The best foul-weather gear overall is the Gill OS2 Offshore Series. The OS2 will serve the needs of most recreational sailors.
But, the topic is more nuanced when considering what type of sailing you will do.
For example, coastal foul weather gear won’t perform well under open ocean conditions. And ocean-going gear is overkill for day sailing.
The team at Sailing Savvy has nearly 50 years of experience in the yachting industry, having sailed the likes of Alaska, Canada, and Norway while also experiencing torrential downpours in the Caribbean and Central America. Here are the products we recommend:
🏆 Best Overall: Gill OS2 Series
🌊 Best for Open Ocean Sailing: Gill OS1 Series
⛵ Best for Dinghies and Racing: Gill Verso Drysuit
🥶 Best for Cold Weather: Helly Hansen Aegir Smock
Best for Buoyancy: Mustang Survival Catalyst
Before I begin, it’s essential to note that my discussion on foul weather gear will focus on the jacket and trousers (or bib, depending on your region). To complete the ensemble, you can read my recommendations on the best sailing boots to complement your gear.
Top Picks for Foul Weather Gear
Below, you’ll find thoroughly vetted options that stand out for their durability, design, and functionality, ensuring you can focus on navigating the seas with confidence.
Gill OS2 Offshore
🏆 Best Overall
✅ Exceptional water and stain repellency ✅ Made from recycled materials, a sustainable choice ✅ Ample pocket space and thermal lining for added warmth
During my 10-year career in yachting, this is the foul-weather jacket I enjoyed wearing the most, even over more expensive brands like Henri Lloyd and Helly Hansen. You cannot go wrong with the OS2!
- Exceptional water and stain repellency
- Made from recycled materials, a sustainable choice
- Ample pocket space and thermal lining for added warmth
- On the pricier side
- Limited color options available
The first thing you’ll notice is the exceptional water resistance. During a downpour or when facing rough seas, you are shielded against the elements.
Not only do you stay dry, but the added stain repellency also keeps the gear looking sharp trip after trip.
Equally noteworthy is the sustainable construction. Crafted from recycled nylon and polyester, it gives a nod to environmental responsibility without sacrificing performance.
Comfort undoubtedly plays a crucial role in selecting foul-weather gear. On a recent journey, the thermal lining proved invaluable for warmth without adding bulk. The fleece-lined pockets are a sanctuary for cold hands, and the high collar shields your neck from biting winds.
However, quality comes with a price, and the Gill OS2 is an investment. It may stretch your budget, but consider it a long-term purchase. Additionally, if you’re the type to desire a variety of colors, choices here are limited, which might disappoint some.
If you’re serious about staying dry, the OS2 series is indispensable. On the other hand, for more casual endeavors, there are less intense options that may suffice.
Gill OS1 Ocean
🌊 Best for Open Ocean Sailing
✅ Top-tier waterproof and breathable fabric ✅ Safety features including photoluminescent reflectors ✅ Durable with water repellency, stain resistance, and odor control
If you’re tackling the open sea and battling the elements, the Gill OS1 should certainly be on your radar for its professional-grade protection.
- Top-tier waterproof and breathable fabric
- Safety features including photoluminescent reflectors
- Durable with water repellency, stain resistance, and odor control
- Higher price point might not suit every budget
- Limited total reviews for wide-scale quality consensus
- May be bulkier than lighter jackets designed for less extreme conditions
Slipping into the OS1 Jacket, I felt an immediate sense of security. Its robust 3-layer XPLORE+ fabric didn’t just keep the biting ocean spray at bay, but its breathability was a godsend during strenuous maneuvers on deck.
The adjustable cuffs fitted snugly against my skin, preventing any unwanted water from creeping up my sleeves.
Visibility is paramount when the fog rolls in, and the jacket’s photoluminescent safety reflectors are like a beacon in the gloom.
They didn’t impede movement and provide peace of mind that crewmates would see you no matter the time of day.
Despite the jacket’s impressive features, I would be remiss not to mention the premium you’ll pay.
Quality doesn’t come cheap, and while I found the Gill OS1 to be exceptional in performance, the investment might be steep for casual sailors.
Is the price justified? That’s a decision you’ll weigh against your sailing needs.
