Post Race Kit Review – Waterproofs

Thought it might be useful to provide some feedback on what kit I took with me on the 4 legs of the Clipper Race I completed; i.e. what worked and didn’t and how much to take. So let’s start with waterproofs.

I have to point out that these are my personal observations!

I actually took 3 sets of waterproofs (foulies) with me. Seems a bit excessive? On reflection I don’t think this was the case as I used all 3 sets depending on the conditions. Most of the crew had more than one set of waterproofs, especially those doing more than one leg. So how did each perform?

The Official Foulies

Phoenix Leg Seal

Phoenix Leg Seal

These were the official HL one’s issued as part of your Clipper kit. My personal view is that they were not up to the job for the following reasons:

    • The seals (neck, wrist, leg) didn’t really seal; particularly the leg seal. Most salopettes have a rubber seal at the bottom of the leg with a velco strap around this to pull the seal tight. On this version HL, for whatever reason, have not incorporated the rubber seal. This means that any decent wave can find it’s way up the inside of your leg and then down the inside of your boot. On the lightweight set (Phoenix – see photo) this seal is on the leg, why it is not on the full Ocean salopettes is beyond me.
    • Anti wear patches. Both the smock and the salopettes have anti-wear patches. Again these did not seem to be up to the job and wore very quickly. A couple of crew mates had gone through the knees of these within a couple of legs! The anti wear patches on the Phoenix seem to be of a different material and are far harder wearing showing no sign of wear after a couple of legs. Ok the deck on the Clipper 70 is particularly abrasive, but there was a marked difference in how the anti-wear patches across the models wore. Note: It was also apparent that some people had got re-badged 11-12 foulies – the anti-wear patches on these seemed to be of a far harder wearing material akin to that on the Phoenix set I had.
    • Although I didn’t have this problem other crew mates complained that the foulies were actually leaking, particularly the salopettes.
    • Smock – not everybody loved the smock version of the top. My personal opinion is that although they can be a struggle to get on and off they tend to be more waterproof and warmer than the jacket version as there are less seals for water and wind to get through.
    • They are hot on the warmer legs – uncomfortably so.

Lightweight Foulies – HL Phoenix

I purchased these for the warmer legs, for me predominantly leg 1. I can’t rate them highly enough to be honest. All the faults I’ve identified on the heavy foulies are not present on these, with the exception of the neck seal. A point to note is that due to their lightweight nature the fit is a lot tighter so don’t expect to be able to get your Nero mid layers on under these unless you buy a larger size; but then you’ll have an issue with the length of the legs and arms. Everyone I knew who had a set of these could not rate them highly enough!

For the warmer legs these are the way to go. I also noticed that Matt, our skipper, was using these as a mid layer for the Official set on the colder and wetter legs; up to the point he got his drysuit!

Note: Unfortunately I think HL have now discontinued these! Not sure what the replacement product is but do some research on lightweight foulies. On Leg 1 my official foulies never came out of the bag.

HL Drysuit - Yellow Crocs Optional

HL Drysuit – Yellow Crocs Optional

HL Ocean Drysuit

I can sum these up very easily – they are the Dogs DoDahs!!

If you want to guarantee staying dry on the colder wetter legs then this is the way to go!! They never let me down. There were a variety of dry suits in use on the boat, some had opted for Dinghy versions that they wore under their Official foulies. The downside of this that I could see was they ended up being restricted in movement due to looking like Michelin Man! It’s a question of how much you want to spend. Personally I spent a bit more to get the built in hood, the heavier material, the super hard wearing anti-wear patches and the fleece lined pockets (these were a god send). The built in waterproof booties also meant that it didn’t matter one little bit if you got a boot full of water, particularly if you back it up with Sealskinz socks like I did!

However all those that had a drysuit in some form were more than happy when it got really wet!! If you are doing one of the wetter legs, South Atlantic, Southern Ocean, South China Sea, Pacific then I would seriously recommend you give these some thought! There is nothing more miserable than having to put wet kit on at the start of the shift. Make sure you buy a size large enough to get all your base and mid layers on though.

Basically Dry Crew = Happy Crew = More Efficient Crew!

Note: My set is now up for sale if you’re interested!! Just drop me a mail via the contact page.

Waterproof Shorts

I took with me a set of waterproof shorts. They did have some advantages; like when you’re sat on the deck and get splashed by a wave, then your arse doesn’t get wet. They also have built in padding which is great since you will be spending a lot of time sat on your backside! However, on the whole I wouldn’t bother with these again other than for the padding. Generally I wore these over my base layers and under my waterproofs to make use of the padding, not for the waterproof abilities.

So doing some research and finding some shorts that have arse padding may be an hour worth spending.

Summing Up

  • Don’t rely on the official waterproofs, you may be caught out!
  • Consider getting a lightweight set for the warmer legs or even go under the heavy weight set.
  • If you’re doing one of the colder wetter legs than really really consider a drysuit in some form.

I haven’t included waterproof socks or gloves (no such thing) in my review on waterproofs. I’ll include a review of these when I talk about boots.

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One Comment to "Post Race Kit Review – Waterproofs"

  1. Peter Wilcock says:

    Great stuff thank you Neil. Really pleasd to see the photo of you in your HL dry suit. You look just like me in mine so perhaps it isn’t too large after all! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and look forward to the next instalment. Peter.

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My Clipper 13-14 Adventure