REBLOG from Summer 2018:
As I prep for my upcoming trip this summer, I am realizing that my old foul weather gear is just not up to the challenge. I donated my Offshore Mustang Survival suit many years ago as it had become stiff and was never really made for the female physique (it was from the early 90s).
As I research new foul weather gear, there have been some major advancements. Not only in functionality, but the materials themselves have improved tremendously. The first thing that I need to look at is what am I expecting of my gear? So, here’s my wish list:
- hood/rain cover
- visibility – colour, reflectors, etc.
- compatibility with my PFDs, safety harness, MOB light, etc.
- ease of movement
- overall comfort & fit (thinking of bathroom breaks and long hours spent sitting or standing staring at the compass and radar… glamorous. I know. Shhh don’t tell the rest of the crew. They think we’ll be sipping Mi Tais and playing with dolphins the whole time!)
Notice anything important that is missing? Warmth. Yup. No mention of that. That is because my base layers will be responsible for that. Check out my Base Layer Gear Review for more info…
I wrote this post from a women’s perspective as we have a slightly longer wish-list for our foul weather gear (in my opinion) than men, but my reviews and comments are also valid for any men looking for new gear. You just have a few more choices 😉
Check out more gear reviews, tips and tricks on my podcast: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor
#47: Docking, the basics! – Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast
The main players
From my research so far, there are only a few players in the field of sailing foul weather gear. The main ones are Mustang, Gill, Musto and Helly Hansen.
To start off, there are no female specific offshore suits that I can find. So that’s a big negative for me.
The other glaring issue for me, is that all of their gear is black! Yes that looks very sexy, but I’m more concerned with being seen and making it home to my family if I fall off the boat, than looking “hot” in all black.
Finally, I have leveraged my sailing community for input on Mustang foul weather gear and it was not overly favourable. It seems that Mustang is moving to capture the commercial market and not overly interested in all purpose sailors. Mustang is, however, still a leader in the Canadian market for life jackets and PFDs – yet again another post to follow.
Alright, so Gill has two female jackets to offer: OS1 Womens Jacket (Offshore) and OS2 Womens Jacket (Coastal). They are bright red, have reflectors, lots of pockets, good hoods, waterproof, hand-warmer pockets (bonus!), among a few other perks. So far so good.
That’s about where it ends. There are no female specific pants for offshore cruising so no drop seat for my head time, which is a negative. The less time you spend below fighting with your gear the better. Trust me.
The lack of selection is also a bit concerning as the price of foul weather gear is very high so you have to make sure that what works for you will work for the life of your investment. That being said, it is important to try many options before you buy. You may end up with a Gill Jacket and Mustang pants. Who knows. If it works for you, get it.
Overall I don’t think Gill is my best foul weather gear option, but it’s not out of the running yet.
Download my FREE Foul Weather Gear Checklist to make sure you get the right gear for you!
This particular brand was recently brought to my attention as I’m not overly familiar with Musto, but I do know a few people who use their gear. They have a great women’s offshore set – the MPX GORE-TEX® Offshore Jacket and MPX GORE-TEX® Offshore Trousers.
The jacket boasts a lot of great features including: 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro laminate for high performance breathability, waterproof and windproof protection, articulated elbows and underarms for freedom of movement, fleece-lined collar for comfort and warmth, fluorescent GORE-TEX® hood with peak (fully waterproof), 2 handwarmer pockets, 2 cargo pockets to store essentials, life jacket attachment points allow you to take off your jacket and life jacket together (awesome), and photoluminescent reflectors glow in the dark to keep you visible at night, to name a few.
The ability to have your life jacket attached to the jacket is a great feature as this enables you to set your life jacket straps and then leave them as is when you take off your jacket. This decreases the chance of having your life jacket straps too tight or too lose and decreases the number of adjustments you need to make every time you take your jacket on and off.
The pants are made for prolonged offshore sailing. These trousers have adjustable straps and back waist adjustment for a comfort fit. It has CORDURA® reinforcement patches on the seat, knees, back hems to prevent abrasion, and a detachable tool pouch adds storage space. The downside is that the pants do not appear to have an easy head access zipper. Boo.
Overall, the Musto women’s gear is a strong contender for me.
HH has definitely asserted itself as a leader in the world of sailing foul weather gear. Imagine my excitement when I checked off female offshore sailing gear and found 6 jacket options! Now 3 of the jackets are considered unisex, but at least they list them as options for me on their website. There are also 3 different pant options.
The Ægir series is built for professional ocean sailors and is Norse mythology for god of the “sea”. Most items in the collection come in red, white or black (red being my choice). The Ægir Ocean Jacket would be the full-on foul weather jacket to go with, but I think the extra long length would drive me a bit crazy (I don’t like long jackets around my thighs). The next logical step up from there is the Ægir Race Jacket and Ægir Race Salopette (French word for an overall type of pant).
