, the very thing you purchased the coat for in the first instance!

Well here is where it gets interesting.

When it rains the following happens.

Water absorbs into the ripstop fabic. Spreading itself over its surface area and saturating the ripstop fabric. It doesn’t go through the GoreTex, as that does its job very well. But the vapour which is passing through the fabric hits this barrier of water and has no place to go (diagram 2).

After a short while your sweat starts backing up and soaks you from the inside. This would feel like the jacket has leaked, but in reality is hasn’t.

Bummer.

Diagram 2

Along comes the DWR coating!

Diagram 3


But fear not. Durable Water Repellency to the rescue (DWR for short).

This coating is like a coating sprayed on at the point of manufacture. It allows water to bead off, but air to pass through. 

Problem solved.

So you thought.

Well why has your waterproof jacket started to leak?

One of two reasons:

Your DWR coating has become dirty. Once dirty, the DWR coating gets flattened.

Reasons your jacket is leaking

Your DWR is dirty

When your DWR coating gets dirty, with body oils, mud, engine oil – waterever you have managed to get on it ,which isn’t rain water, it will stop performing. A few patches of DWR here and there are not an issue, but if your jacket isn’t beading, its not breathing. Therefore its time to give it a wash.

Your DWR is has worn off

Your DWR will eventually wear off. DWR treatments generalls have a wash out rate of 20/80. That means, after 20 washes, 80% of the DWR coating remains in place on your jacket.

After  a high amount of wear, re-coating is helpful. However after some years there will be a point where no amount of re-proofing works. The shop purchased re-proofers never really achieve the same result as the consistency applied in factory. 

To wrap it up

I really hope this has helped to explain GoreTex and DWR coatings in a simple and concise manner. It’s really quite a simple idea, but the technology of GoreTex only works on outdoor jackets if it’s combined with DWR coatings. Peversely, DWR coatings are also harmful to the environment and wear away after time leaving you with great technology, that performs poorly without its essential sidekick (DWR).

However, when it comes to waterproof fabrics, there isn’t much choice if you want to buy a breathable, waterproof jacket. And anyway, most people will never use a waterproof enough for it to wear down quickly. 

How long to walk the West Highland Way

The West Highland Way, like many long distance walks can be tailor made to be as easy or hard as you like. Firstly, I want to point out that there is no right or wrong way to walk the trail. If you want to march the trail in 3 days, theres options for you and if you want to slowly digest the route, then there are options for you here too. 

How long to walk the West Highland Way?

Slow travel is taking a huge quantum leap. 

For many walkers, and I dare say the majority, taking the route slow is becoming really popular, regardless of age.

Why?

Well it’s simple. You can sample all there is to sample along the route. By eliminating the huge daily mileage, you instantly free yourself up to enjoy the views, attractions, pubs and tea rooms available on route. 

One example of an easy itinerary is this one below, as adapted from Contours Walking Holidays

Travel to Milngavie
Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen – 12 miles / 19km
Day 2: Drymen to Balmaha – 6.5 miles / 10.5km
Day 3: Balmaha to Rowardennan – 7.5 miles / 12km
Day 4: Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 14 miles / 22km
Day 5: Inverarnan to Tyndrum – 13 miles  /21km
Day 6: Tyndrum to Inveroran – 10 miles  / 16km
Day 7: Inveroran to Kingshouse – 10 miles / 16km
Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven – 9 miles / 14.5km
Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William – 14 miles / 22km
Depart from Fort William

This itinerary, with an average daily milage of 10.6 is an ideal starting point a slow walk. 

Doing it in halfs

How long to walk the West Highland Way if you want to walk the West Highland Way but you don’t have 10 days spare? Well It’s perfectly acceptable to walk the route in two half’s. A good mid-way stopping point is Tyndrum which has two train stations giving you public transport back to the start. Moreover, a few of the luggage transfer companies offer returns to the start of the route for a reasonable price. 

The marchers

Whether you enjoy a personal challenge, sponsored walk, trail run, or your just too damn hardcore and simply want to tick the trail off your list in a weekend (please write and let us know how you do!), there are itineraries to suit.

Personally, I feel there is no shame in enjoying the comfort of a B&B if you are walking/running/unicycling the route in 4 days. 

Either way, Hillwalk Tours offer an excellent option of routes, including a 4 day challenge hike from Inveroran to Fort William. There are other companies offering challenge hikes too, such as the West Highland Way Challenger, who offer walk support or the West Highland Way Race

The takeaway

So there you have it. How long to walk the West Highland Way. Be sure to pick a route based on your ability rather than feeling like you have to overacieve. Slow is great, so is  fast. There really is no right of wrong way to walk the route. 

Walk or run the route happy rather than bent and broken, from biting off more than you can chew. 

If you would like some help booking your West Highland Way walk, perhaps take a look at our recommended businesses, and luggage transfer companies

 

The Best West Highland Way Luggage Transfer Companies

West Highland Way luggage transfer

Hey Hikers! In this article I hope to help you in your search to find a suitable West Highland Way luggage transfer (baggage transfer) company to carry your bags along the length of this trail. 

