By David Clucas

W.L. Gore & Associates wants outdoor and fitness consumers to rely on its apparel technologies beyond just its iconic waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex.

The membrane technology company announced Tuesday that it will debut new shell insulation constructions for Fall 2016 — including updates to its Windstopper product — that offer warmth, protection and breathability for lighter precipitations.

The new tech is part of a wider company plan for future innovations in apparel under an updated “Gore Branded Products” nomenclature that will address protection that isn’t necessarily fully waterproof. Meanwhile, the “Gore-Tex” ingredient mark remains unchanged, still representing fully waterproof-breathable garments, including the Gore-Tex Active, Gore-Tex, and Gore-Tex Pro designations.

The effort to expand into the new water-resistant categories is intended to address gaps between hard and soft shell protection and insulation, said Chris Eisenmann, product specialist at W.L. Gore.

“Not everything needs to be fully waterproof,” he said. “We realized in this space of different weather conditions, there are different opportunities for our products.”

One driving factor for the expansion is well informed, smart-phone enabled consumers, who have instant access to weather reports. “If they see it’s going to rain all day, they will grab their Gore-Tex jacket and be guaranteed to stay dry,” Eisenmann said.  “But, if they see there is only a slight chance for some light rain, then they want something different.”

On the insulation side, the brand will introduce Gore Thermium, a new insulation shell construction that offers a two-layer, seam-taped, windproof, water-resistant and breathable laminate coupled with the partner brand’s insulation of choice and an inner lining.

To be clear, Gore is not developing a new insulation. Rather Gore Thermium is the package that encapsulates and protects the insulation for better performance. The third-party insulation used with Thermium must be non-stitched — so in most cases, we’re talking continuous synthetic insulation and wool batting, unless welded baffles are employed.

An updated Gore Windstopper fabric will allow for stitch-through insulation designs (or no insulation) with its traditional windproof protection and boosted water-resistance.

The idea for the new collection is to hit a sweet spot in insulation for its brand partners, Eisenmann said.  “Some insulation is soft and nice, like a sweater, but it’s not very protective from the elements. Other insulation, [behind a hardshell, for example] is protective, but not very comfy or breathable.”

Arc’teryx, Black Diamond, Mammut, Marmot and Salewa are some of Gore’s partners lined up to feature the new technologies in Fall 2016 products.

Gore officials acknowledged they are taking some risks venturing outside of the waterproof-breathable world. They plan to work with retailers to educate consumers the on differences between upcoming “Gore” and “Gore-Tex” technologies.

“We feel we have a lot more apparel technology to offer consumers under the Gore name,” Eisenmann told SportsOneSource. “We don’t want to be limited.”