Offshore and Rubber sailing boots provide three main performance features for your comfort and safety: Dryness Warmth Grip When choosing offshore or rubber boots, start by identifying the type of sailing you are doing. Are you day sailing in fair weather and cooler temperatures where you need dry and warm feet. Is your sailing taking place poor weather, in cool to cold conditions, sailing overnight and up to long passage making where you need the most from a boots performance features? […]
Offshore and Rubber sailing boots provide three main performance features for your comfort and safety:
When choosing offshore or rubber boots, start by identifying the type of sailing you are doing. Are you day sailing in fair weather and cooler temperatures where you need dry and warm feet. Is your sailing taking place poor weather, in cool to cold conditions, sailing overnight and up to long passage making where you need the most from a boots performance features? What does the majority of your sailing consist of?
The following scenarios broadly categorize boots by their intended uses:
- Casual rain boot on the boat and on land: Short rubber boots
- Day sailing in warm to cool temperatures and fair to poor weather: Tall rubber boots
- Day sailing to offshore passage making, in cool to cold temperatures, and fair to bad weather: Breathable offshore boots
- Day sailing to offshore passage making, in cold temperatures, and poor to bad weather: Neoprene offshore boots
The explanation of offshore and sailing boot features in this article will give you a more detailed understanding of the options and how they can be chosen to best fit your sailing needs.
Rubber boots are made of either natural rubber (distilled from the sap of rubber trees in the tropics) or PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and are 100% waterproof, but not breathable. Natural rubber boots will wear longer, be more flexible, provide better grip to the deck, and not stiffen appreciably in cold weather; but come with a higher price tag than PVC on average. PVC is a less expensive material, keeping the price of a boot down while giving up just a bit of comfort, durability, and performance. Some boots are made with a compound consisting of a blend of PVC and rubber which lends them the performance advantages of natural rubber with the cost savings of PVC.
A few boots available in Europe use a Foam PU (Polyurethane) material which is waterproof, flexible and comfortable, but will sometimes deteriorate rapidly when exposed to certain chemicals and/or stored in too warm of conditions. When rinsed after use and stored in a cool, dry place, this is a well-performing boot material. Unlike rubber and PVC boots, Foam PU have a bit of inherent insulation similar to wetsuit material (neoprene).
Both Nubuck and Full Grain Leather are used in sailing boots. Nubuck (made from Top-Grain leather) is sanded or buffed on the grain side or outside to achieve a suede-like finish. It offers excellent resistance to wear and has an increased strength, thickness and softness as opposed to traditional top-grain leather. Full Grain Leather is made from the strongest and most durable part of the hide of an animal, and will have a smooth finish, and retains less moisture from prolonged exposure than do all other natural leathers. Both are ideal choices for sailing boots as they are robust, resistant to wear, and breathable. The leather in offshore sailing boots will be bonded to a microporous membrane like Gore-Tex making them waterproof and breathable.
Neoprene is used in the upper of boots and generally lines the inside of a rubber boot foot. While the material is waterproof, warm, soft, flexible, and provides padding; it is like boots made of rubber in that neoprene boots are not breathable and moisture can build up inside the boot.
Polyester and nylon materials are fast-drying, breathable, and abrasion resistant; and are used in the upper boot construction and incorporate a waterproof and breathable membrane like Gore-Tex. They are incorporated into rubber and/or leather boots to provide additional performance and comfort. Synthetics are the materials of choice for boot gaiters too.
The soles of offshore and rubber sailing boots are made of many different kinds of natural and synthetic rubber compounds but focus less on the materials and more on the actual grip. Generally speaking, the softer the material in the sole the more it will grip. Conversely, the softer the rubber and faster they may wear out. Also, the more channels in the sole the more water that moves out from under the sole, providing better contact with the deck. Soles with a medium softness offer a balance of good grip and durability.
Just like foul weather gear, offshore and rubber sailing boots primarily keep the water out, and do not necessarily keep you warm. Many boots do offer inherent insulation, but all boots require you to choose the right socks for the conditions. This is particularly critical in cold weather. It also allows your boots to function well across a range of temperatures by varying the thickness of socks you wear underneath.
