When you’re doing offshore sailing or fishing, you need the best foulies to keep you dry and warm abroad. With most jacket and bibs combinations costing hundreds of dollars, it is a large investment that should not be taken lightly. With improvements in manufacturing methods and fabric technology, it can be difficult to tell which products are the real deal and which are cheap knock-offs.
After extensive research, we feel we have found the best foul weather gear for offshore sailing and fishing in today’s market. Further below, we provide a buying guide to help you understand some of the considerations we used to to narrow down these recommended products.
- Offshore Foul Weather Gear Recommendations
- Foul Weather Gear Buying Guide
- Additional Considerations
Offshore Foul Weather Gear Recommendations
Starting off with the Navis Marine Pro Jacket and Bib, first of all it is constructed using SERA-TEX Pro fabric and Micro Grid Backer for two layers of protection, stitched together using a synthetic thread. This makes it exceptionally durable, waterproof, and windproof. Furthermore, the materials are breathable and lets sweat evaporate so you don’t feel clammy.
Next, the jacket features a double zipper made with nylon taffeta lining and includes pull tabs. The collar and sleeves are both wrapped with 3M retro reflective piping, which is crucial for visibility at night or in the water. Furthermore, the jacket sleeves are constructed through a multi-layer technique that allows for more flexibility and mobility in the elbows and arms.
Moving on, the panels lining the upper back provides additional flexibility for the torso. The lower sleeves feature a wide velcro adjustment band that can provide you an extra 1.5” of space and helps ensure a better fit. The Navis Marine Pro jacket has two outside zippered pockets and two inside. The inner pockets are a great place to put your wallet or cellphone. Next, the neck seal is 4” tall and features a velcro patch that can provide additional warmth and protection. The collar is quite soft and warm but can get uncomfortable if it gets soaked.
Additionally, the hood is constructed from nylon and has a 6”x1” long reflective patch stretching down from the center of the hood along the crown of your head. Next, the shock cord works well and the hood is easy to deploy. When not in use, it can be folded into the collar and cinched.
As for the pants, the trousers are constructed using the same material as the pants but also features a non-perforated nylon taffeta lining. Cordura fabric reinforcements can be found hemmed into the knees and pants seat for more durability. The pants include 1-½” elastic suspenders, and we enjoyed how well they fit and stayed in place. To test this, we sat down and got up dozens of times to see if they twisted and had no issues.
Furthermore, the pants have a single front pocket found on the upper right side, and it measures in at 7.5” x 9”. You’ll also find a serviceable plastic key holder loop hemmed above the top of the pocket. A similar loop can be found behind the pants for more places to hang your gear. One thing we disliked is the sewn inner flap by the crotch which can make it difficult to take a leak.
Overall, the Navis Marine Pro is an incredible offshore sailing and fishing jacket and bib combo at an affordable price. It will withstand all kinds of tough weather conditions while keeping you dry, warm, and comfortable. Despite Navis Marine being a relatively unknown brand, if it continues to make solid foul weather gear at an affordable price point, then they are a company to keep an eye out for.
WindRider Pro Foul Weather Gear Jacket and Bib
The WindRider Pro full-body foul weather gear is very effective and convenient for any sailor or angler. To start, it has tons of storage, including four chest pockets, with two of them fleece-lined to keep your hands insulated. You’ll find two thigh pockets that allow for more places to store your accessories and tools. All in all, you’ll find thirteen pockets throughout this full-body combo.
Next, we love how comfortable the WindRider Pro gear is, which is essential for those days that seem to just drag on. First, the ankles and shoulders are adjustable to allow for a snug fit. The fabric is highly water repellent and breathable so your sweat can evaporate. The tall fleece-lined collar keeps water from entering around your neck, and the sleeve cuffs are adjustable with an internal cuff to prevent water from entering through there as well.
Additionally, the WindRider Pro features reinforced knees which further improve its ruggedness. After wearing this kit on more than a handful of rough conditions, the materials have held up so far with little wear and tear. Next, the double zippers provide so much convenience by letting you purge the water from the bib or go to the bathroom without taking them off. Overall, the WindRider Pro foul weather jacket and bib is comfortable and convenient, and we recommend it for use offshore.
Gill OS2 Offshore Sailing Jacket
The Gill OS2 jacket and bibs are a fantastic choice for sailors or anglers looking to do some offshore sailing. First, the jacket is lightweight and comfortable. It features a fleece-lined, high-cut collar and has a mesh liner at the shoulders and neck for increased breathability and comfort. If visibility is a concern, all of the Gill OS2 jackets are highly visible, with colors like lime, yellow, red, and graphite.
