Best Clothes For Sailing: Ultimate Guide [2023]

best clothes for sailing

Choosing the right attire is paramount for a safe and comfortable sailing adventure. Factors such as weather conditions, personal preferences, and the type of sailing activity significantly impact the choice of clothing, which should offer functionality and durability.

We may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article.

Sailing is a fantastic adventure, and choosing the best clothes for sailing can also be an adventure. Whether on the high seas or enjoying a coastal sailing trip, having the proper attire is crucial. The most important thing is to wear the best sailing clothes that keep you comfortable, safe, and ready for any weather conditions. This article is your ultimate guide to finding the best clothes for sailing in 2023.

The Importance of Proper Clothing for Sailing

The first time you step onboard a boat, it becomes apparent that sailing apparel isn’t just about style; it’s about functionality. From sun protection to wet weather gear, the clothes you wear can significantly impact your sailing adventure. A great idea is to invest in the best sailing gear to stay dry, warm, and safe on your next outing. Choosing the best clothing can be a challenge, particularly for those new to the sport, but this guide will make your decision-making easier.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Sailing Clothes

The weather conditions, your personal preferences, and the type of sailing you’ll be doing will inform your clothing choices. The best option for hot sunny days will differ from the best choice for cold conditions or offshore sailing. When planning your sailing outfit, consider the time of year and typical weather patterns in your sailing destination.

Read More: Best Bikes For Big Guys

Materials and Features to Look for in Sailing Clothing

Choosing the right materials and features for sailing clothing can significantly enhance your comfort and safety on the water.

Base layers should ideally be made from moisture-wicking fabrics to ensure dryness even under wet conditions. Merino wool is a great choice as it not only wicks away moisture, but also provides natural insulation, breathability, and UV resistance, which is beneficial for outdoor activities [1]. Other synthetic fibers like polyester and polypropylene are also commonly used in base layers due to their moisture-wicking properties.

The mid-layer is crucial for insulation, especially in colder climates. This can be made from various materials, with wool and fleece being popular choices due to their heat retention capabilities.

The outer layer should be robust, resistant, waterproof, and breathable. In fact, some merino wool outer-layers are designed to provide wind and water resistance, with the fabric’s crimp and stretch creating insulating air pockets to maintain a dry and comfortable microclimate. Moreover, these outer layers are lightweight, odor-resistant, biodegradable, and renewable, making them a sustainable choice.

Additional features to consider in sailing clothes are UV protection, especially for hot weather sailing, as well as the strength and durability of the fabric. This is important as sailing clothing needs to withstand various elements and conditions.

Finally, consider accessories like gloves, boots, and hats that offer additional protection, and choose items that can be interchanged based on the varying conditions. By carefully considering these aspects, you can ensure comfort and functionality in all seasons.

Essential Clothing Items for Sailing

When it comes to sailing clothing, the materials and features you should look for heavily depend on the conditions in which you will be sailing. Understanding the right materials and features will ensure your comfort and safety while on the water.

The first thing to consider is the fabric of your clothing. Quick-drying materials are highly recommended as they can help keep you dry and comfortable even when wet, reducing the risk of hypothermia in colder conditions. As stated earilier, materials like merino wool are excellent choices for a base layer because of their moisture-wicking properties, providing an additional layer of comfort.

Layering your clothing is also critical when sailing. This approach allows you to adjust your clothing to the current conditions, adding or removing layers as necessary. A technical base layer should provide moisture control, a mid-layer provides insulation, and a protective outer layer should be waterproof for rainy conditions or resistant to wind and spray in drier situations.

Darker-colored and durable fabrics are often advised due to their better resistance to stains and wear. High-quality brands known for their durability and performance include Musto, Helly Hansen, and Gill, which all offer different advantages depending on your needs. For instance, Musto provides stylish and functional gear, Helly Hansen excels in harsh weather conditions, while Gill focuses on performance and technical fabrics.

