The Isle of Skye in winter can be a bit wet and windy, and when I say a bit I of course mean a lot. That doesn’t stop me getting outside however, as the good old saying goes “there’s no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing”. Finding the appropriate clothing can be very tricky though. I’ve started to spend a bit more time out on boats while living on Skye, and coupled with our wet and windy climate I suspected a sailing jacket might be a good option. I spent a while shopping round and after a couple of recommendations from friends opted for a Musto BR1 Inshore jacket. Arriving in the middle of winter it was the perfect time to get out and put it through its paces. I've had the jacket for around 18 months now so I've had a good bit of time to road test, and see how it fares.
Design & Fit
The fit of the jacket is a little longer than I’m used to as I usually opt for slightly shorter, ‘active fit’ cuts. This isn’t a bad thing though as it does of course keep you slightly warmer across the back, and the longer cut means the water runs off better avoiding water soaking the tops of your trousers. Overall it is a very comfortable jacket, double storm cuffs ensure a nice fit around the wrists and the high collar with fleece lining is wonderful at keeping the neck and face warm (although after spending a lot of time with the jacket I’m craving the slightly bigger, higher collars seen on their more expensive jackets for better wind protection).
The hood rolls away neatly into a flap on the back of the collar if it isn't needed. It can be fiddly to pull out quickly if it suddenly starts raining, but is easy to adjust once out and pull down over the face. There is no wired brim on the hood, but I've not found this to hinder its ability to shield my face from the worst of the rain when coupled with the high collar.
There are two fleece lined pockets on the outside of the jacket, a nice touch and work well in cold, wet conditions to protect your hands. I did find myself craving a chest pocket(s), on the outside for easy access to accessories (though these are available on some of Musto’s other jackets). There are two interior chest pockets, which in torrential rain is my go-to option for protecting my electrical items like my mobile phone. A really nice touch is the included, and built in, microfibre cloth which shows how much effort and attention to detail has been put into this jacket.
I don't really have many gripes when it comes to the design of the jacket. If I really had to complain the coat hook to hang this jacket up is located on the back underneath the hood. This makes it awkward to hang the jacket up, especially when wet.
As a sailing jacket I expected it to be pretty windproof, and long story short it is, very. On Skye, in winter, we can some pretty high winds and I’ve been out in 80/90mph gusts in this jacket and still been relatively comfortable, well as comfortable as one can be in 85mph winds! BR1 is Musto’s own waterproof rating for its fabric, basically meaning you should stay dry in even torrential, continual downpours… perfect! I’ve pretty much found this to be the case, even in the worst downpours I’ve stayed dry inside the jacket, even when mini waterfalls are cascading off my shoulders (I only happened to have been let down by my shell waterproof trousers at the time as water fell off the jacket and soaked through them). The only downside is it can taken a little while for the jacket to completely dry if it has gotten an absolute soaking, not much of a complaint to be honest. I've kept it treated and re-proofed it every couple of months as recommend by Musto.
I've also taken this jacket round the world, and it has been tested at altitude in the Italian Dolomites, as well as hot and humid central China. In both cases it served me very well - my only quibble being the weight of the jacket. It is a relatively heavy garment, and I noticed this having to carry it up and down steep slopes in both Italy and China with lots of other heavy equipment.
All in all this jacket has taken a bit of a beating on Skye, but has performed incredibly well to keep me warm and dry. I can thoroughly recommend Musto products even if you don’t spend any time on boats, they’re ideal for people who spend a lot of time outdoors in slightly inclement conditions and I’ll certainly be looking at some of their other clothing solutions (waterproof trousers etc.) in the future.
Note: It now looks like there is an updated version of the BR1 Inshore jacket. Mine was purchased at the start of 2016 and so this review is based on the older model. See http://www.musto.com/en_GB/br1-inshore-jacket/SMJK056.html for details of the new jacket (which I can only assume will be better!).