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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Who makes the most breathable foul weather gear out there? I've got a relatively new set of Helly's and I'm not that impressed.
 

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I'm not an expert, buy I have a theory.

Any jacket adds warmth and thus more perspiration. Offshore jackets are more durable than others, but tend to be heavier and provide yet more warmth.

I have a really light jacket from Pacific Trail (since acquired by Columbia) that works really great in the summer, but doesn't provide any warmth and aren't very useful when it's colder. For that I have a Gill jacket that's heavier. When I got the light jacket, I also got lightweight bib overalls. The waterproofing wore of of the seat too fast and they began to leak, leaving me with a wet butt. I've since replaced them with a pair of Gill bibs that work much better. They're warmer, so I only put them on when it's really pouring.
 

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Gore Tex

I think anything made of Gore Tex is hard to beat for breathability. Its the best fabric I have ever used for keeping water out and not getting clammy inside. I have found this true in many years of skiing and cycling as well.
I saw some offshore foulies recently made by Puma, very nice, complete overkill for most, and VERY expensive.

Puma Offshore Race Jacket - Red | Point Loma Outfitting

Dry or Cheap is easy... breathable is much more costly. Lots of companies say their fabric/jackets are breathable, but I have found them to be far less breathable than anything made of GoreTex.
 

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I second the vote for Gore-tex foulies -- they're more expensive, but they breathe. Expensive foulies are worth it IF you have to spend time in them. Ten years ago I swallowed hard and bought Henri Lloyd ocean racer gear -- paid more for them than I would for a business suit (I know that's a sign of my age -- who wears suits anymore?) -- but and have never regreted it. On offshore passages I've lived in foulies for a week or more and they've kept me warm and dry. If you only sailed weekends, I believe top-of-the-line gear is probably an extravagance you can avoid. The question is -- what's it worth to be comfortable? Are you likely to be in situations where being cold and damp for hours on end will degrade your performance so as to put the boat at risk? If so, buy the best gear. A helmsman/skipper who isn't exhausted by the cold is certainly worth as much or more than a good chart plotter.
 

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Gore-Tex is still the best product of its kind. Folks like North Face, who offer more than a half dozen similar fabrics, will tell you flat out it is the most expensive choice but the best performer. With the "Extreme Wet Weather" guarantee (top grade) you will pay more, but you can expect it to work for at least five years before it goes porous or delaminates--and the XWW guarantee usually means it will be replaced.
 

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Yep, Gore-Tex. I have Musto now 10 years old and still doing well.

If you're not going to spend a decent amount of money, buy a rain coat. You'll get similar performance to the cheap wet-weather gear.
 

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A march practical sailor had an review of drysuits and they said that some folks are using drysuits instead of traditonal FWG. They liked the Gill the best.
Anyone using a drysuit instead of FWG?
 

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Gore-Tex, Foulies, Drysuits

I agree with others that state Gore-Tex is your best bet for "breathable" duds. That being said, Gore-tex membrane fabrics only work well as longs as the water beads up on the outer fabric. If the Water-Repellency is worn away, the outer fabric becomes soaked, the vapor passing through the gore-tex becomes trapped and condenses and maakes you feel clammy. Also, you can over saturate the gore-tex with perspiration if you really exerting yourself.

If you plan to be an all-weather sailor, gore-tex is the way to go as long as you keep up the water-repellency. If you plan to do mostly fair weather sailing and just have foulie gear for the "just in case" scenarios, gore-tex is pretty over kill. You can get ALMOST get as effective breathable rain wear for light rain with a good tight woven outerfabric and good water-repellency and it will be more breathable as long as the WR is maintained.

As far as drysuits, I think they are great and they are not more expensive that a set of medium to heavy weight foulies. The added benefit is that a dry or good semi-dry suit offers immersion protection if you fall over in cold water, whereas a set of foulies won't. I often wear one when I singlehand my boat in May and early June weather while the water is still below 60.

Drysuits are heavily worn by kayakers, especially here in the Northeast during fall, winter, and spring temps. in case of immersion as, when properly layered underneath, they can keep you alive in 40 degree water for several hours. They are not only comfortable, they can keep you warm and are windproof. Companies like Kokatat, Stohlquist, NRS, and others make excellent dry and semi-dry suits at often lesser prices than "sailing" specific ones.

DrB
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks guys. i work on boats professionally and thus end up spending a good deal of time in my "slicker". This morning I ordered a top of the line Gore-Tex set based on your advice. Through shopping around I noticed that the top of the line gear from all of the companies is Gore-Tex so I think you're on to something.

David, my current set of foulies are Helly Hansens. I have a smock top with a neoprene neck and wrist gaskets which essentially makes it a dry top with foulie features and regular bib bottoms. The breathable material is HellyTechXP. It's a really nice top and I like it a great deal, but it's only worth it if you're getting really wet. With the neoprene there isn't a great deal of air circulation which really lets the heat build up inside if you're moving around a lot. The HellyTechXP fabric does an okay job of letting moisture escape, but frankly I want something better for most situations. It's also slightly more difficult to take on and off so getting geared up is kind of a commitment. I'm glad I have it in the inventory for those sporting occasions but all and all I've found that unless you're actively standing four on in a full gale a traditional foulie setup makes more sense.
 

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The disadvantage of a drysuit is that it is hard to adjust for changing temp and physical activity levels. With FWG, you can just open the jacket or layer fairly easily, which is not the case for a drysuit.

A march practical sailor had an review of drysuits and they said that some folks are using drysuits instead of traditonal FWG. They liked the Gill the best.
Anyone using a drysuit instead of FWG?
 

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david, the problem with a drysuit is that it is SUPPOSED to be like a giant ziploc bag. What's outside stays outside--but you can pickle in your own juices inside.

Great for riding on wet boats in cold wx is you aren't planning to sweat a lot, otherwise...pickle.
 

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I have an opportunity to sail in the Chicago/Mac race in July, I know I need to buy a PFD with a harness, since that is at least 250.00 do I need to spend an additional 400.00 on gortex foulies? Keeping my cost down somewhat will make going an easier pill to swallow for the Admiral. I understand about comfort and breathability, but will say frog togs do just as well in the middle of July.
 
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