Thanks to Gill’s proprietary 3 dot soft touch double-layered laminated fabric, this jacket is windproof and waterproof. To further increase waterproofness, all seams are fully taped for a better seal. The chin guard and fleece inner collar reduce chafing. The OS2’s two-way, heavy-duty YKK zipper makes putting it on and taking it off effortless. Next, pockets shouldn’t be an issue with four hand-warmer pockets and two deep cargo pockets, as well as a zippered internal security pocket to store valuables.
As for the hood, we like how it has a visor that can shed water. It features a reflective patch, is fluorescent, and when not in use can be stowed in the collar.
Next up, let’s talk about the bibs. It has an elasticized waist which is designed for comfort, is highly adjustable, and easy to put on or remove. The trousers have an excellent fastening system around the ankles. Instead of simply affixing against a Velcro patch, the strap first passes through a plastic slide which further fastens it in place and reduces the chances of it being loosened for any reason.
As much as we like the OS2 jacket, it’s not without some flaws. What was meant to be an innovative, retractable outer cuff adjuster ended up being an issue. More often than not, it would bunch up at the wrist, causing discomfort and making it tough to seal with the inner seals. If this design were utilized on the OS2 trouser ankles, perhaps it would have been more effective.
Moving on, the adjustable shock cord at the hem drastically improved the jacket’s wind resistance. Furthermore, loops outside near the collar and inside makes stowing the jacket easy, as well as hanging it to dry. Overall, the OS2 jacket and bibs are a solid mid-range kit for sailors and anglers who are headed offshore but don’t want to spend a grand on their gear.
Grundéns Balder Hooded Fishing Jacket
Grundens jacket and bibs are easy to wear thanks to its snap-buckle shoulder straps and its voluminous cut. The wide straps didn’t dig into our shoulders and overall it felt very comfortable. Unfortunately, Grundens doesn’t make gear with women in mind (how dare they!), so a woman who usually wears a size 6 may find even a men’s XS would fit them with plenty of room to spare.
This baggy design was evident for both genders around the crotch and waist area, where the cut was so low it impaired movement. Thankfully the waist can be adjusted slightly. Next, the trouser and jacket material had a rubbery feel, giving off the impression of rainwear instead of sailing performance gear. The jacket utilizes various metal snaps to close up, which feels tedious to use compared to the double layered zippers found in some other jackets.
Next, the Grundens jacket features neoprene cuffs that are comfortable, insulating, and keep the water out. The trousers don’t have any seal at the ankle, perhaps to let wearers use wide and tall fishing boots. Atypical of sailing foulies, this Grundens kit has no outside pockets on both the trousers or jacket. Only a small, single pocket can be found inside the bibs, and even this is hard to reach without undoing the jacket snaps; quite an oversight on their part.
As for visibility, the black and orange colors didn’t particularly stand out and could have benefitted from having some safety reflectors. You may have to add some yourself, however it is visible enough in daylight and doesn’t look embarrassing to wear.
Despite the shortcomings, the Grundens jacket and bibs were able to keep wearers comfortable, dry, and warm even during harsh storms. It may be lacking in some areas, such as the lack of pockets or low cut around the crotch, however it excels at its primary purpose which is to keep wearers dry and warm.
Helly Hansen Men’s Skagen Offshore Jacket
Upon wearing it, we immediately noticed the protection provided by the Helly Hansen offshore jacket and bibs combo. Helly Hansen are well-known for making gear that are impervious to water and wind, yet are breathable to prevent clamminess and overheating. Thanks to their Helly-Tech fabric, you’ll be able to withstand extended periods of harsh weather conditions while staying warm and dry.
The Skagen is constructed from heavy-duty material, giving it a heavy feel. Thankfully, the material is distributed uniformly, with the design draping elegantly around the human form, instead of being worn like bulky armor. Furthermore, the ¾ length jacket feels good and looks pleasing.
As for pockets, at the front are two large cargo pockets with flaps and Velcro closures. The inside is lined with fleece and can be used as hand-warmers. Above at chest level are two smaller, zippered pockets for storing small items. Inside you’ll find one last compact, flapped security pocket.
In terms of visibility, this jacket is quite dark which may prove to be an issue. However, it has a fluorescent green hood with a stiff peak and reflective patch. Next, the collar is fleece-lined and paired with a Velcro wind flap to keep the neck protected and comfortable.
