Clothing and Gear
Wearing the right gear to keep you warm and dry is non-negotiable, and if you’re at the helm, making sure you’re sitting in the right chair for your body is also important.
“Proper layering is a necessity if you’re to get the best performance you can out of the clothing you’re wearing,” says Mike Jackson, President of Grundéns USA in Poulsbo, Washington.
Jackson, who, like all Grundéns employees, has a commercial fishing background, knows firsthand that fishermen are athletes who work in some of the most demanding conditions, so the company continues to develop new products that can function as light weight and effective under-layers but also function and everyday outer-layers. To that end, Grundéns USA will be releasing its newest line of PVC raingear called Balder at the Pacific Marine Expo, November 20-22 in Seattle, Washington.
“We’ve used a fabric combination that’s both lighter and stronger than traditional heavy-duty PVC rainwear,” says Jackson. The Balder jacket features include a Raglan cut for easier movement, lightweight lined hood, draw cords, and distinctive reflective stripes on the shoulder.
The Balder bib pant has reinforced leg cuffs reflective stripes, and grommets above the hip for the attachment of tools like lobster and crab measuring devices. Additionally, there is no need for the wearer to remove their jacket for those necessary pit stops, as the bibs also have a unique strap that keeps the suspender ends from falling over the back of the wearer when the trousers come down.
Also making an appearance at PME will be Grundéns new Nightwatch Puffy Jacket that can be worn inside or out. On the market since September, the jacket also features zippered hand warmer pockets, a dual adjusting drawcord hem, and can be stuffed into its own left chest pocket for stowage. “Sixty grams of polyester fill is quilted between two layers of light rip-stop nylon to create warmth without weight or bulk,” says Jackson. “Yet the jacket is good-looking and functional enough to be the go-to piece for a quick spin around the deck to check that everything is tied down or a quick trip to town for supplies or provisions.”
Also recommended are other combinations of Grundéns gear for superior comfort on the job. Storm Runner ultralight raingear with ultralight protection from weather for the upper body and made from 2.0 layer nylon rip-stop shell with a waterproof/breathable barrier, can be paired with the Herkules bibs that have a special PVC coating that resists oils and maintains flexibility in extreme cold temperatures, or Balder bibs, which also stay flexible in the cold and provide superior mechanical ventilation to avoid overheating during strenuous work.
Additionally, Grundéns’ popular light weight Weather Watch bibs, made from heavy-duty 420 denier nylon, like the Herkules and Balder bibs, are abrasion-resistant, durable and a very comfortable fit. Worn by fishermen from the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the Grand Banks, they’re now also being used by east coast scallop fishermen.
“Cold and wet drains strength from hearty fishermen faster than anything,” says Jackson. “Our jackets, pants and bibs keep them dry and warm without extra weight or bulk. It’s a winning combination.”
Guy Cotten, Inc., known for its excellence in breathable foul weather gear, captured the prize for innovations at the Seawork Show in England this past June for its new line being launched this fall.
The new Drempro jacket and Drembib trousers were developed over a period of three years, and are the result of binding two materials that are not normally compatible; their Dremtech+, a high-tech breathable and waterproof fabric engineered for intensive use in offshore conditions, and the Nylpeche, an exclusive PVC-coated material that is the most hard-wearing waterproof fabric in the marine industry. According to Patrick Jaquet General Manager, the new line offers higher levels of comfort, breathability and durability in personal protection gear.
Bogs Footwear, located in Portland, released its Highliner boot six months ago. President Bill Combs reports the feedback from the commercial fishing industry has confirmed that the comfort level and wearability of the boot is very good. “And that’s great news,” he says, “because outside of dairymen, they’re the toughest on boots.”
The Highliner boot is both chemical- and slip-resistant. A new feature is its dual-density, contoured EVA insole with DuraFresh anti-odor protection. It’s a micro-based odor reduction system that uses the wearer’s sweat as a food source and breaks it down into carbon dioxide and water, which eliminates the food source for odor-causing bacteria. The material was developed in Canada for the carpet industry and, according to Combs, Bogs is the first to use it for footwear. “It’s really unique,” says Combs. “The more you wear your boots, the more microbes are produced so the better the odor protection works.”
Bogs has also recently introduced a new boot developed for the food processing industry. The Bogs Food Pro High and Food Pro High Extreme (insulated version) boots feature the new Bogs Bio Grip outsole for an unprecedented combination of slip and chemical resistance. The outsole is also self-cleaning for additional traction in debris-laden surfaces. The boot’s soft and flexible rubber upper can be rolled down in warm conditions and a rigid, wide steel shank offers extra support, plus it meets all ASTM slip and chemical resistance standards. The boot is 100 percent waterproof, has 2mm EverDry with Bogs Max-Wick™ to keep feet dry (dries completely overnight), and is comfort rated from temperate to 14F.
