Sailing is a wonderful sport that crafts a human’s personality and guarantees memorable experiences. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner sailor or an advanced seadog, if you wonder what kind of clothes for sailing should you bring for your next adventure, you are in a good place.
“What to wear sailing in these or those conditions?” I’ve been asking myself the same questions before my first trip. After many days spent on inland and even offshore sailing, I am going to help you with some sail clothes and yacht attire ideas.
In this post I show you what kind of clothes for sailing should you pack for sunny cruises, foul weather, and hard-core offshore conditions. We start with a few general tips and end on showing you what kind of sailing accessories might be useful during your next trip, and what kind of bag you should choose to pack all of your sailing apparel.
And always remember:
“There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only bad clothing.”Sailors’ saying
- Clothes for sailing: the general rules
- Best sailing brands
- What to wear sailing – quick answers
- Must-have clothes for sailing
- How to pack clothes for sailing trip?
- Are you a sailing fan? Read more:
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Clothes for sailing: the general rules
Don’t bring a suitcase
Unless you’re going to cruise on a huge luxury boat.
Recreational yachts usually have limited space in cabins. The lockers easily accommodate flexible bags or clothes for sailing. But a stiff huge suitcase guarantees you problems with fitting it in a tiny space.
Alternatively, you can pack your sail clothes in a backpack or even a sailing bag. This will guarantee you a much better organization in your cabin. A loose bag can be easily rolled-up and placed in a locker.
I show you some sailing bag propositions at the end of this post.
Always bring spare underwear
This is a good rule for any kind of trip. And you always should remember about it while planning your journey.
Bad weather, or spontaneous jumping into the water can happen on any kind of sailing adventure. So spare underpants are always welcome.
And having spare socks can save you if the temperature will not be that optimistic as you assumed before.
Choose high-quality materials
There is plenty of stores offering basic clothes for sailing but you should always double-check on them.
If you want your new clothes to stay longer with you, always choose high-quality materials. Pay special attention to the fabric’s durability and the quality of the details like seams and trimming.
Also, try to choose natural materials over synthetic ones. Not only it’s more earth-friendly in the longterm but natural materials are often equal to better quality. Polyester and other plastic materials are cheaper in production which means that the product’s company might want to save money on details as well. And this result with sailing clothes that last you for one trip only.
Don’t overpack with useless stuff
Always rethink twice the clothes for sailing that you pack for your trip. Most often we tend to overpack with useless stuff.
Are really high heels necessary on the boat? Do you really need 10 clothing sets for 6 days of adventure? Be honest with yourself and pack only the things that you will use during your sailing trip.
But be secured for the bad weather
Some objects might be totally unnecessary on a boat but on the other hand, you should always remember about packing the clothes that will help you survive the worst conditions.
Even if you plan a sunny trip and you assume to be wearing a swimsuit all the time, always have in your bag sailing trousers and a warm jumper. A good sailor is always secured for any circumstances.
Best sailing brands
Like any sport, also sailing has its own dedicated stores. Below you find the most common yacht clothing brands that many sailors recommend (links will move you directly to the shop).
- Helly Hansen – 90-day free return; free delivery for orders above $100
- North Sails – 100-day free return; free delivery for orders above $100
- Gill Marine – free ground shipping in the US; 30-day free return
- Nautica – free delivery for orders above $50; Rewards (welcome 10% off); “Refer a Friend” program
- Musto – 90-day free return; 10% student discount
- Henri Lloyd – 15% off on newsletter sign-up; 30-day free return
- ZHIK – 30-day return; free shipping for orders above $80
What to wear sailing – quick answers
If you came here for the quick tips about what to wear sailing, this table will help make good choices. In the further part of the article, you will find more specific recommendations and tips for each product.
|Sailing clothes||Image||Sunny weather||Foul weather||Offshore/Ocean sailing||Where to buy|
|Swimsuit||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Beach cover-up||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailor dress||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Top||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|T-shirt||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Longsleeve shirt||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Longsleeve blouse||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sweatshirt||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Warm sweater||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Shorts||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Light sailing trousers||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Leggins||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sweatpants||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Trousers||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Short socks||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Warm socks||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Thermal undershirt||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Complete thermal underwear||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Softshell||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailing jacket||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Light waterproof sailing trousers||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Waterproof sailing trousers||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailing drysuit||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailing shoes||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Swimming shoes||✔||See on Amazon →|
|High sailing shoes||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Rain boots||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Hat||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Cap||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Wetsuit||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Short sailing gloves||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailing gloves||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Scarf||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sunglasses||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Waterproof phone case||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Bum bag||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Floating glasses strap||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Headlamp||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Waterproof watch||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
|Sailing life jacket||✔||✔||✔||See on Amazon →|
Must-have clothes for sailing
Sunny weather clothes
Summertime spent with friends and family guarantees great memories. If you wonder what to wear sailing in full sun, this list will help you collect your summer yacht attire.
