Buying a new set of offshore oilskins is certainly a significant investment for any sailor, and as with all of these things, going into a chandlers and trying on different makes and sizes, as well as checking the price tag, will have a big impact on your final decision.
Compared to lower-priced coastal or inshore waterproofs, going for an offshore suit will give you a number of features, whichever brand you pick: high collars with a face guard, fully adjustable hoods, double cuffs, properly sealed zips, longer body length and, perhaps most importantly, top-end fabrics that will stand up to wetter, windier weather for longer than before and that will last for more seasons.
The move towards lighter weight garments is welcome. You just need to decide if you want a jacket with all the bells and whistles, with a little more bulk, or something more pared back. In the former camp, Henri Lloyd and Musto came out on top, with Gill following very close behind. Henri Lloyd was a lighter fabric than the other two, but all featured chest and waist hand-warmers, proper cargo pockets and hand-warmers on the salopettes.
Zhik and Helly Hansen were more pared back with fewer pockets and features overall, but both had really nice features, like clever hood stowage on the Zhik and excellent fit and flexibility on the Helly Hansen – these were perhaps the most ‘sporty’ on test. Decathlon has really surprised the team at YM this season with the quality and thorough design of its garments. These are no cheap imitations, but time will tell how they perform over several seasons.
Ultimately, the Musto MPX suit was our test winner. A bomb-proof set of foulies with every feature you would want, with the exception of drop seat trousers in the women’s version, and for this, and its excellent hood, Henri Lloyd came a close second.
Will your waterproofs keep out a thorough soaking?