does gore-tex really make a difference in the quality/breathability of a raincoat?”
Gore-tex as such does work, it actually truly has the ability to let water vapour through while blocking the way for running water. However, there are some restrictions: 1) Breathability is limited. If your level of activity is high enough for you to break a sweat then don’t expect GT to be able to cope. 2) GT works better if there is a certain temperature difference from one side of the cloth to the other, so if it’s hot and humid on the outside don’t expect to notice much breathing either. 3) GT can only vent to an uninterrupted outside. If carrying a backpack or otherwise rubbing up against other surfaces expect wet patches on the points of contact. Within these parameters GT can definitely make a difference, it’s very reliably windproof and it will let you potter around a whole day without getting that clammy feeling usually associated with rain gear.
I love my gore-tex coat. It’s the first one I’ve ever owned that feels good when it’s muggy out. My other outfits would literally pool sweat on the inside, and make me feel clammy. The Gore-Tex doesn’t, and that alone makes it worth the extra cash. http://www.blauer.com/bl_advanced_technologies.aspx?filename=goretex.htm Breathable: Greater Comfort Allows perspiration vapor to escape from the garment so you will be more comfortable. GORE-TEX® fabric allows more sweat vapor to be released than other waterproof-breathable fabric alternatives so you stay drier and cooler in warmer, wet conditions. This sweat vapor transfer also helps prevent conductive heat loss in cold conditions by keeping your body and clothing layers drier. Durably Waterproof: Keeping You Drier Keeps you drier by remaining waterproof after exposures encountered on the job — repeated flexing in cold and wet conditions,