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Foul Weather Gear

What are Salopettes? …and How are They Different From Sailing Trousers? | Expert Advice

Salopettes (sa·lo·pettes) PLURAL NOUN – A one-piece garment similar to overalls, with a front flap and shoulder straps.  A full sleeveless top, worn for skiing, sailing, etc. ORIGIN 1970s: from french salopette in the same sense + -s by analogy with such words as trousers.   So, Salopettes are French for Trousers?   If that’s it, why are they different?  Lets have a closer look. (Editor’s Note: For the sake of comparison we’re going to focus on offshore quality Trousers, but both […]

salopettes

Salopettes (sa·lo·pettes)

PLURAL NOUN – A one-piece garment similar to overalls, with a front flap and shoulder straps.  A full sleeveless top, worn for skiing, sailing, etc.

ORIGIN 1970s: from french salopette in the same sense + -s by analogy with such words as trousers.

onesieMusto MPX Gore-Tex Race Salopette

 

So, Salopettes are French for Trousers?  

If that’s it, why are they different?  Lets have a closer look. (Editor’s Note: For the sake of comparison we’re going to focus on offshore quality Trousers, but both foul weather gear styles come in various weights and levels of durability).

With their athletic fit and higher cut, Salopettes are an excellent choice for the active sailor, whether buoy racing, day sailing and the occasional overnight.

Salopettes offer total core coverage providing warmth and comfort and can be used as a standalone piece of kit when the elements are mild.

They often come in a three layer laminate fabric that provides full waterproof protection and superior breathability while keeping the weight to a minimum.

Starting at the top, the shoulders incorporate wide stretch panels which prevent them from slipping off, and allow for ease of movement but  because of this they also restrict height adjustment so length/fit here will be most important.
Other differentiating features on some models are a waterproof zipper and up to one external pocket to hold the bare essentials.  With minimal fit adjustment points, the only true adjustment to be made are at the waist and ankle.

Let’s review: Salopette’s ARE: Minimalistic, lightweight, flexible, breathable and comfortable, consider it a sleeveless, footless, waterproof onesie for adults!

 

Trousers (trou-sers)

PLURAL NOUN – An outer garment covering the body from the waist to the ankles, with a separate part for each leg.

Early 17th century: from archaic trouse (singular), from Irish triús and Scottish Gaelictriubhas (see trews), on the pattern of drawers .

Musto MPX Gore Tex TrousersFoul Weather Gear Trousers, also commonly referred to as bibs, are a fuller fit and lower cut with  narrow shoulder straps and numerous adjustment points.  Kind of like your denim overalls.

Height  adjustment here is less as important with the adjustable Velcro shoulder straps  to customize fit. Other features of  trousers include hand warmer pockets under the chest, as well as thigh pockets to store your goodies.

The zipper is typically NOT waterproof but has a taller internal gusset to prevent penetration, which makes them ideal for longer passages or offshore adventures.  The extra features on trousers usually make them a bit heavier and less breathable then their counterpart, the Salopette.

How to Renew Water Repellency to your Foul Weather Gear | Expert Advice

We love that foul weather rain gear keeps us dry while allowing moisture to escape but because of these two key features, its unfortunately not built to last forever. If it was it would be as stiff as a board and wouldn’t breathe at all. Actually it would be a lot like foul weather gear 30 years ago. Fortunately waterproofing technology has come a long way since then and we have a few tricks to offer that will help your waterproof rain gear stay […]

We love that foul weather rain gear keeps us dry while allowing moisture to escape but because of these two key features, its unfortunately not built to last forever. If it was it would be as stiff as a board and wouldn’t breathe at all. Actually it would be a lot like foul weather gear 30 years ago. Fortunately waterproofing technology has come a long way since then and we have a few tricks to offer that will help your waterproof rain gear stay waterproof for years to come.
High quality garments can still last 5-10 years with good care. Besides properly storing your foul weather gear in the off season, Cleaning and Waterproofing your rain gear are two great ways to make sure you get the most out of your gear.
Since dirt and oils actually attract more moisture to the surface of your jacket, you will want to rinse out your marine weather gear with fresh water frequently, especially if you sail in salt water. At least once a year I also clean and waterproof my well-loved garments with McNett’s Gear Aid Synthetic Fabric Cleaner.
ReviveX High-Tech Fabric Cleaner
Most garments have waterproof material either built into the fabric or coating the inside of the fabric. Most all jackets will also have a DWR coating (durable water repellent) on the exterior fabric which augments the garment’s inherent waterproof-ness.McNett Revivex Water Repellent
This DWR wears off after time, but you can re-apply a DWR coating with McNett’s Gear Air Durable Revivex Water Repellent. McNett makes a wash-in waterproofing but since waterproofing the inside of your foul weather gear isn’t all that useful, I prefer the spray on version for technical outerwear.
These two McNett products are specifically engineered for use on Gore-Tex or other similar 3-layer fabrics. You can use them on 2-layer fabrics such as your lightweight rain gear but it’s important to keep in mind the 2-layer fabrics are typically less durable and should never be put into a drying machine for any reason.
Gear Review – Zhik Isotak Foul Weather Gear feature image

