Grundens meets the future by designing flexible, comfortable, and PFAs-free gear.

 From increasing numbers of women in fisheries to new technology and bans on forever chemicals in textiles, the market and manufacture of what was once simply rain gear, is changing.

Grundéns, one of the world’s foremost designers and manufacturers of outerwear and undergarments for fishermen is delivering the goods in terms of increasingly comfortable gear for men and women, and designing new formulas to replace PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances), which will be banned in California by 2025, and likely banned by other states and businesses, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, in coming years.

The Grundéns Hurkules bibs have been a mainstay in the commercial fishing business for decades. Made of tough PVC the Herks can be found in a variety of fisheries coast to coast. Paul Molyneaux photo.

At the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle in early November 2023, Curtis Graves, director of product at Grundéns, showed off what the company has to offer fishermen. Among the coming attractions is Grundéns’ Fish Picker jacket. “It’s a woven material with a brushed fleece on the inside, which gives you a little bit of warmth. but it’s extremely breathable. We overlay the body and the sleeves with PVC and bring our neoprene cuffs neoprene cuffs from our commercial rainwear and put it all in one,” says Graves. 

“What we’re thinking about now is on-deck athletes that need to be able to move around,” says Ash Williams, vice-president of marketing at Grundéns.

National Fisherman came out with an article a couple of years ago,” says Curtis. “There was a lot in there about guys wanting lighter gear and w took that to heart. The thing is that stuff wears out, so we looked at the weak spots and strengthened those.” Grundéns looked at the lightweight Red Ledge jacket popular with Alaska fishermen and answered it with the Dreadnaught jacket.

Curtis Graves, director of product at Grundéns, discusses the high points of the Dreadnaught, the company’s new lightweight jacket designed specifically for commercial fishing. Paul Molyneaux photo.

“When Red Ledge went out of business it left a hole in the market, we see that as an opportunity to innovate in the space with a lightweight and high mobility outerwear shell jacket design,” says Graves, noting that the Grundéns lightweight jacket is more purpose built for commercial fishing. “Our membrane on the inside is a film, not a coating,” he says. “Another thing we did was put all the cord routing on the inside, so you don’t get it caught in gear, we dropped in a lighter weight neoprene cuff, and lastly, we added ventilation zippers under the arms.”

Graves notes that the Dreadnaught, which comes in a variety of colors, costs $109 dollars. “We’re already writing big orders on this because guys will buy five of them and have one drying out while using another.”

Grundéns' new Neptune Armored jacket and bibs will be available in August 2024, the Armored Neptune is toughened up in the places that see wear in fisheries that require frequent contact with the gear. Ben Matthews photo.

Responding to a need for durability in fisheries like lobstering, scalloping and other fisheries in which there is a lot of contact with heavy gear, Grundéns designed the Neptune. “It’s made of PU (polyurethane), which lighter than PVC and has more stretch, and it has a TPU coating on the front of the legs, from just below the knee all the way up the bib.”

With more women entering the fishing industry, Grundéns has introduced the Pisces bibs. Made of waterproof/breathable 3L laminate, the Pisces is fitted for women and includes a trap door, so that the wearer does not have to take off their jacket and undo their bibs in order to relieve themselves.

Listening to the increasing number of women in fisheries, the Grundéns line of rain gear for women now includes the Pisces bib, made of waterproof but breathable fabric and equipped with a trap door in the back that is self-explanatory. Grundéns photo.

Grundéns is also introducing a breathable water repellant parka for fishermen, the Kryall hoodie, as well as line of hooded sun protection shirts for working the warmer waters of the south and Gulf of Mexico or summer fisheries like Bristol Bay salmon.

In 2017, Grundéns took a step into the boot market with the Deck Boss boot. “I’ve had mine for two years and I fish hard,” one New Bedford scalloper says of the Deck Boss. Now Grundéns has teamed with Michelin Tire to build a new neoprene lined boot, the Crewman, which will be available in February of 2024.

“Our partnership with Michelin has enabled us to leapfrog the competition in terms of keeping somebody upright,” says Graves. “With Michelin we’ve made a compounded sole with a patterning of lug that is not going to pick up a gill net and will grip everything from wood decks to diamond pattern, and it has a beautiful perimeter that is the last ditch for saving yourself from a fall.”

After six year of success with its Deck Boss boots, Grundéns has teamed up with Michelin to create the Crewman, a neoprene lined boot with a specially developed sole to keep fishermen upright on deck. Ben Matthews photo.

Grundéns has also brought on a line of ankle boots. “The Deviation Sherpa-lined ankle boots are very popular,” he says. “We’re sold out of them for now, but our retailers still have some.”

Grundéns’ VP of sales, Ash Williams, notes that the company is getting ahead of regulatory changes as well. “In California, the long chain carbons known as PFAS will be illegal in 2025. These are the forever chemicals that take a long time to break down and are getting into the sea, and the fish, and us.”

Williams points out that these chemicals are harmful to all living things, including us, and will be banned in California in 2025 except in cases where they need to be used for protection against extreme weather. “But that exemption expires in 2028,” he says. “Our PVC and PU are PFA free. The Dreadnought jacket, which comes out in Fall/Winter 24 will have PFAS at launch, but then switch to PFAS free in the future.”

While Grundéns is focused on the California ban, more and more states are banning PFAS in more products, as are companies such as Patagonia and Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to Williams, Grundéns wants to be ahead of the curve not only in design, comfort, and functionality, but also in environmental responsibility. 

The Grundéns Deviation Sherpa-lined ankle boot is already on the market and the women’s model has sold out, though some are still available at retailers. Grundéns photo.

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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