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Spinnaker sailing jacket from Gill


By sea and by land the jacket will stand up to light rain and spray and keeps you from overheating under strain.. The Gill jacket's light, synthetic padding is adequate for a chilly day and would be ideal for a spring or autumn evening with a nip in the air. Waterproofing is provided by a two-layer laminated fabric - not as breathable and waterproof as 3 layer garments, but perfectly adequate here and much lighter and more flexible to wear.

There's a comfy, high collar, a useful internal breast pocket and two zippered outside pockets with soft fabric lining. The waist also has drawstring adjustment. In short word , this is a well-designed jacket that provides good protection when heavier wet sea weather.

Make your Waterproof live up to its name


Malcolm Sutherland of Barbour's shows how to make oiled cotton jackets last for years and years


Had it for years and never touched it!" That's an often heard boast of many an oiled cotton jacket owner.

The condition of the coat usually bears out his comments, indescribably scruffy, but with an intangible air of dignity and experience in every stain.

Thousands of oiled cotton coats have this kind of life, rarely getting the kind of care and attention recommended by the manufacturer. Many of these coats still give satisfactory service, but a few fail, leaving a disgruntled customer, and a distressed manufacturer Believe it or not, most manufacturers of oiled coats really do want their customers to get the best possible service, and the longest life from their products.


The reputation of oiled clothing has been hard won. but there is always competition, and new customers to be persuaded that this is value for money outdoor protection. One of the surprising things about this material is that 80 years of practical experience has shown that contrary to any theoretical analysis, it does mature with age. The jacket that has been well run in, and not found wanting, will probably carry on like that far beyond its wearer's expectations. Equally it is true to say that proper care and attention is probably more essential early in the life of the garment rather than later.


What is the proofing on oiled cotton garments? The base material can in fact be any fabric, from the lowest to the highest grades ot cotton, or even a synthetic fabric. After proofing it is usually impossible to identify the type or quality of base fabric anyway, but in reality the construction and quality of the base material is absolutely vital. The durability of the finished product depends almost entirely on the foundation provided by the base cloth, and its ability to retain the proofing.


Synthetic fibres hold the wax substance poorly, low grade cottons with a loose construction are slightly better, and high quality Egyptian cotton with a very tight weave is ideal Egyptian cotton has longer fibres than any other, which obviously makes the yarn much stronger. Cotton itself has a fibrous construction, containing millions of tiny hooks, which compared with the smooth continuous filament of synthetic fibres, gives it all its natural advantages of "breathing", and retaining the proofing. The plain cotton cloth is subjected to a number of processes, the last of which is the oil proofing. In simple terms, the cloth is quite literally passed through boiling oil, the idea being to get the maximum penetration of oil into the cotton, without finishing up with something looking like an old army gas cape that has been in the platoon stores for the last 10 years.

This process is itself more of an art than a science, and based on years of experience. The oil proofing gives complete waterproofing, and providing this material is cut up and sewn into a jacket with the proper degree of experience, skill and expertise, even the several thousand stitch holes necessary will not detract from the garment's weather protection properties. This is a separate story in itself but it is important to note that the original proofing is applied before the jacket is made i his is one of the reasons why, for example, garments which long suffering wives finally consign to the washing machine, cannot be restored to good health. In these cases re-proofing is purely a surface dressing, which in the total absence of any base proofing will give very little durability or protection. The proofing fulfills two functions. It does keep the water out, but it also does a great deal to improve the durability and abrasion resistance of the jacket.


Although oiled cotton coats have proved themselves able to stand up to the worst conditions, the fact remains that they are made from material and not from chainmait. In the same way that we take our boots for granted and at the end of the day cannot really say with any accuracy what hardships they have been subjected to, our clothing also - quite rightly - takes something of a battering, and we often take for granted the amount of protection it provides. It's reasonable to complain about a coat that is completely destroyed within a very short time, but few people appreciate that the elements which caused its destruction have at least been borne by the jacket, and not inflicted on their own delicate bodies.

