Key West Trousers by Gill

You'll want to curl up and take a nap inside the hand-warmer pockets integrated into these rugged trousers. "Gear Up" from our September 10, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/

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Courtesy Gill

I recall the blustery afternoon last spring when I first discovered the fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets in my Gill Key West Trousers: it was like my frigid digits had just stumbled into an exclusive ski lodge where logs crackled in the fireplace and cocoa-slurping guests looked up at these shivering newcomers as if to ask, "What are you waiting for? Come on in and get warm!"

Why I had sailed an entire April day before locating the hand-warmer pockets in my new trousers, I do not know. Maybe it has to do with decreased brain activity and the onset of hypothermia. More likely, I just hadn't noticed the pockets because they are so well integrated into the trousers, the plain styling of which conceals several thoughtful features.

Gill designed these trousers to coordinate with its Key West Jacket; together the two garments form a versatile foul weather outfit for coastal racing. The trousers' spacious fit makes them great for layering, and the fully adjustable, elastic/Velcro shoulder straps accommodate a broad size range. I wore the trousers beneath a vest on cool, dry days, and slipped them over shorts and shoes in the summer. Because they lack the upper body coverage of full-on salopettes, I wouldn't recommend these or any trousers for standalone use in wet conditions--despite what your local lobsterman might tell you.

Compared to Slam's RC Long Johns, which are made of a lightweight material with Cordura reinforcement in the knees and seat, the Key West Trousers feel significantly more rugged throughout. The added heft of Gill's 3-dot fabric provides a degree of protection against the cleats, toe rails, and nonskid that can make the deck of a sailboat an unpleasant surface on which to crawl. A soft lining adds insulation, taped seams prevent leaks, and adjustable ankle cuffs keep water out of your boots.

My favorite aspect of the Key West Trousers is their simple look. Just your basic gray sailing trousers. No extraneous pockets or brightly colored panels. Nothing that screams out, "I wear these to go yachting!" Which is precisely why you'll want to wear these to go yachting.