Get into sailing | What do I wear?

So you want to get into sailing but you are worried about the weather and the potentially cold water. It's a misconception that you need to be rich because a lot of the clothing you already have can be re-purposed for sailing. Don't go out and spend all of your hard earned dollars right away, follow along, as we take you through clothing for sailing.

Dealing with the cold and the rain

A lightweight polyester fleece is really great for sailing, board shorts or spandex works for your bottom layers

Sometimes it's sunny but sometimes it's not. When you go sailing, as with other outdoor activities, it's good to be prepared for a little rain, some spray from the water (when you're going fast) and some wind. Your clothing will determine how much fun you have on the water and could make or break your future enjoyment of the sport. I'm going to talk about three areas: your base layers that go next to your body, your footwear and top layers.

Base layers

It's good to choose clothes that will dry easily and are comfortable. Wearing things you already own means you'll be comfortable. A whole new rack of sailing clothes is not necessary! Clothes that dry quickly are a must because at some point you'll get wet. I'm a lady and so I love spandex. Spandex comes in fun colours (if you like that). Any athletic wear from H&M, Lululemon or Old Navy is good, probably already in your closet and usually cost effective. If you're a guy not a gal then go with board shorts or quick dry pants. Stay away from cotton such as jeans and some sweat pants. The more polyester the better. When cotton gets wet it tends to stay wet which is great on a hot day but can really cool you down quick.


Running shoes and closed toe crocs or sandals can be re-purposed for learn to sail

Shoes are always tricky. We often suggest that new sailors grab a pair of old training/running shoes, crocks are great or water (neoprene) shoes if you have them. The problem with older shoes is that they can become water logged and get heavy. Newer running shoes/trail shoes are better because they dry quickly. The most important thins is that the shoes protect your toes from fixtures in the boat, on the dock and on land. You should never see anyone in flip flops. They are bad because you can trip, you'll stub your tow on something after a while and they have no grip at all!

Top layers

A simple wind breaker or rain jacket that you have at home already is great to keep the wind and water out

When we go sailing we need to the wind and wind can make you cold. Keeping the wind off and the wet out can be the most important thing to keeping warm. Rain or wind breakers help, you probably have one at home. When you get more experienced and want to invest in some outdoor clothing go for a top quality waterproof product. Breathable is best if you can afford it. It's a good investment because you can use it for other activities as well. Shop around. You can get some really great clothing in the sales with the end of the season being the best bet for cost conscious shoppers.

When it's a little colder outside I suggest a polyester fleece layer is good. The layers you use for skiing in the winter can be re-purposed for sailing. Something with wool mixed with polyester is great. Bring a couple of extra layers because on some days you do need them. I have a great Merrell top thats a mix of fleece and polyester. It's great because it will keep me warm, isn't too heavy to bring with me and dries out really quick.

Pants are not as important as your top but are your next key item. A dry top and wet pants really sucks. I suggest quick dry pants and if the weather is windy, wet and there is spray bring some waterproof or wind breaker pants.

Other advice

  • Fogh Marine is great for gear! Their staff offer top advice on the best sailing clothing for your needs.
  • Remember a hat, it can keep the sun off or the warmth in.
  • Caring for your whole body is really important, things like sunscreen, sunglasses, hydration and snacks for the journey are crucial to staying warm and happy outside.