Ali Wood tests the Typhoon Amrok 50N buoyancy aid and Caliso3 Eco long john and top...

Unless you’ve got knee pads, full wetsuits are better than shorts for dinghy sailing, but the long arms can be too hot for summer.

A neat solution is the 3mm Caliso3 Eco Long John with an optional long-sleeved top that bumps up thickness/warmth in the torso when it’s needed, or can be stowed in a drybag when not.

Another benefit of buying a top and long john separately is that if you’re top- or bottom-heavy, you don’t have to get the same size in both.

Launched by Typhoon earlier this year, the Caliso3 Eco set is made from limestone-based neoprene, which has a lower carbon footprint than traditional petroleum-based wetsuit ingredients, with higher thermal and stretch properties.

For safety boating (where I’m wading in the harbour and jumping in kids’ boats) my bottom half gets wet but I hate wearing shorts or oilies.

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This super-stretchy, soft sailing wetsuit is perfect. It’s got a reinforced bum and knees, is surprisingly soft on the inside and lightweight. It dries in a few hours on the washing line, ready to go again the next day.

The Caliso3 is designed specifically for dinghy sailors, and the top really comes into play while sailing, when you’re exposed to wind chill, spray and (if you’re me) frequent capsizing.

The only thing that concerned me about this set was no zips. I was going to have to yank it on and peel off. The long john was no problem, but I must admit I baulked at the idea of removing the wetsuit top after a tough sail when my biceps and shoulders were aching.


Caliso3 Eco long john and top worn together

I chose the size 12 – my usual dress size – and hoped for the best, especially since I once had to call my husband home from work to free me from a mail-order wetsuit! It was gusting 20+ knots when I tried out the long john and top on a club Laser Pico.

Battling to keep on the plane, I was grateful for the flexibility and movement the wetsuit offered then – and when I toppled out backwards and my boat kept sailing… the warmth!

I finally caught up with my boat, beached it, put two reefs in and carried on sailing, stretching the wetsuit every which way it could go. After the three-hour session, I kept the full suit on while de-rigging the boat and cycling home.


Women’s top and men’s long john

Thoroughly exhausted, it was time to take it off, and yes, while not so easy as a zip-back suit, I did manage without a panicky call to my husband. For me, a great wetsuit is one that gives you warmth and flexibility in wet, dry, warm and cold conditions.

Over the three months I’ve worn it, the Caliso3 Eco suit has ticked three of the four boxes, and now I’m looking forward to trying it in winter.

Prices: Caliso3 Eco Long John youth sizes YM-YXL (£150), women’s 8-16 (£200) and men’s S-XXL (£200). The Eco Top comes in the same range of sizes, RRP £100 for youth and £150 for adults



About to sail a Hartley in my Typhoon Amrok buoyancy aid

Typhoon Amrok 50N Buoyancy Aid: Tested

I learned the hard way that a buoyancy aid without thigh straps is useless. It bobs right over your head and impedes swimming… no good if you’ve lost your paddle at sea and you’re trying to get back on board a SUP!

Determined to get a better one, I ordered Typhoon’s Amrok 50N model, which has thigh straps and a pocket at the front. The sizing instructions suggested I needed a M/L, though I would say a S/M is better over a wetsuit.


Amrok 50N buoyancy aid

It’s a smart and comfortable buoyancy aid, both in and out of the water. I like the adjustable shoulder straps, which are protected by fabric, and the front zip and quick-release buckle which gives a secure fit.

The thigh straps keep the buoyancy aid from riding up in the water, but you do have to climb into them, which is not as convenient as having buckles. The only downside is that the pocket is a tad on the small size.

It can hold keys or a pocket safety knife, but not a handheld VHF or mobile phone, and there aren’t any loops you can attach a carabiner to.

Price: £47.50

Buy the Amrok 50N buoyancy aid now on Gael Force Marine

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This feature appeared in the September 2022 edition of Practical Boat Owner. For more articles like this, including DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a magazine subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

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