Customer Service team member, Andrew, tells us what’s in his gear bag for a distance ocean race.
Offshore racing is one of my favorite ways to compete in this great sport, and it’s even better when you end up somewhere tropical. We field dozens of calls and questions for ordering offshore gear here at APS, especially during the warmer months. As someone who’s had the pleasure of sailing Annapolis to Newport, Annapolis to Bermuda and Newport to Bermuda, I thought I would share with you all my offshore favorites and the things I never leave the dock without.
*4-5 day race, warm climate, not including the clothes on your back worn to the first day of racing
- Dry bag
- (2) Tech shirts
- (1) Pair quick dry shorts
- (2) Pairs of underwear
- (1) Set of Base layers – leggings/top
- Pullover or fleece, mid weight
- (1) Pair Wool Socks
- Offshore boots & Sailing shoes
- Gore-Tex Socks
- (2) Pairs of gloves
- Sunscreen and other minor toiletries (ear plugs, tooth brush, lip balm, Gold Bond)
- Inflatable PFD/ Re-Arm Kit/ Harness / Tether
For starters, most racing boats will be weight and space sensitive. Captains will typically put a cap on the amount you can bring by limiting your bag size. Generally speaking, you’re safe in the 20 – 35 liter range. The Gill Waterproof Backpack is a great choice. It’s not completely necessary to have a dry bag as it will be stored, but you are on a boat, so it doesn’t hurt. If you go for water resistant bag, a dry case like the Musto Waterproof Tablet Case is just enough to store the essentials (wallet, keys, phone etc.).
It’s important to remember when you’re ocean racing you could face a range of temperatures from day to night. But when you’re sailing to Bermuda in June, it’s a pretty safe bet to say you’re going to be in the sun and it’s going to be hot. I prefer a long sleeve tech shirt like this Musto UV Fast Dry Long Sleeve T-Shirt. Following the number one apparel rule on the water of no cotton, this UPF 40 quick dry shirt offers protection from the sun and the heat. This particular Musto version has an anti-bacterial treatment to prevent odor – important when you’re sharing a very small space with 8 other ripe dudes for 5 days. Good rule of thumb for a race that distance is 2 tech shirts.
Same rules apply for shorts. Look for lightweight, quick dry options. No cotton! The Gill UV Tec Shorts are a great option and even have UPF 50+ protection. Throw those bad boys on over of some Patagonia Capilene Daily Boxer Briefs and you’ll be good to go. One pair of shorts will usually suffice, but 2 pairs of underwear is a must.
For the cooler night watch, you’ll want to pack some type of baselayer. Merino wool or Capilene and again, no cotton. A nice midweight like Patagonia Capilene Midweight Pants or Patagonia Cap Midweight Crew Shirt should be warm enough for a summer race. You’ll want to squeeze in a midlayer top too, just in case the nights are especially chilly. Henri Lloyd Force Layer Top or Helly Hansen VTR 1/2 Zip Long Sleeve Shirt are both lightweight and extremely packable. I never sail a race without a pair of Smartwool Light Insulated Socks on board. Warm dry comfortable feet at night, will keep you in the game. If it’s looking like a potentially stormy or wet race, grab an extra pair of socks, and be prepared to be spending a lot more time in baselayers and foulies than your tech shirts.
Hands and Toes
There are a few footwear options for an offshore race. Rocky Gore-Tex Socks are great for when you don’t want to wear your offshore boots but want to keep your feet dry, my personal preference. Just pair them with a normal wicking sock and a sailing sport shoe. When you the “you know what” really hits the fan on deck though, you’ll want a boot. The Zhik ZK Seaboot 800 with Gaiter – ideal for when you want t to be glued to the deck with warm dry feet.
Hands are equally as important as your feet. Make sure you stash two pairs of gloves. My personal favorites are the Atlas Thermal Fit Gloves. You’ll be glad when you have a spare dry pair stashed away when one pair is soaking wet.
ODDS AND ENDS
Another must have offshore – a head Lamp – Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp. Whether rummaging around below decks at night, or doing a sail change on the bow, a little illumination is a huge life saver.
You’ll want a good hat. Gill Technical Wide Brimmed Hat has a wide brim to keep the sun off your face and neck and is also quick drying and UPF rated. When my bald head doesn’t have a hat on it, you better believe I’m covered in Z-Blok Sunscreen. Don’t forget your other light toiletries- only the essentials. Toothbrush, ear plugs, camping towel or shammy. Throw in the baby wipes and Gold Bond and you can’t go wrong.
OUT OF THE BAG
These items are either on your body or hanging in the gear closet- no need trying to stuff a full set of foulies in that 20 liter bag.
I have the Spinlock Deckvest 5D Hammar, which is hydro static, meaning it is water pressure activated. This avoids accidental inflation, when taking a wave to the face while sail changing. It also comes as a moisture activated firing Spinlock Deckvest 5D Pro Sensor.
As for tether, I prefer the 2 clip cow hitch, so I can always stay clipped in while moving around obstacles. Try the Wichard Proline Y-Tether 2m Elastic 1m Straight 3 Clips.
Re arm kit, no-brainer. Why would you not? For use with the Spinlock 5D Hammar use this Spinlock Deckvest Hammar Re-arm Kit.
Keeping a knife on your person is paramount. I use the Leatherman Skeletool. With a removable pocket clip and sheath its easy to keep at hand. Easily opened with one hand, a great choice weather you’re up on the bow or back trimming.
Musto MPX foulies are a no brainer for me. Easily my favorite gear behind my Rocky Socks, you won’t catch me offshore in anything else. The Musto MPX Gore Tex Trousers and Musto MPX Gore-Tex Offshore Jacket are ruggedly waterproof. A thicker membrane is used in the MPX material, allowing it to stand up to prolonged periods of water exposure and weather. High collar, hi-vis hood, hand warmer pockets, adjustable double wrist cuffs and a placement to attach lifejacket are just a few of the details that make this jacket number 1 for offshore sailing. The real standout of the MPX is the breathability. When it’s hot and humid the last thing you want is to feel like you’re wearing a trash bag.