Next, the wrist is protected with inner seals that are further secured with Velcro straps. On the jacket sleeves are adjustable Velcro straps, with tabs that are expertly sewn. The jacket’s front zipper is a little on the small side and can be difficult to grab with gloved hands. It is covered up by a Velcro flap which prevents water or wind from entering. The waist pull cord is sturdy and easy to use.
The Helly Hansen trousers rival the jacket in durability and construction. The bib is secured using a heavy duty zipper. The shoulder straps are adjustable, wide, and comfortable, and the same can be said about the waist straps. On the chest of the bib are two zippered pockets, and at the ankles are Velcro straps. Overall, the Helly Hansen kit is capable of withstanding the most extreme weather conditions. It’s pricey but will keep you dry and warm when the weather conditions go to hell and you’re far from shore.
Foul Weather Gear Buying Guide
There are three grades of foul weather gear: inshore, coastal, and offshore. We generally don’t recommend inshore gear. The purpose of foulies is to keep you dry and warm. What inshore gear is more likely to do is make you clammy, sweaty, and ultimately cold.
The minimum you should consider for any type of sailing is coastal gear. For coastal cruising or offshore fishing, you need to have solid offshore foul weather gear. Even just a few miles offshore, you can encounter serious storms. Being in close proximity to shore with all of its dangers, it is imperative you stay dry and warm. When you’re in miserable, cold and wet conditions, it can impair your judgment when you need it most, and your gear will make this situation more bearable.
With so many manufacturers and products in the market, it can be hard to get the perfect fit. Sizes can vary drastically between brands; an extra large in one brand might only be a large in another. Foul weather gear is a significant investment, and something that you will rely on to endure harsh conditions. Any areas where it is lacking will become more and more aggravating and even potentially dangerous depending on the situation.
The first step in determining the optimal fit for your foul weather gear is by considering where you will be doing the majority of your sailing or fishing. After all, if you spend all of your time in warmer climates, then your gear only needs to cover a T-shirt and shorts underneath. However, for those sailing further north, then you have to account for the extra space added by wearing pants, thermals, and multiple layers of shirts and sweaters underneath.
Next, make sure that the sleeve is long enough to cover your wrists and that there is a wrist adjustment to deal with different amounts of clothing, for instance if you are wearing just a sleeveless shirt or wearing a thick sweater.
Furthermore, some foul weather gear jackets feature elasticated cuffs. Check that it’s not too constricting, or you’ll quickly find yourself cutting the seam open with a rigger’s knife to make it less tight. The less you need to do some “adjustments” on your gear, the better; trust me, it doesn’t feel good to damage a several hundred dollar piece of gear.
This needs to be said for the record, but make sure that the jacket can actually zip up over your many layers of clothes. Additionally, if you have to force it to fully zip, then it’s too tight and you’ll restrict your movements around the boat and sail. Leaving it open, even partially, is not an option as you’ll get soaked and that would defeat the purpose.
This is one of the most important factors to consider when buying foul weather gear – specifically, how long the front and back are. Frequently, foul weather jackets have longer rear sections for keeping your behind dry. If you like to wear shorts, you’ll have to factor in how long your shorts are and if the jacket has a rear section that is long enough to cover it. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to roll up your shorts to keep them dry, otherwise the bottom bit will get soaked.
Selecting foul weather pants is done similarly, and you will probably have to find a different size pair of pants than the jacket. In warmer climates, you may only need to wear foul weather gear pants during cold, rainy days in the water, and seldom in summer.
Foul weather pants typically have a bib-type overall design so that water will not soak your torso. Many sailors wear just the paints, sometimes just for the salt spray and not for the rain.
Make sure that the shoulder straps fit comfortably and are wide so that it won’t dig into your shoulders or twist into rolls. Check that the seat is ample enough for you to sit at the helm, and the legs cover your ankles while seated but are not so long that they’ll trip you up on the deck. Any snap closures or zippers should be smooth and easy to close over all clothing you plan to wear underneath.
Most foul weather gear jackets will have the following: elasticated areas around the waist, adjustable tabs, an inner drawing, or flared out at the hips or nipped-in at the waist. These are not extraneous features, but are multiple ways in which your jacket will be secured on your body instead of flailing wildly over your body and covering your view.
Imagine the rain is pouring and you are at the bow attending to a dragging anchor, when all of a sudden, your jacket gets caught in the wind at the wrong angle and you’re immediately soaked and distracted. These features will keep you safe from unintended soakings and fly-ups. In addition, foul weather jackets include zippers that unzip for below or above so you can access your foul weather pants and comfortably sit down.
