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Pick of the Bunch

Pick of the Bunch

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  • These Helly Hansen shoes appear to be very well made indeed …
  • … their ultra-lightweight, rugged construction coupled to the commendable degree of comfort they offer make them very likeable.
  • These latest products from Gill are likewise highly suited to all activities associated with life on the water …
  • This strongly made, high-quality, breathable, waterproof smock … makes a lot of sense …

HMS provides a mini round-up of clothing and kit suited to the powerboat and motor boat owner, with functionality and quality of construction being at the top of the agenda …

We’ve had occasion of late to get our mitts on various items of kit and clothing produced very much with the modern boat owner in mind ‒ the sorts of things no self-respecting guy or gal would be seen wandering the marina walkways without (or so the marketeers would have us believe!) This, then, is a résumé of a few select items from among those trialled that took our fancy ‒ a sort of ‘pick of the bunch’ if you will. So here goes …


Ægir Ocean Smock (www.hellyhansen.com

Helly Hansen are a company that, it appears, never ceases investing in the launch of new items of clothing and footwear. Their clothing range is relentless in its expansion, whether it be technical clothing for offshore use or smart casual wear to be worn ashore.

The new Ægir Ocean Smock proved its worth with Team MAPFRE in the 2017‒18 edition of the Volvo Around the World Ocean Race, keeping the team dry and warm in the treacherous conditions while crossing the Southern Ocean. The smock features an all-new Helly Tech 5-ply fabrication boasting the highest waterproof rating in the company’s 140-plus-year history. Helly Hansen tested five versions of the waterproof, breathable fabrics in order to perfect the construction with the crew’s input as they sailed from port to port.

When staying dry is critical, the Ægir Ocean Smock ensures ongoing comfort thanks largely to its latex high collar neck seal and cuffs, plus its internal Neoprene adjustable waist seal. This aspect of the design is of particular interest to powerboaters, because as you will have likely found, flying spray has the frustrating habit of penetrating the neck and wrist cuffs of even the best of foul-weather clothing. Though this smock can obviously be worn purely as a single item, it can also be complemented by the Ægir Ocean Trouser, which employs the same 5-ply Helly Tech construction and boasts thigh cargo pockets, knee shock-absorbing pads and Cordura reinforcements in the seat and knees.

Depending on the conditions, of course, I personally like the idea that the Ægir Ocean Smock offers a practical and useful option to that of donning an entire drysuit. Standard upper-body foul-weather clothing rarely works in an open-boat situation when spray starts to whip across the deck in fresh conditions. This strongly made, high-quality, breathable, waterproof smock therefore makes a lot of sense, and I personally feel it makes for a very worthy item of clothing, well suited to the powerboater ‒ particularly owners of open craft where clothing and body protection constitute your ‘cabin’. My only gripe is the price tag. Clearly, staying dry in such style comes at a price!

RRP: £600


Tilley Polaris Hat (www.tilley.com)

Head covering is essential too while afloat and can range from a visor helmet or a beany to a broad-rimmed sun hat. Tilley have a history of distinction in their chosen field and are known the world over as being outdoor hatters of renown. The Polaris Hat from Tilley is new for spring/summer 2019 and features 3XDRY Bio PFC-free finishing technology, from Swiss fabric specialistSchoeller, that is based on renewable resources. Mimicking the protective plant cuticle that repels morning dew and heavy rain, it fends off water and dirt so effectively that they literally run off the fabric, while the interior absorbs moisture and wicks it away. As a result, it is incredibly quick to dry as well as offering the wearer UPF50+ sun protection.

Other ingenious features include a hidden sun shield that drops down to protect the neck and shoulders and a nifty little Velcro tab at the back where sunglasses can be stored when not in use. There is also a Tilley deboss moisture wicking sweatband and reflective wind cord and embossed logo tab that can be seen in low-light conditions. Thick foam under the brim stops it from flapping in the wind, and of course, the hat floats! There is also the iconic secret pocket to store valuables. The Polaris Hat is also guaranteed for life, a testimony to its craftsmanship. Indeed, it is a very likeable item of clothing in my view and equally suited to use either afloat or ashore. The Tilley Polaris, then, gets the PBR thumbs up!