Gill Verso Drysuit
⛵ Best for Dinghies and Racing
✅ Exceptional waterproofness and breathability thanks to XPLORE+ 3-layer fabric ✅ Easy access with rear-entry design and convenient relief zip ✅ Enhanced protection with an adjustable stowaway hood
These are designed for the hardcore racers who seek the pinnacle of performance in foul-weather gear.
Using a suit of this caliber, especially in challenging conditions, signifies that you’re engaging in high-level racing. Indeed, this is the apex of sailing performance gear for those where cost is not a concern.
- Exceptional waterproofness and breathability thanks to XPLORE+ 3-layer fabric
- Easy access with rear-entry design and convenient relief zip
- Enhanced protection with an adjustable stowaway hood
- May require machine washing for maintenance
- Priced at a premium, potentially out of reach for budget-conscious sailors
- The rear-entry design might take getting used to for some
When I slipped into this drysuit, I immediately noticed the snug yet comfortable fit provided by the neoprene Dryseal gaskets at the neck and cuffs, and the overskirt that fine-tunes the fit to your body’s shape.
Taking on the wind and spray, the three-layer XPLORE+ fabric and the XPEL plant-based treatment repelled water effortlessly while allowing my skin to breathe.
It’s evident that Gill understands that staying dry is one thing, but remaining comfortable is another. The laser-cut face ventilation speaks volumes about their attention to detail, providing ample airflow without compromising the suit’s waterproof integrity.
Sailing often comes with a need for accessibility and storage. Gill’s Verso Drysuit comes with a sleeve pocket, secured with a YKK AquaGuard zip that’s easy to reach even with a buoyancy aid or life jacket on.
This feature was particularly useful for stashing key accessories needed close at hand.
Although it’s a premium product with a price to match, the versatility and robust construction of the Verso Drysuit appear to justify the investment for serious sailors who are out on the water in all conditions.
Helly-Hansen Aegir Smock
🥶 Best for Cold Weather
✅ Impressive adaptability to changing conditions with ventilation zippers ✅ Professional-grade durability inspired by sailor insights ✅ Strategic design featuring a detachable hood for versatility in wear
Your sailing exploits demand gear that adapts to the most rigorous conditions, which the Helly-Hansen Aegir Smock is engineered to handle.
- Impressive adaptability to changing conditions with ventilation zippers
- Professional-grade durability inspired by sailor insights
- Strategic design featuring a detachable hood for versatility in wear
- Limited total reviews for comprehensive consumer consensus
- May be considered a premium investment
- Some sailors may prefer traditional integrated hood designs
When you zip up the Helly-Hansen Aegir Smock, you immediately appreciate the thoughtful design.
The YKK AQUA SEAL zippers not only keep the water out but also offer a level of ventilation that is a rare find in foul-weather gear.
Whether the sun peeks through stormy skies or the gales demand full fortification, adjusting your protection is swift and practical.
Sailing in full swing, the Aegir Smock displays its stellar build quality. Developed with input from professionals like Thomas Coville, you sense the robustness. The touch of the fabric, 100% polyamide, assures you of its ability to endure.
The detachable hood might not be for everyone, but HH markets Aegir as modular, so you have full control.
Best for Buoyancy
✅ Exceptional mobility and range of motion ✅ Highly waterproof and breathable ✅ Convenient features like underarm vents and a D-ring for safety
Trust in this Mustang Survival jacket to offer comfort and durability as you tackle the unpredictable sea.
- Exceptional mobility and range of motion
- Highly waterproof and breathable
- Convenient features like underarm vents and a D-ring for safety
- May be heavy for some wearers
- Premium pricing
- Size and fit preference may vary
The Mustang Survival Catalyst Jacket ticks these boxes with its harmonized approval for buoyancy and robust waterproofing.
Maneuvering around your vessel is unrestricted, thanks to the M-Tech Comfort System. Regular gear just can’t compete with this freedom of movement, offering a big plus for active sailors.
Breathability is often overlooked, yet it’s vital for comfort. This jacket over-delivers with a high vapor transmission rate and zippered vents under the arms.
These features work together to regulate your temperature, ensuring the inside of the jacket remains as dry as the outside.
You’ll appreciate not feeling like you’re wrapped in a plastic bag, as can happen with lesser jackets.
Your safety on the water hasn’t been overlooked either. The included D-ring is a thoughtful addition, providing a secure point to attach your engine kill switch – a must for solo adventurers or in case of an emergency.