Typically, if you’re wearing sailing boots in poor weather it’s cool to cold out. Even in the tropics, sailing in the rain on a sunless day can thoroughly chill you. The cooler the temperatures and the longer the duration of your sailing, the more insulation you will need. Determine what the majority of your sailing conditions will be and choose accordingly. Sailing boots are either uninsulated, lightly insulated or heavily insulated.
Rubber or PVC boots are uninsulated and add no warmth. Warmth will be a factor of what socks you wear and their thickness. These types of boots will require more and thicker socks to keep your feet warm as compared to breathable and neoprene boots.
Neoprene Constructed Boots
Boots made with neoprene can offer the most inherent insulation of any boot – from medium to heavily insulated. Boots made with neoprene use between 5 – 10mm thick. The thicker the neoprene, the more insulation factor. Thick insulated socks and boots made with neoprene can keep you warm in some very frigid conditions.
Breathable boots often have light insulation from a synthetic lining. With these, both the boot and your choice of socks are contributing to keeping your feet warm. Although not as inherently warm as a neoprene boot, breathable boots can obtain high insulation factor with proper socks, and less in warmer conditions.
Boots made with microporous waterproof and breathable membranes like Gore-Tex allow the moisture (sweat) in the boot to travel from inside the boot, through the membrane as a water vapor and finally to the outside of the boot. The expelling of moisture is driven by the relative difference in temperature and moisture on the inside of the boot as compared to the environment outside the boot. Warm moisture migrates to the cooler outside of the boot. On dry days, moisture additionally migrates from the moist inside of the boot to the outside due to the relatively lower moisture environment on the exterior of the boot.
Breathable boots, as long as you are wearing wicking socks, will continuously allow moisture to escape through the material of the boot. When wearing boots for extended periods, or day after day, your feet will be noticeably drier and warmer.
Non-breathable boots (rubber, PVC, and neoprene) are waterproof but have no way to get the moisture out. If you are exerting yourself and your feet perspire that moisture will stay stuck in the boot until you can take them off and dry them, and change socks.
Your feet, ankles, and legs are constantly straining on a pitching and heeling boat. Ensuring you have well-fitting boots goes a long way to preventing cold and achy feet. When trying on boots make sure you do so with the socks you intend to wear onboard – this may be a thin, medium or thick pair or any combination thereof.
Is there sufficient room in the toe-box or are your toes cramped? Make sure your toes are free to wiggle and there is not forward or side pressure. Is the footbed comfortably supporting your foot and arch? Most boots do not provide significant arch support, so if you require more support you may need to replace the existing footbed with an orthotic insert of your choosing. If this is the case try them on with your insert. Next, does the heel cup allow some up and down heel movement, but at the same time support your heel without too much side-to-side foot movement? Lastly, is the boots upper wide enough for your leg/calf to comfortably fit, or also not being too wide and difficult to get your foul weather gear trousers over?
Overall, you do not want the boot to fit tight in any area, as this can restrict blood flow and lead to cold and cramped feet. If you will be wearing your boots primarily in cold conditions you may need to go up a size to accommodate your thicker socks and prevent a tight fit.
Socks provide abrasion resistance, wick moisture away from your skin (and out of the boot if your boots are breathable), and help keep your feet warm. Never wear cotton socks as they absorb water and lead to damp and cold feet. Synthetic socks do a good job of wicking moisture and providing insulation, but they do not deal well with a buildup of moisture in the boot. Even breathable boots only expel moisture at a certain rate.
When feet perspire, moisture builds up in the boot and leaves feet wet until the moisture is expelled. Merino wool is the best solution. First, Merino wool is so fine that it does not itch. It not only wicks moisture, and provides excellent insulation, but it also has the ability to temporarily absorb moisture when it is nowhere else for the moisture to go. So when extreme moisture builds up in your boots, Merino will do the best job of maintaining warm and dry feet.
