When it comes to foul weather gear, coastal and around-the-buoys keelboat sailors are sometimes stuck between a rock and hard place. You can go for the full-on offshore outfit, but that’s a little bit like owning a Ferrari just to get to and from the local Walmart. Or you can opt for more dinghy-oriented gear—spray tops and lightweight salopettes—and keep your fingers crossed that you’re not going to get hosing. Enter Gill’s Verso system, no-frills jacket and trousers that bridge the gap between offshore and dinghy gear.
Both are made of Gill Marine‘s trademarked XPLORE+ fabric, which can be machine washed. Yes, like all other foul weather gear on the market today, it’s breathable, but what we immediately noticed is that this stuff feels rugged. Not around-the-world rugged, but something you’d be fine with on a weekend race where the weather suddenly goes south or around the buoys on a blustery fall or spring day. It doesn’t have anywhere near the bulk or stiffness of true offshore gear, nor is it so light that after a long afternoon you’ll be running for a hot shower once you get off the water.
The jacket: no lining, three pockets, a tuck-away high-viz hood and Velcro wrist closures. Basic. But spend a little more time with it, and you’ll discover some cool details. Inside each cuff are inner seals that can be secured snuggly around each wrist with a Velcro tab for a true watertight fit. The back lower hem is extended just over five inches to avoid “ride-up” when sitting. That’s supplemented with an elastic draw string that runs around the bottom of the jacket.
Up top, there’s a comfortable fleece collar liner. When fully zipped, the collar tops out just around chin level, which is about perfect for keeping spray out. With the tuck-away hood, we expected some uncomfortable bulk on the back of the collar, but we hardly knew it was there. Nice surprise. Add in three-way adjustments for hood and collar, and you’re set to stay dry and warm in just about any position on deck. Available in black or light grey. $385.
The trousers continue the basic theme, but with a few variations. Most obvious is the touch-screen pocket, located on the upper right thigh. It’s big enough to hold just about any size phone or GPS and behind it is a pocket large enough for a pair of sailing gloves. A sturdy Velcro-sealed flap keeps contents of both pockets secure. Inside the main pocket is a loop for keys, a knife or anything of similar ilk. We love the attention to detail.
OK, enough with the pocket already. Gill calls these trousers, but a more specific name—salopettes—seems to fit them better. In height, they come up just under the neck, and there are wide, comfortable shoulder straps that can be set in one of two positions, along with Gill’s SuperStretch back panel that not only stretches but allows air to easily pass through—great for one of those days that suddenly heats up, leaving you with no opportunity to doff the foul-weather gear. As you’d expect, knees and seat are heavily reinforced. Inside the waterproof zipper is a large gusset to double down on keeping water out. Available in black only. $385.