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What to wear when sailing is not an easy question for everyone to answer, but it is certainly one of the most frequently asked questions.

What to wear when sailing depends a lot on where you are sailing, when you’re sailing and what you’re sailing.

What to wear when sailing must meet certain criteria such as:

  • comfort
  • practicality
  • ability to keep you dry
  • weather protection (sun or cold protection)
  • easy to clean

The guide was divided into three parts, practical tips for what to wear when sailing a boat, essentials for people sailing on vacation and equipment, which is most important for sailing.

Also, in this article you’ll find the extras that you would like to wear when sailing or luggage tips.

Practical Tips on What to Wear When Sailing: What you should pay attention to

Waterproofness: One of the most important criteria when buying your sailing clothing is the waterproofness to keep you dry and warm!

Comfort and wearability: A clever combination of clothing for sailing and small extras increase the comfort immensely. The weight of the clothing under sail also plays an important role: the lighter the sailing clothing, the better you can move.

Wearability and comfort: To increase your comfort, the smartest combination is to wear sailing clothes and a few small extras. Pay attention to their weight because the lighter they are, the better you can move.

Breathability: One of the purposes of sailing clothing is to insulate well and keep you warm. It is also important that the clothing you wear when sailing is breathable as you do not want to keep a humid atmosphere under your waterproof sailing clothing that will allow your body to cool down.

Fabrics to wear when sailing

The basic materials of sailing clothing have different properties. For example, wool and cotton garments are not breathable. The cotton gets wet easily, dries very slowly and becomes hard. In terms of comfort, the wool is very pleasant and soft and the smartest choice can be the mixture of synthetic fibers and merino wool.

Rayon is a fiber made from natural sources such as agricultural products or wood and is not considered synthetic, having the same properties as natural fibers (soft and smooth fabrics).

Microfibers made of fabrics such as GoreTex, Neoprene, Fleece or Softshell are recommended as they transport moisture efficiently but absorb it with difficulty.

Layers to wear when sailing

Layering the clothes is the best way to fight the cold and feel comfortable when body temperature rises and falls.

The base layer of sailing clothing is the one that lies on the skin, being intended for quick drying, transporting moisture from the skin to the next layer of clothing and keeping the body dry and warm.

The middle layer (known as insulation layer or thermal layer) is important also because it will keep you warm. Here, synthetic fibers are recommended and cotton should be avoided.

The outer layer (known as shell layer), must be made of durable clothing that provides protection from wind, waves, rain, cold (protective pants, sailing jacket). This layer usually directs water vapor from the lower layers.

What to Wear When Sailing: The Essentials for Any Sailor

If you’re wondering what to wear when sailing, then you probably want to take sailing a little more seriously and it’s definitely a great idea to invest in proper navigation equipment. You should check out the best sailing clothing brands.

Raincoat: A Must Have for Sailing

No matter where you want to sail, our advice is to take with you a waterproof jacket that is also windproof. Raincoats often double as windbreakers, so even if it doesn’t rain, you may want a windbreaker.

If you sail in a warm and sunny place, a light and breathable raincoat will not be hot and heavy. A light rain coat is a must for summer sailing and exploration.  It is advisable to take items that can be packed compactly, so that they can be carried easily when travelling.

Goretex raincoats are also recommended because they are made to breathe. In addition, these raincoats open even to the armpits if we get too hot while sailing.

We like Marmot’s light rain jacket, which packs in small packs, but still does a great job of keeping the water out. Also, a thicker raincoat is the Helly Hansen Seven J jacket for men or Moss Hooded Waterproof Windproof jacket.

raincoat to wear when sailing
raincoat to wear when sailing
what to wear when sailing

Layer Up Your Clothes For Sailing

Do not underestimate the value of warm clothing on a sailing boat as this will keep you warm and comfortable. It is one of the basic items that you can have in the wardrobe of a boat.

The weather often changes when you surf and the best way to deal with these weather changes is to have several layers of clothing. It is advisable to bring a T-shirt, a thermal waistcoat or a long-sleeved top, a fleece top and a windproof raincoat. A fleece top for him or her  is the perfect layer for sailing because it is warm, light and breathable. Also, great options are also the Helly-Hansen Lightweight Fleece or the North Face Thermal Jacket.

