Chances are we’ve all heard the term hydrophobe or hydrophobic tossed around when shopping for sailing clothing but seriously what does it mean? Or maybe the better question is what does it do? It’s time this got broken down to help justify the price tag.
The Oxford Dictionary defines hydrophobic as “tending to repel or fail to mix with water.”  Incorporating these hydrophobic properties into a fabric allows a garment to work like your skin, it allows water to pass through (like when you sweat) and like when you spill water on your skin it doesn't absorb much. So it makes sense that hydrophobic sailing gear repels and wicks away water while simultaneously working to keep you warm with a layer of micro fleece on the inside. The internal fleece helps keep your core warm during those long days on the water, racing or practicing. The benefit of having hydrophobic gear are twofold: it will not retain water and therefore get heavy; making those long wet days on the water a bit more enjoyable. So if you fall in, you'll get wet and you'll still feel the splash, but it just won't cling to you for as long, in comparison to say a cotton shirt or lycra/spandex top.
There are many options when figuring out how to wear hydrophobic gear. You can wear it by itself or under foul weather gear. Most commonly it is used as a base layer for dinghy sailors who want and/or need a warm base layer that will not absorb water. It fits easily under a splash top and life jacket without restricting movement or adding bulk. With this said, big boat sailors can easily wear it under their “foulies” as well as their base layer. Additionally, hydrophobic gear is great for paddlers and anglers who are on the water for earlier season paddling and/or fishing. Hydrophobic pants have become quite popular and can easily be worn underneath bib pants or shorts without adding bulk!
Most hydrophobic sailing gear comes in the form of a long sleeve top and leggings. They do not have to be worn together but chances are you’ll want both, especially for those colder days early in the season. The bonus of the pants is that you can tuck them into your booties to help keep the pants from riding up and to keep your ankles warm.
For sizing, you’ll want it to be snug but not so tight that it limits your mobility or you’re unable to fit a rash guard underneath. You can wear a regular rash guard underneath to add an additional layer for those super cold days.
Kirsten's Choice: "They're great for crew/skiff people. It keep your legs much warmer than lycra so if you're out on the wire it's just that little bit more warmth that can extend your season. It's the base layer to your May/October but it's your main layer in June/September or during those brutally cold regatta days."
Available in men’s, women’s and youth sizing.
Have any questions or would like for info on what hydrophobic pieces would be right for you? Contact us at 416-251-0384, email us at Contact Us or stop on by! Any Fogh Marine employee would be happy to assist you!
 Oxford University Press. 7 October 2014. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/hydrophobic