Originally posted on SnowboarderGuide.com
From the durability testing room full of washing machines we continued on to what was my favorite part of the tour: the “comfort lab” and the “rain room.”
The comfort lab is a wind tunnel and cold climate room where Gore can test their outerwear in a more personal manner, simulating temperatures from -20 F to +120 F and high winds. While the fabric tests we saw earlier can tell Gore a lot about the fabrics, they can’t test how the jacket works as a finished product, or the effect that pockets and zippers have. In the comfort lab Gore is able to put the finished product on Nate the test dummy, a thermal torso that can report temperature data, and see exactly how wind and cold are transmitted through the outerwear. In addition to Nate, Gore also enlists the help of local college students to get perceptive feedback about products.
Just down the hall from the comfort lab is the rain room, a glass-walled, two-story room designed to simulate rainfall. We suited up in Gore-Tex jackets, pants, and foot coverings, and were ushered into the rain. Water drops fall from the ceiling, approximately 30 feet, and can also be sprayed from the wall at pressures simulating a 60 mph windblown rain or how rain will interact with a seated motorcyclist. Temperatures in the rain room are also adjustable, to a point; they can’t make it snow, but they can get pretty close. The jackets we were wearing were split down the middle, half blue, half yellow. Going back to DWR from Part 1, the yellow half was coated with DWR and the blue half wasn’t, allowing us to really see and feel the difference. On the yellow half, water beaded up quickly and rolled off the jacket. On the blue half, the material quickly became wet, and I definitely felt like I was getting wet, even as they assured us that the Gore-Tex was keeping us dry. This was another really cool tactile demonstration, and was a fun experience; and yes we were still dry.
The rain room concluded our time at Elk Mills 5, the next stop was Elk Creek 2, a glove and shoe testing facility. Tom Casti and Larry Abbot walked us through a couple of different boot and glove tests and filled us in on the details. Boots are rigorously tested, including 100,000 flexes (500,000 for military products) on a partially submerged flex tester.
After touring the glove and boot testing we moved to a conference room for a group discussion and question and answer period with Gore. On the way Gore stroked out egos a bit by showing us the posters they made for each attending blogger. The posters were in the lunch room, and had been put together so that employees at Gore knew something about us when we came to tour. It was pretty flattering, but I thought it was cool that Gore wanted their employees to know something about the people who were touring through the facilities.
The Q&A was a great opportunity to learn more about specific areas of Gore that we had questions about. At the onset of the trip Gore had solicited questions from us, and then took the time to pull together the right people to answer the questions.
Continued in Gore Tour: Day 3 of 30 Days on the Road – Part 3, coming soon.
If you missed it, check out Gore Tour: Day 3 of 30 Days on the Road – Part 1
“30 Days on the Road” is a blog series tracking my travel for thirty days in October and November; from leaving Alaska on October 27th until Steamboat opens on November 25th. Due to a series of cool opportunities I don’t have to be back at a “real job” until 11/26th, and after a summer that seemed way too long, I’ll be making the most of my free month with as much snow and snow industry fun as I can cram in. The goal is two-fold, first to get you pumped about the upcoming season, and two to help keep track of time as I wander aimlessly for a month.