Foulies to Keep You Dry
There are lots of ways to prepare for what Mother Nature tosses into your path. The trick is to find the right balance of comfort and price.
Cost is important to consider, yet all makers emphasize that the reliability, durability, and comfort that comes with premium gear make it worth the price.
“In the world of technical apparel,” said Bill Lynn, chief marketing officer for Atlantis Weather Gear, “you get what you pay for. Cost is certainly a factor, but more expensive pieces will typically deliver better performance, better construction, and better durability.”
The ability to withstand the test of time and use is critical, according to Brandon Flack of Musto. “Boat shows are a unique opportunity to educate people,” he said. “I tell them all the time, ‘Try all the gear from all the lines. If you buy something right, you’ll be living in it for a while.’”
Durability, alongside fit, is what Flack believes sailors should seek. “Sailing is such a wet environment,” he said in a phone interview. “You don’t generally have the option to disappear halfway through the delivery. This is where you are and you can’t check out and into the lodge. It’s not an option.”
Parker agreed that when it comes to the final choice on gear, personal preferences about fit can’t be overlooked and that’s why “it’s important to try it on.”
“We prefer to offer a generous cut on all our foul-weather gear,” noted Bovio of SLAM gear.
Don’t ignore the details, added Lynn. “Fabric is key to achieving the right level of performance, but it’s only half the equation,” he said. “Each piece also needs to have the right zippers, snaps, cord locks on drawstrings, fleece around the inside of the collar, cuffs, cuff closures, pockets, pit vents, etc., and each of these needs to have been tested in the heat of battle.”
Whatever level of sailing you do, there’s yet another reason to invest in the right gear, according to Gill’s Jerry Richards and other makers. Sailing is a sport and a lifestyle, and gear is supposed to enhance these experiences.
“It can really make a difference, and make sailing more enjoyable for everybody by making it more comfortable and enjoyable in the foulest conditions,” Richards said. “You can be so much more adventurous. It can be life changing.”
Elaine Lembo, Cruising World’s deputy editor, also writes about chartering.