Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hands On: Henri Lloyd 2G Shadow Gear

This year Henri Lloyd is releasing a second generation of their popular Shadow line of gear. Dubbed Shadow 2G, this new generation boasts new styling, an improved fabric and redesigned pocked and cuff closures.

Shadow 2G is available in a jacket, smock, hooded smock, salopettes and shorts. It is available in both carbon and silver. The primary features of the Shadow gear are the same as they have been in the past. It is still designed with an athletic cut and plenty of articulation. The Shadow tops have longer sleeves than normal - it's a great fit for someone like me at 6ft 150lbs who usually ends up with sleeves that are too short on jackets.

The main zippers on both the jacket and salopettes have full Velcro coverings over sturdy plastic YKK zippers. Earlier versions of the zippers on the Shadow gear had issues with durability but that shouldn't be a problem with these. There are new waterproof zippers on all the pockets with silver plastic zipper pulls that look like they're metal at first glance.

My favorite piece in the line is the hooded smock. It's the perfect item for anyone out on the pointy end of the boat. You get the neck seal for protection from those over the top waves but you still have a high collar and a hood when it gets nasty or just rainy. That way you can stay dry when it starts raining on the way back to the dock instead of having water seeping in the neck of your spray top.

The jacket and hooded smock feature the new Optivision hood that Rob wrote about a couple months ago. Worn here by our Stern Scoop model Chris, the hood has clear plastic on both sides to allow a wider range of vision. That bit of increased peripheral vision can help you spot that next shift first or duck a little sooner during that next crash gybe.

The TP2 Alpha fabric the Shadow 2G is made from has been updated as well. It feels a little bit lighter and more flexible. The interior coating has an new faux sailcloth weave look to it as well. TP2 Alpha is a step above the fabric what is used on the entry level spray tops and jackets. It boasts improved durability and breathability while remaining extremely lightweight.

All three tops have double cuffs and the Velcro adjustment for the exterior cuff has been updated. Unfortunately the new cuff is really the main sticking point I have with the jacket. It is made of a molded rubber with the hook side of the Velcro attached to it. I think the rubber is too stiff which makes the tab prone to catching on things and it makes the cuff less flexible for wrist movement.

Henri Lloyd's Shadow 2G gear is mostly cosmetic changes from previous years. The switch to Velcro covered zips has been phased in over the past year or so but it's certainly welcome to see it as the standard on the whole line. The new look is pretty cool I think, but I do find the Velcro cuff adjustments to be a downgrade from the previous fabric tab.

Personally I have a hard time finding sailing gear that is a better fit for me than this Shadow line and I'm glad that hasn't changed. For those who are tall it's difficult to beat the athletic cut of this gear for high activity racing. With an under $300 price point for each piece it's good gear worth spending a bit extra for if you are doing a lot of buoy racing and need gear that's lightweight and easy to move in.


  1. Hi

    I am just over 6' and about 150llbs. Which salopettes did you have as looking at the sizing chart I seem to be between sizes. I hate baggy but don't want anything to short in the leg.



  2. Hi John

    I wear the large size. For me the medium is just a little too short in the legs and in the shoulder to crotch length. The large is a little baggy but overall it is the better choice - for me a bit baggy is better than too short.


  3. I have had two HL spray tops over the years, and on both, the internal waterproof coating has been abraded and delaminated from the exterior nylon shell. Is the new fabric more durable than that of 6-7 yrs ago? I'm leaning toward the Musto MPX line just because these seem to only last a season or two before they leak and start to delaminate.