Nice Gear for a Tough Job
New technologies and modern materials have made the gear you bring to the fishing grounds stronger, lighter and sturdier. From your feet to your seat, there have never been more options for comfort in an uncomfortable situation.
Bogs Footwear, makers of the popular Highliner boot for commercial fishermen, are currently developing a new cushioning system that will soon be available to the commercial fishing market.
The Rebound cushioning system was debuted this past spring in one of Bog's sandal lines, and this fall, it will be available in the active, waterproof leather lifestyle boot line. Right now, there are prototypes of commercial fishing boots with the system being tested in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, with the expectancy that boots with this added new feature will be available in the fall of 2016.
The material is approximately four millimeters in thickness and is a combination of synthetic rubber and natural rubber expanded under heat and pressure for better comfort. It also provides a thermal barrier that prevents cold from coming through from the outsole up to the wearer's feet. "As you press (compress), it pushes back, creating the bounce-back effect," says President Bill Combs. "Because it will not compress over time, the product works for the life of the shoe, even in the coldest conditions. We will be using it in most, if not all, future product for Bogs."
The Fairer Raingear
A new women's line of commercial-grade rain gear by Grundéns USA Ltd. will be on display at this year's Pacific Marine Expo. The new Sedna foul weather gear, first of the new women's line to hit the market, is based on Grundéns' popular Balder products and was re-engineered for women.
"We've heard a lot about how there is no one making products for women to work in," says Eric Tietje, Global Product Director, and a new face at Grundéns who has extensive experience creating functional active apparel for Olympic athletes and backcountry enthusiasts of both genders. "We've taken everything that was on our men's side, be it heavy duty, medium or light, and we created a women's fit, function version of that."
The Sedna Jacket is made from durable, 100 percent waterproof PVC-coated polyester/cotton blend material and features an attached adjustable visor hood with easy-to-use pull cord locks, reinforced neoprene cuffs to prevent water intrusion while rigging or hauling gear, and reflective striping on the shoulders.
The Sedna Bib is also 100 percent waterproof and is made from PVC-coated polyester/cotton blend material which helps protect the wearer from rain, spray, scales, slime and more. The Sedna Bib features heavy-duty suspenders with quick-release clips, sturdy eyelets for attachment of fishing tools and reflective striping on the leg cuffs that help with visibility and safety.
Also on display at PME and new for 2016, will be Grundéns' new Neptune line for commercial fishermen. The waterproof Neptune Anorak Jacket and Neptune Bibs have polyurethane-coated four-way stretch polyester and heavy-duty RF welded seams throughout. The Anorak Jacket has a new Rain Channel quarter-zip front design that keeps wearers dry. The jacket also features a three-piece adjustable hood with brim and hidden push-button cord locks help eliminate water intrusion at common trouble points as well as neoprene cuffs, a snap chest pocket, underarm gussets and an adjustable drop-tail hem.
The Neptune Bib has adjustable suspenders with quick-release clips and "suspender savers" that keep suspender clips in place while accessing base layers as well as a right-side snap cargo pocket, interior chest pocket and hook-and-loop ankle closures to prevent water intrusion. A women's version of Neptune called "Keto" will be displayed at the PME show, as well as other styles from the new line of products.
Grundéns is currently undergoing rebranding development to focus on two major product segments and will be known as Grundéns Professional for work-based garments and Grundéns Outdoor for all manner of outdoor enthusiasts. It's all part of the forward-planning the company is taking, backed by its solid history in providing all-weather apparel to their customers.
The addition of Tietje to oversee product development is sure to bode the company well. President Mike Jackson adds: "Commercial fishermen are all athletes in their own way. And Eric coming to work with us is bringing the ability to fine-tune that, because he's been working with athletes for decades, so bringing those features and some of that functionality to the realm of commercial fishing is really exciting."
Dan Bohren from Englund Marine & Industrial Supply in Astoria, Oregon says business has been steady and quite busy this year for the Oregon pink shrimp fishery as the company saw many net components, blocks and wires sold to shrimp fishermen.
The company provides various items to commercial fishing customers from California to Alaska, including webbing and components for nets, tuna gear, flares, fire extinguishers, Mustad hooks, as well as several top brand name clothing lines and survival suits.
Additionally, Englund's life raft repacking is done by on-site certified life raft technicians. "If a fishermen buys a life raft, it's good for two years, then has to be repacked every year from then on," says Bohren. "We put in new flares, new water, make sure it doesn't leak, take it out of the container and blow it up and then the pack it back in. This has to be done annually for fishermen to stay Coast Guard approved."
Llebroc Industries, located in Fort Worth, Texas, has seen a steady stream of commercial fishing customers this year, reports Greg Carman, Sales & Marketing Manager.
In previous years, the company has built seats for the automotive industry but as of June 1, 2014 became an exclusive 100 percent commercial and pleasure marine seating supplier.
Llebroc designs with comfort and long-lasting durability in mind. Their Series 1 and Series 2 chairs adjust to the way a person sits in the seat and how the seat fits them – a design method called an H point.
The Series 1 and Series 2 Seats come standard with an adjustable footrest as well as adjustable backs, fore and aft adjustment, and adjustable headrest, arms and height adjustments. The Series 2 line has an all-aluminum frame that is designed to have the cushion attached to the frame. This gives the owner the ability to replace the cushion as needed with having to buy a whole new seat.
Carman says customers are getting anywhere from five to seven years' wear from a Series 1 seat and much longer with the Series 2 seats. Llebroc has also upgraded its seating material to increase the life of the seat. "Commercial fishermen are starting to upgrade to a better line more often and are seeing the benefits of doing that over the long run, depending on the vessel and the room."
Shock mitigating pedestals on the seats are also an advantage and have gained in popularity in the past few years. Shock mitigation lessens the effects of bouncing on rough water on the spine. Llebroc added its AquaFlex Shock Mitigation System to its Series 2 line of chairs. The mitigation system is built into the seat bottom, which allows the foam to ride on a webbed suspension instead of a hard piece of plastic or wood, with which most seats are built.
A few years ago, the company found a new material that has made a huge difference to developing its chairs. The 36-ounce Olympic vinyl fabric has continually made the grade on durability. "It's the best vinyl we've used in 35 years of building seats," says Carman.
Guy Cotten USA has seen an increase in West Coast sales of their Ultralite polyurethane boots. The boots come in orange, brown, white (special order), and navy. "We tested them with fishermen and also with some of our dealers and processing plants, and the feedback has been that the boots are very comfortable and lightweight and the grip of the sole is very good," says Patrick Jaquet, General Manager.
Recently, Guy Cotten has added a smock to their Drembib line of breathable, waterproof jacket and bib trousers. The top part is in a waterproof, breathable DRENTECH+ fabric, the lower part and sleeves are in their exclusive rip stop fabric. The smock also has neoprene cuffs and an adjustable hood. In addition, PVC chest waders for those in oyster fisheries have been reintroduced to the US market since feedback from dealers have indicated the China-made product equivalent is not meeting quality standards. Later in 2016, Guy Cotten expects to also have available, a breathable version of the PVC waders.
In 2014, Guy Cotten unveiled its new quarter-zip fleece top and pants which can be used either as base or mid layer. Called the Denali line, the material is a "Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency" fleece with grid structure. The grid construction works like little blocks of fleece. In between the blocks is a jersey material which allows a quick transfer of perspiration toward the outside. According to Jaquet, it's a relatively new technology being used by big sportswear brand names. "That's a product we produce in Massachusetts. It was something that was missing from the market," he says. "The fishermen really like it."