Here at CKS, we are proud to stock all of the brands we carry. That being said, each brand has its comparative advantages and disadvantages. We carry four dry wear brands: Kokatat, NRS, Immersion Research, and Level Six. All brands manufacture their own proprietary waterproofing materials, but only Kokatat and NRS make GORE-TEX Pro garments.
The first thing we notice when comparing products is that the GORE-TEX Pro garments are several hundred dollars more expensive than non-GORE-TEX garments. This got us wondering: What are the real differences between GORE-TEX and proprietary waterproofing materials?
Some like it dry, some like it drier.
GORE-TEX was developed in the '70s and has been a staple in outdoor gear for over 50 years thanks to its superior breathability, durability and waterproofness. It is the top name in tech fabrics that has stood the test of time.
W.L. Gore Company is very selective in which brands they will allow to use their patented fabrics, as to not flood the market with products of sub-quality manufacturing that is not in line with GORE-TEX’s superior performance. In Paddlesports, you will currently only find GORE-TEX in Kokatat and NRS' dry suits, dry pants, dry tops, and other paddling outerwear.
Some of the Kokatat and NRS GORE-TEX selection.
HYDRUS 3.0 + SIMILAR
Hydrus 3.0 is Kokatat’s proprietary fabric made to rival products like GORE-TEX. Since Hydrus is their in-house brand, they aren’t paying a fee to another company for the use of a material in their products, making these garments cheaper to produce while maintaining the same quality in construction.
Hydrus is US-made and is very similar to GORE-TEX in terms of waterproofing, breathability, and material weight. The word on the river is if you compare the qualities of the two side-by-side, GORE-TEX ranks 10/10 and Hydrus ranks 8/10.
See? Both Gore (left) and Hydrus (right) are pretty dang waterproof.
NRS, Immersion Research, and Level Six do not have branded names for their waterproofing materials, but they all use similar tech to create durable, breathable, and waterproof garments.
Some of the Kokatat Hydrus 3L selection.
So, who needs GORE-TEX and who would do just fine with proprietary waterproofing? For the price differences, most recreational paddlers that need a drysuit for average paddling conditions are going to be served well by proprietary waterproofing.
GORE-TEX is for those who either want the absolute best they can get, or those who are paddling in situations that demand the best performance possible, like paddling remote and cold rivers where long swims are possible.
Non-Gore materials are suitable for most rafters who don't anticipate excess amounts of swimming.
LIFETIME WARRANTIES FOR ALL
Kokatat, NRS, Immersion Research and Level Six all guarantee their dry wear for life, so you can be sure that whether you choose proprietary waterproofing or GORE-TEX, you’re making a good investment in gear that will last!
Originally posted September 4, 2020. Updated January 12, 2023.
Congrats on your new Gore collection, NRS!