Featured image: Jeff Cricco
Since its inception, Patagonia has been a brand focused first and foremost on the outdoors—whether that’s outfitting humans to enjoy nature’s splendors or protecting the wild spaces we seek to escape. Patagonia literally put its money where its mouth is last year when it made Mother Earth the sole shareholder of the company. Thereby distributing every dollar that isn’t reinvested back into the business as dividends to the Holdfast Collective to help fight the climate crisis. And in true Patagonia fashion, the brand hasn’t stopped there.
In partnership with GORE-TEX, the renowned technical fabric company responsible for our outrageous expectations when it comes to breathable, water and windproof clothing, Patagonia has launched a new snow line made without the use of harmful perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
“Our field testing and fabric innovation team worked alongside GORE’s team to test and validate each fabric platform for each particular end use, from all-mountain to backcountry, to ensure that the all-new materials performed up to the shared standards on each team,” says Product Line Manager for Patagonia Snow, Eric Wallis.
What the two brands are calling ePE—expanded polyethylene—this strong, lightweight material works just as well at keeping you warm and dry without posing a risk to humans or the Earth. GORE-TEX products with the new, innovative ePE membrane offer durably waterproof, windproof and breathable performance with a long product life. The ePE membrane used in GORE-TEX consumer applications is light and thin yet strong; made without intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and has a reduced carbon footprint (per Higg MSI).
Now, don’t be fooled into thinking this was a hasty, haphazard effort from Patagonia for good PR. The two brands have been working on this more environmentally friendly membrane for nearly a decade and have put it up against the most rigorous of standards before ever bringing it to market. Last fall, Patagonia did a limited launch of the new fabric with the two-layer, lined Storm Shift series, available in both men’s and women’s styles. After rounds and rounds of testing with its elite team of athletes, Patagonia is finally ready to set ePE free out into the world with its newest line of snow outerwear for men and women: the Untracked collection. Equipped with all of the bells and whistles Patagonia enthusiasts have grown accustomed to—think a helmet-compatible hood, pit vents, watertight zippers, powder skirt and pocket details—this three-layer GORE-TEX shell is built with fabric that’s 100 percent recycled and made without PFCs. A design choice that not only keeps you warm, dry and looking good while out on the mountain, but also keeps you feeling good about what your clothing is doing—or not doing—to the planet.
“All of our athletes and ambassadors have skied in the prototypes over the years. The new Untracked series was tested and worn by Zahan Billmoria, Pep Fujas, Leah Evans, and Carston Oliver,” says Wallis.
While Patagonia was certainly the catalyst for this industry-changing development with GORE-TEX, the brand sees the new fabric as a great opportunity for Mother Nature if more brands are able to access and use ePE.
“Our goal is to help GORE efficiently bring new ePE material platforms into the market, while ensuring that each season demonstrates a progression for each appropriate end use,” Wallis explains. “We were thrilled to be the first to introduce ePE in the two-layer space with the Storm Shift during the Fall of 2022, with its limited launch. Our hope is that our efforts have helped to instill early confidence in the new membrane and DWR platform, making it easier for other brands to adopt these materials with confidence. We are dedicated to driving the commercialization process with GORE and aspire to be one of the pioneers in introducing each new ePE innovation to the market. From what we [at Patagonia] understand, GORE-TEX ePE is now available to all brands, and we are really excited to see it adopted across the industry!”
Whether it’s reinvesting in the company, putting real dollars toward fighting climate change or developing a fabric with GORE-TEX that’s made without PFCs to replace its entire line of performance outerwear by Fall 2024, Patagonia’s commitment to creating a better world around us is clearly unwavering. We just can’t wait to see what the company does for our planet next.