Moreover, specialized features are essential depending on the type of sailing and the weather conditions. For example, in hot weather, sun and UV protection are crucial, so clothing with UV protection or a long-sleeve shirt can help prevent sunburn. Also consider a sun hat for casual sailing. In cold weather or bad weather, reliable outerwear such as a waterproof jacket or trousers, along with warm base layers, neoprene gloves and socks, neck and face protection, are necessary to keep you warm and protect you from the elements.

Lastly, safety gear like life jackets is crucial for any sailing expedition, regardless of your experience or swimming skills, to ensure your safety on the water.

In conclusion, the right materials and features in your sailing clothing can greatly enhance your sailing experience. By considering the conditions you’ll be sailing in and selecting clothing with the appropriate materials and features, you can ensure your comfort and safety while on the water.

Layering for Comfort and Protection

Layering is a fundamental aspect of dressing for sailing or other water activities. It allows for adaptability to changing conditions and ensures comfort and safety. The purpose of layering is to create a personal microclimate that manages moisture, preserves body heat, and provides protection from external elements such as wind, water, and cold temperatures.

Typically, the layering system is composed of three distinct layers:

1. Base layer: This is the layer closest to your skin and its main function is to transfer moisture away from the skin to keep you dry. Base layers are often made from hydrophobic materials, such as synthetic fibers like polyester and polypropylene, or natural fibers like merino wool and bamboo, that can effectively wick away sweat. This layer can be thin or thick, depending on the weather conditions. Examples include Helly Hansen’s Lifa Stripe and Zhik’s HydroMerino which blend merino wool with synthetic fibers for durability.

2. Mid-layer: The purpose of this layer is to provide insulation and retain body heat. Materials commonly used for this layer include wool and fleece, which have excellent insulating properties. The thickness of this layer can be varied to accommodate changing temperatures. Rooster®, for example, offers neoprene longjohns and tops in varying thicknesses to suit different climates.

3. Outer layer: This is the protective layer against external weather conditions, providing resistance to wind and water. Breathable foul weather gear is crucial for this layer, as it allows sweat to evaporate while blocking out rain or spray. One example is WindRider Pro Foul Weather Gear, which combines water resistance with fleece insulation for optimal warmth Protection of extremities like hands, feet, and head is also important, as they can quickly lose heat. Using accessories like gloves, boots, hats, or socks made from hydrophobic yarns is advisable.

In conclusion, layering for comfort and protection is a versatile and effective strategy when dressing for sailing. By choosing the right materials for each layer and adjusting the thickness based on the weather conditions, you can maintain optimal comfort and safety while on the water.

Choosing The Best Footwear For Sailing 

Choosing the right footwear for sailing is essential for safety, comfort, and enjoyment on the water. It provides a vital grip on potentially slippery decks and can offer a level of water resistance crucial in wet conditions. However, selecting the ideal sailing footwear depends on multiple factors, including the frequency of sailing, weather conditions, and destination.

Boat shoes and deck shoes, such as the Sperry brand, are common choices for sailing footwear. They typically feature non-slip rubber soles, performance fabrics, and easy-to-remove insoles, making them suitable for a variety of sailing conditions. The Sperry Sea Kite Moc Boat Shoes, for instance, offer versatility with water-resistant leather and Adaptive Wave-Siping. Other options like the Columbia Men’s Bahama Boat Shoes are both stylish and functional, combining the look of a casual shoe with the practicality of sailing footwear.

Non-sailing shoes like tennis shoes or sneakers can also be appropriate for fair weather sailing, with Adidas Cloudfoam running shoes and Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Tops being popular options for casual sailing due to their light weight and comfort.

For those who sail in more challenging environments, specially designed offshore sailing footwear may be necessary. The Helly Hansen Skagen F-1 is designed specifically for offshore sailing, providing stability and quick-drying capabilities, making it a solid choice in this category.