RRP: £80


Gill Waterproof Race Team Bags (www.gillmarine.com

Gill’s new Race Team range of waterproof luggage is of interest to a broad spectrum of boating enthusiasts. Particularly for powerboaters, including RIB owners, keeping your kit dry and safe within the protection of a good-quality dry bag is a must. The deck area on an open RIB is obviously very exposed, but many lockers on open boats can often be wet areas too. (The latter is a pet hate of mine, but sadly many boat manufacturers continue to provide on-deck lockers that are neither sealed at their tops or where they meet the deck.) So, in all scenarios, a waterproof kit bag is an essential. Gill’s latest roller-style dry bags and backpack combine style, form and function and utilise Gill’s cutting-edge fabric and product technology, which has been specifically developed for their premium Race line. The Race Team Bag, which is available in both 30-litre and 60-litre sizes, comes in the season colours of tango and blue, as well as a classic graphite design. Developed by sailors specifically for use at sea, these 100% PVC tarpaulin bags boast a number of features suited to those enjoying water sports as well as those undertaking more serious offshore adventures. With a secure fastening and a roll-down closure for a watertight seal, the wide mouth opening ensures ease of access. Four external D-ring attachment points for securing the bag and a non-slip, padded shoulder strap are perfect for any conditions. The 60-litre bag also features reinforced haul handles at both ends and a waterproof ID pocket.

The versatile Race Team Backpack, which also comes in tango and graphite, is a 35-litre-capacity shoulder bag. Features include a large-volume front pocket with water-resistant zipper and a roll-down closure for a guaranteed waterproof seal. Many users will also likely value the bag’s padded and breathable ‘Airmesh’ harness system. As regards this product’s strength, the bag is made from a puncture-resistant waterproof PVC tarpaulin fabric with stitch-free, high-frequency welded seams.

These latest products from Gill are likewise highly suited to all activities associated with life on the water, and in terms of the functionality, design and quality of construction, they score very highly in our view.

RRP: Race Team Bag £50; Backpack £55


Helly Hansen Skagen & Hydromoc Shoes (www.hellyhansen.com

Helly Hansen have been innovators in the sailing world, making professional-grade clothing since 1877. Today the company is a dominant player in the manufacture of marine clothing and equipment. The company’s heritage of innovation now continues with Helly Hansen’s water sports footwear collection. Originally inspired by the needs of the sailing fraternity, PBR trialled the footwear with the sole purpose of determining its suitability for the needs of the powerboat and RIB fraternity.

New for spring 2019, the Hydromoc is a low-profile slip-on shoe suitable for sailing, water sports or an active day near the water. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, the shoes feature an EVA midsole for comfort and structure, and a podular rubber outsole with HellyGrip rubber for secure traction on slick decks, docks and rocks. The upper includes a strap closure and open-mesh fabrics engineered to provide an impressive blend of stability, protection, support and breathability.

The Skagen F-1 Offshore is a best-in-class sailing shoe. Its high-performance sneaker hybrid features an open-mesh construction that enhances breathability and flexibility, while seamless structural overlays protect the feet from deck hardware and rocks/challenging surfaces ashore. The Skagen has a moulded high-grade EVA removable insole with a quick-drying microfibre and a Serdia Clarion antibacterial treatment. The highly flexible and comfortable performance shoe is designed to give the wearer the stability needed on deck with a dual-density EVA medial posting. The outsole, on the other hand, features a multi-zone traction grip and non-marking rubber for boat decks.

These Helly Hansen shoes appear to be very well made indeed. Their styling will no doubt have broad appeal, but without the benefit of having used them in earnest for six months or so, I cannot comment on their durability. That said, their ultra-lightweight, rugged construction coupled to the commendable degree of comfort they offer make them very likeable.

RRP: Skagen £110; Hydromoc £70


In summary, I have no critique to make as such about any of the foregoing products in terms of their quality or design. They are all produced to a very high standard commensurate with the names responsible for their manufacture. Well done all!

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