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Green Eyes 10-12-2012 01:26 PM

Foul Weather Gear
Looking to buy my first set of foul weather gear. So many choices and so expensive. Willing to spend the money to get a good set. What do you recommend? 32' Bristol Mostly weekend/overnight trips with 2-3 week long trips per season in the Chesapeake Bay/ Potomac River. We don't have a Bimini yet(winter project I hope) so it gets old real quick be cold and soggy at the helm. (no auto pilot yet either)

DrB 10-12-2012 02:04 PM

Lots of threrads on this....
so do a search and you'll find plenty of ideas and info.

My two cents:

If you plan to do a lot of foul weather sailing, invest in the best stuff that you can. If you have to sacrifice $ somewhere, sacrifice on the pants, not the jacket. Also, ask your self if you are primarily going to be doing it in warmer weather or cooler weather (colder water)

The most waterproof stuff that they make is coated rubber/PVC, like Grunden's. However, it doesn't breath well and you can get clammy/cold in them if you over exert yourself and don't properly layer. They are the cheapest option though.

The other $$$ extreme is a gore-tex/cordura material that supposedly breathes and is almost 100% waterproof. However, to be effective the DWR (dry water repellency) needs to be maintained, else the cloth becomes saturated and then doesn't breathe. Rain water doesn't get in due the gore-tex membrane, but your perspiration doesn't leave and you can get wet from your own sweat. Any material labelled breathable will have this as an issue, not just gore-tex.

All the companies make decent stuff at some level. No need to get $1100 Musto, Gil, HH, stuff if you're mostly doing day sails/coastal stuff port-to-port. However, if you are going off shore for several nights, remember there is no port to pull in and dry off, so better over dressed than under.

FWIW - I have three set of Foulies: One $1200 HL jacket/bibs that was given to me by a guy getting out of sailing. A couple of WM and Gil coastal jackets and bibs, and some very light EMS/REI wind breakers and pants. I mostly use the coastal stuff as warmer wind block and rain jacket in cool weather. I only once used my HL $1200 stuff and that was during a 8h 42 deg F pouring rain delivery in early May. Even with that stuff, by the end I was getting chilled. We normally don't sail in foul weather, but the few times we have it has been only for 5 h max.

Gene T 10-12-2012 02:07 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear

I have noticed how I use my fowl weather gear. I have a West Marine Explorer set that I like a lot. I also have a lighter duty (cheaper) jacket with hood.

Cold offshore trips - bib and jacket with all the fleece and poly-pro or wool I have underneath.

Day trips with no rain but cold and spray - jacket with fleece underneath

Cool with no spray - light duty jacket with fleece under.

A good set of breathable gear is a must. It needs to be comfortable too. But having a lighter duty jacket is a must for comfort as it moves with you better. I can't remember the brand but it is designed as a foul weather jacket.

Really need to try them on, make sure you have plenty of room under for a fleece jacket.

A final note: My WM set is 10 years old, I can remember every time I put on the bibs. You won't use them much, nice to have but expensive for the amount of use.


Donna_F 10-12-2012 02:12 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
One of the sailing magazines did an article on foul weather gear where they interviewed experienced offshore sailors about what they wear and why. Half wore the expensive kind (Gill, HH, etc.) and half wore inexpensive LL Bean gear or the like. All were happy with their choices.

Stu Jackson 10-12-2012 02:38 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
Donna's right, there are sources beyond marine stores and their prices. Since there are so many choices out there, anything we say (which usually ends up like Donna said - what i have is the "best":)) is not going to help you. For instance, the past 35 years I've been very pleased with my WM Third Reef gear. And that's for the type of sailing you described. Others may think I'm crazy (been confirmed, too:)) but it works for me.

Your boat, your pocketbook, your choice.

Good luck

hellosailor 10-12-2012 02:43 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
Alan, you MUST TRY THEM ON. Really.

You'll find that the fit of a good collar, which cuts the wind and keeps your neck and cheeks warm and dry, is a very personal thing. Ditto for a hood, big enough to keep the rain off but leave you side vision, and work with that collar. The rest of a jacket, the way the arms and wrists fit and seal or not, is less crucial but oh, the collar fit alone can sell you on a particular coat. The little features count, on the pants or bibs too. A crotch zipper that pulls UP instead of down, or a chest pocket big enough for whatever you want to keep dry, these things all have to be checked out in person.

I'm split between an ancient pare of Henry Lloyd that are not breathable (big demerit) and newer genuine GoreTex (which they will replace for free when, not if but when, it does leak) which is really just "camping" gear, but oh so much nicer in hot humid weather. If you're doing it for the first time, go for breathable with a guarantee, because it all gets porous sooner of later (5+ years) and the guarantee makes the replacement free.

Of course there's the reality of budget. I was lucky with my HL gear, got it 50% off because it was end of year and the styles were changing. But if you've ever been soaking wet, cold and miserable and stuck out on the boat, you'll come to appreciate why you want the best possible fit and performance, and if you need to rob a 7-11 to pay for it, just do it.

kd3pc 10-12-2012 02:44 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
I have a really nice HH jacket that I layer with wicking shirt, sweat shirt, and an over size flannel. Have the bibs but find them too hateful to be of use..I have a really nice pair of Dubarry boots and they are worth their weight in gold. Levis work for me, and usually shorts/cutoffs unless it is brutally cold...

not a fashion plate by any stretch, but dry and warm. My slipmate went with rubber galoshes from southern states and the $10 yellow slicker set from Tractor supply and swears by them...

I also have a couple of ratty sweatshirts that do the majority of the work, but that just points out that comfort is the key....with what ever you choose.

chucklesR 10-12-2012 02:53 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
The best foul weather gear is a full enclosure, and lines led aft. A small propane heater (1500 BTU on a 2 pound bulb) and a waterproof wind breaker is all it takes.

Green Eyes 10-12-2012 02:54 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
Thanks for all the replies. Stu I was looking at the third reef gear, It is reassuring to know that you are happy with it. I have been reading reviews on gear all summer, from what i have read every brand has its share of mixed reviews. I guess it is time to make a decision before I get caught with none. Maybe I will write my own review after I try it out on the water.

msmith10 10-12-2012 03:05 PM

Re: Foul Weather Gear
I've found that 1 set of foulies isn't enough. I like a light set for warmer weather and a heavier set for cool weather. Prefer breathable in both. The WM stuff is fine for me- much cheaper than genuine GoreTex. Regular waist high pants for warm weather, bibs for cool/cold weather or if it's really wet. A good set of bibs will let you get away with a lighter jacket. As hellosailor said- a pull up or 2-way zipper is a must with bibs- otherwise you're taking the coat off every time you need to pee.
I also prefer a souwester to a hood unless it's really cold- it doesn't block your vision every time you turn your head.
A stocking cap and waterproof gloves and boots, too.
Nothing is more miserable than being wet, cold, and far from the end of your voyage.

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