Your foul weather gear needs to stand out, but not as a fashion statement. Under extreme weather conditions, you want to be clearly visible to everyone around you. My first set of foulies was an embarrassing fluorescent yellow and bright orange, but it was tough, durable, and kept me dry. I always felt ridiculous wearing it, but it did the job and did it well. I wore it for years, hoping for the day that it’d peel, shed, delaminate, or start leaking. It never did, and I eventually just bought a new set anyways, and kept my old one as backup.
While foul weather gear isn’t intended to be a fashion statement, you do want to stand out (for safety reasons), and you’re going to wear it often, so who can blame you if you want it to be functional and look good as well? I mean, who likes seeing gigantic fish logos all the time? There’s a good chance a foul weather jacket will be one of the most expensive jackets you’ll ever buy, and the situations when you’d be wearing one are not ones where you’d find photographers taking nice pictures of you with your gear. At any rate, just don’t select your jacket based on appearances alone, but make sure you’re still visible even in low visibility conditions.
Again with color, you need to stand out. But that doesn’t mean your foul weather gear should look like every single color mashed together. If you were to fall overboard and your gear blends in with the color of waves, foam, and scud, you need to be highly visible so your crewmates can see you.
After getting fed up with my first suit for being so hideous and durable, for my second foul weather gear set I chose one that was a beautiful combination of off-white, blue, and teal. I loved how it looked, until I realized that if I were to fall overboard, I’m sure no one would be able to see me because of how well it blended with the water.
I ended up only using that jacket for calm conditions, mainly inland or for doing some offshore sailing on large, wide sailboats but nothing too serious. For rigorous offshore sailing, I’d be putting myself in serious danger.
My latest foul weather jacket is bright red, which is more visible than white or blue, but still not as visible as bright orange or fluorescent green or yellow. I just don’t feel like going back to that again. Ideally, your jacket should have some reflective bits that would reflect light if someone were to shine a bright Q-beam at night. If yours doesn’t, get some reflective tape and tape over your wrists, hood, shoulders, wherever you want to stand out. It’s a great safety feature.
Whether you like the hood on your jacket or not, it’s necessary to keep your head dry. Your body can lose 10% of its heat from your head. In my opinion, if you find a jacket that fulfils all of your criteria, and also has some stiff material in the front of the hood, then you have found the perfect jacket. Many foul weather gear hoods are flimsy and flop over your head like a deflated balloon. I hate this, and I specifically found a way to modify your hood so that it has some structure.
No, the solution is not to tighten the drawstring; that would only further obstruct your vision by reducing the hood opening. The solution is elegant in its simplicity; just wear a visor or ball cap. A visor is excellent for a variety of reasons, but most importantly it can be worn under the hood to give it some structure so that it keeps rain off your face and doesn’t feel so flimsy.
Furthermore, the plastic brim of a visor will prevent the hood from drooping. With this “modification” you can safely tighten the drawstring without obstructing your view. Overall, it feels sturdier and functions better.
Pockets are great, and you should have enough inside and outside the jacket. If the outside pockets are essentially flat rectangular panels that can only be accessed from above, then these are probably not going to be used for your hands. They aren’t very ergonomic, but you can use them to hold things that you want to keep dry and close by, like a rigging knife.
If there are pockets below those that can be accessed from the side, then these are good spots for you to protect your hands from the cold and the wind, as they often have additional room for gloves and mittens as well.
You can never have too many pockets, and inside pockets are a great feature. If your ideal jacket has everything you want but it’s lacking inside pockets, then you can either sew some yourself, or get a sail maker or seamstress to help you. Just make sure not to poke any holes through to the exterior, which would ruin the waterproofing.
Keep a pair of gloves in the pocket of every jacket you own. That way, you don’t have to worry about if you’ve brought your gloves or not; you should always have one. The gloves should be just as protective as the jacket it’s in, so for a “land” jacket you can have thinner gloves, and in the pockets of your offshore foul weather gear keep a pair of the thickest and warmest gloves you own. This way, you’ll always be prepared for the conditions you’re in.
If you wear sunglasses or rely on prescription glasses to see, then keep a hard glasses case in one of the inside pockets of your jacket. When you need it, it needs to be on your person. Because bad weather can quickly appear, and you won’t have time to go below deck to look for your glasses case. Furthermore, without one you risk crushing your glasses if you keep them in your pocket unprotected.
With that said, if you can’t read the instruments or charts without glasses, keep a backup pair on board. This way, if you lose one you still have a second chance. If you lose your only pair, can you still read the chart plotter or operate the boat?
