sail boots

Essential Foul Weather Sailing Gear: How to Stay Warm and Dry: Top 8 Tips

Anytime you may be sailing on a dinghy in hot and wet summer conditions, expect your sailing gear to get drenched. You’ll have a way better time when you aren’t worried about avoiding the WET!! We recommend that you go sailing many times and decide what types of sailing you like before splurging on gear. On wet days you should have this in mind in terms of sailing gear and equipment:sailing jacket, HH

  1. Dont ever leave your life vest behind!
  2. Wear the right shoes!! Since you are usually sitting down in a dinghy for example, the nonskid tread on your shoes will be as less important then when you are keel-riding. Wet suit booties are known to be the most comfortable
  3. Leave your cellphone, wallet and car keys in a safe place on shore. self explanatory.
  4. Bring a change of clothes and a few towels and leave them on shore. You will get wet but once you get on shore, you want to be relaxed on the drive back!
  5. During Dinghy sailing, leave your gear bag on shore! There won’t be much room on a dinghy so bring a bottle of water, sunscreen and a jacket.
  6. Go with a modern fabric or even wool over cotton. Cotton is wonderful for keeping you chill on hot days, but it won’t retain heat when its wet. Wool is a wonderful fabric for retaining heat however if you go with a modern polyester fleece, you will not go wrong for an underlayer as it works best especially when conditions are not optimal.
  7. Wear a bathing suit under  your clothes. Always a good idea for comfort if you tip over!
  8. Reapply sunscreen! Sunscreen’s may suggest they are waterproof, but when you are sailing and you are getting beat down not just by the rays of the sun but by the reflection of the rays off the water, its always a good idea to re-apply often!

What Dictates what Gear to Pick

More likely than not, your  gear will be based on the following factors:

  • The size of your boat!
Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake

  • The weather the day you sail
  • Water temperature the day you sail

For example, if you head over to Flathead Lake, Montana or Lake Superior on a beautiful sunny day, you should probably bring some more layers then if you sailed over in the Keys.

Boat size is definitely a factor when deciding what to sport and bring with you sailing. When you are sailing on a centerboard( dinghies and catamarans for example) you are basically touching the waves. When the conditions are windy, you get sprayed pretty badly!

You will run the risk of capsizing on smaller boats and taking a swim you didn’t see coming! So make sure dressed for the occasion. On a larger boat you will sit higher away from the water- You will probably end up way less drier!

On these larger sized sailboat , the chances of capsizing drastically go down, so your gear will be slightly different.


When you begin your sailing journey don’t overdo it until you are sure what kind of sailing you are deciding to get into. When picking gear, keep in mind that the temperature on the water changes way more then it does on shore. One second you are enjoying the sun with your top off and no wind and the next the wind comes up on the water and bites you! You’ll scream to get that jacket on as fast as possible.

Make sure you bring clothes you can wear in layers so that you can plan for this type of variation in wind gust and temperature. If you layer up the air will be trapped between the layers causing even better insulation and warmth! As the temp rises go ahead and rip off some of those layers!

Oversized windbreaker

Windbreaker Central- Essential Sailing Gear

The way you keep warm while saying is to stay dry! Easier said then done. The first thing you need to pack in your sea bag is a windbreaker style jacket which you probably already have. If you don’t, HH windbreakers will do the trick. Keep this as your outside layer unless you desperately need a bigger jacket to over it if the conditions are severe!

Anytime you go sailing, get in the habit of throwing that windbreaker even if you are sailing in tropical weather. You never know what type of winds and temps can sneak up on ya. Most nylon-shell jackets will get the job done. Oversized wind breakers make sense especially when you have sweater or under layers that may be too tight if all sizes are the same.

Choosing Foul Weather Sailing Gear

Whether you are sailing on a small or big vessel, you really really don’t want to get wet. you want to make sure your foul weather gear applies to the experience. with Foulies (foul weather gear) things to consider:

  1. Safety- Yes most of us want the all cool looking gear, but make sure you give your gear float tests every once in a while . Jump in a swimming pool on shore to test out your cold weathered layered look. I would even go far enough to say the test may spark a real encouragement to wear your life jacket to assure buoyancy you are comfortable with while doing the real thing.
  2. Color– choose bright . Always choose bright. If you go overboard and need a hand, you’ll be spotted easier then if you didn’t have bright colors on. It can save your life, need we say more?
  3. Pockets– make sure top and bottom have pockets , the bigger the better when times of cool draft winds.
  4. Hood– It’s always a good idea to have a built in hood for the life jacket. It comes in real handy when it starts to rain.
  5. Construction– the idea is you want minimize leakage as much as possible. Make sure that tape seals the seams on the inside of the jacket. The seams we will out from wear and tear on rough deck surfaces on sailboats.
  6. Style- Typically chest height overalls and jacket are the most versatile for sailing along with being one of the warmest combos you can go with .The jackets can look real cool to and will complement your shoreside getup! Paddling or kayaking tops really do well with sealing out water from the neck line. Sailors can even combo them with a wetsuit. In cold weather, dinghy sailors usually go with a dry suit /elastic cuff combo at the neck line and wrist line.
  7. Material– The lighter the weight the more often small boat racers use the gear. The heavier the gear the more it is utlized by cold-weather off shore sailors. If you want the best, invest in some breathable performance sailing gear made from high tech fabric that channels water vapor escapage!

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