What To Wear when Sailing In Summer

Shirts and Shorts To Wear when Sailing

Shirts. In colder climates, you can wear a moisture-wicking T-shirt, long-sleeved thermal shirt, a swollen coat and a windbreaker or a raincoat.

If you are in a warmer climate and you are wondering what to wear when sailing, you can choose a T-shirt and a windbreaker.

What to wear when sailing in hot weather? In hot weather, the most important functions of a top are to keep you cool and protect you from the sun (by wearing shirts that have a UPF rating of 50+).

Thus, we recommend a technical shirt, a smartwool T-shirt or a rash guard protection often called spandex countertops, the last one being made of a combination of polyester, nylon and spandex, great for providing UV protection (and fast drying).

The technical shirt is made of polyester and among the qualities, it offers UV protection and absorbs moisture to keep you cool.

A smartwool base coat (SmartWool T-shirt) is also a great option for you to take into consideration when sailing! Wool keeps you cool in the summer (removes moisture) and warm in the winter, being a very good outfit for sailing.

what to wear when sailing
Helly-Hansen Technical T-Shirt
what to wear when sailing
Helly-Hansen Men's Crewline Polo Shirt
Nautica Men's Classic Polo T-Shirt
what to wear when sailing
Short sleeve Rash Guard UPF50+
what to wear when sailing
Long-sleeve T-shirt UPF 50+

Shorts.For most sailors, shorts are a staple of summer sailing, whether they are sailing shorts or sailing pants. The most important thing is that they should be comfortable, durable, lightweight and preferably quick-drying.

Regardless of the material, the shorts must be perfect for use by leisure and professional sailors, being usually made of water resistant and quick-drying fabrics.

A good option is GILL Men’s UV Tec Pro Shorts, Helly Hansen Men’s Cargo Shorts or Helly-Hansen Dynamic Sailing Shorts.

what to wear when sailing
GILL Men's UV Tec Pro Shorts
what to wear when sailing
Helly-Hansen Mens Hydro Power Dynamic Sailing Shorts

Shoes: What to Wear on Your Feet When Sailing

Suppose you don’t want to cut your leg while launching your boat or slipping on a dock. Therefore, before you get on the boat, you need to think about what shoes you need to wear.

Before you buy the best sailing shoes (also known as deck shoes), you need to know that you can choose one of the following options:

  • Deck shoes with non-marking rubber soles
  • Plastic sneakers with non-marking rubber soles – light colors will likely skid less
  • High-quality water shoes
  • Dinghy or sailing boots

Sailing shoes are an excellent option for any season and therefore it is advisable to be part of the answers to the question “What to wear when sailing”

If you want comfortable, light and easy to wear shoes, you can wear a pair of Converse or hiking sandals.

Sperry Men's Billfish Ultralite Boat Shoe
what to wear when sailing
Skechers Men's Deck Shoe Moccasin

Sailing Caps and Hats

Whether you like hats or you prefer to wear a hat, in summer, you will need one because it protects you from the sun and the UV radiation reflected from the water. Sailing hats with a narrower and lower brim can be more efficient than a simple cap, but a good option is also the hats produced by the best sailing brands such as GILL or Helly-Hansen.

Also, in addition to protecting you from the sun, they can keep you warm in colder weather. For windy weather, you can opt for a sailing hat that incorporates ear warmers and is wind and water resistant as this Fleece Waterproof navigation hat might have the answer.

GILL Race Cap


As we all know, sunglasses provide protection against harmful UV rays and provide glare protection.

An excellent option is the Oakley Radar EV (American brand) glasses that offer top sun protection for the eyes and come with three advantages: full coverage and protection for the eyes, a superior field of view and comfort throughout the day. In addition to covering the entire eye area, the lenses filter all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400 mm. Steaming will not be a problem even in low temperature conditions.

A more affordable option is the Torege sunglasses. Thanks to the multifunctional interchangeable lenses (PC Revo Lens – reduce glace and improve contrast, Polarized Lens – provide glare reduction, Yellow Lens – enhance contrast), the Torege polarized sunglasses are a great option for boating in overcast conditions. This special coating guarantees that fogging won’t be a problem even in low-temperature conditions.

This ensures optimal vision no matter the sailing conditions. The UV 400 lens blocks all three ranges of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC, giving you the freedom to enjoy the water all day.

