Sport Phillip Marine Chandlery Supplies
Technical Clothing
Thermals (Base Layer)
Shoes & Boots
Trapeze HarnessGILL
Henri LloydHelly HansenWestcoast
Stormy SeasSlam

  Kayak Dinghy   In-Shore  Bay Coastal   Ocean
 Adventure Extreme  √        
 BURKE    √ √       
 GILL    √  √  √  √  √
 Helly Hansen   √   √  √  √  √
 Henri Lloyd    √  √  √  √  √
 Magic Marine  √  √      
 MUSTO      √  √  √  √
 Queensport  √  √        
 Ronstan    √        
 SEA    √        
 SLAM    √        
 West Coast        √    
 Zhik  √  √        

* Not successful in the Australian market and no longer represented.

Necessity is always the mother of invention, but nowhere is this more apparent than with wet-weather gear, foul weather gear, oilskins and so on. Take the case of one wet and cold Norwegian sailor called Helly Juel Hansen. At the end of his tether in 1877, the soggy captain evidently invented an oiled canvas jacket - the 'oilskin' - that worked so well, warding off the wet stuff like nothing before it, that crews on square-riggers plying the rugged trade routes lined up for a suit.  Therein, the wet-weather gear industry was born. Much later, in the 1960s, another cold and wet dinghy sailor, Nick Gill, vowed to produce better wet weather gear and, through the desire to stop the drip running down his back, the Gill brand came about. Later, in the 1980s, sailmaker Martin Burke promised his soggy crewmates that he would produce a premium range of wet weather gear that didn't leak and, soon after, the Burke Long Haul range was released. And in 1993, after a near drowning of a family member on the west coast of Tasmania, Helen Moore developed inflatable wet weather clothing and founded the brand Stormy Australia.

Today's wet-weather gear has evolved over the passage of time, many a stormy voyage and long, lonely times sitting on the rail or grasping the tiller. Due to the development of high-tech fabrics and better manufacturing techniques, wet-weather gear is now 100 per cent waterproof, windproof, highly breathable, and, well, expensive. But what price can you put on being dry, comfortable and safe at sea? If there's one place not to skimp it's with wet-weather gear. Cheap alternatives leak. So what exactly has changed? The big advances in recent years have been with the development of special coatings and semi-permeable membranes that, much like an eggshell, repel water on the outside while keeping you fresh - drawing out perspiration and maintaining dryness - on the inside. Features such as sealed and taped seams, anti-chaffing collars and fasteners, corrosion-resistant zips, drop seats (so you can straddle the head) and even EPIRB pockets are all the rage. So, too, some pretty trendy cuts and Italian designs that are entirely appropriate to wear to watch the football, while bushwalking, skiing or simply shopping.

Despite coming a long way since Captain Hansen's first unwitting foray into high (seas) fashion, manufacturers aren't resting on their laurels.

At the cutting edge of wet-weather gear, much fieldwork has resulted in jackets cut specially to fit the female form; stretch fabric across the shoulders, knees and seat; and more lightweight and streamlined designs that assist agility across the deck. All of which goes a long way to solving that age-old problem of being wet and miserable.

Whether you're circumnavigating the globe or just grabbing a mooring during a downpour after a mid-week yacht race, there's no more compelling argument for buying the best wet-weather gear than a dry one.

Enter the exciting world of breathable fabrics. In the 1980s and 90s, manufacturers including Musto and Henri Lloyd changed the wet-weather world by using Gore-Tex. It was – and is - waterproof, windproof and highly breathable. But, contrary to popular belief, Gore-Tex is not the outer layer of your garment. Rather, it's the membrane laminated to or sandwiched between an inner layer or liner, designed to protect the membrane, and an outer layer treated with a waterproof finish or durable water repellency (DWR) coating.

It's important when buying wet-weather gear to understand how these membranes work. Gore-Tex, for example, transfers water in and out of the garment using a microporous structure containing millions of tiny holes. Each micropore is something like 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, but 700 times bigger than a perspiration vapour molecule. Thus, no external moisture such as rain or seaspray can penetrate the membrane but perspiration can evaporate from your body. Gore-Tex fabrics are guaranteed to be completely waterproof, windproof and breathable for the life of the product. But there's more than one way to skin a cat...

Traditionally, wet weather gear made with Gore-Tex was superior to any other gear - and you paid for it. Now, however, there are loads of technical fabrics on the market that operate in a similar way but don't carry the premium price tag. Technically, Gore-Tex still outperforms many competing products, however, competitors say that 99 per cent of people wouldn't notice the difference and the savings in price far outweigh the benefits.

