When it comes to playing golf in adverse conditions, it pays to be prepared. Most of the professional tours in the United States, Australia and South Africa follow the sun and the weather is usually good, but in Europe the conditions can be less than ideal. The players on the European Professional tours know this all too well. That’s why when choosing outerwear, they don’t compromise. Swedish outerwear company Galvin Green feels the same way. In fact, their company motto is “We never compromise!”
Many players these days are under contract to wear a certain brand of clothing, but those contracts don’t always include rain gear. It’s no surprise then that many players choose to wear Galvin Green outerwear in bad weather, even if they have to pay for the garments themselves. To me, the best endorsement of a product is when a professional chooses to use a product without being compensated for it. Most professional golfers take their equipment very seriously, so when given the choice to wear any rain gear or outerwear, they tend to choose the best performing garments, and those garments are made by Galvin Green.
Galvin Green has been around in Europe since 1990 and dominates the rain gear segment in the UK and Ireland, but they just entered the US market in 2013. They developed their products and positioned themselves as a market leader long before entering the largest golf market in the world, and they are targeting about 500 select golf outlets in the US to start.
Galvin Green specializes in golf only, and introduced the layering concept to the game over ten years ago. Continuing with this popular concept, they offer a complete line of garments that are designed to work together, starting with the base layer that the player wears against the skin, to the outer shell that repels wind and rain. Because they make clothing only for golf, they have incorporated design features that enhance performance for golfers without having to sacrifice function for casual or off-course wear.
One of the reasons that Galvin Green’s outerwear performs so well is their choice of high performance fabrics and textiles. Through a strategic partnership with W.L. Gore & Associates to use the iconic GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER products, they can design functional, light weight jackets and pullovers that are guaranteed to work flawlessly. What Galvin Green has done is merge the technical capabilities of mountaineering gear with style and function that golfers want.
I recently had an opportunity to tour the W.L. Gore & Associates manufacturing plant in Newark, Delaware accompanied by several members of the Galvin Green product, design and sales teams. It is there that I really began to appreciate the technology that goes into the fabrics used in their outerwear.
Caution! Science Ahead
Let’s start with the science behind GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER, the materials that turn ordinary garments into bulletproof wind and rain gear. WINDSTOPPER is a laminate, which means it is a kind of textile sandwich made up of several layers to form a fabric. The WINDSTOPPER membrane itself is made of ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluorethylene), a super light polymer that has 1.4 billion micropores per square inch of fabric. These micropores are 900 times larger than water vapor molecules, which allows water vapor to escape. Of course when talking about water vapor in relation to clothing, we mean body heat and sweat. The WINDSTOPPER membrane allows the fabric to breathe, keeping the wearer comfortable, while completely blocking the wind from getting in.
While WINDSTOPPER may do a fantastic job at blocking the wind and keeping you comfortable, but it isn’t waterproof. That’s where GORE-TEX comes in. The original waterproof and breathable fabric was invented back in 1969 by Wilbert L. Gore and his son, Robert W. Gore. In fact, it was discovered almost accidentally. PTFE tends to break when stretched slowly, and while experimenting with heated rods of PTFE, Bob Gore became frustrated and quickly yanked on the material. Unexpectedly, the PTFE stretched to about 800% of its original size, forming the microporous structure that soon became known as GORE-TEX. The ePTFE material is identical to that used in WINDSTOPPER, with one notable difference. The GORE-TEX membrane has much smaller pores, with over nine billion pores per square inch instead of 1.4 billion. The smaller pores of GORE-TEX completely prevent moisture from penetrating the outside making it fully waterproof and windproof, but slightly less breathable than WINDSTOPPER.
Now that the science lesson is over, what does all this mean for the consumer? The technology in the fabrics Galvin Green uses allows them to offer a variety of different garments and styles. They can outfit the golfer from head to toe with their multi layer system, which consists of four layers to adapt to any weather conditions. The base layer that is worn against the skin for compression and increased blood flow, the warm layer that provides insulation and warmth, the cool layer that gives the golfer breathability and UV protection, and the shell layer where the GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER fabrics provide weatherproofing.
Concentrating on the shell layer, Galvin Green offers two different GORE-TEX options. Their standard GORE-TEX jackets and pants are fully lined and provide warmth as well as being totally waterproof, and the other is called GORE-TEX Paclite. This jacket is kind of like a race car. They stripped out as much weight as they could to make it lean and mean but still outperform the competition. Paclite is an ultralight 100% waterproof shell that weighs less than 300 grams. It is perhaps the best option for most golfers to keep in their golf bag for adverse weather conditions.
Many of the styles offered with GORE-TEX and Paclite are also offered in WINDSTOPPER versions. My personal favorite is the Bond WINDSTOPPER body warmer. It is a full zip vest that allows freedom of movement in the arms and a snug fit to help the golfer swing freely while still providing warmth and protection from the wind.
Most of the garments Galvin Green makes have several unique and innovative features that help them stand apart. For example, their jackets are cut longer in the back to provide more coverage due to the natural bent-over posture of golfers at address. They also place tabs on each side of the chest and neck to adjust the fit for those wanting a snug feel. The jackets seldom have pockets, because golfers simply don’t need them. This also makes for a better fit, lighter weight and less “bunching up” during use.
It used to be that you could get rain jackets and pants in any color, as long as that color was black. Galvin Green broke the mold with typical European flair by offering rain gear and outerwear in many colorways. As an example, the Aron GORE-TEX Paclite jacket has seven different colors to choose from, with the August pants also offered in four colors to allow for some degree of matching. Not only that, but the entire collection of shirts, pants and accessories offer matching color schemes for a truly complete collection.
Price & Guarantee
Galvin Green makes arguably the best performing golf outerwear on the market. The partnership with and manufacturing process required for W.L. Gore’s certification means that Galvin Green garments that use GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER are guaranteed for the life of the garment or they’ll repair, replace or refund your purchase price. In exchange for this performance guarantee, the consumer pays a premium price. For example – the full zip, Aron GORE-TEX Paclite jacket mentioned above will cost around $450, and the half-zip WINDSTOPPER pullovers will go for about $250.
Style & Fit
Galvin Green still makes their garments to fit primarily the European market, which is to say that they have a very slim fit. This can pose a problem for those of us who are larger in stature or eat too much pizza, like me. Thankfully they make larger sizes to accommodate us. I normally wear an XL golf shirt and sometimes have to move up to XXL, but I had to move up to a XXXL in Galvin Green’s Ventil8 shirts and outerwear. I don’t really care what the label says as long as the garment fits, but a more true-to-size fit would be easier on the self esteem for many Americans. I am told that there may be separate sizing for the American market coming. For now, you’ll just have to size up for the best fit.
It may sound ludicrous to some to shell out over $1000 for a rain jacket and pants, but if you live in a part of the world where bad weather is frequent, top notch outerwear it is a good investment. As I mentioned before, European Tour players have been seen running into the pro shop to purchase Galvin Green GORE-TEX jackets during tournaments where the weather turned bad. Considering the build quality, advanced materials and waterproof guarantee that these GORE-TEX garments have, with proper care your investment will last you many years, even decades. If you are looking for the best performing, best constructed outerwear on the planet for golf, look no further than Galvin Green.