January 22, 2010

Fabric Layers and Foul Weather Gear

What do layers mean when we're talking about foul weather gear?

The most basic gear has two layers--the woven textile and then the coating or laminate finish.  This is light-weight and inexpensive to produce, but requires a lining because the coating is on the inside of the fabric and might feel clammy next to your skin.  The lining is not considered a layer.

Three layer fabrics start with the two layers described above, then add a tricot scrim on the inside to protect the coating (or laminate) and for comfort.  Why are three-layers better than the two-layers with a lining?  Linings inhibit breathability, are heavier than scrims, and are more prone to get caught or snagged.

Recently, some manufacturers like Gill have been making their top of the line garments with a four layer fabric.

Four layers have the outer textile layer, then a new layer of hydrophobic coating that enhances moving water vapor out of the fabric increasing breathability, then the waterproof laminate, then the scrim.  Obviously more expensive, but well worth it for high aerobic offshore sailing.

Which is right for you?  As always it depends on your kind of sailing, boating, or fishing.  For casual, inshore, the two layer fabric is fine. Going farther out, getting more physical, get the three layer fabric.  Serious offshore demanding the best--get 4 layer.  As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear, rain gear, and sailing gear, visit www.WhitecapsFoulWeatherGear.com  They offer great prices, FREE SHIPPING, and free merchandise.

We'd like to thank Gill, www.Gillna.com for their knowledge and advice.

January 19, 2010

First Step to Choosing the Right Foul Weather Gear

What goes into choosing the right foul weather gear for sailing, boating, or fishing? Choosing the right fabric and selecting the right design.

Over the last 5 years the greatest advances in foul weather gear for sailors, boaters, and fishermen has been in fabrics.  This is also the greatest source of confusion. That's why we'll address fabrics first, then deal with the differences in design later.

The basic role of fabrics is to provide protection from water and wind.  That's what foul weather gear has been doing since the first oil cloth was made into a jacket and trousers. The other, and just important a role, is to provide breathability--allow the perspiration and moisture your body generates to escape so you don't feel wet under the garment.

In the time of PVC coated fabric, the first step up from oil cloth and the material that many fisherman still wear today, the coating that makes the fabric waterproof would be on the outside. In fact the coating to fabric ratio was probably 20% fabric to 80% coating. That makes for a heavy garment! Today the ratio is reversed. And, the coating, or proofing, is on the inside rather the outside.

Not only that, but you have a choice of having coated fabric or laminated fabric.

Coated, the more traditional method, involves spreading a Polyurethane coating over the woven fabric.  Like a coating over a Dacron sail, the Polyurethane first fills in the the valleys of the weave then builds up to an even layer.

Laminates are the newest development. First the laminate resin is evenly and thinly spread over a non-absorbent paper, finely controlling the thickness. Then the "film" is laminated to the fabric and the paper removed.  The result is a light, softer, more flexible fabric with all the waterproof properties of coated fabric.

So the first step in making a foul weather gear choice is fabric type.  Coated is less advanced, less expensive.  Laminate is the current state of the art, more flexible, softer, lighter, more expensive.

For a complete selection of foul weather gear for sailing, boating, and fishing, visit...


You'll  find great prices, free shipping and free merchandise!

We'd also like to thank Gill,


for invaluable advice.