Here are some of the features of the jacket: waterproof, 4 ply fabric construction, fully seam sealed, waterproof, high collar, fleece collar, adjustable hood, double storm flap, adjustable double cuffs, adjustable waist, Solas (safety of life at sea) reflective, hand warmer pockets, chest pockets and articulated sleeves.
That’s a lot of goodies! Overall it checks all of the boxes for me, but what do the reviews have to say? Well, there is an overwhelmingly positive response for this product on the HH website and within the sailing community.
Here are some of the features of the pants: waterproof, 3 ply fabric construction, fully seam sealed, waterproof, seat and knee reinforcements, breathable softshell top, two way front zip, adjustable waist, thigh cargo pockets and adjustable leg openings.
Once again, a great list of attributes, but it is this key phrase in the description that seals the deal for me: Especially developed for women’s convenience is the drop seat construction with a fully waterproof YKK® Aquaseal® zipper. Head visits made easy! Brilliant. Again, the reviews on the HH site were very positive for these pants.
Overall, choosing the right foul weather gear takes time, research and some trial and error. Try not to let the price affect your choice as this is an investment and you want to make sure you have the right gear to keep you safe and warm.
Once you get over the sticker shock, you’ll have a great time seeing what works for you!
Don’t forget your FREE Foul Weather Gear Checklist!
Is this not what I should be wearing for the trip!? 😉
Page Photo Credit: Nicole Speckmaier, Geminis Dream, VanIsle 360 International Yacht Race
I am also looking for a foul weather gear and your article came across. I thought you had look into all brands but like you said it takes a lot of research I think you left a good amount of brands out of the option. West marine gear falls apart after a couple of years I would not spend a cent in it again. I find HH is good but not sure if I would buy the ocean foul weather gear. Most of the gear I have tried working on different boats such as Musto, Henry Lloyds or Zhik are very good, Zhik boots are very comfortable and warm. I have ended mixing up different gear to obtain all I wanted.
Hey Alexandra, thanks for your comments. Zhik is a brand I am definitely looking to try out as well for myself. Which boots do you have?
Thanks again for this note Alexandra. I have since started a podcast and I recently did a series of gear discussions on foul weather gear, base layers and boots. For boots I am interested in the Zhik Seaboot. Are those the ones you use? Would be interested in your feedback on how they are doing for you!
The Gill OS2 is great, but the armholes are too tight. Sent it back,. Hate paying for shipping, I agree, my layering is my mid-layer. I like a lighter coat, Gotta keep looking….
Hey Monica, yes it really is a hunt for good gear. It really needs to work for you, and what works for you may not work for another sailor with similar physique and a similar wish list. Hope you find what you need soon! I find online shopping really tricky too…
Could you check out West Marine foulies as one of the “new brands”?
P.S. What about West Marine foulies? Thanks.
Hi Islenya, unfortunately I do not have much info or experience with them… They do make good boat parts, but can’t really comment on their clothing. Sorry!
I have a Helly Hansen jacket and pants that I bought 22 years ago. I was lightweight, and kept me dry in hurricanes in the FL Keys (on land). The seams were all sealed, of course. Now, after all these years, the seam sealant has dried out, pulverized, and filled the webbing and pockets inside the jacket; I gave it a good shake and it finally all (?) came out. I am assuming that this is normal, given the age of the articles. Is there any way to tell how long seam sealant will hold up in a given brand?
It is normal for seams to break down over time especially if you are out in salt water. Also, gear that was made 22 years ago is quite different from todays textiles. There have been many advancements. I would suggest checking the HH or brand website to find out what their life expectancy and guarantees are. There is really no way to know how long a specific brand will last for as it really does depend on the use and environment you are wearing it in. Arcteryx is one brand that seems to replace their gear if it does not stand up, but they do not make sailing specific gear, so it could be a toss up. Best bet is to talk with other sailors and see how they like their gear and how it is standing up to their use. Happy shopping! Penny
I really like your reviews. its a genuine one.i think there should be some new sailing gears brands add in your reviews the gill and westcoast are old sailing brands give the chance some new brands as well.
Thanks for the note! Send me some of your new gear recommendations and I’ll try to do a new gear review this season!
I am totally impressed!
Glad you found it useful!
Wow! My brother built a catamaran that we sailed on this summer on Vancouver Island with my cat! It was awesome.
Thank you this is very useful information to have … we don’t get extreme weather in my country but we may sail in colder places as my kids love to sail
Glad you found it useful! You never know where you will end up and when you will need some new foul weather gear.
Totally agree 😊