“Highliner and Food Pro solve the two biggest issues in commercial fishing and food processing,” add Combs. “Slip resistance on wet, slimy surfaces and the ability to stand up against harsh cleaners and petroleum products.”
The XTRATUF Legacy boot continues to be a popular seller for the company. “We’re all about slip resistance and delivering performance boots in any kind of weather that keep wearers safe, protected and warm,” says Sean O’Brien, Global Director, Retail Footwear.
Slip resistance is taken care of by the signature Chevron style outsole which allows any fluids, ice or debris to flow naturally out of the lugs in the outsole in order to enhance the grip.
The XTRATUF neoprene Legacy boot is offered in three different height styles that are completely watertight, have built-in cushion insoles with arch support, and they protect against a variety of abrasive contaminants. The 15-inch knee-length boot is the most popular because it not only protects knees but it can be rolled down.
In addition to the Legacy boot for adults, the company has recently seen growing popularity with the Legacy kids’ boots, even outside Alaska. The kids’ boots are perfect to pull on and off quickly and they keep feet warm and dry in any weather conditions.
No matter what boot fishermen choose to wear, they are guaranteed top-of-the-line comfort and durability. “People are so loyal to this product,” says O’Brien. “Our goal is to help people stay on their feet and work longer hours because with most of these fishermen, the longer they can stay on their feet and work, the more money they’re going to make.”
Sometimes sitting down is the way to make money. When it comes to helm chairs, sitting down can also go a long way to help the body deal with long hours at work.
“The old fishermen believed you needed to stand up all the time and didn’t need a seat or you’d fall asleep,” says Greg Carman, Sales & Marketing Manager at Llebroc Industries in Fort Worth, Texas. “But you actually don’t get as fatigued as fast if you’re sitting down. When you stand up too long, your knees, hips and back take a pounding, which can shorten your career.”
For more than three decades, Llebroc built seats for major players in the automotive industry, but they switched to concentrate more on the marine industry when the economic downturn occurred in 2008. “We’ve always designed our seats around comfort and H points,” explains Carman. “H points are the way you sit in the seat and how the seat fits you.”
Llebroc offers four different major product lines of marine seats, including a wide variety of All Weather, Billfish Series 1 chairs that include Bandera, Aspen and Sierra products, Series 2 chairs that also include Tradewinds, Omega, Nautilus options, plus several Shock Mitigation seats. Carman says their Series 2 line is the most popular.
“It’s becoming more popular because it features a solid all-aluminum frame, and the cushions are modular,” he says. “You can order an arm and it takes just three screws to remove it and re-attach a new one. If the seat cushion gets ripped, you can order just the back or bottom, which has just four screws to attach it to the frame. The frame is good for life.” Llebroc has added its AquaFlex Shock Mitigation System into the seat bottom, allowing the foam to ride on a webbed suspension instead of a hard piece of plastic or wood, with which most seats are built. This webbing enables a person to sit in the seat rather than on it.
Series 1 and Series 2 seats also come standard with an adjustable footrest as well as adjustable backs, fore and aft adjustment, and adjustable headrest, arms and height adjustments.
Carman says seats with shock mitigation are new on the market. “It’s a shock absorbent system that virtually eliminates the jarring shock of going over rough water from reverberating up your spine,” he says. “The military has tested this feature and it has worked so well that they’re seeing fewer personnel injuries and long-term disability claims.” As far as material goes, Carman says nylon fabrics have great durability but the company has just discovered a new 36-ounce vinyl that is proving to be far more durable.
The Wyzenbeek Test, which is used to measure a fabric’s resistance to abrasion by the action of a small machine on a wheel, creates a “double rub” with one up and one down stroke, which will eventually wear the fabric down. “The Ultra Leather we put on the Series 2 seat and the Mordura Fabric will pass 500,000 double rubs. Incredibly, the new Olympic vinyl we’re going to start using will do a million double rubs.”
Helm Chair offers a two-year warranty on Series 1 chairs, three-year warranty across the board on the Series 2 line, and will take care of any manufacturing defect that may occur on any of their products.
“Comfort and durability are what fishermen are looking for,” says Carman. “I can say with confidence that we offer some of the most durable and comfortable seats in the industry.”