The Musto MPX Offshore Race Smock and BR2 Offshore Jacket was recently put to the test at the RNLI Sea Survival Centre, where lifeboat crew are specially trained. The centre is fully equipped with a “purpose-built 25m training pool installed with a wave machine, wind machine, water jets to simulate rain and spray; and even thunder, lightning and black blinds”.
The Sailing Today team covered an in-depth test on 2 of our popular offshore items, covering everything from fabric, feel, garment details to overall performance and how it ranks against the survival test.
See here all the coverage taken directly from May 2014 Issue.
Don’t dismiss the idea of a racestyle smock for cruising. Yes, it’s harder to get in and out of; you can’t unzip to let off steam; but it is super waterproof and warm. With no zip to get in the way, the fabric provides better protection, and the neck can offer a snug inner neoprene seal, as for ankles and wrists. Across all the jackets we tested, this one feature alone promised the driest ride.
With its more racy design, the jacket also had a neoprene skirt at the waist, forming a good seal with large adjustable Velcro straps. Musto also makes a standard offshore and a race offshore version if you decide the smock’s not for you. Musto’s technical 3-layer fabric is based around Gore’s most extreme ‘Pro’ membrane, which is tested with the company’s toughest wet weather simulation. The backing layer is lighter than in the top-of-the range HPX gear, making the jacket easier and more comfortable to wear.
One of the chief design features of the jacket is its exceptionally high collar – running from the corners of the eyes above the ears and up to an adjustable elastic cord at the crown of the head. Because of this, the hood has less work to do, and is quite heavily cut away at the side, providing you with a pillar-box view of the world through around 270°. Protection was excellent. I found the Velcro fastening on the hand-warming pouch quickly allowed water in, so this is clearly aimed more at dry conditions on preventing wind chill to wet hands.
The MPX trousers are light and comfortable. With their high fit, they offer some protection without a jacket, and like the jacket they depend on a mid and base layer for heat. That said, I kept warm enough for the test with bare legs under the oilskins despite jets of cold water. Shoulder straps are Velcro-adjustable and the trousers are elasticated under the arms. Each leg had a single Velcro fastening at the ankle, although this proved fine over seaboots – keeping the water out even in total immersion situations.
Musto now offers two grades of high-spec wet weather suit – BR1 for inshore sailing and BR2 for coastal and channel use. Using a non-branded two-layer fabric, they both offer breathability and waterproofing, coming in at a lower weight and a lower price than the MPX collection. Like the rest of the Musto range, they use non-metallic zips to avoid corrosion.
We tested the BR2 and, after its sturdier MPX cousin, the difference was immediately obvious in the collar area. It has a double storm flap, but fewer adjustments make it harder to achieve a tight seal, and coverage comes lower down the face. The hood tried valiantly, but couldn’t keep out water from the RNLI hoses, simulating horizontal rain. The jacket is mesh-lined however, so you can keep warmer without base layers. Its lighter construction makes it more flexible and comfortable for less demanding use. And it has plenty of useful pockets – six, including two handwarmers and two large cargo pockets.
The trousers come in dark grey only and are higher cut than the MPX version. It’s a tighter squeeze to get in, but once fitted, they are comfortable and allow plenty of movement. Various adjustments allow the straps and waist to be fitted more snugly. Nonetheless, we found them a tad tight on the ankles, where they barely stretched around a boot.
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