The oil proofing can be removed, and the speed with which it is removed will depend on the amount of abrasion the material is subjected to. Few of us are honest enough to admit when a coat has had a beating, or to appreciate that things like rucksack straps or even the constant rubbing between the sleeve and the body do constitute abrasion. This is the bad news. The good news is that the proofing can be replaced very simply and easily. Ideally the maintenance of an oiled cotton jacket should be compared to the need to clean one's shoes regularly, to maintain the condition of the leather, or more appropriately to the way in which the old leather football boots had to be dubbined after every game tc maintain their waterproofing and flexibility. No hard and fast rules can be laid down as to how often proofing should be carried out. Every case is unique and as experienced users will know it is really a matter of learning to love and understand your oiled cotton jacket. The experienced eye will soon detect where the proofing has been rubbed off revealing at first a drier than usual appearance, and in a terminal case the open weave of the base fabric will be easily seen Re-proofing can be carried out either on part of the coat or on the whole garment. Ideally both the garment itself and the re-proofing solution should be used in the warmest possible conditions. In the factory the garment is placed on an electrically heated table, the proofing slightly warmed, and then rubbed well into the garment, using either a soft cloth or a piece of sponge rubber. This process can be carried out quite simply in the home using a warm 100m and a tin of hot water to stand the proofing solution in, or indeed in the garden on a hot summer's day. The correct amount of proofing is best judged by experience, but the beginner should avoid applying an excess Too much proofing and a cold November day will result in a jacket that looks like hardbcard, which cracks every time you move, and leaves a trail of wax like an old English sheepdog with dandruff. The important thing is to make sure that the proofing is rubbed well into the cloth and not just painted on. Newcomers to oiled cotton clothing ask manufacturers a lot of questions about re-proofing, to which the answer is usually a categorical no "Can I wash the jacket before re-proofing?" NO; removal of the base proofing results in a complete loss of piotection whatever else you do afterwards "How can I clear the coat" Only with clean cold water after brushing down to remove surplus sand or dirt which have adhered to the proofing. "Will re-proofing make it look like new?" No.

Oiled cotton coats quickly acquire a well used look, which has indeed come to be the mark of the experienced countryman. If you just want to look good all the time you need something else - but it probably won't keep you dry New users should also beware of contact with corrosive chemicals and solvents Although many people think of these as only coming in blue tinted bottles on the chemists shelves, we are in fact exposed to contact with such chemicals much more frequently than one would expect. Examples of this are agricultural chemicals, the high ammonia content in some animal's sweat, and the large number of cleaning solvents and compounds which are in daily use. All these can, and do, remove the proofing from oiled cotton garments and may lead to circumstances that require more frequent re-proofing than usual.

One other point worth mentioning is that all oiled cotton garments do tend to form semi-permanent creases, especially in the sleeves. The ridges of these creases can be subjected to many times the wear of the rest of the coat - as experience users will know - and regular re-proofing is the best way of smoothing out these creases and giving a much more even wear rate. The fact remains that "had it for years and never touched it" is true of many garments. But put a coal on an active outdoor user and you create a set of unique conditions that apply only to that person, and what he is doing. If you never have to do anything to the coat that is fine, but as with any other product, generally speaking, wnat you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Original quality isn't enough, and intelligent users will make sure that they get the best value for money.

One last point - probably the most important of all - do make sure that you get the right tools for the job in the first place, l.ightweight clothing is great to wear, but it won't stand up to the same sort of battering as heavyweight clothing. If you have got to have a lightweight be prepared to pay a lot more attention to care and maintenance or replace it more often. Oiled cotton clothing is still - in spite of the dozens of miracle materials available - the finest outdoor protection available. It has its drawbacks but at the end of the day it has - quite literally - been tested in the field and not found wanting It is made from natural materials for use in natural conditions. Completely waterproof, windproof, breathable, reasonably quiet and durable. All clothing is a compromise, but oiled cotton clothing meets nearly all the demands of the outdoor man, and with proper selection and after care will go on doing so for an indefinite length of time.

published:"Trout Fisherman" magazine