Adding to our 'long term' reviews - kit that has been used and abused by ourselves over years - it was high time we did one for our Fortis Marine waterproofs - one of the highest spec, and tech lines in the carp fishing market.
Despite the fact that we spend almost as much time exposed to the elements as any other serious outdoor pursuit enthusiasts, carp fishing clothing, and waterproofs in particular, have always been relatively substandard and not always really fit for purpose. From a personal point of view, having spent a lot of time involved in other outdoor pursuits, I always found it a bit disappointing to see poorly designed, average quality stuff being put out there. As carp anglers we literally live out in all weathers, at all times of year and we often have to deal with carp, and situations that leave us exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. There is no doubt that there is a lot more quality clothing available these days, and there is now a number of brands producing high quality clothing, but it is fair to say that Fortis have definitely been at the forefront of bringing some hi-spec outdoor tech to the carp fishing industry. Firstly with their immensely popular hook up with Snugpak, the UK based high end clothing manufacturer, and then with the Marine range.
'it is fair to say that Fortis have definitely been at the forefront of bringing some hi-spec outdoor tech to the carp fishing industry'
I was lucky enough to get my set of Marine waterproofs early and so have used (and abused) them since Nov 2019, trading in what I had at the time which was one of the ECWS army surplus styled jackets and some Goretex trousers - both were fine, but to be honest, neither were actually that great; the fit was average, as was the quality. There had been a tendency over the years for angling brands to make these big, clumsy and heavy jackets that weren’t all that waterproof, and once wet were completely useless. Anyone that has ever spent any time in the mountains or being involved in any serious outdoor pursuits knows full well it all about the layering, and Fortis have fully embraced that logic and developed a full range from base layers, through fleece and insulated layers, to the hardshell Marine outerwear. Get a thin top layer drenched and it is no drama to dry - ten minutes in a tree on a windy or bright day and you’re all set again. Combined with the Primaloft Marine Liner jacket you have an incredibly effective layering system that is remarkably warm given how light and ‘wearable’ it is.
'Anyone that has ever spent any time in the mountains or involved in any serious outdoor pursuits knows full well it all about the layering, and Fortis have fully embraced that logic and developed a full range'
Darran had told me how nice the Marines were whilst they were being developed and straight away it was obvious how much better the build, materials and finish was on them. The first things you notice are the materials themselves – a plush handfeel, lovely colours, quality zippers, baffles and trims and the cut itself is spot on. Designed with angling in mind, the slight stretch in the fabric is really welcome and something you don’t see on the old surplus goretex kit which often felt stiff and relatively uncomfortable in comparison. I’ve never been a fan of sitting fully garbed up in waterproofs, but the Marine’s are genuinely that comfy that it makes for a far nicer experience on those wet days and sessions where you end up in them for hours at a time. I’m not a tech geek at all when it comes to fabrics, but I do spend a lot of time out in the rain and wind and so staying dry and warm is really important – the Marine’s have always done both and the breathability means you aren’t sweating and getting damp from the inside either. As well as for my fishing I’ve used them on numerous hiking trips as well as a few pretty wet, miserable festival days and they kept me dry all day, stood out watching bands in a muddy field for hours on end or walking up mountains in the rain.
'As well as for my fishing I’ve used them on numerous hiking trips as well as a few pretty wet, miserable festival days'
There’s a few other nice little tweaks that make them especially great for angling – the cut itself is great for casting, the generous hood and rimmed peak makes standing out in the rain a bit comfier, the lined pockets are a nice touch on colder days and with a DPM or Olive option both bases are covered as well. Neat, well thought out touches like the angled cuffs, storm flapped pockets, higher collar and drawcords all add to the complete package. For sure they’re not cheap, but there is no cheap technical clothing on the market that is worth its salt. The quality holds its own against anything out there that I’ve worn and I’ve paid £180 for North Face waterproof jackets that haven’t fared anywhere near as well as our Marine’s have. The Nikwax Aftercare wash and proofing system works a treat as well, and after a month or two of getting grimed up with mud and slime, a run through the machine with those and they’re good as new.