The swimsuit is the most obvious type of clothes for sailing in tropical and sunny conditions. If you expect the weather to be beautiful all the time, consider taking even 2 or 3 sets of bathing costumes.
This position is dedicated mostly to ladies. It’s a perfect cloth if you want to protect your skin from the sun during the day. Or when you enter the spaces in which wearing only the swimsuit is not that elegant. Like in the beach bar, or during entering the marina and mooring the boat.
Yes, dresses are welcome on board. If you want to feel the vacation vibe in the summer dress, you’re free to do that. Only remember that the dress should not be too long (like to the ankles) or too brachiate. The long ethereal materials have a tendency to tangle up with different elements on the boat like ropes, cleats, and many others.
Choose a comfortable dress that won’t constrain your movements.
Basic of the basics. Having a few airy tops is a must-have on a boat during a sunny day. Choosing cotton materials is a great idea.
Cotton or linen shorts are sailor’s friends. Comfortable, light, and preferably quickly drying, are the perfect kind of best sailing clothes for the vacation time.
Light long sleeve shirt, made of natural material such as linen or cotton is a must-have in your sailing bag for two reasons. One: it protects your skin from the sun what is highly recommended after a few days sailing without a shadow. Two: if the evenings become colder, you’ve got a perfect piece of cloth to cover-up (and protect yourself from mosquitos).
You should pack them for the same reason you packed long sleeve shirts. Additionally, having long clothing is more welcome if you’re doing some cultural sightseeing during your sailing trips. Sacred sites, temples, or even more elegant places often require to cover up the naked skin and stay modest. Linen trousers are perfect in these situations.
If you expect the deterioration of the weather at some point or if the evenings are cold in the region where you sail, a light sweatshirt is useful yacht wear.
Carefully read labels and choose only sailing clothes made of natural and breathable materials so you can get a higher level of comfort.
If you plan to treat sailing seriously, a high-quality softshell might be your first bigger purchase for your sailor outfit. The main purpose of this kind of a sailing jacket is to protect you from the wind.
Even if the sun shines high in the sky, the strong wind above the water might make you feel very chilly. In this situation, tight yet breathable softshell helps you feel comfortable.
The leather sailing shoes are a sign of a classy sailor. Not only they give you a casual yet elegant look. But they are also super comfortable to wear.
I’ve bought my first pair of Sperry Top-Sider sailing shoes in 2018 and I still use them intensely. Not only on a boat but also as everyday footwear. They are perfect for long-hour walking trips in any kind of a situation. In a city, in a museum, or even while climbing the tropical volcano.
Sailing in the sun often means visiting islands and shore attractions. Often you’ll have an opportunity to watch the underwater life. For spontaneous snorkeling experiences, swimming shoes are great yacht attire. Especially when you sail in regions that have rocky shores and beaches like Malta or Greece.
If you plan to intensively do watersports, you should add a wetsuit to your yacht apparel collection. Neoprene foam covers your body from small injuries and keeps you feel warmer in water.
Although you might not be wearing socks on the yacht that much, it’s always a good idea to have a few pairs with you. Either to wear them for a trekking adventure when your boat waits for you on the beach, or during the night when the weather unexpectedly becomes chilly.
A sailor hat is a practical item to wear while having fun on the water. It’s not only stylish. Its main purpose is to protect your head from overheating. During a hot day on the water with no shadow perspectives, it’s a very important piece of clothes for sailing.
Also, your hat or cap can protect your eyes from the sun and ensure a better vision.
It’s an absolute must-have on a sunny day. Especially while sailing. The sun reflecting on the waves and the snow-white color of boat fatigues your eyes quickly.
Good sunglasses with UV protection ensures you the comfort of enjoying the water landscape around you.
If you plan to become an active crew member and do all the jobs, like pulling ropes, doing deck work, etc., light sailing gloves is a useful thing to have. Operating the sailing ropes often causes hand injuries like skin abrasion or blisters. Sailing gloves help you protect your hands from pain.
