Following up on our recent post about the visit from Gill, I wanted to highlight an item that drew the most attention from the crew here at APS: The KB1 Racer series.
This new well priced line consists of a Smock, Jacket and Salopettes.
Gill categorizes their apparel in to a “Dot System”. They use these grades of 1 through 5 dots to explain the uses of their gear. 1 Dot is a light onshore or midlayer, it provides a waterproof layer with moderate breathability, 5 Dot is an Ultra high performance three layer, fully waterproof, with ultra breathability.
Gill labels the KB1 gear is a 4 Dot level. Best for offshore and ocean use for multiple days, with high breathability, and three layer hydrophobic fabric. What that means is ‘versatility’. For many of us the types of boats and events we sail on and in vary greatly. Some weekends could be spent out on a Lightning taking spray and zipping around the cans, another week you could find yourself on a J/35 sitting in a wash coming over the bow. Having gear that will stand up the elements but also allow the dynamic movement needed for athletic boats is vital for comfort and results.
These are some of the features that piqued the interest of our staff:
The material is the first thing that many notice about the KB1 series. It is softer than traditional 3-layer shell material, and is more supple. Gill engineered their own material in house to allow the freedom of movement they wanted to provide. Both of the tops and the Salopettes are made of this 3-layer breathable material.
Placement of the stretch panel on the Salopettes is also unlike any other pant. They placed the elastic material on the back of the pant to allow optimum flexibility the legs to stay in place when bending and crouching. After trying it on and bending into as many positions I thought possible, I feel like it works as well as having elastic shoulder straps. The real benefit I found is when in a standing position the top area fits much closer and does not hang or sway in a way that elastic shoulders sometimes do.
The protective areas are much more pliable and have a greater freedom of motion to them than many traditional non-scuff materials. These wear pads are ample and provide coverage to protect the seat, knees, and shins. The memory of feeling the water seep in a hole I burnt with the non-skid at the beginning of an overnight race trained me always check out the wear pad areas first.
Another feature that you might be seeing more of is the hidden cuff adjuster. For the KB1 Gill moved the extra material of the cuff adjuster strap inside of the jacket sleeve and pant cuff rather than have it on the outside. It gives the jacket a more trimmed down and sleek look though I cannot remember the last time I had my cuff adjustor caught on anything.
The Smock has some extra features that they left off the Jacket. The neck of the pull over Smock has a spray top style PU seal to keep water from going down down your back and chest. At the bottom of the smock there is an adjustable waist that can be sealed off as well.
Overall the feature that I find most appealing about the KB1 range is the versatility for the price. You can wear these in nearly every type of sailing. They have great range of motion and are lightweight enough for buoy racing, but provide a strong layer of protection that can handle offshore weather and seas. I would recommend these for sailors that spend a lot of time on keel boats that also do coastal and offshore racing.