'The quality holds its own against anything out there that I’ve worn and I’ve paid £180 for North Face waterproof jackets that haven’t fared anywhere near as well'
On a personal level, ours served us incredibly well for the four years we wore them and come highly recommended if you’re after a quality, well designed bit of kit that is fully fit for purpose.
Check the range at;
Knowing the level of development that went into the Marine Range, we asked Darran at Fortis a few questions to clarify a few bits of the tech for us and give a better insight into the design process...
I know you guys have always prided yourself on filling niches in the carp fishing world, how did the initial plan for the Marine range take shape?
Essentially we love fashion and used to buy kit regularly from the outdoor fields which we wore in our own angling. We never wore “fishing branded” clothing as it were, even before we started Fortis. We have distributed Snugpak for the last 8 years which before we started doing was pretty much an unheard of brand in the fishing market (apart from a few 'in the know’). It was a natural progression really, as the Snugpak jackets are not waterproof nor offered any of this type. Making a hard layer outer shell that could be worn over the top of one in Winter, or just over a T shirt in the summer was the idea, and it progressed from there…
What was your goal for them, what were you aiming for?
A truly waterproof and breathable range which not only looked the part but remained waterproof no matter what the weather. Many anglers complained that their current waterproofs were leaking, or they used to get wet from the inside out because they didn’t breath! It simply had to be ’the best'.
I know from a few chats we've had the design process was labour intensive, and really purposeful. These aren't just another set of waterproofs with a Fortis logo on are they?
It literally took almost 2 years to develop… from initial sketches in my ‘little black book’ (an A5 Moleskin to any creatives reading this), long meetings with our technical clothing designer, CAD drawings, fit sessions, in the field testing sessions and numerous prototypes… we created something we all loved and TRUSTED.
Every single element is thought out for example the internal pocket is as high as we could put it, so if your receiver was in there it would be close to your ear to hear it. Sunglasses steam up in the rain so naturally we included a retractable lens cloth in the internal pocket so you could wipe your Fortis glasses when you need to too. Tricot hand warmer pockets, wire peaked hood, adjustable cuffs… you name it, we have it covered.
This is simply not an off the shelf jacket with a Fortis logo applied to it. You won’t get anything remotely like this spec, for this money, anywhere!
How long did the design and sampling process take you, start to finish?
We started the process in SS18, and finally had shops stocked up just after Christmas and into the New Year of January 2020. I remember we had a handful flown over so we could take them to the Sandown show where we kitted a few anglers out with them, including yourself. (How did you get on with yours? I hope you gave it a wash as that defo saw some carp slime!)
In that design process… there was literally hours upon hours of work, 100’s of emails back and forth and countless meetings and fit sessions to ensure it was perfect.
Tell us a bit more about the fabric spec and finish then, and the process?
The fabric is very special, it’s essentially what makes the Marines so good. It is a 3 Layer fabric which is made up of the outer fabric, the inner backing fabric and a technical membrane sandwiched in-between, with tiny holes so small that water droplets cannot pass through it, but water vapour (sweat) can pass out which makes it breath. Being a 3 layer fabric means it’s super durable and will withstand a downpour much better and longer than that of a 2 or 2.5 Layer shell because it's more resilient to water and other elements. It’s got a high denier too so will withstand brambles and other sharp objects and being stretchy means you can reach and cast without it restricting your movements for extra comfort.
We religiously get the fabric independently tested, every time we order a new batch of jackets which comes at a cost. This is a scientific testing facility who will test the hydrostatic head, the breathability, it’s strength and also how it performs after a cycle of washes in a laboratory. Whilst our jackets are now branded at 25,000mm Hydrostatic Head, and 25,000g/24hr Breathability, the test reports actually claim that it averages 31,390mm Hydrostatic head, and 31,060g/24hr breathability. We’re actually underselling ourselves a little bit, but because that’s what we guarantee it at that’s what we put on our swing tags.
How long should they be keeping you dry for, under normal circumstances?
Indefinitely. If your jacket or trouser feels like it’s not performing as it did when it was straight out of the packet, then it simply needs a wash. A build up of dirt, or carp slime if you’ve been lucky enough to catch some can effect it’s performance over time, but a simple follow of the washing instructions (on the inside care label of your jacket) will bring it back to it’s best.
