Gore-Tex Walking Shoes

What is Gore-Tex?

Gore-Tex is an innovative waterproof and breathable membrane developed in 1969 by W.L. Gore & Associates as a lining material to keep the insides of outdoor footwear and apparel dry. This advanced material contains over 1.4 billion microscopic pores spread across every square inch of fabric. To put in perspective how minuscule these pores are, they are around 20,000 times smaller than a droplet of liquid water. However, the pores remain approximately 700 times larger than a single water vapour molecule. This deliberately engineered difference in size between water droplets and water vapour enables Gore-Tex to provide both waterproofness and breathability in a single integrated fabric. The reason Gore-Tex can remain waterproof whilst enabling breathability is the different properties between water in liquid droplet form versus gaseous water vapour form. The microscopic pores present in the Gore-Tex membrane are simply too small for external liquid water droplets to pass through from the exterior when hiking in wet conditions or crossing streams. However, the pores do remain large enough for internal sweat vapour building up during physical activity to escape from the interior liner to the outside. This avoids the uncomfortable build-up of hot perspiration around the foot during hiking whilst preventing the ingress of cooling external water. Therefore, Gore-Tex offers the innovative performance combination of completely blocking external liquid water, such as rain or puddles, from soaking into the shoe and contacting the foot, whilst enabling internal warm water vapour, such as sweat, to vent to the outside environment. This carefully balanced waterproof and breathable functionality helps keep hikers' feet dry, stable and blister-free for comfort over long distances in almost all conditions, from deserts to tropical downpours.


From a material construction perspective, Gore-Tex membranes are made from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, more commonly referred to as ePTFE. To create the microporous web structure, the ePTFE is heated and stretched under closely controlled conditions. Once the delicate process of generating billions of tiny interconnected pores is complete, an oleophobic coating is then applied to the membrane. This coating helps prevent oils and contaminants from compromising the integrity of the material whilst maintaining high levels of breathability. The result is a thin, lightweight ePTFE laminate material which can be integrated into outdoor footwear and apparel to provide enduring waterproof performance and reliable breathability over the lifetime of the product. This optimal balance of preventing external water ingress whilst enabling internal moisture vapour venting makes Gore-Tex ideally suited to hiking shoes where keeping feet dry, comfortable and blister-free is essential for stability and performance across long distances in varied terrain and weather conditions.


How Does Gore-Tex Work in Walking Shoes?

Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes are integrated into hiking and walking shoes through several methods. The first and most complete approach is known as bootie construction. This involves forming the thin Gore-Tex laminate into a sock-like liner or bootie that sits inside the shoe's outer shell. With bootie construction, the Gore-Tex membrane lines the full interior circumference of the shoe, acting like an internal barrier that keeps the foot 100% isolated from any external liquid water droplets entering the shoe. At the same time, the bootie allows sweat vapour moisture building up inside from the foot to readily escape through the breathable ePTFE pores to the outside air. The result is a fully enclosed waterproof environment for the foot, with no potential gaps where water could potentially ingress, whilst maintaining good breathability. A second method of integration is direct attachment construction. Here, the Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membrane is not formed into a bootie but rather laminated or bonded directly to the inside face of the outer upper fabric of the shoe. This streamlined approach minimises the amount of layers between the foot and the outside, enhancing flexibility and sensitivity underfoot. The protection against external water or mud remains high, provided by the waterproof membrane laminated to the inside of the uppers. However, the risk of potential leakage through seams is higher, when compared to a fully enclosed Gore-Tex bootie liner.


The third approach is known as sandwich construction. As the name suggests, the Gore-Tex walking shoes’ membrane is sandwiched between the outer upper face fabric, and the inner lining fabric closest to the foot. The inclusion of that inner fabric helps protect the integrity of the membrane, shielding it from damage such as abrasion from laces and the foot during use. It also provides a more comfortable next-to-skin interface. This method minimises leaks through seams but adds a small amount of weight from the additional inner lining. However, breathability is enhanced with two fabric faces sandwiching the membrane providing additional surface area for the evaporation and venting of sweat vapour. Regardless of the integration method, the heart of the technology remains the proprietary Gore-Tex membrane itself. This thin waterproof yet breathable layer is made from extended polytetrafluoroethylene material, commonly abbreviated to ePTFE. This advanced polymer is heated up and stretched under closely controlled conditions to produce the micro-porous expanded web structure unique to Gore-Tex. The pores generated numbers over 1.4 billion per square inch whilst remaining small enough to block liquid water but large enough to pass water vapour. Once the meticulous process of stretching the ePTFE to the optimal pore size is complete, an oleophobic coating is applied. This protects the delicate membrane structure from contamination by oils or grease whilst maintaining high breathability levels across a broad range of temperatures and humidity. By engineering their membrane technology to provide the ideal balance of external waterproofness and internal breathability, then integrating it into footwear in the optimal construction method, Gore-Tex walking shoes keep feet dry and comfortable across many miles of varied terrain and weather conditions. This maximises stability and helps prevent injury risk and blister formation when spending long hours on the trail.


