Another great Women on the Water chat last week. The topic for the week was boating clothing & kit, what you would recommend and what you are still looking for. It was great to have such a mix of experience on the call. Women who work on the water through to those taking their first adventures. It is a privilege to host these chats and thank you to all who participated.
Salopettes & Jackets:
Design of boating clothing
First question of the hour related to Salopettes. Seemed to be agreement that it is worth getting female fit salopettes. You will be able to move round boats much more safely if you are not tripping over. It was not until I invested that I realised how much easier boating was. I could finally step over jockey seats, step up and down off the boat all so much easier. Those who had invested further in drop seat salopettes all seemed to agree they were a good idea.
We also chatted about jackets and the length of jackets sometimes being an issue in terms of being able to move about. The benefits of smocks were discussed too. One of the major discussions related to sizing of clothing. Several within the group expressed concerns that so often the ladies fit clothing stops at size 16 and we discussed alternative suppliers. Seems to me the main manufacturers are missing a trick here. I have had similar discussions in the past with guys too that technical clothing just isn’t easily visible in all sizes. Great to see that our discussion group could firstly reassure each other that other have found this too and then suggest manufacturers to look at.
In terms of brands the following comments arose from the discussions, no brand sponsorship! It was interesting to see that the same names came up from several people for recommendations, another brand was viewed with hesitation currently and a couple of brands not usually associated with boating were recommended for a look. One of the outdoor brands was discussed in detail and viewed as a brand to watch. We also chatted about colours on clothing – the commercial skippers in the group expressed their concern that operators often require us to be in black but it can be hard to source women’s fit waterproofs that don’t have a splash of colour- often pink!
Lots of discussion across all price points. What to look for whether you’re a day boater staying local or alternatively if you’re heading further offshore. Whilst the premium ranges got a good review it was clear that there is also some very affordable kit for those closer to shore. You don’t need to spend a fortune to stay warm and we discussed how some centres are moving to brands which were not traditionally seen as marine specialists. The discussion suggested that there is still some way to go with consistency for these brands but certainly something to look at. One point that seemed to be agreed on though was it was worth spending just a fraction more from the basic if possible to ensure you get breathable waterproofs. It was interesting to see that amongst participants we covered all price points across one particular brand so great for comparisons.
The discussion then turned to waterproofs use on courses or borrowed by friends. Many of the experienced boaters had experienced occasions of being given clothing that didn’t fit properly and we discussed how this made the introduction to boating harder.
If you are going on a course why not ask what brand of clothing they use and then look up in advance what size will fit you best? So many ladies had gone boating with ill-fitting waterproofs because they didn’t want to cause a fuss.
If you are taking friends out boating making sure you have suitable clothing for them or give them considered advice on what to bring. As a regular boater you will probably have technical clothing that will keep you warmer for longer – don’t forget your crew! For those instructing, try and find something that fits your clients- don’t embarrass them by handing out something that is going to be unsuitable. If unsure why not present a selection from them to choose from. (Current situation may prevent that from happening for a while but you get the idea!)
Not sure we really came to an answer for this. Those who have been on the water a while all seemed to have had disappointments with gloves. However, one solid recommendation was made. The biggest issue seemed to be the inability to put gloves back on once removed. This is usually due to the liners in many gloves. This led to a recommendation to consider a look at all season ski gloves.
For me the issue with gloves is: not waterproof whatever it said on label, or the liners make it impossible to put them back on, or they are too bulky to operate controls on boat. For local boating where not out too long I have resorted to neoprene gloves. I accept now my hands will get wet whatever so they might as well be warm! Others suggested gardening style gloves for certain tasks. Clearly it depends what you need gloves for, whether to stay warm or protection as to the style you choose but an area for more research! I was hoping someone would have tried the merino wool style gloves as that is my next thought but no feedback from the group.
This was my topic. I was happy to recommend a boot brand but I was in search of deckshoes suggestions.
Boots – for dinghy sailing or SIBs several agreed it was worth looking at diving brands. Often cheaper but so toasty warm. You will want different styles of boots depending on the type of dinghy sailing you do. If you are out on the trapeze on a Dart you may need something quite different to the boots I would use in my lightning. If you are new to sailing, ask around the fleet. Talk to people sailing in a similar role.
Waterproof Sailing Boots – for those sailing on longer passages there was one clear brand winner recommended by all. They are expensive but considered worth the investment by many in the group. For me, I’m usually out for shorter periods of time so I had my own mid price range recommendation. Thermal, good thick sole to take impact from powerboats were necessary for me. Do try on boots as it was clear that the calf size was an issue for many on certain brands. Several ladies preferred the shorted style of boot for comfort. My own tip is with the cheaper brands consider waterproof socks as a mid-layer in winter. These are one of the best investments I have made! Some of the cheaper brands of boots have very thin soles, take little impact and wear out quickly.
I was interested in the recommendations here as so many have too think a sole to take any impact or provide support. The trainer styles were recommended by several although not waterproof. Definitely something for me to look at. Specific brands were mentioned so as soon as lockdown is over I’ll be out looking!
It was a great chat and thanks to all those who participated. Boating can sometimes seem elitist and expensive. It was lovely to be able to share tips and hints to benefit people at all stages of their boating. Also good to see all price points covered. Hopefully, it gave ideas to people on brands to check out and reassured others that we often face similar issues. It was really nice that several people exchanged contact details to continue discussions between themselves on specific points. It is a privilege to see a community forming.