Every so often, a set of foul-weather gear arrives at our offices that makes us really sit up and take notice. Helly Hansen’s new coastal/offshore sailing jacket and bib salopette from their Skagen line is one of those. But it wasn’t the quality that first got our attention—we’ll talk about that in a bit. It was the price. A true offshore jacket for $375 and $275 for the salopettes? There must be a typo. But we checked. No typo. Fantastic news for the budget-conscious.
But is it worth the savings? You bet. Let’s start with the jacket. Like most coastal/offshore jackets, it’s made of breathable, waterproof material, but just handling it you get the sense that, yeah, I’d wear this just about anywhere Perfect for Mackinac races. The material is made from Ocean Bound fabric, sourced from discarded plastic near and in coastlines and waterways to clean up those underserved areas but also create a burly yet protective fabric. This is tough stuff. But it doesn’t weigh so much that you’ll notice it after wearing it all day. Inside is a mesh moisture-barrier liner, so you won’t end up as wet inside as outside. There are no interior pockets, but with three on a side on the exterior, it’s doubtful you’ll ever need them. On each side of the upper chest are large, fleece-lined pockets with waterproof zippers. Great for stashing valuables or warming up cold hands. Below each of those is a large, horizontally opening pocket, secured with a Velcro flap. Adjacent to each of those is another fleece-lined pocket—more great hand-warming options. The cuffs have the usual exterior Velcro closure, but inside there’s a soft rubber cuff with another Velcro closure. Water’s going to have a tough time getting into these sleeves. A cool safety detail is that when you extend your arm out of the cuff opening—think waving to rescuers while in the water—a section of fluorescent-green cuff is exposed, providing one more way for searchers to spot you. In addition, there are reflective patches at the ends of each sleeve, on top of each shoulder and on top of the fluorescent-green hood. Great safety touches.
One of the unique features of the Helly Hansen coastal/offshore sailing jacket is the super-high collar. It’s fleece-lined and, when fully zipped, comes about halfway up your ears and then tapers higher yet from there so that about half of the back of your head is protected. But there’s more. Attached to the left side is a breathable, fleece-lined flap that, with the hood up, can be secured across the bottom of your face and over your nose, cocooning you in a secure envelope of sorts, leaving only your eyes exposed. Talk about protection. When not in use, the flap can be secured off to the left side with Velcro or rolled up to disappear into a small pocket off to the side. Pretty cool!
Helly Hansen’s bib salopettes are constructed of similarly tough material as the jacket, with extra beefiness on the seat and knees. Inside, they’re fully lined with the same moisture-barrier mesh liner as the jacket. There’s a large gusset and two-way zipper to make seeking relief a breeze. Like the jacket, there are plenty of pockets, including one on each thigh. We particularly liked how these were designed to extend out from the thigh when holding something, such as sailing gloves. No discomfort here. Southpaws will like the dual chest pockets. Often there’s just one, and it’s located on the left side, making it difficult for left-handers to access the pocket. We also liked the waist cinchers with positive latching system. Set them to length, click in, and they’ll stay put. Finally, there are the Velcro tabs at the ankles. Rather than positioning them horizontally, they angle upward, which causes the ankle openings to flare out slightly—think boot-cut jeans. That funnels water away from your shoes instead of straight down into them. Nice comfort feature!
The Skagen line is named after Denmark’s northernmost town, which is surrounded by the sea on three sides. Withstanding the elements is certainly an aspect of life there, and in keeping with its namesake, Helly Hansen’s Skagen line does the same.
To shop the collection, visit hellyhansen.com/en_us/shop/activity/sailing/skagen.