GROUP GEAR TEST
Sailing waterproofs needn’t break the bank. YM put seven sets of inshore and coastal oilskins under £350 to the test
Coastal waterproofs. The YM team put seven of the best sets of affordable oilskins to the test
Let’s be honest: while we might think we need oilskins that can fend off the fiercest ocean storm, in reality, most of us choose to sail in the warmer months. If a nasty forecast is coming our way, we’re more likely to be found holed up in the nearest harbour or pub than plugging to windward into the teeth of gale.
If you are a coastal cruising sailor, you may decide that inshore waterproofs will do what you need for most of the time, keeping the worst of the weather out without being too bulky or too hard on the wallet. We’ve chosen sets of oilskins that all come in at under £350 for the jacket and trousers together. If you’re after something more heavyweight, we’ll be testing offshore waterproofs later in the season.
The good news is that there’s plenty of choice out there, and it’s a segment of the market that’s seeing lots of innovation as manufacturers compete to stay a step ahead. It’s not long since only top-end waterproofs were breathable, with entrylevel sets being impermeably sweaty. The sets we tested were all breathable, utilising own-brand fabric rather than branded cloth like Gore Tex. We’ve included minimum waterproof ratings (the water pressure the fabric can withstand in millimetres) though most claim to exceed this.
As soon as the jackets arrived in our office, it was clear the suits fitted roughly into one of two categories. Some were fairly substantial garments including many of the features you’d expect to see on offshore waterproofs, while others had taken a more minimalist approach, giving some protection while keeping things lightweight and simple. Personal taste will dictate which you prefer.
HOW WE TESTED THEM
We picked a range of the latest coastal waterproofs on the market, lined them up and compared the details and features we did and didn’t like. We looked at the fabric used and the overall feel and quality of the garment; the hood and collar; internal and external pockets and handwarmers; zips and closures; lining and fit adjustment, cuffs and seals. We also tested both men’s and women’s versions of each suit where available.
We then went out sailing and spent time wearing each of the suits to get a feel for the fit and articulation offered, as being able to move freely without feeling encumbered is an important factor. We wore lifejackets over the top so we could see if the pockets were still accessible and played around with the hoods, collars and cuffs to find out how easy and effective all of the features were to use.
Finally, we donned grey t-shirts under the waterproofs to show any damp spots effectively and then poured a large bucket of water from a metre above the wearers’ heads while hosing down from the front, behind, in the face and around the cuffs.
We’ve been using them out on the water over the start of the season to give us more of an idea of how they hold up in the real world. Longevity over a few seasons’ use was the only factor we couldn’t test.
After a thorough soaking, we measured the area of wet fabric on the grey t-shirts worn underneath
HELLY HANSEN Pier
MUSTO BR1 Inshore
GUL Vigo Coastal
HENRI LLOYD Wave
GILL OS3 Coastal
DECATHLON Tribord 500