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Photos by Lauren Furusawa

When I was a child, I always dreamed of becoming a fireman. As you’re reading this, you’re probably realizing that didn’t happen for me. But, wearing a fire red, survival-style offshore jacket, around the frozen section of a grocery store wasn’t the consolation prize I was expecting.

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My Editor-in-Chief, Dan, had let me know a couple weeks prior that he was sending a jacket for me to test—something nice and subtle (classy, even) that I could wear around the boat shows. So, when I finally saw the package from the good people at Gill on my doorstep, needless to say I was a little excited to open it.

What happened next is a blur—partially due to the fact that I might have gone temporarily blind when I opened the box. Inside was a bright red bundle of cloth—surely a protective layer for my new stylish jacket that lay beneath it. I lifted it out of the way, certain to find my new jacket. The box was empty. I looked at the bright red material in my hands and realized this is it—the OS2 offshore jacket ($375), my immediate future, complete with a highlighter yellow hood and what looked to be white reflective strips across the shoulders of the jacket just in case I didn’t already stick out enough in this beauty (admittedly a good thing if I ever found myself overboard).

I tried it on. The fit wasn’t too bad, save for some slightly long sleeves and a collar that went up past the tip of my nose. I looked in the mirror. Staring back at me was something of a cross between a doomsday prepper and Kenny from the animated series “South Park.” But as silly as I felt, I must admit I was comfortable and warm.

Here are some of the features the OS2 boasts: fully taped seams for a waterproof seal, a high cut thermal collar, a thermal fleece inner collar and chin guard and of course, the highlighter yellow fully lined hi-vis hood that can be tucked away into a Velcro patch when not in use. It’s also got some thoughtful pockets—two on the chest with Velcro closure and a handy, zippered internal security pocket. It’s also worth noting that 98 percent of the jacket’s material derives from reclaimed plastic bottles or recycled fibers.

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Looking through the OS2’s ads, I read a lot of hype about this fire-red bundle of dreams. Apparently, it’s waterproof and made of plant-based fabric that offers ‘enhanced protection, breathability and durability.’ “We’ll see about that,” I thought to myself pondering how to test it.

How do you test an offshore jacket in sunny, 75-degree California? You get creative.

“You want me to shoot you with a hose?” my girlfriend, Lauren, asked, puzzled, as I slipped my fire red OS2 Offshore jacket on over my t-shirt. I explained to her that it was the only way to test the OS2’s waterproof claim. “Can you at least stand by the grass, so I can water the plants?” she said, halfheartedly agreeing to my perfect plan. I positioned myself, ready to see what Gill’s threads were made of. She shot me square in the face. “The jacket!” I shouted as she continued to aim the hose, full blast, at my face. After a couple minutes of Lauren dousing me, it was time to see how the OS2 faired. I unzipped the jacket to see that my plain white tee had remained nearly water-free.

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Test number one was a success, but the second round wouldn’t be so easy. I had devised a way to put myself through an advanced climate-controlled prism with subzero temperatures with nothing but Gill’s OS2 over my tee and basketball shorts to keep me warm. Ok, I just walked through the frozen food section at the grocery store. But I actually did try looking around and finding a way into the store’s backroom freezer storage—walking around in a fire red emergency/survival jacket, people don’t question what you’re doing.

After not being able to find the freezer in the employee-only area, I came back into the main store and stood behind the glass door of the ice cream aisle for a few minutes. Normally this would be unsafe for any man—don’t try this at home kids. But with the OS2 on, I was kept warm and toasty for the duration of the feat.

I needed to pick up a loaf of bread, so I continued around the store for some time in my trusty red armor. A lot of heads turned as I walked down the aisles. Was it because they liked my jacket or was it because they thought there was an emergency evacuation transpiring inside the store? “You look like a fireman,” Lauren said, walking alongside me. I decided to take that as a compliment. As we walked back toward my car under the warm sun, I realized something—I wasn’t sweating or gasping for air as I continued on in the OS2. It actually was very breathable. As little as I liked it when I pulled the thing out of the box, I have to say Gill’s OS2 offshore jacket has grown on me.

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