At the very least, foul-weather gear must be warm, dry, and comfortable. It also should be easy to adjust and fasten, which means zippers, Velcro, buckles, and pull cords must function without a hitch-and do so repeatedly, thousands of times. But what makes the ideal foulie set? Here are our criteria for top-notch gear. Foulie jackets and bibs/trousers should be made of durable material resistant to abrasion and marine elements, especially sun, salt water, and the unforgiving hardware and rough surfaces found aboard most sailboats.
Practical Sailor testers are constantly schlepping tools between the Practical Sailor workshop, our own garages, and—of course—our boats. So we’re always on the lookout for a toolbag that makes said schlepping a little easier. Enter the Original Nantucket Diddy Bag, which we came across at a recent boat show. It is the first tool bag we’ve seen that is reversible and convertible. Designed by a Nantucket carpenter, the bag’s well-thought-out design is practical and versatile. With 36 various-sized pockets (including a hidden one in the bottom), the bag makes tools easy to find and keep organized—no more digging to the depths of a cluttered tool bag.
Vibram, the Italian company known for putting the rubber sole into The North Face, Merrell, Timberland, Columbia, and Nike, has developed a funky-looking shoe called the Vibram Five Fingers. The shoes look like gloves for your feet. The individual toe slots are designed to gently spread your toes, enhancing balance and stability, and promoting a more natural motion to reduce the impact on your joints and back. The upper sole is made with a thin, abrasion- and tear-resistant stretch polyamide fabric. The foot bed is antimicrobial microfiber, and the sole is a non-marking rubber that is razor-siped for better grip. The weight varies by size and model. One mens size 42 (8 in the U.S.), weighs 5.6 ounces. while a womens 37 (U.S. size 6) weighs 4.4.
Choosing a new set of foul-weather gear is not a decision most sailors take lightly. With mid-range gear priced around $500 for a jacket and bibbed trousers, it isn't a small investment. Knowing what specific brands have to offer-and what to look for-is key to making a sound purchase, and to ensuring youll be warm and dry aboard.
About 20 years ago, the conventional sailing moccasin started losing ground to more specialized footwear for sailors, but only recently have major sports apparel companies like Adidas and Puma entered the on-the-water footwear fray. Boat shoe style has come a long way since Paul Sperry-whose namesake company, Sperry, originated the nonskid grooved-sole moccasin-carved a zig-zag pattern into an old gumshoe back in 1935.
Often times in the personal sailing gear arena, women sailorsare left with limited choices-inflatable life vests and foul weather bibs come to mind. However, when it comes to boat shoes, the selection is endless for both the racer and the cruiser. We tested 13 pairs of performance sailing shoes from the most popular manufacturers. Granted racers and cruisers won't necessarily be looking for the same thing out of a shoe, but we found comfort, grip, and foot protection are key for any footwear to be worn aboard.
After a frustrating and fruitless day of shopping locally for gear appropriate for a 30-something woman to wear on the race course, Practical Sailor editors set out on a mission to find a pair of padded sailing shorts that: fit properly (unlike most womens board shorts, which seem styled for a 13-year-old); did not look like theyd been borrowed from a mans locker; and were fast-drying, comfortable, and functional (even when hopping around a racer-cruiser or hiking on a dinghy). We found few options, and most of those were made by Camet International, a California-based sailing apparel manufacturer.
At a recent boat show, Practical Sailor editors ran across some interesting kneepads made by Crocs, the manufacturer of those annoyingly popular brightly colored, clog-like shoes. Still sore from some serious knee time during spring maintenance, we decided to see whether the Crocs kneepads were an improvement over our homespun design (Duck tape and sponges). The Crocs are lightweight and made of the same thick, foam-like material as the shoes, which the company claims is buoyant, non-marking, anti-microbial, and odor-resistant. The stretchy elastic straps are adjusted with plastic buckles.
Battered sailors make good test subjects, especially when we are talking about gear to preserve our joints and appendages. That is why we sent technical editor Drew Frye and his surgically repaired knee out into the world of orthopedic accessories for sailors.
Options today for sailing gloves seem endless, so Practical Sailor testers set out to find a comfortable sailing glove with excellent grip and dexterity. In this test, PS looks at 12 pair of short-finger performance sailing gloves from eight manufacturers, including Musto, Gill, Gul, Henri Lloyd, Harken, and Sailing Angles. Most of the products were made of Amara, a microfiber-based, synthetic leather. We tested for grip, comfort, durability, and dexterity. We looked at seams, stitching, and materials and tested resistance to odor, mold, and mildew. Gloves tested were the Gill Pro, Gill Championship, Gul Anatomic Cut Neoprene, Harken Reflex Performance, Harken Black Magic, Henri Lloyd Stealth MaxGrip, Henri Lloyd Stealth Pro, Musto Performance, Ronstan Sticky Race Glove, Sailing Angles Kontrol, Sailing Angles Tru Blu, and West Marine three-quarter finger sailing gloves.