Insulation is a greater energy-saving expedient; if our heater or air conditioner is undersized, fixing drafts, shading or insulating windows, and insulating non-cored laminate are all ways to reduce the thermal load. For boaters, however, that is only half of the equation.
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.
While the keep-it-simple-sailor philosophy underlies our selection process, we do stumble upon products that, although far from necessary, fulfill their primary mission: incite an urge to splurge. If you have a sailor on your gift list who seems attracted to gadgets, bags, and cool apparel, here are three of our testers favorites.
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 isnt 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.
Hard-core dinghy sailors affectionately refer to their drysuit as the bag, and until recently, its been an appropriate, descriptive nickname. But in our last look at drysuit technology, we recognized the contribution to comfort made by breathable fabrics that do a great job of keeping water on the outside and still allow water vapor to migrate across the semi-permeable barrier. In past testing, we liked Gills drysuit and Ocean Rodeos Soul suit.
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Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.