There’s a growing number of services along long distance walks, and the West Highland Way is no exception. However it can be a little overwhelming

Travel Lite UK

The first option available to you is Travel Lite UK who offer a simple to use booking service along the West Highland Way. You can checkout on their website. Rate are from £30.00 for a half route, and £45.00 for a full route. This is a great value luggage transfer service 

AMS Scotland

AMS Scotland offer a luggage service which runs between 21st March – 8th November 2020. In addition to luggage transfer services, which are prices from £30.00 per person, they also offer passanger transfers along the route, and also further afield. You can be confident that AMS Scotland can handle your baggage transfer requests as they handle the requirements for a number of walking holiday companies.

Ginger Routes

The entertaingly named Ginger Routes are no laughing matter. This professional bag transfer company boasts excellent reviews and offers bag transfer from £40.00 per bag with no deposit required which is a great deal.

Baggage Freedom

Baggage Freedom provide luggage transfer along the West Highland Way for £40.00 per bag, with discounts available for longer routes. In addition to this, they also offer a return transfer to the start of the trail for £60.00 which is an excellent value package. Moreover, they accept dogs on some of these transfers. 

Sherpa Van

Sherpa Van have been going for some years now and offer luggage transfer on a number of trails. They do however offer the worst value package along the West Highland Way at £9.45 per bag moved (with discount’s available for more than one bag).  However you can expect a simple and reliable booking process, with an accommodation booking service at a competitive price to match.

Need more help?

If you need more help planning and booking your West Highland Way walking holiday beyond our article on West Highland Way luggage transfer please read on. We have help on picking the best walking holiday companies and articles on the the best duration for the walk based on your abilities. 

The Top 5 West Highland Way Tours – Self Guided

West Highland Way Tours

Shopping for your next walking holiday is exhasting. I know first hand, that there are a whole bunch of walking holiday companies, from small independant tour operators to larger companies, owned by big tourism firms. This article aims to help you slim down your list of West Highland Way Tours.

Generally speaking, especially with the West Highland way, there has been a bit of a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. If you are happy with a ‘normal’ room, by this I mean a standard 3-4 star B&B, the prices are reasonable.

I hope here to assist in your search to find suitable West Highland Way tours . If you do choose to book with any of the tour operators below, please do let them know that I sent you!

All of the companies reviewed below are offering self-guided West Highland Way tours. Due to the ever changing pricing of tours, prices are not displayed in this article

Macs Adventure

Macs Adventure, a Glasgow based business offer 11 individual itinerary options for the West Highland Way. You can book short breaks, or walk highlights through too long slow experiences spanning over 11 days – Ideal for slow travel experiences. I always love slow tours – taking my time to enjoy walking, and traveling, rather than rushing along the long distance trail, getting it ‘in the bag’.

However if getting it in the bag is your thing, as with all the options here, Macs Adventure offer a 6 Day itinerary which will see you walking for about 9 hours each day – OUCH!

Macs Adventure, as ever are a safe bet for booking your walking holiday.

Wilderness Scotland

Wilderness Scotland offer a huge range of varied activities within Scotland, from kayaking, photography, road and mountain biking, and walking. It’s only natural that they offer their services booking self-guided tours along the West Highland Way. Unlike Mac’s Adventure, Wilderness Scotland focus on a single selection, of what they deem to be the best route on offer – which is 8 days walking, and 9 nights of accommodation.

Wilderness Scotland also offer room upgrades, for an additional extra cost, with a further 5* upgrade stay in Inverlochy Castle and Glencoe House.

Easy Ways

Easy Ways are a small business offering a simple B&B service along the West Highland Way. Since their start, offering exclusively Scottish routes, they have since branched out to other areas too so they may be worth a look if you are planning a Camino walk. They offer 5, 6, 7, and 8-night itineraries, in addition to half route itineraries if you don’t have the time to complete in one go. They also offer an ultra which is to be completed in 3 days.

Upgrades are offered, but the base prices are competitive against the other options here.

Thistle Trekking

Thistle Trekking offer mountaineering courses and guided walking holidays. However as a highly experienced tourism company, yet relatively young (started in 2011) they are certainly worth a submission. Their only self-guided itinerary is an 8 day West Highland Way route, but you can be sure that their local knowledge of the area will ensure that you have a seamless experience.

Hillwalk Tours

Hill Walk tours are included in this list due to their outstanding reviews on Trust pilot, Facebook and TripAdvisor. They provide 4-9 day itineraries to suit walkers of all abilities, backed up by competitive pricing and of course a neat tour pack delivered to your address prior to the start of your walk.

Need more help?

If you need more help planning and booking your West Highland Way walking holiday beyond our article on West Highland Way Tours please read on. We have help on picking the best West Highland Way luggage transfers and articles on the the best duration for the walk based on your abilities.