It’s also polarized to stop glare from irritating your eyes or hampering your vision.

Proper Sailing Gear to Wear When Sailing

A Proper Sailing Jacket

Any reputable sailing jacket should protect you from getting wet in the rain. Whether you enjoy the coast or racing in regattas, you need to pay attention to this aspect in order to keep yourself comfortable and dry. For example, at average values ​​up to 10,000 mm (the height of the water tube hitting the jacket) you can stand in a light rain for several hours without getting wet.

Thus, a sailing jacket is a must have for any sailor. Some of the features of quality navigation jackets are: articulated arms for ease of movement, reinforcement in the lower back panel, hand warming pockets, textile-padded collar with quick-drying and efficient cuff sealing.

The difference in the price of sailing jackets is given by the two-layer outer material, which requires a separate inner lining as opposed to the three-layer fabrics, which dry faster, are less voluminous and easier to put on and take off. adds comfort when wearing it.

Designed to be strong and durable and to make your sailing more enjoyable in horrible weather, it is ideal that when you buy a sailing jacket you do not compromise on quality.

Colors are also important when it comes to choosing a sailing jacket because if an unpleasant situation arises and you fall overboard, you should be seen easily in the water by other people (e.g. red, yellow).

If you are sailing in bad weather, it is important that your sailing jacket has waterproof cuffs and a neckline and a high collar to protect your face as much as possible.

what to wear when sailing
Men's Waterproof Windproof Breathable Sailing Jacket
what jacket to wear when sailing
Men's Crew Hooded Midlayer Jacket
what to wear when sailing
Women's Waterproof Windpoof Breathable Sailing Jacket

Waterproof Trousers

Do you go on a day trip on a yacht or attend a boat dinner? Then you can choose almost any type of breathable pants, made of cotton or khaki.

If you are a casual sailor, lightly waterproof sailing pants are a great idea and are also essential.

Another important item that you should take with you when you go sailing are waterproof trousers, which are a useful piece to wear when sailing in bad weather because they will keep your feet completely dry (which means they keep you warm as well), and they are made of harder materials. If you are sailing in rainy weather, then the sailing trousers are a must, along with a sailing jacket.

The important thing to know is that the purpose of these sailing trousers is to keep your main pants dry in the rain, and not to keep you warm as you can opt for a variety of layers to do this. They are also windproof and offer more protection against the cold.

All reputable sailing trousers have a few features in common: highly waterproof design, extra breathable construction, reinforcement fabric on seat and knees, fully sealed seams, quick-drying lining, adjustable straps and waist.

If you are a person more sensitive to the cold or you want to benefit from extra protection far above the waist, try sailing pants with braces.

GILL offers OS2 Offshore pants for men, a perfect solution for a day cruise or a multi-day regatta, being designed with advanced hydrophobic and hydrophilic technologies to efficiently transport moisture away from the skin, resulting in a very waterproof and breathable finish.

With high performance in terms of wind resistance, waterproofness, breathability and durability, AEGIR OCEAN trousers from Helly Hansen are an excellent choice. Stormproof ocean-racing, the trousers provide long-term protection against severe waves.

The pants are light, have built-in reinforcements for sitting and knees and the 3-layer fabric is waterproof, breathable and windproof, with fully sealed seams. The jumpsuit has a double flap for the storm, two-way waterproof zippers and hand-warming pockets, which are lined with wool.

what to wear when sailing
Women's Waterproof Windproof Breathable Sailing Bib

Nice Extras To Wear When You Go Sailing

Sailing Gloves: Why you should wear gloves when sailing

Between enjoying the wind in the sails or having to face the cold, there is a pair of sailing gloves. When sailing, you have to rely on your hands to perform various tasks and the lack of proper sailing gloves will decrease your ability to be fast and efficient.

When buying a pair of navigation gloves, pay attention to the locking tabs to prevent the velcro wristband from opening if it is snagged on a line and sectioned materials that allow better articulation for fingers.

Whether you choose a pair of the thumbs-up gloves (the fingers completely covered, except for the forefinger and thumb) or half-toe versions, the features of a successful pair of sailing gloves are comfort, grip and durability.

The neoprene cuff, the stretch fabric across the back of the hand, the lack of seams on the fingertips and the grippy surface across the palm, make these gloves comfortable, softer, with good dexterity and very functional with a high level of protection and durability. The 4-way elastic fabric located on the back of the hand offers 50+ UV protection, being also water-repellent.

