GROUP GEAR TEST

Sail­ing wa­ter­proofs needn’t break the bank. YM put seven sets of in­shore and coastal oil­skins un­der £350 to the test

Yachting Monthly - - CONTENTS - Words Theo Stocker Pic­tures Gra­ham Snook

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

ZHIK Kiama

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