Zhik Isotak Foul Weather Gear | Expert Review

Breaking out of their dinghy-exclusive past, Zhik welcomes the future with Isotak, a new range of high tech buoy racing gear that can be converted to have what it takes while sailing offshore. While we’re really into the idea of versatile gear, this gear still has to make some compromises in features for round-the-buoys versus offshore. It comes in a jacket, smock, dry smock, and salopettes. The jacket comes with a like-colored hood, but both the jacket and smock have […]

Breaking out of their dinghy-exclusive past, Zhik welcomes the future with Isotak, a new range of high tech buoy racing gear that can be converted to have what it takes while sailing offshore.

Zhik Isotak Series

While we’re really into the idea of versatile gear, this gear still has to make some compromises in features for round-the-buoys versus offshore. It comes in a jacket, smock, dry smock, and salopettes. The jacket comes with a like-colored hood, but both the jacket and smock have the option of adding a florescent hood with a faceshield for offshore use.

This gear is made of Zhik Isotak fabric, which has a very high specification waterproofness and breathability. 1000+ Denier Cordura in high-wearing zones, it’s designed to stand up against anything you throw at it. The Isotak fabric is a multilayer fabric, with a protective laminate inner, monolithic membrane, and a high- density microfiber nylon outer with a Super Durable Water Repellent (SDWR) finish. This creates a strong, durable material that is still breathable and completely waterproof. Seams are interlocking double seams with high quality taping to ensure they are all truly waterproof.

Overall, the Isotak is a nice line of gear for those who do a wide variety of racing and would rather have one set of gear than deal with multiple sets. With a durable feel and cordura reinforcements, it would stand up to those who are hard on their gear, or who (fortunately for them) spend lots of time in their gear on the water.

Zhik Isotak Jacket

Overall, the Zhik Isotak jacket is nice. It’s certainly more durable feeling than other jackets in the high Tech buoy racing category. That being said, it’s also less substantial than offshore pieces. It makes a great jacket for those who do some offshore races in any given year but spend most of their time day sailing. There are some features you want for offshore racing and some that are left out. We found that the jacket tends to run on the small side for people who typically wear a large jacket due to the waist size and want of room for layering.

The Good

It’s longer than most buoy racing jackets, making it a little nicer to go offshore. The Cordura reinforcement on the seat provides a little extra protection and durability. Durability is a definite plus. Zhik’s Isotak fabric feels much more substantial than the fabric used for other jackets in the high tech buoy racing category. With a fleece lined collar, it adds a little bit more than the traditional coastal jacket that typically has just a softer collar. It would be a welcomed addition in colder climates.

The jacket does have a nice, racing cut. With long arms and double layer adjustments, you can easily perform all of the necessary tasks on a sport boat without being restricted. The drawcord hem allows you to make the waist as tight as you would like, and the front zipper storm flap has some serious Velcro.

Zhik Isotak hi-vis hood

I’d put the optional hood and face guard in the good category, but I would have to say that the additional price isn’t exactly “good.” However, it adds a whole other dimension to the jacket. With a hi-visibility hood, it would make any sailor much more prepared to go offshore. With the same adjustments as the like-color hood that comes with the jacket, it has a nice fit with adequate adjustments to ensure the right fit. There are many different reflective patches placed on the brim, top, and back for added peace of mind. The face guard attaches to either side of the hood and makes the coastal-like height of the collar transition to a more offshore-height collar. Rising from the mouth to just below the nose level, the face guard is fleece lined for added comfort. The one drawback being you now have two layers, where water can get in between the two.

The BadZhik Isotak Jacket cuff

You will make a few sacrifices to get the “all-in-one” jacket. It doesn’t have all of the nice features of an offshore jacket and leaves out some of the good features on a buoy racing jacket. But, it does a pretty good job. Although it is breathable, it does have a heavy feel. I don’t think it would be my first choice for a rainy summer night here in Annapolis.

The wrist has two separate closures, one neoprene and one Isotak fabric. While I like the idea of getting a good seal with the neoprene inner layer, the two straps line up perfectly. So, in addition to it feeling a little bulky, it is also hard to get a reasonable closure with the outer layer.

While Zhik’s Isotak jacket has some nice stretch through the shoulders, I wouldn’t say it has nearly as much as the Musto MPX range, which is well-known for having stretch panels.

Overall, Zhik presents us with a nice jacket that would be great for someone who wants a little more versatility in their gear. Adding elements of an offshore piece with an athletically cut buoy jacket, the Isotak works well in both sailing environments. While it’s impossible to make a jacket that’s the best for buoy racing and offshore racing, it does a good job combining the important elements of both.