Gill is one manufacturer that has moved away from branded products to lower its garments' costs, while not strapped for choice with one material.

The UK company searches the world for the best fabrics, subjects them to rigorous field-testing and lab tests at a leading university. Most of the major brands have either developed or sourced their own waterproof breathable fabrics these days. Norwegian company Helly Hansen, always a leader in the development of high-tech fabrics, has been quick to design and manufacture its own line of HellyTech fabrics which, it says, are every bit as good as Gore-Tex. Italian company Slam is using Cordura, a DuPont fabric, which it believes is superior to competing products. Australian Burke has developed PB20 and CB10 breathable fabrics that are manufactured (in Asia) exclusively for the company. From our survey of the industry it seems that: (a) Gore-Tex remains technically the most breathable and waterproof product on the market and the most expensive; (b) the competing products come close in terms of performance and are substantially cheaper; and (c) that practically speaking, most of us wouldn't notice the difference between garments made with Gore-Tex and those using other materials.


Layering is everything when you want to stay dry and warm these days. Layering involves wearing a wicking or base layer, a mid-layer and then an external layer which would be your wet weather jacket.

The base layer might be a t-shirt or lightweight thermal with UV protection and the ability to draw out perspiration. The mid-layer would be a microfleece that insulates and also draws moisture out. The third or outer layer provides serious protection from the weather, and should be waterproof and highly breathable.

Burke says a result of layering, is a trend to simplicity in wet weather gear. With the mix of layers providing warmth the jacket can be lighter and less bulky and, in essence, go back to its core function of keeping you dry.

All the major brands we surveyed offer a range of items for each layer. The base layers look good enough to wear on their own in mild weather, while the mid layers are the most comfortable winter threads you'll find. Each layer is made from highly developed smart fabrics and has the ability to keep you dry, warm and comfortable. Going one better, .

Most of the top brands offer a range of wet weather gear for offshore, coastal and inshore use. For most cruising and racing sailors the Offshore or Coastal range will suffice. The Coastal and Inshore ranges will suit less serious sailors, powerboaters and anglers. All ranges include vests, jackets, smocks (pullovers) and trousers.

When you're looking to buy wet weather gear ask yourself what you really need. The ocean ranges may be the best, but will you really be sailing in gale force winds with green water over the decks? If not, you will save yourself a lot of money by opting for the inshore range. If you're on a powerboat, a lighter coastal jacket is fine and the styling is so good that you can wear your gear to the club, pub or footy and still look the goods.

High-tech is the buzz in construction as well as fabrics. Nowadays, many manufacturers are thermowelding seams rather than taping them for greater durability, and less bulk and weight. Slam uses laser cutting and thermowelding and, as manufacturing processes become more efficient, costs and retail prices will be reduced.

Field-testing is also popular; with all of the brands we surveyed constantly assessing their products. This has resulted in innovations such as stretch Gore-Tex being used across the seat and shoulders for a more comfortable fit, waterproof and specially sealed seams, ergonomic hoods, non-chaffing fastenings and non-corrosive zips.

At long last looks are starting to match performance and you won't have to banish your daggy sailing jacket to the locker when the race is over. In the fashion stakes, Slam's gear boasts slick lines from its Italian designers.

Then there are innovative safety products from the likes of Stormy Australia, which has won an Australian Medal for Contribution to Water Safety.

The company manufactures wind and waterproof vests, jackets and yokes (inflatable jackets) with an integrated CO2-activated inflation system that, when activated, transforms the garments into a PFD Type 1 lifejacket.

The micropores in high-tech fabrics can become blocked by sunscreen and other substances, thereby reducing the breathability of the garment.

To prolong the life of the gear and ensure optimum performance, wash your garment regularly in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Some gear should be cleaned in the washing machine with pure soap and then put in the tumble dryer to reactivate the properties in the fabric.

Some garments may need to be refreshed from time to time with a waterproofing product available from chandleries or outdoor stores.

If in doubt about how to care for your garments, always refer back to the manufacturer.

Don't put your wet weather gear away when it's wet.

Rinse your gear in fresh water, hang it and dry it in the shade.







Sport Phillip Marine services the boating, yachting & fishing needs of the Mornington Peninsula from Frankston, Daveys Bay, Mt. Eliza, Mornington, Mt. Martha, Safety Beach, Martha Cove, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea on Port Phillip Bay to Yaringa, Warneet, Somers, Hastings, and Flinders on Westernport Bay.

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