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Functional membranes

Functional membranes, commonly known as TEX membranes, have come to play an essential role in functional clothing and shoes; they increase wearing comfort while keeping your body and feet cool, dry and comfortable. Active, outdoor people have especially come to appreciate functional membranes for hiking, jogging, and many other activities.

So what exactly is a TEX membrane?

Ultra-fine TEX membranes have microscopic pores that would each fit into a water droplet around twenty thousand times, pores that are impenetrable from the outside while allowing water vapour molecules, which are much smaller, to escape. The membrane's pores are about seven hundred times the size of a single water molecule so sweat can evaporate from the inside out. As a rule, membranes form an intermediate layer between the upper and lining so you won't be able to see them in your new jacket or shoes.

What are the physical qualities of a TEX membrane?

TEX membranes don't kink, and they remain fully intact in extremely cold conditions; they are absolutely waterproof and windproof, but still highly breathable.

What's really important is the workmanship that goes into fitting a TEX membrane into a garment or shoe; stitching the membrane can easily damage the membrane – this reduces its water-repellent qualities, possibly leaving you with a leaky item.

Patent, metallic-finish, heavily oiled or waxed leathers can also have a detrimental effect on breathability in TEX membranes, as an impermeable outer material will "suffocate" the underlying TEX membrane.

What specific things do you need to remember when caring for shoes or clothing with TEX membranes?

Cleaning 

First of all, remove any coarse dirt and dust – ideally using a brush. Clean your shoes or garment as you would normally for the item's outer material, while keeping to the instructions given with the cleaning product – the outer material will not always be as robust as the underlying TEX membrane. If in doubt, ask for advice at the shoe shop or manufacturer. As a rule, no cleaning or care product will ever harm a TEX membrane. After cleaning your shoes or clothing with liquid care products, always leave them to dry off completely – but never on a radiator or in direct sunlight. If possible, take any insoles or footbeds out and leave them to dry separately.

Recommended from Solitaire for Gore-Text®, Sympatex® and all other Tex-membranes.

Care

Not all cleaning agents work equally well on shoes or clothing with TEX membranes; try to avoid products that are rich in grease, oil or wax, as they may clog up pores in leather, strongly diminishing the benefits of the underlying TEX membrane and preventing sweat from escaping, leaving with you with wet feet even if no water has come into your shoes from outside. You can easily tell whether a Solitaire product has been extensively tested and recommended for TEX membranes by its highly visible TEX seal.

Impregnation 

Why should you impregnate shoes that have TEX membranes? The membrane may prevent water and moisture from entering into your shoe, but that won't protect the upper from wetness. Depending on the upper, this may add noticeable weight to your shoe, and a wet upper is not as good at keeping your feet warm. Finally, impregnation also increases resistance to dirt.

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