What is the best way to care for them, like any technical garment, I know it is important they are well looked after?
It’s an absolute myth that technical clothing should not be washed, often this is through fear of doing more harm than good but we want our customers to enjoy their garments for a lifetime not renew them every winter, so caring for them is a must.
We go to extreme measures to ensure it’s easy to maintain, and a simple wash at 30 degrees with no biological detergent will clean it, and a cool iron will rejuvenate the added coating to make the water bead off the jacket again and be as good as new. After perhaps 20 washing cycles, it would benefit from a wash with Nikwax solution, but not straight away. We’ll always put up regular washing reminders on our social media too because people can forget, and the feedback and comments we get back are always positive, everyone who has them loves them.
Tell us a bit about the Liner? It is one of our favourite jackets, but seems to be a bit of an unsung hero of a technical layer?
I feel like I’ve been typing for ages… but I feel it’s important to shout from the roof tops about how good these items are because it’s difficult to convey all this important information in a few lines on Instagram!
The Liner was designed as a reversible jacket to sit under the Marine Waterproofs for added insulation, or simply as a stand alone water repellant jacket for use in the Spring and Autumn. We approached Primaloft® who are the industry leaders in not only insulation but also sustainability and they granted us a license to use their products. That is a testament in itself for what we are achieving because Primaloft do not let any tom, dick or harry be associated with them, you essentially get audited from every angle to show you share their shame ethos.
To our knowledge no one in the Carp and Coarse market utilises these technologies simply because it’s too expensive to consider and effects profit margins. We feel as anglers it’s our responsibility to lead by example so this was a no brainer for us. So not only do we have a super lightweight packable jacket that can keep you warm, it’s also made totally from post-consumer recycled content, literally plastic which would end up in landfill. Pantagonia set an example, and they use Primaloft in all of their insulated pieces.
I've heard lads suggest the range on the expensive side and it's just a 'carp tax' - being a keen outdoor enthusiast and buyer of quality gear I know how much good kit from outside the fishing market costs, what would you say to anyone that thinks the Marine gear is expensive?
Ha ha! I love that expression. All I would say is that if you’ve read this far down, you know how much time, money and resources we put into the development of this range. They are no ordinary garments, they use market leading technologies which are utilised by mountaineers in the outdoor world who rely on it to keep them alive when they’re tackling mountains! The cost of shipping alone can be upwards of $20,000 at it’s peak, that’s not including import duties, taxes and storage fees either! That’s just to get the items here!
Look at the swing tags on your angling garments and compare the small print… no one has clothing to the standard we offer, some of them don’t even publish hydrostatic head or breathability ratings. When you see ours, and compare it to clothing ranges in the outdoor field you’ll actually see that ours is very, very cheap!
There's definitely been a drift towards the carp industry taking more notice of the quality outdoor brands, technical clothing and things being made to last, and also with a bit more style - surely that can only ever be a good thing?
That would be a great thing as education and awareness are so hugely important, as is competition to keep us on our toes. I feel like we’ve raised the bar and other brands have followed suit with the pricing but not the actual quality or performance of their clothing. When we launched the SJ9 8 years ago it was £150 and the shops said it’s way too expensive. Yet now it’s very well priced and still made in the UK, and everyone else just upped their RRP’s because they noticed things could sell at those higher price points!
Let say I’m an average carp angler, I've got my old army surplus waterproofs, why should I invest in a set of the Marines?
The cheap UK DPM Army Surplus is great value but essentially comes with no warranty. It’s second hand, has literally been to war and back so you can imagine it certainly hasn’t been cool ironed or machine washed at 30! Tape seams usually start peeling off so after a season it’s generally done. Unless you get the US Marine ones which are much better quality (but still second hand), but a decent set of them is now way north of £150… then you after you pay shipping from the US, Import duties too… for it to arrive and it’s too small you have no comeback or saved any money. At least with ours we’re on the other end of the phone should any assistance with it.
Cheers Darran, as a brand that has always been fully invested in quality ourselves, we think it’s great to see the carp industry looking upwards and outwards to high spec, high quality, sustainable garments and kit. It can only ever be a good thing.
Thanks for taking the time to give us a proper low down on it all, nice one!
*Images courtesy of Tom Gibson