Foul weather gear
If you’re going to sail in regions where the weather is not so optimistic, this list of foul weather gear will help you in packing your complete bag of clothes for sailing in rainy or cold conditions.
When the temperature’s going down, you’d better be equipped with some thermal dinghy sailing clothing. The undershirt is a minimum. A thin layer made of warm wool, placed under your main t-shirt, helps you stay warm and comfortable.
Your base layer should consist of a cotton short sleeve t-shirt. It should be comfortable to wear and preferably adjusted to your body shape so you can add more layers on top of it.
Personally, after pulling on the two layers mentioned above, I like to add an additional thin yet warm blouse with long sleeves. It helps me to keep my arms warmed-up.
On top of all of the base layers, you should wear a warm breathable sweater. Choose natural materials like lamb or merino wool to make sure it will protect your body’s temperature.
Here’s the time to add a base layer for legs. Comfortable tights or leggings help you stay warm while sitting outside the cabin and increase your warmth comfort.
The main trousers should ensure you keep warm yet ready to do any deck works. You can choose jeans because their tight weave density can warm you up. But on the other hand, stiff jeans might not be that comfortable while fulfilling your crew tasks.
Alternatively, you can choose thick and warm sweatsuit to ensure a high level of comfort.
If you’re an occasional sailor but you still like to stay on deck while it’s raining, purchasing light waterproof sailing trousers is a good idea.
The purpose of the sailing trousers is no to keep you warm (you’ve got other layers to do that) but to keep your main pants stay dry in the rain. This kind of sailing clothes if a perfect gadget for people collecting their outfit for sailing and foul weather gear.
If you’re planning to sail through a rainy region, having a proven sailing jacket is a must.
If you want your sailing jacket to protect you from getting wet under the rain, pay attention to its waterproofness. The medium metrics are 5000-10000 mm – this describes the height of the tube of water that hits the material before it starts to leak. This number should be enough for getting wet occasionally for instance during a few hours at a light rain. A jacket like this is an essential item among rain gear for sailing.
The chilly wind on your neck can ruin your sailing experience. That’s why warm scarfs that protect your throat are highly recommended sailing items on a boat.
Foul weather gear list for sailing wouldn’t be completed without the warm socks. Preferably a few spare pairs so you can change them during the rainy day.
If your feet get cold and wet while taking a watch on a deck, you’re instantly going to feel uncomfortable. So be sure to wear warm socks. Choose natural materials like cotton or even better wool so your foot skin can breathe yet still feel cozy.
Heavy trekking shoes might not be the best idea for a boat. Yet you should care about the proper footwear. High waterproof sailing shoes, with a flexible and non-slip sole, are a great choice.
Alternatively, you can decide to wear traditional rubber shoes. They’re perfect for a rainy day and help your feet to stay totally dry. But remember to pay attention so they will have non-slip sole to avoid accidents on the deck.
While looking for sailing gloves being part of your foul weather sailing gear, look for the pair that is quick drying. Wet hands are almost as annoying as wet feet so you’d prefer the gloves to become dry fast.
For foul weather conditions, you have two options when it comes to head coverings. If the temperature is not that bad, you can choose a waterproof hat that will protect your head from getting wet. But if you want to stay warm, probably you should better choose the warm woolen cap and cover it with your jacket’s hood.
Rough sea sailing clothing
And here’s the sailing packing list for the most adventurous sailors. If you looking for ideas about what kind of sailing wet weather gear you should pack, this section will help you equip with the necessary marine clothing.
When you’re heading to sail through really tough conditions you don’t want to miss on any detail. That’s why complete thermal underwear is a must-have among your offshore sailing gear.
You can choose among popular sailing clothing brands but even less specific stores offer a nice set. Focus on the quality of the material, choose natural fabrics over the synthetic ones and you’ll stay warm.
If the temperature outside is extremely low, you’d better plan to wear two pairs of socks at the same time. The first one could be made of soft cotton and be perfectly adjusted to your foot. But the second one should be made of thick wool to ensure you with comfy feet temperature during the deck watches.
The base layer that covers up your thermal underwear can be a simple t-shirt. The cotton material and comfortable shape should be your priority here.
Your sailboat attire should include a bunch of long sleeve blouses that are somewhere between the base and the mid layer in sailing outfit. They guarantee you and an additional layer of warmth.
Thick sweater or jumper, or even two if you want, are a must-have in your sailing kit. You can wear a thinner, plain sweater as a first layer (made of thin wool, merino wool, or even cashmere). And on top, you can add a traditional thick woolen sailing pullover.