Types of Gore-Tex Walking Shoes

Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes are incorporated into a wide variety of hiking shoe and boot designs engineered for different uses. 


Lightweight low-cut hiking shoes → Purpose-built for faster-paced hiking on relatively smooth and obstacle-free terrain, lightweight low-cut hiking shoes integrate thin Gore-Tex liners to enhance weather protection without sacrificing nimble manoeuvrability. The waterproof breathable membranes keep feet dry when unexpectedly caught in rain showers or crossing overflowing creeks along the maintained trail. Yet the low-cut collar design leaves ankles free and unencumbered, ensuring a naturally rapid stride over gently rolling topography. The flexibility to quickly adapt gaits remains uninhibited by excess bulk, making the shoes ideal for up-tempo day hikes conducted primarily on groomed paths rather than rough off-trail scramble.


Mid-cut hiking boots → Mid-cut hiking boots engineered in Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes to keep feet dry crossing marshes and streams during day hikes while providing structural support for moderate 15kg pack loads. The ankle-hugging collars lock heels securely to prevent rubs and blisters, aided by integrated foam padding. Debris guards also minimise dirt and gravel ingress when going off-trail through loose scree or tangled underbrush. The mid-height construction strikes an optimal balance between lighter low-cut flexibility and the torsional rigidity of backpacking models. Mid-cuts add stability when scrambling with weight on uneven terrain, without severely limiting agility and natural gait.


Backpacking boots → Backpacking boots engineered for multi-day hikes under heavy 20kg plus pack loads integrate Gore-Tex waterproofing within extra rigid stabilising platforms. The firm shanks prevent ankle rolls and aid balance grinding up and down rough, unmaintained terrain off-trail. They enable pushing big miles day after day even when fully loaded. The Gore-Tex liner keeps feet dry through repeated crossings of overflowing streams and prolonged exposure to precipitation over extended distances. The bombproof builds stand up to heavy use and abuse far from civilisation where wet feet could rapidly lead to dangerous hypothermia. The integrated durability provides reliability when it matters most.


Mountaineering boots  → Engineered for ascending into thin, freezing air, hardcore mountaineering boots maximise Gore-Tex weather protection and breathability. Fully crampon-compatible welted randing enables secure front point footing while kicking thousands of steps up steep ice inclines at altitude. The integrated gaiters seal out spindrift snow overflow when balancing along narrow icy arêtes. Through it all, the waterproof breathable Gore-Tex inner membranes keep feet dry and stable despite heavy exertion output in the harshest alpine storm conditions. The pairing enables pushing higher up sheer faces and along exposed ridges too risky for lesser footwear lacking such advanced armour against the elements.


When the mercury plummets below freezing, Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes are augmented by integrating thick insulating PrimaLoft liners. This synthetic insulation retains heat to keep feet warm and comfortable during active snowshoeing or winter trekking even when temperatures drop as low as -20°C. The tall uppers prevent snow from overflowing into the boot's interior, while the Gore-Tex membranes block external moisture penetration. At the same time, inherent breathability prevents uncomfortably hot and damp micro-climates inside the boots caused by excessive perspiration build-up during high exertion activity in the cold. The pairing combats the elements to prevent punishing frostbite or trench foot in frigid conditions.


Which Shoe Brands offer Gore-Tex?

There are a number of reputable footwear brands that incorporate Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes across their hiking shoe and boot lineup. Some of the most well-known include:



Founded in Italy in 1938, Scarpa uses top quality leathers and advanced construction techniques across their boots. Many of their hiking and mountaineering models integrate Gore-Tex to provide waterproofing for challenging alpine environments.

Popular Scarpa Gore-Tex models include:

  • Rush Trek GTX boots - A waterproof and breathable walking boot made with a focus on comfort

  • Manta Tech GTX Boots - 4-season Mountain boots

  • Maverick Mid GTX Boots - Agile and athletic mid-cut trail walking boot


Based in France and originally making saw blades, Salomon switched to ski and then hiking gear in the late 1940s. Salomon footwear is renowned for comfort and innovation. Popular Salomon Gore-Tex walking shoes  models include:

  • X Ultra 4 GTX - Agile hiking shoe for maintained trails

  • Quest 4 GTX - Mid cut hiking boot with supportive Sensifit lacing


Founded in 1981 in Vermont, USA, Merrell makes performance outdoor and hiking shoes focused on grip and agility. Merrell uses a range of Gore-Tex membranes across its lineup. Popular Merrell Gore-Tex  walking shoes models include:

  • Moab Edge - Low cut hiker for summer trails

  • Thermo Rogue - Mid height winter boot with 200g PrimaLoft insulation


Specialising in quality leather boots handmade in Germany since 1683, Meindl incorporates Gore-Tex liners across many hiking and expedition models. Popular Meindl Gore-Tex models include:

  • Burma Pro - Durable leather mid cut light hiking boot

  • Bhutan - Comfort fit trekking boot

  • Seven Summits - Heavy duty fully crampon compatible mountaineering boot

This range demonstrates quality hiking footwear brands from around the world are adopting Gore-Tex membranes across their product lineups to deliver waterproof weather protection without compromising on breathability and active performance.

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