While the jacket may carry a bit more weight and cost than other options, it’s a fair trade for the security and features it offers. The Catalyst Jacket by Mustang Survival will quickly become a go-to in your sea-wardrobe.
Our recommendation process
Between the editorial team at Sailing Savvy, we have nearly 50 years’ worth of experience within the yachting industry. We have used numerous brands like Gill, Helly Hansen, and Henri Lloyd.
The recommendations we share are 100% impartial and bias-free. We only offer genuine advice on what we have come to know as the best and most reliable sailing gear.
We also strongly advocate that the best boating foul-weather gear on the market today is the OS2 series from Gill.
1. Buy A Reputable Brand
I can’t stress enough because it’s so essential. The adage that you get what you pay for applies. Don’t be tempted to buy sub-par gear from an unknown name in the sailing/boating apparel industry.
Gill, Helly Hansen, Musto, Henri Lloyd, and Mustang Survival are some to consider. These are brands that make gear with sailors in mind. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy from them if you are looking for powerboating gear or saltwater fishing apparel.
A quality set of foulies will last years, and more importantly, it’ll do what it is supposed to do: keep you dry.
2. Assessing Your Needs
Bear in mind what type of boating you will be doing. A fully watertight suit is overkill if you are cruising through the inlets and close to shore.
Conversely, don’t expect a coastal jacket to hold up to torrential downpours and big seas on an ocean crossing. Manufacturers tailor their gear to match the situation. If you are looking for a good all-rounder, get offshore foul-weather gear because it provides the best of both worlds.
3. Material and Construction
Look for durable materials that offer waterproof and windproof protection, as well as breathability. Seams should be fully sealed to prevent water ingress.
|Feature||Why It’s Important|
|Material||Determines durability, waterproofing, and breathability.|
|Construction||Sealed seams and closures protect against water entry.|
4. Fit and Comfort
Prioritize a fit that allows for ease of movement without being too loose. Comfort enhances performance, especially during prolonged wear.
- Layering: Ensure the gear accommodates layering without restricting movement.
- Adjustments: Look for adjustable cuffs and hems for a snug fit.
5. Safety Features
Visibility is crucial in adverse conditions. Gear should have reflective elements and bright colors for easy identification at sea.
- Visibility: Reflective strips and bright colors for safety.
- Accessibility: Accessible pockets for essential items.
6. Technology and Innovation
Consider gear with technological advancements such as fabric treatments and innovative closure systems that enhance protection and durability.
|Fabric Treatment||Can offer additional waterproofing or UV protection.|
|Closure Systems||Innovative designs may enhance waterproofing and ease of use.|
Remember: Investing in quality gear can enhance your safety and comfort while sailing in foul weather. Choose wisely based on the specifications that meet your needs.
How do I maintain and care for my foul-weather gear?
Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your foul-weather gear. Regularly wash your foul weather gear, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, avoid storing it in direct sunlight, and check for any damages or wear before each use.
Can I re-waterproof my foul-weather gear for sailing?
Over time, even the best foul-weather gear can lose its waterproofing capabilities. To ensure your gear remains effective, it’s essential to re-waterproof it periodically. There are three primary methods for re-waterproofing: spray, wash-in, and waxes.
What features are important in selecting sailing jackets for cold and wet conditions?
Important features in sailing jackets include thermal insulation, a high collar, a hood that can fit over a helmet, and pockets that are easily accessible whilst wearing a harness or life jacket. Waterproof, windproof, and breathable materials are also essential for comfort and protection.
How does the fit of sailing foul weather gear affect performance and safety?
Foul weather gear should offer a snug fit that allows for a full range of motion without excess fabric that can snag. However, it should not be so tight as to restrict movement or layering. Good fit supports endurance and helps prevent accidents on deck.
Can you explain the differences between various brands’ foul weather gear technologies?
Different brands utilize unique materials and design techniques; some may use proprietary waterproof membranes or durable water-repellent (DWR) coatings. Technologies vary in their balance of breathability versus waterproofing, with some prioritizing one over the other based on the intended use.
What considerations should women have in mind when choosing sailing foul-weather apparel?
Women should ensure the gear accommodates their body shape comfortably and allows for layering. Look for adjustable features like waist cinches or articulated seam placement that enhance fit. Some brands offer women-specific designs that better match female ergonomics.