Sailing in colder climates or rough weather might call for the use of sailing boots, which offer extra warmth and protection. Brands such as Gill and Helly Hansen produce boots designed specifically for sailing. For instance, the Gill Offshore Sailing Boots provide warmth and grip in cold weather conditions.

Budget-conscious sailors might consider options like the Xtratuf 15-inch Legacy boots, which offer waterproof protection at a more affordable price point. Meanwhile, premium choices such as the Dubarry Ultima ExtraFit sailing boots are known for their superior quality and support, offering an excellent investment for frequent sailors.

Lastly, it’s crucial to remember that sailing shoes should have non-slip soles, be waterproof and breathable, lightweight, and easy to put on and take off. These features ensure that you’re adequately equipped for various sailing conditions and can quickly change footwear when necessary.

In conclusion, the right sailing footwear can greatly enhance your comfort and safety on the water. By considering your specific needs and the conditions you’ll be sailing in, you can find the perfect pair of sailing shoes or boots for your adventures.

Sailing involves more than just clothing. Essential gear like life jackets and buoyancy aids add an additional layer of safety. Don’t forget a dry bag for storing personal items and keeping them dry. Also, consider sailing sunglasses for eye protection, and sun cream is a must for hot days on the water.

Brands and Stores that Offer the Best Clothes For Sailing

Several brands are known for producing high-quality sailing clothes. These are generally considered the best sailing brands: Helly Hansen, Henri Lloyd, and North Sails offer a range of sailing gear, from base layers to outerwear. Nick Gill and Gill Marine are also renowned for their sailing apparel. For a more modern look, check out Saint James. All these brands are available on Amazon, making them easily accessible.

Sailing Clothing Maintenance and Care Tips

Maintaining and caring for your sailing clothing is crucial to prolong its lifespan and ensure it functions optimally. Here are some tips on how to keep your sailing clothes in good condition:

1. Rinse after use: Always rinse your sailing clothes with fresh water after each use. Saltwater and sweat can degrade the fabric and damage the waterproofing over time. Hence, removing these after every use can significantly extend the life of your clothes.

2. Washing: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing your sailing clothing. Different materials may require specific cleaning methods, and not adhering to these could risk damaging the fabric or reducing its effectiveness. If no specific instructions are provided, it is generally safe to wash sailing clothes in cold water with a gentle detergent.

3. Drying: Like washing, you should also follow the manufacturer’s instructions when drying your sailing clothes. Some items may not be suitable for tumble drying, while others might require a specific setting. If no instructions are given, allow your clothes to air dry naturally. Avoid drying them in direct sunlight, which can degrade some fabrics.

4. Storage: Store your sailing clothes in a cool, dry place. Avoid stuffing them into a gear bag where they might stay damp for extended periods. Moisture can encourage mold growth, which could ruin your clothes.

5. Repairs: Inspect your clothes regularly for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any tears or loose seams, repair them as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Some sailing clothes come with repair kits, but if not, you can usually find suitable materials at an outdoor or marine store.

6. Reproofing:Over time, the water-repellent finish on your waterproof sailing clothes may start to wear off. You can usually restore this with a reproofing agent, which is available in most outdoor stores. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying a reproofing agent.

Remember, proper care not only ensures the longevity of your sailing equipment but also contributes to safe sailing. It is always a good practice to inspect your gear before heading out to ensure everything is in top shape.


Whether sailing the San Francisco Bay or exploring the open ocean, having the right clothes for the trip can make your adventure much more enjoyable. Keep these tips in mind for your next adventure, and happy sailing!

It is important to remember that this guide offers a starting point for your sailing clothing choices. Always consider your personal preferences, the specifics of your trip, and the expected weather conditions to ensure you’re adequately prepared. With the right clothes, your sailing trip can be a great time, regardless of the weather. Happy sailing!


Yatching World, Magic Sailing Team, Planetrider, Salt Water Journal,, Pro Lawn Rescue, Improve Sailing

author avatar
XN Sports