Let’s face it: The vast majority of your time spent on the water is during relatively easy weather windows. Spring, summer, and fall — months when the winds are fairly warm and the rains are fairly tame. Obviously, if you’re a Volvo Ocean racer or a diehard frostbiter, this review doesn’t apply to you, but for everybody else, why pack a full-on foul-weather-gear jacket if all it’s going to do for you is restrict your movement and make you sweat? Sound familiar? End the suffering with an Atlantis Weather Gear Grand Prix jacket. I’ve had mine (both of them) for three seasons now, and it’s my go-to softshell jacket for sailing…and hiking, and skiing, and well, you get my drift.
The Grand Prix Jacket is simple. Three pockets (two generous-sized, zippered, hand-warmer pockets, plus a zippered breast pocket that’s ideal for stashing race instructions, a scratch sheet, or a snack. The jacket is built from a proprietary “Rampage” 12.2-ounce softshell material that breathes easily, is super stretchy, and will not impede your onboard movements. All zippers are weatherproof (with pull garages), and the seams are all taped. The jacket is cut a bit longer in the back to protect your bottom from wet seating option (read: the rail), and the whole garment features an athletic, articulated cut.
While the Rampage fabric isn’t as weatherproof as Gore-Tex, Atlantis claims that it is both wind proof (it is) and has a waterproof membrane. While I have managed to get a touch wet on a few occasions, this has happened in the absolute worst downpours or doing bow when the boat punches through a wave. Truth be told, my Grand Prix jacket keeps me far drier than some of the “foul-weather gear” that was available as recently as 25 years ago. The material’s outside is horizontal-stretch woven ripstop polyester with a brushed polyester microfleece backing; the jacket comes with a Durable Water Repellant finish to help ward off precipitation. I have used my Grand Prix jackets in some pretty harsh environments, sitting on some pretty abrasive decks, and they are no worse for the wear.
Perhaps my favorite two features on the jacket are it’s lack of a hood and its double-down wrist cuffs. The hoodless trim is fantastic as it allows the jacket to double as a midlayer, should things get really nasty. Also, having no hood also gives the wind one less thing to clutch onto in a strong blow. The wrists feature a unique double-cuff system that keeps your forearms dry without requiring annoying Velcro flaps or bungy cord pulls.
The jackets look stylish both on and off the water. Best yet, they can easily double as gear for skiing, hiking, or easy mountaineering, allowing you to use this kit year round, and not just when the boats are in the water.
$200. Atlantis Weather Gear; 877.333.SAIL.