Two of the skippers at adventure sailing company Rubicon3 tested four mid-layer jackets over the autumn and winter. Bruce Jacobs reports
As anyone who has been to Cowes during its famous annual regatta will know, specialised sailing clothing is not just for sailing – the pubs, clubs and restaurants are full of famous sailing brands. Mid-weight jackets in particular have to perform superbly out on the water but also look stylish enough to use during the après-sail!
Sailing from Svalbard in the north to Morocco in the south, we asked our skippers at Rubicon3 to try four different jackets to determine which was a winner on both land and sea.
Helly Hansen Crew jacket – £100
Ratings: Out at sea: 2.5/5 · In the pub: 4.5/5
There is no doubt that this is a very stylish jacket. Soft-shell always has a wonderfully comforting feel to it, aided here by a full fleece lining.
The pockets are nice and deep and it has both an inner and outer breast pocket.But while it’s great for casual use, as a genuine sailing jacket it struggled.
It doesn’t have a waterproof membrane and bizarrely its cuffs are cut too small to push big hands through. Also its collar is cut so close to the neck that, when fully closed, it pushes into the Adam’s apple even with no other clothing on underneath it.
Verdict: Comfortable and stylish but the neck and wrist cuffs were too small.
Henri Lloyd Elite Therm – £145
Ratings: Out at sea: 5/5 · In the pub: 2/5
A proper mid-layer jacket designed to be worn under foulies: the Primaloft filling is superbly warm in cold conditions and the small, fleece lined collar means your outer layer sits easily on top. It is breathable, so copes better than most with the stop-start exertions of sailing.
The outer shell is windproof and waterproof, but it feels less robust than some of the other jackets on test. It’s not one for the après-sail: although it’s a quality finish, it isn’t a stylish cut.
Add it to your armoury for really cold weather sailing instead – it’s too good to be worn down the pub.
Verdict: Really warm, but not the most robust design and not the first choice for après-sail.
Musto Gore-tex blouson – £299
Ratings: Out at sea: 4/5 · In the pub: 3.5/5
For the hardcore sailor, this is a very good choice with Gore-tex and Arctec 240 fleece keeping you dry and well insulated. We particularly liked its large collar, which gives lots of protection from the wind but left enough space at the front for other clothing.
We had three issues: the breast pocket was hard to access by a right handed person (why isn’t it on the left breast?); the hand pockets had no fleece lining which was missed in the cold; the fleece lining is loose in the sleeve and pushes out of the cuff when the hand comes through, meaning it gets wet and cold.
Verdict: Expensive and with a few issues, but really effective at sea.
Slam Winter Sailing jacket – £129.99
Ratings: Out at sea: 3/5 · In the pub: 3.5/5
This jacket is a good all-rounder, being both functional on the water and smart enough to wear on shore. It has a warm fleece lining with an elasticated waistband for keeping draughts out.
The water-resistant outer shell is tough enough to withstand the trials and tribulations of the inshore regatta season and it has a quality feel to it. Unlike many of the jackets on test it also has a neatly hidden hood.
It’s a bit bulky for wearing under foulies, and isn’t warm enough for high latitude sailing, but for a weekend on the water to be worn over shorts when the wind picks up, it’s a great option.
Verdict: A bit bulky but a good all-rounder and the hood is a useful extra.
Bruce Jacobs is the co-founder of Rubicon3, an adventure sailing company that specialises in expeditions and voyages to some of the world’s more remote and exciting locations. From the heat of Africa to the wilds of Greenland and Svalbard, these routes are the ideal proving ground for testing sailing equipment.