Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket review: amazing waterproof jacket for boating

I stress-tested this jacket on a violently pitching sea during a storm, and it kept me bone dry

T3 Platinum Award
Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket review
(Image credit: Ed Smith)
T3 Verdict

Superbly featured, brilliantly designed, and expertly constructed from the most advanced materials available, decades of hard-earned sailing and outdoor experience in the most challenging conditions have been poured into the Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket. And it shows. This is the best jacket for sailing and boating out there.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Extremely protective 2-layer construction

  • +

    Brushed fabric chin/face guard with Velcro attachments

  • +

    Tuck-away hood

  • +

    High-vis elements

  • +

    Multiple pockets

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Heavy and bulky (by design)

  • -

    No inside pockets

  • -

    Over-specced for general use

  • -

    Quite pricey

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One hundred and forty years of expertise, experience and product evolution have led to the development of highly protective garments developed and designed for people who spend time in the tall mountains and high seas, such as the two-layered Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing coat, which is most certainly one of the best waterproof jackets out there for wearing while sailing and boating.

But while it’s all very well reading about such things, you can only get a full appreciation of how good such technical kit is by taking it out amongst the kind of conditions it was designed to perform in. Lucky, then, that on the day I found myself testing the Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket, I ended up in the eye of a storm out on the open sea, way out of my depth on the wildly rocking deck of a Figaro racing yacht.

(First reviewed May 2023)

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket review: price and availability

The Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket is available to buy now directly from Helly Hansen UK, Helly Hansen US and Helly Hansen AU for a recommended retail price of £350/$375/AU$650. It comes in four colours: Azid Lime, Cloudberry, Alert Red and Navy. 

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket review: specifications

  • Sizes: S­–2XL
  • Weight: 1320g
  • Materials: 100% recycled mesh lining, majority-recycled polyamide/polyester shell
  • Waterproof rating: High (10000 to < 20000mm HH)
  • Breathability range: High (10000 to < 20000 g/sq.m/day)
  • Colours: Azid lime / Cloudberry / Alert Red / Navy

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing Jacket

(Image credit: Ed Smith)

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket: construction and features

This two-layer jacket has an inner lining made from 100% recycled mesh, which is soft and comfortable if worn next to skin (although typically you will have a base and mid-layer on beneath the Skagen) and assists massively with the breathability of the garment.

There are no genuine inside pockets on the Skagen, probably for the very good reason that, when you have it on, the conditions are usually such that you won’t want to open it for fear of letting rain and seawater in past all those brilliant defences, but there is a chest pocket that sits outside the main zip, but inside the Velcro-shutting AquaGuard flap.

But it’s the outer layer where all the real magic happens. Made with Helly Tech Performance material, which is highly waterproof (10,000+ HH), completely windproof and very breathable (10000+ g/sq.m/day), the Skagen’s outer shell provides excellent protection from everything the elements can and will throw at you when you’re out to sea.

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket

(Image credit: Ed Smith)

The heavy-duty YKK AquaGuard main zip, sealed seams and double overlapping front flap, secured with Velcro, ensure water is kept at bay. The cuffs have a fully adjustable but double-secure sealing system, with high-vis elements. The storm hood (also made entirely with high-vis material) can be tucked away completely behind the neck, but when it’s out and in place, it provides comprehensive protection for the head and the majority of the face, with a pull-across, soft-backed chin protector.

The lower hem can be drawn in tight around the hips and waist, so worn with the Helly Hansen Foil Sailing Pants, you have a totally waterproof soft suit of armour to keep you dry and warm in even the worst conditions. A high collar and low-reaching back panel complete the comprehensive coverage area.

The Skagen has two big deep lower side pockets, cleverly accessible from both the top and the side, as well as a pair of angled breast pockets with fully waterproof zips and a soft, thermal lining to keep your hands warm if required. On each shoulder there is a super reflective patch.

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket: on the water

The maiden voyage for my Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket was during a baptism-of-fire, hands-on winter sailing trip on a Figaro Bénéteau 3 racing yacht with professional sailors Joan Mulloy and Piers Copham. The boat was a thing of beauty, and since we were supposed to be cruising along the coast of South Wales - alongside the Gower Peninsula, with the Mumbles and the Brecon Beacons shaping the skyline - the scenario should have been idyllic. Instead, however, a storm is gusting up to 32 knots, sideways rain is hitting us full in the face, and the boat is bucking up and down so violently on mountainous waves that the bow is sometimes submerged.

Basically, you couldn’t conjure more perfect conditions for genuinely stress testing this kit. Even getting on to the yacht was a hair-raising adventure that should, by rights, have soaked us to the skin. From Swansea Harbour, we were brought out to the sailing vessel on a RIB driven by a super-skilful pilot, who somehow managed to stay one step ahead of the waves that furiously chased us around a confused sea for 40 minutes, until the mast of the yacht loomed. The transfer from the small boat to the larger, sleeker one was achieved via a nerve-jangling leap of faith, but somehow no one ended up in the brine.

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket

(Image credit: Ed Smith)

Once onboard the Figaro, I spent six hours learning the ropes while getting lashed by relentless rain, drenched by sea spray and pushed around by the agitated wind. And I loved it. It was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had, but I was only able to enjoy it because, beneath my Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket, I was bone dry. And therefore, I never felt cold or uncomfortable once.

The elements did their absolute best to get at me, but both the jacket and the pants were a match for them. With the storm hood up and the chin guard pulled across, even my face was spared from the force of the deluge. And my phone, tucked inside one of the waterproof pockets, stayed safe and dry too. Besides the amount of water sloshing around in the air, the temperatures were in low single figures too, but the thermal protection offered by the two-layer Skagen jacket kept me more than warm.

Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore Sailing jacket: final verdict

If you’re sailing or doing any sort of boating or coast-based activity during the months of the year when conditions can be seriously challenging – which, in Britain, can be quite a chunk of the calendar – the Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore jacket is one of the most technically capable, impressively protective and well-featured jackets you will ever find. It keeps you dry, it keeps you warm, and it allows you to stay active in even the worst of weather, and there are myriad safety features in case something does go wrong.

Pat Kinsella
Freelance outdoor writer

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat Kinsella has been writing about outdoor pursuits and adventure sports for two decades. In pursuit of stories he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked across the Norwegian Alps, run ultras across the roof of Mauritius and through the hills of the Himalayas, and set short-lived speed records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. A former editor of several Australian magazines he’s a longtime contributor to publications including Sidetracked, Outdoor, National Geographic Traveller, Trail Running, The Great Outdoors, Outdoor Fitness and Adventure Travel, and a regular writer for Lonely Planet (for whom he compiled, edited and co-wrote the Atlas of Adventure, a guide to outdoor pursuits around the globe). He’s authored guides to exploring the coastline and countryside of Devon and Dorset, and recently wrote a book about pub walks. Follow Pat's adventures on Strava and instagram.