Cost Per Wear
When buying something worth hundreds of dollars, you want to get your money’s worth out of it and one way to do that is by wearing it often. If you only wear your foul weather gear less than a handful of times and then never again, then the cost per wear will seem absurdly high. With good foul weather gear, you’ll find that you keep using it whether on land or out at sea.
Additionally, imagine how much you would have to pay to visit a laundromat at the marina to dry clothes that got wet because a low quality foul weather jacket failed to keep you dry. Within a few short months, the amount you pay in coins at the dryers will probably exceed the cost of a decent quality foul weather jacket. So don’t think of your foulies as an unnecessary expense; you were going to pay the price anyways, might as well stay dry and comfortable as well.
Especially if you live in rainy areas, foul weather jackets are just so versatile and practical to wear. It is always surprising for people to point out or compliment me on my “expensive rain jacket.” On land it is probably overkill, but I happen to sail too, so I’m going to use what I already own. Furthermore, if you live in London and don’t own a decent rain jacket, getting a foul weather jacket might not be such a bad idea.
Foul Weather Gear Maintenance
It is important for you to know how to take care of an expensive investment like your foul weather gear. After wearing the jacket, let it air dry for over 24 hours, then turn it inside out to allow the interior to dry as well. If there isn’t any sunlight to speed up the drying process, try to hang it indoors in a dry, well-ventilated space.
Making sure your jacket is completely dry will protect not only your jacket, but your skin as well. People with sensitive skin may experience breakouts or rashes if they wear a jacket that is moldy. If you have to wear your jacket back-to-back and it never manages to fully dry, you may need to rotate two or more jackets to ensure you are always wearing one that is bone-dry.
Should you find dark spots on your jacket, or if it simply smells unpleasant, you should thoroughly clean it, dry it, and possibly re-waterproof it. Maybe your foul weather jacket is very good at keeping you dry, and you feel like the interior doesn’t need much maintenance, but the neck, bottom, and cuffs could still be moist. Furthermore, your sweat causes moisture to form inside, so go through the entire cleaning process each time regardless.
Lastly, always check your pockets. I’ve found some unusual things there before, like old candy bars, and I’ve ruined a few good torches by leaving them in there. Instead of trying to remember what you put in which pockets, just make it a habit to clean out everything in each one before washing the jacket.
Fixing Up Old Gear
To really maximize on your investment, you can re-waterproof your old jackets to extend their life. Before I found out you could do this, I was spending too much money buying new jackets when my old one just needed some touching up. Then I found a water repellent product (B07V5NGWC6) that worked incredibly well.
I didn’t like the idea of spending money towards another product when I could have used that money to partially pay for a new jacket. However, at just a fraction of the cost of a new jacket on sale, I thought why not, and applied the treatment on a dry day to see what it could do. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that my old jacket worked like new again. At my earliest convenience, I re-waterproofed my other retired jackets so that they could once again have new life.
Keep Old Gear Around
If there was a point to my little anecdote above, it’s that you should keep your old gear around just in case the unexpected happens. When your main jacket gets soaked, damaged, lost, whatever, and you need a second jacket right away, just bring out your ol’ faithful jacket, the one that used to be your “main”. Even if it doesn’t keep you as dry as it did in its prime, perhaps treating it with water repellent spray can restore it to its former glory.
In addition, you could just keep the old jacket around as a loaner jacket. Sometimes other people have issues with their foul weather jackets. Or maybe someone arrived unprepared, and you can be their knight in shining armor by loaning your spare to them. Either way, it’s nice to have some backup.
Some days you will only deal with a light drizzle, some fog or mist, and don’t need the protection of heavy-duty foul weather gear. In cases like this, it’s nice to have the option of changing into a lighter water repellent jacket, especially in warmer climates. You don’t need to go out of your way to buy new jackets either. Using the water repellent spray I mentioned above, give some of your lighter windbreakers the same treatment and you’ve got yourself a nice lightweight option. Now you have a lot of jackets you can choose from for nearly every situation.
Like how foul weather jackets should be sized to fit over many layers of clothes, your sea boots should be approximately two sizes too big to fit over your thick woollen socks underneath. In fact, there should still be some empty space for a loose fit. How come?
If you were to find yourself overboard, the first thing you want to toss are your boots. Tight-fitting sea boots will add extra weight to your body and drown you. You want to be able to slip out of them with ease by kicking your feet. It’s also not a good idea to wear your sea boots on land. The soles are not designed for that and will get damaged on jagged surfaces.