Zhik Isotak Smock

With the same durable fabric as the rest of the line, Zhik’s Isotak smock would be the perfect top for those who wear their gear out quickly or spend most of their days on the water. As far as sizing, all felt they wanted the next size up from what they typically wear in Musto. Also, for those with long arms, we have to let you know, the arms aren’t quite as long as Musto in the larger sizes. But for the smaller sizes (and smaller frames,) the arm length was nice.

The GoodZhik Isotak Smock

For sport boat sailors or those athletic types, Zhik’s smock certainly has a racing cut. The neoprene waist is longer in the back than in the front, making a nice tight fit that doesn’t seem to ride up like some of the other smocks out there. As seen to the right, it has an inverse drop hem shape. The neck Velcro closure is also conveniently placed with the softer part on the neck. For all the ladies out there that know how painful it is to have the tough Velcro on the neck, this is a welcomed improvement. (Although most companies have picked up on this problem, not all have adopted a solution. Thanks, Zhik!) Also, the wrist seals are nice. They form a nice seal and are quite comfortable. With a pretty sizable tab, it would stay in place even in high-activity sailing.

Like the jacket, the optional hi-visibility hood can be attached to make it more versatile. With a florescent hood and face shield, you can turn your buoy racing smock into a little more of an offshore piece. It would be a nice addition for the nights that get colder, with long hours on the rail. It does have some drawbacks – without clear sides, your peripheral vision is limited.

The BadZhik Isotak Smock collar

While having a tight neck seal on a smock is great, this is just a little too tight. There is a lot of fabric to fold into a small space. The tab that comes across creates a tight-to-your neck feel, with many of the guy’s trying it on complaining about the tightness. It also has some room to let water in if you lean forward.

The zipper in the front doesn’t stay up very well – it slips down as you move around. The front pocket is also a bit bulky with a higher than the tab closure (see picture below) that creates three layers of fabric across your chest. The pocket would also be quite difficult to access when wearing a life jacket.

Zhik Isotak

Overall, as long as a durable feel doesn’t throw you off, it’s a nice top. It does feel a little heavy, especially in comparison to say the Henri Lloyd Shockwave. If you’re in a hot climate where summer showers are your only problem, this might not be your top choice. However, if you’re sailing where there’s colder water and nastier conditions, this would make a great addition to your gear. It seems to be hard-wearing with good seals. It seems the Zhik Isotak smock would work well on dinghies, sport boats, and wet bigger boats alike.

Zhik Isotak Salopettes

Zhik Isotak Salopette

With neoprene stretch shoulders, a serious storm flap and large cuffs at the ankles, the Isotak salopettes are ready to handle what you can throw at them. They have waist adjusters to bring in that extra room if you don’t need layers and have a large side pocket for the extras. With hard wearing Cordura on the seat and knees, these are made to stand up to harsh decks and long hours on the water.

The Good

Durability is the name of the game with large Cordura reinforcements on the seat and from the knees to the ankles. These salopettes aren’t going to wear out quickly. The front zip has full Velcro running down the storm flap that stays in place. I think my favorite part would be the ankle closures. With a large cuff and a long tab, finding the perfect spot for every situation wouldn’t be hard.

Zhik Isotak cuff

This will allow you to create a tight seal regardless of your footwear choice. Side adjustments make it easier to get rid of extra bulk through the sides. The side pocket is easy to access even in a sitting position and is big enough to serve you well.

The Bad

I wasn’t overly impressed with the fit on the bottom half, and like other pieces in this line, many needed to go up a size. It seems that the top and bottom don’t match up proportionally. After having a few people try them on without going to a larger size – we determined the top wasn’t long enough.

Zhik Isotak knee padding

Although the Cordura reinforcements make the gear last longer, it does create some bulk and would take some getting used to. The seat and knees are both much larger than other pants. This could be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on how hard you’re wearing them and how you like your pants to fit. The pocket, although easy to access seemed to be not thought through. The possibility that you would open your large pocket and things would drop out seems prevalent. Without a separate section in the pocket, I’m not sure I would want anything in there.

Overall, they would work well for those who are athletic and sailing in an athletic scene (think sport boats or bowmen running around the deck). With hard wearing Cordura patches, they would stand up to harsh punishment sliding around on non-skid. The fit seems to run small, but with good ankle closures, ordering a larger size wouldn’t be a problem.

Isotak by Zhik is a nice line of gear, and with the versatility of being able to wear it around the buoys or offshore, this gear is great for someone looking to do both. Although there are some sacrifices made when making versatile gear – if you’re actually doing a lot of both kinds of sailing, this is great gear for you. Keep in mind that the fit runs small, and just about everyone went a size up from their normal foul weather gear size.

Zhik Isotak team gear in action

Editors Note: Available now is the Zhik Isotak II kit. Improved from the original range and built on the same technology.