Convert Mid-Layer Gear by Gill

Comfortable, lightweight, windproof, water resistant, and easily compactible, Gill's Convert jacket is essential gear for anyone who sails in colder weather. "Gear Up" from our July 25, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

Comfortable, lightweight, windproof, water resistant, and easily compactible, Gill's Convert gear is essential for anyone who sails in colder weather.

Comfortable, lightweight, windproof, water resistant, and easily compactible, Gill's Convert gear is essential for anyone who sails in colder weather.Gill

In mid-May I spent three cold, wet days sailing aboard a raceboat being put through its paces after an extensive refit. It being New England, the water temperature was a bracing 55 degrees, and the air temperature struggled to reach that same dizzying peak of coziness. The first day was the worst, as there was a driving rain, coupled with a windspeed that made the rain sting like BB shots, especially when the boatspeed got up into the high teens. Luckily, I'd recently spent some time on the phone with the head of Gill North America, Dave Pritchard, talking about Gill's line of gear, and had wangled my way into one of their new Convert Windproof jackets. As a result, I was plenty wet and cold on the outside, but inside I was cradled in the tender arms of Thermore synthetic fill and shielded by a high-quality ripstop nylon.Well thought-out features include zipped hand warmer pockets with brushedmesh lining, a zipped chest pocket, an adjustable draw cord for the hem, elasticized cuffs with Velcro adjustments, external tape on the seams for better water repellency, and a longer hem in back, which covers the small of your back when you're hiking hard.The Convert is an essential bit of kit for those who spend parts of their season in cold temperatures and challenging weather. It's comfortable, lightweight, windproof, water resistant, and can be crammed into the tiniest space available in your gear bag. It's a perfect midlayer for full metal jacket conditions, and works just as well as a top when the weather's lightened up a bit.There's only one problem. I didn't know that Gill also offers a salopette, so I didn't ask Dave for one of those to test as well. However, our Boat of the Year staff needs some new gear for Annapolis this fall . . .The Convert jacket is available in sizes from Small to XXL, comes in only one color, black, and will run you $200 (less if you shop aggressively online). The salopette, which also comes in black, features a high back, a low front, articulated knees, stretch areas on the shoulders, and ankles with zip and inner gussets designed to be worn either inside or outside boots. Abrasion-resistant nylon on key wear areas is heat applied directly onto the salopette's nylon shell, so there's less stitching- the bane of water-resistant fabrics. The price for the salopette is $215. www.gillna.com