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:

  • waterproof
  • windproof
  • breathable
  • pockets/storage
  • 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

#28: How to be a prepared skipper Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

So last week I introduced you to some ideas on how to be a prepared sailing crew. Well, this week we are going to look at the other side and talk about how to be a prepared skipper! First though, I want to acknowledge that I have hit 12,000 downloads!! What?! This is amazing. I'm so glad people are enjoying the podcast and taking it all in! Ok, back to business. So this week I'm looking at ways for a skipper to be prepared to have new people out on the boat with them. What should you bring? What will they most likely forget and need? What to do if things just aren't working? So many questions… Support me on Patreon! Sign Up for the Podcast! To get yourself ready for this episode, you may want to head back and listen to a couple previous episodes: EP 3: Safety First! What Safety Gear do you Need? EP 7: Day Trip Planning: Things to Consider EP 8: Overcoming a #boatfail EP 14: Sailing Goals – Day Sailing Do your research! So who have you invited on your boat? Is it a friend of a friend? A neighbour? Random person who said "hey I used to sail can I come with you sometime?" Regardless, you should ask your new crew some basic questions: have you sailed before? why are you interested in sailing with me? what are your other skills or hobbies? do you have any medical conditions that I should know about? do you have your own pfd? What to Expect New sailor – you will need to spend time introducing them to your boat. Take the time to show them the ropes (lol) and even label things for them if you think that will help. Be sure to state the obvious things and to lay out your safety gear and its location. Teach them how to move safely on the boat and help them with a short packing list (hat, sunglasses, layers, water, snacks, garden gloves, good shoes). What do you need? Patience! Regular sailor – introduce them to the boat and any specific quirks your boat has. Ask them what safety gear or personal gear they will bring with them. Ask them which position they like to do on the boat and if there's anything that they want to work on or learn more about. The down side with a regular sailor is that you may have some bad habits or they may have a chip on their shoulder to work out. What do you need? Patience! How to Plan Have a think about how to use this person on your boat. Generally sail trim is more of an art than helming (in my opinion). You can tell someone to point at a stationary object on land, and they should be able to do that. However, reading the ticklers, and creases on a sail, are not as obvious to a newer person. Be prepared to work at their pace. It will be stressful for everyone involved if you try to push the boat or the crew beyond their comfort zone. As a coach I often have students who have had bad experiences out on the boat. Whether it's getting stuck in a storm, or being out with a skipper who like to yell, that's really not fun for anyone! Extra items to have on hand sunscreen sailing gloves water hats snacks socks sweaters foul weather gear Penny
  1. #28: How to be a prepared skipper
  2. #27: How to be a prepared sailing crew
  3. #26: Sailing with your spouse…
  4. #25: Purchasing & Owning a New Boat! Now What?
  5. #24: So you want to buy a boat!

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.

Mustang

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.

Gill

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.

Musto

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.

Helly Hansen

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).


Ægir Race Jacket

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.

Ægir Race Salopette

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.

Conclusion

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!

Captain Penny

Is this not what I should be wearing for the trip!? 😉

Page Photo Credit: Nicole Speckmaier, Geminis Dream, VanIsle 360 International Yacht Race

18 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. Thanks for the note! Send me some of your new gear recommendations and I’ll try to do a new gear review this season!

  2. 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?

    1. Hi Islenya,
      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

    1. 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!

  3. 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….

    1. 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…

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

    2. 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!

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