If you’re a person that is very vulnerable to getting cold (like I am), feel free to add some additional leggings between the thermal tights and main trousers. Your comfort and temperature are the most important.
On top of it, you should put the main, preferably waterproof, sailor pants. They should be extremely comfortable and flexible because you already have many layers on your body.
If you plan a really heavy cruise, investing in professional sailing trousers or even the whole set (trousers + jacket) to complete your sailboat outfit is a good idea. Here are some sailing attire tips for you:
- it would be perfect if the fabric would be at ~20000mm waterproof
- the seams and zips should be covered by a laminated piece of material to avoid weak points where the water can get under the trousers/jacket
- cuffs’ and sleeves’ endings should be adjustable to your ankles/wrists shape to reduce thermal bridges
- handy pockets are more than welcome
If you expect to get really, really wet on your journey, you can also consider purchasing a sailing drysuit. They are dedicated to extreme marine conditions but also watersports played in heavy circumstances.
During long ocean cruises, a warm scarf is a practical item. You can even purchase more professional one that is adjusted to your neck and guarantees you the highest protection.
While sailing the high seas, professional sailing boots are a good investment. Made of high-quality rubber with the thermal finishing they prevent the water from leaking inside and keep your feet warm.
You should be well prepared for long hours spent on deck in tough conditions. Tight gloves with warming internal material and with additional fingers covering are a perfect choice.
Super warm cap covering ears is a must-have under your waterproof hood. Head protection is important for the overall warm feeling.
Yes, this item is extremely useful even in the most hard-core conditions. The sunglasses feature like: polarised, anti-glare, anti-scratch lenses, and full UV protection add a lot of value to the overall sailing comfort.
Other useful sailing accessories
Smartphones are a basic electronic sailing gear these days. Not only they guarantee you the connection with the shore (within a certain distance) but also play the role of a camera and even store navigational maps. You should then protect your smartphone against humidity and water. A waterproof phone case is a small yet practical investment in your offshore sailing gear.
The bum bag is a practical item on a sailing trip especially when you often visit marinas. It allows you to keep your documents, smartphone, or yacht keys close to you and save. And it’s much handier than a bag while working on the deck or mooring.
Let’s have a minute of silence for thousands of sunglasses that got lost in the abyss of the sea. If you want your favorite glasses to stay safe on your head, better equip yourself with a soft floating strap.
A headlamp is a super useful sailing gear when you’re doing night watches or when you moor your boat in wild places. It allows you to perfectly see your surroundings while still having your hands free to operate on a boat.
Many people don’t feel comfortable without a watch on their hand. Purchasing a classic waterproof watch is a nice alternative for days spent on the water.
The boat’s owner should always equip his crew with a sufficient number of sailing life jackets to ensure safety. But if you wish to be sure your life jacket perfectly fits you, it’s a good idea to purchase your own so you gain a 100% certitude it works.
How to pack clothes for sailing trip?
Like I mentioned on top of this post, bringing a wheeled suitcase to the yacht is not the greatest idea.
If you want to pack your sailing clothes in a more clever way, you’d better choose sail bags or backpacks similar to shown below.
For one-day sailing trips:
A dry bag is a perfect item to bring for trips that last only a few hours. It’s perfect not only for sailing adventures but for all kinds of water sports. The bag is highly waterproof and protects your belongings against water splashes. It’s a great choice if you’re going to sail on a non-cabin boat.
For sunny weekend trips:
If you do not expect your bag to get wet during your trip, a simple cabin backpack will perfectly do its job during a weekend trip. Personally, I use CabinZero for a few years and I love it for its flexibility. The Classic version of 44 liters is a non-stiff backpack that fits any locker, is extremely spacious and lightweight, and it comes with a 10-year warranty.
For long cruises:
Longer and heavier cruises often require more professional and diverse equipment. A big traditional sailing bag made of water-resistant fabric is the best choice. It’s still flexible enough to be stored in a tiny yacht cabin.
I am sure that now you have a clear situation about what to wear sailing and what kind of clothes for sailing will fit your needs. If you have any other questions about the yacht attire and about what to wear on a sailboat, feel free to add them in the comments!
Are you a sailing fan? Read more:
- 48 Gifts for Boaties: Best Sailing Gifts Ideas for Every Kind of a Sailor
- Sailing in Montenegro and Croatia: full itinerary + useful tips
- 40+ Well-Tried Beach Gifts for Beach Lovers of Any Personality
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.