A cheaper alternative than Gill’s Pro is Gill Championship. Although it has a similar work surface and wraps only around the palm, it offers excellent grip. They are comfortable and dry quickly.

what to wear when sailing
GILL Pro Gloves - Long Finger
what to wear when sailing
GILL Championship Gloves - Long Finger

Face Buffs For Sailing (Neck Warmer)

Sailing face buffs are recommended when you want extra protection against wind and cold. They can be easily used to cover your face and you can easily pull them up and down when the weather changes. For women, they can also be used as hair bands – they keep your hair away from your face, and keep your ears warm. It fits in any pocket and you can have them at hand.

If you are sailing in the Mediterranean, use some thin ones. If you sail in cold weather, opt for a fleecy face buff.


Wondering why wetsuits should be in your summer sailing kit?

Wetsuits are made of neoprene, a rubber compound that is designed to stretch and flex with your body, its main purpose being insulation.

If you didn’t know, water conducts heat over 25 times faster than air, such a wetsuit being ideal for keeping the heat that your body would lose between your body and the wetsuit. Thus, between the suit and the body, you will hold a thin layer of water maintained, preventing the heat dissipation into the water around you.

This wetsuit makes you feel warmer in the water and if you want to keep your legs and core warm, you can opt for a skiff suit (a wetsuit without sleeves also called “farmer john”).

Wetsuits are often worn when the difference between air temperature and water temperature is high or when you want to keep warm in the water. Most wetsuits offer a recommended range of water temperature.

Manufacturers design wetsuits for different sport activities such as multisport (swimrun), surfing, paddling or open water swim competition. The differences between the wetsuits are represented by the type of neoprene, the fit, the lining materials and the presence of taped seams (which makes it more comfortable) or the style of the zipper.

what to wear for sailing
O'Neill Men's Back Zip Full Wetsuit
what to wear for sailing
Unisex Wetsuit for Diving, Snorkeling, Swimming
what to wear for sailing
Women Wetsuits for swimming

Flashlight or headlamp

When buying a navigation light source such as flashlights, you should pay attention to 2 very important product reviews: lumen rating and water-proof rating.

In terms of water-proof rating, there is an International Protection code system called IP, and according to this ranking, IPX8 flashlights are something you should choose when sailing because it means the flashlight can be submerged in water deeper than 1 m. IPX7 means that it can be submerged up to 1 meters in water for 30 minutes. IPX4 flashlights are resistant to water splashes from any direction.

Regarding the rating of the lumens, a lumen represents a unit of light flux, more precisely the light intensity for a given area. A flashlight with more lumens is more powerful and has a greater ability to illuminate objects at a greater distance.

what to wear for sailing
500 Lumens IPX8 Water-Resistant Flashlight

For sailing through the night, a headlamp is an excellent choice. In this case, we recommend you a headlamp that go up to 1000 lumens and have an IPX8 water resistance capable of reflecting a 600ft. (180 m) beam without any problem.

what to wear when sailing
1000 Lumen Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp

If you want a flashlight for everyday activities on the boat, you can opt for a 200/300 lumen flashlight.

If you want to illuminate at greater distances (10 m – 200 m), then you will need a powerful flashlight such this 1500 Lumen Handheld Powerful Flashlight which is portable, impact resistant, ultra heavy duty, waterproof and submersible. It’s a great choice!

What to Wear When Sailing: Luggage

Even if it is not really something you will wear sailing, the sailing bag is very important!

When sailing on a boat, any sailor wants to protect his valuables such as his watch, smartphone, wallet or spare clothing. Fortunately, there are excellent navigation bags that will help keep your equipment dry and safe.

An excellent bag for navigation is the one from Helly-Hansen and it is waterproof, it has a sporty look, a capacity of 90 l and top carry straps with removable padded shoulder straps, being made of 100% polyester fabric, which makes it durable and very light.

It also has two pockets, one on the outside with a zipper and another on the inside. This sailing bag comes with its own external washing bag.

If you want to choose from many capacity options (30 l, 50 l, 70 l, 90 l), you can opt for the Helly-Hansen Duffel Bag.

The guide is based on changing weather areas such as the Mediterranean. Explore the best sailing destinations in the Mediterranean.