Choosing Inshore Foul Weather Gear
Inshore sailing occurs in more protected waters like lakes, rivers, and bays and is generally considered day sailing. The jackets and trousers in the inshore sailing foul weather gear category are waterproof and breathable, and perfect for rain and spray you may encounter while near-shore sailing. These jackets feature short to medium height collars and stowable hoods.
Inshore Sailing Weather Conditions:
Inshore gear will keep you dry all day long in poor weather, though it is not designed to protect against heavy or extreme weather conditions. This foul weather gear is also great for onshore wear on rainy and blustery days.
- Rain: light to medium
- Seas: Light to medium
- Wind: light to moderate
- Duration: a few hours up to a full day
Key Features of Inshore Foul Weather Gear:
The two pieces of foul weather gear you will want to invest in are a jacket and a pair of bibs or trousers. These items should be fully waterproof and breathable. When sailing, your comfort depends on your gear’s ability to keep you dry by keeping water out and transporting moisture (sweat) out. Typically inshore gear is designed from a two layer laminate, waterproof, breathable, that’s the most dominant. The other material, a microporous three-layer, like a GORE-TEX product, is more durable and breathable, but at a higher cost. See our Buoy Racing category for higher tech inshore gear.
There are key features you will want to look for in your gear.
- Hoods: Some are fluorescent colored hoods. Most are not. Few will have reflective tapes. Hood adjustments are generally few and simple.
- Collars: Low to mid height collars (below your ears or just touching) to mid with Velcro front zipper storm flap.
- Cut/Fit: Some extra room in the cut to allow for ease of movement and for varied thicknesses of layers worn underneath for warmth, but a more of a shore jacket cut than full cut coastal or offshore jacket.
- Fabrics: Fully waterproof and breathable. Typically 2 layers coated with a hanging inner liner made from mesh or nylon.
- Closures: Single exterior adjustable storm wrist cuffs, 1 or 2-way entry zipper with Velcro storm flap
- Trousers: Mid cut chest, ankle closures, reinforced seat and knees
How to Choose
When choosing an inshore jacket and trousers, it’s first important to know what the majority of your sailing is so that you can make the right choice of features and fabric. The scenarios are A. Someone who’s doing near shore where they may choose to keep sailing through the day in poor weather rather than head back to port immediately. or B. Someone who needs a jacket to keep them stay comfortable while heading back to port when poor weather approaches, and also needs a good ‘rain jacket’ for many other shore based activities. Styles within the inshore sailing foul weather gear category will lend themselves to either of these needs.
Inshore sailors who keep sailing through the day in poor weather will want more durable materials, a more adjustable hood or higher collar, a two-way front zipper, and perhaps hand-warmer pockets.
Those who encounter poor weather while sailing and tend to head back to shore (exposed to the weather for shorter durations) might prefer jackets with less structure to the hood, a shorter collar and a simple one-way zipper, as too much protection can be uncomfortable.
Base and Mid Layers:
With proper layering under your foul weather gear, you will be comfortable through a few days of sailing in less than ideal weather. Wicking under layers will be your everyday attire in bad weather. Use base and mid layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature by adding or removing layers. The key to long duration comfort will be the under layer’s ability to transport (wick) moisture (sweat) from the surface of your skin to your foul weather gear where it can move out through the waterproof/breathable fabric.
Avoid wearing any cotton clothes; they hold moisture like a sponge and chill you. Even unworn cotton clothes can become ‘damp’ when exposed to sea air.
Gloves & Boots for Inshore Sailing:
Be sure to match your gloves and boots to the type of inshore sailing you may be doing. For shorter periods of sailing in poor weather, non-breathable boots will suffice. For all-day-comfort, breathable boots will do a much better job keeping your feet dry and warm, but at a significantly higher price. No cotton socks. Merino wool ensures sustained warmth and moisture-wicking. If it’s cold out don’t forget insulated waterproof gloves. ‘Cold hands are weak hands.’