Isotak, a new range of high tech buoy racing gear that can be converted to have what it takes while sailing offshore.Breaking out of their dinghy-exclusive past, Zhik welcomes the future with
You will make a few sacrifices to get the “all-in-one” jacket. It doesn’t have all of the nice features of an offshore jacket and leaves out some of the good features on a buoy racing jacket. But, it does a pretty good job. Although it is breathable, it does have a heavy feel. I don’t think it would be my first choice for a rainy summer night here in Annapolis.
While Zhik’s Isotak jacket has some nice stretch through the shoulders, I wouldn’t say it has nearly as much as the Musto MPX range, which is well-known for having stretch panels.
Overall, Zhik presents us with a nice jacket that would be great for someone who wants a little more versatility in their gear. Adding elements of an offshore piece with an athletically cut buoy jacket, the Isotak works well in both sailing environments. While it’s impossible to make a jacket that’s the best for buoy racing and offshore racing, it does a good job combining the important elements of both.
With the same durable fabric as the rest of the line, Zhik’s Isotak smock would be the perfect top for those who wear their gear out quickly or spend most of their days on the water. As far as sizing, all felt they wanted the next size up from what they typically wear in Musto. Also, for those with long arms, we have to let you know, the arms aren’t quite as long as Musto in the larger sizes. But for the smaller sizes (and smaller frames,) the arm length was nice.
Like the jacket, the optional hi-visibility hood can be attached to make it more versatile. With a florescent hood and face shield, you can turn your buoy racing smock into a little more of an offshore piece. It would be a nice addition for the nights that get colder, with long hours on the rail. It does have some drawbacks - without clear sides, your peripheral vision is limited.
Durability is the name of the game with large Cordura reinforcements on the seat and from the knees to the ankles. These salopettes aren’t going to wear out quickly. The front zip has full Velcro running down the storm flap that stays in place. I think my favorite part would be the ankle closures. With a large cuff and a long tab, finding the perfect spot for every situation wouldn’t be hard.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the fit on the bottom half, and like other pieces in this line, many needed to go up a size. It seems that the top and bottom don’t match up proportionally. After having a few people try them on without going to a larger size – we determined the top wasn’t long enough.
Although the Cordura reinforcements make the gear last longer, it does create some bulk and would take some getting used to. The seat and knees are both much larger than other pants. This could be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on how hard you’re wearing them and how you like your pants to fit. The pocket, although easy to access seemed to be not thought through. The possibility that you would open your large pocket and things would drop out seems prevalent. Without a separate section in the pocket, I’m not sure I would want anything in there.