Ali Wood finds this cold weather gear from Sealskinz to be among some of the best dinghy sailing gear on the market…
I was first introduced to Sealskinz when I borrowed some socks for a winter dinghy course.
The Beast from the East had brought freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, and I was doing my RYA Level 3 dinghy course – with plenty of capsizing!
They kept my feet warm throughout the two-day course. So when Sealskinz got in touch recently asking if we’d like to test their new range I didn’t hesitate.
‘Send me the warmest things you’ve got’ I said. They sent me a hat, socks and gloves. This time, I put them to the test whilst doing some safety boat training on a RIB.
Sealskinz waterproof cold weather beanie hat
This cosy Sealskinz waterproof beanie comes in black, grey, navy and yellow. I opted for the small size, and it was fairly snug, but that proved to be a good thing when we went out in 20-knot winds in Christchurch harbour.
The outer layer is acrylic, the mid-layer is a waterproof membrane, and the inner layer polyester.
Because of the three layers, I found it ‘rolled’ a bit as my head moved, and at first I found myself tweaking it quite a bit, but then I soon forgot about it.
Test conditions were trying; a bitter easterly meant all harbour activities were cancelled, but our training went ahead.
We blasted out into the chop, getting thoroughly drenched, practising man-overboards and towing and righting dinghies (which immediately blew back over).
At one point I had to sit in a Topper to keep it stable while it was being towed, with waves hitting me in the face.
My friend, who wore a woolly hat, found she quickly cooled down, and was reluctant to put it back on once wet and soggy.
In contrast, my waterproof beanie stayed secure in strong winds, kept my head dry and warm, and the outer layer dried very quickly.
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Sealskinz waterproof extreme cold water gauntlet gloves
I wasn’t able to these super-warm Sealskinz’s gauntlet gloves at sea during the winter but I did wear them for hiking and cycling on frosty days, and am pleased to say my hands were toasty.
In March I finally got the chance to wear them sailing and motorboating.
My hands actually got very hot. With warmth, however, the trade-off is dexterity so I found myself constantly taking them off to tie knots and handle lines.
Once I did that, and my hands got wet, I found them slightly tricky to get back on; the liner needed some serious finger-wiggling to find its way back to the tips of the fingers.
However, reassuringly, it did go back in, unlike other winter sailing gloves I’ve bought in the past.
For safety boat work and dinghy racing, I’d say these are too chunky, but for cruising when your hands are on the wheel or tiller and constantly exposed to the elements, you couldn’t ask for more.
Sealskinz waterproof cold weather mid length socks
Sealskinz waterproof socks are designed to keep the water out, but I find they’re equally as effective once submerged. The outer layer is mostly Nylon with a bit of elastane for stretch, the middle layer is the waterproof one, and the inner layer includes 35% Merino wool.
These are very thick socks – thicker than hiking socks – so I’d recommend going up a shoe size if you have the luxury of buying new sailing boots too.
For safety boat training, I wore them under wellies, and over a pair of fleecy leggings. My feet stayed warm and dry for almost four hours, but started to feel cold towards the end of the session.
Interestingly, after five minutes in the club house, my feet warmed up quickly, and I was ready to go back out. In wet woollen socks, the cold would have just kept creeping in.
When wet, the benefits were also noticeable. For dinghy sailing and sea swimming I wore them under a pair of neoprene boots, and found my feet stayed warm both in and out of the water.
Whilst £40 is a significant amount to spend on a pair of socks, cold toes can quickly put an end to an otherwise pleasurable sail, so these are definitely a worthwhile investment.
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