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. That’s a whole other blog post and gear review…
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 😉
The main players
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.
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!
Is this not what I should be wearing for the trip!? 😉
Page Photo Credit: Nicole Speckmaier, Geminis Dream, VanIsle 360 International Yacht Race 2017