On a recent gig in California, I had the chance to try out a full set of foul weather gear made by the king of the industry, Grundens. If you don’t recognize this name you’ve probably never seen Deadliest Catch or any of the other commercial fishing reality shows, where it seems like each and every individual who’s ever set foot upon a boat has the words “Eat Fish, Wear Grundens” showing from one or more articles of clothing. Grundens sent over a jacket, bibs, and fleece unders, marketed under the Gage name, which is Grundens’ recreational line. More importantly, the rep on-site had the know-how to show me what to look for in the important details that set great foul weather gear apart from the rain jackets and pants you see in most stores. Here’s what I learned:
1. All zippers need to have a “storm flap” covering them in some way. The best ones Velcro closed. The reason is that it’s impossible to make any zipper 100-percent waterproof, so if the one on your jacket is exposed, sooner or later some water is going to get through.
2. Seams must be welded. To see if they are, flip a jacket or pants inside-out. If you see stitching, fold them back up and leave them in the store. If you see a covering running over all of the seams, it’ll keep the water out.
3. Cuffs for both arms and legs need to adjust, to you can close them off to the elements. Otherwise, water’s going to run down your arms and into your jacket, or splash in from the bottom of your pants.
4. Hoods Also need to cinch down tightly. If they don’t, they could flap back in the breeze and leave your head momentarily exposed.
5. Mesh liners that help the gear breath is important. If you get wet from sweating, you’re still wet.High quality foul weather gear should be thought of as a tool – with the wrong stuff, you won’t be able to get the job done.