In extreme weather, seas and cold you may opt to wear a very thin sock liner designed to primarily wick moisture away from your foot, then a medium or thick sock over top for warmth (and continued moisture wicking). The key to warm feet is to keep moisture away from the surface of your skin.
For limited protection reduced weight and bulk, a shorter boot is best for casual use. Typically, a tall boot will always provide the best protection. This is achieved by maximizing the overlap between your foul weather gear trousers (worn over and cinch down around the boot) and the length of the boot. Water may rush or migrate up the inside of your trousers a bit in poor weather and sea conditions, but if your boot is high enough water won’t make it up and into your boots.
Consider boots with gaiters if you are doing extensive offshore passage making. When sailing in severe weather and seas, having a gaiter can be the best way to keep water out of your boots. Gaiters provide yet another barrier for keeping sea water from making its way up the inside of your foul weather gear trousers and into your boots. They act as an initial barrier to rushing water on deck or temporarily standing water in the cockpit. Gaiters divert upward rushing water from asserting water pressure directly on your cinched trouser cuffs. Any water that does enters the gaiter will run down and exit through drains belt into the bottom.
To use them put on your foulie trousers, then your boots (with built-in gaiter). Roll the gaiter down the boot and out of the way. Next, put your trouser leg down and cinch it closed around the bottom of the boot’s upper. Now pull the gaiter fully up and other the bottom of your trousers and cinch is securely at its top.
When you do not need the extra protection of the gaiter, you can simply wear them pulled up on your boots with your foulie trouser legs over the top of them.
It is very difficult to dry out wet boots while onboard during inclement weather. If they do get wet and you need to continue wearing them, change your socks as often as possible. If your boots are breathable, the more you wear them the more moisture will escape from the boot (which is driven in part by the heat from your feet). When you are not wearing your sodden boots remove the foot liner to aid drying. Stuffing a bone-dry cotton rag/towel (newspaper is good too) it will transfer much of the moisture out of the boot.
The life of your offshore or rubber sailing boots depends on proper care. Periodically rinse leather boots with fresh water, clean and condition them. Ensure they completely dry inside and out, and store in a cool and dry place.
Rubber boots only require a fresh water rinse, time to dry, and a cool and dry place for storage.
Dinghy boots are designed to protect your feet from bumps and bruises, provide support when hiking or trapping, and give you the best grip or attachment to the boat. They are designed to meet the unique needs of different types of dinghy sailing to accomplish this. Be sure to know what type of sailing you will be doing to best choose your boots. The needs of a skipper who does not trapeze and only uses a hiking strap are […]
Dinghy boots are designed to protect your feet from bumps and bruises, provide support when hiking or trapping, and give you the best grip or attachment to the boat. They are designed to meet the unique needs of different types of dinghy sailing to accomplish this. Be sure to know what type of sailing you will be doing to best choose your boots. The needs of a skipper who does not trapeze and only uses a hiking strap are different from the crew who is on the trapeze the majority of the time. Lastly, depending on the materials and construction, some dinghy boots can in keep your feet dry, and in the winter months other provide insulation to keep feet warm.
Types of Dinghy Boots
Hiking Boots are built for those using a hiking strap and not generally trapezing. These boots are designed to keep you attached to the hiking strap, and have a reinforced upper foot area to pad and distribute the load of your body weight against the strap.
Trapeze-Hiking Boots are designed for the needs of trapezing first and hiking straps second. They have thinner and more flexible soles than hiking boots to allow your foot to ‘mold’ around the gunwale when trapezing. This provides more surface area connection between you and the boat, so better grip. These boots will also have a padded hiking strap area on the upper foot for hiking comfort when the wind does not allow you to trapeze.
Skiff ‘Booties’ are for skiff style boat sailing where the wearer will trapeze, but seldom or never use a hiking strap. These tend to be lighter weight and more minimalistic in materials and construction than other dinghy boots. They generally have little or no hiking strap reinforcement on the top of the foot area. They have thinner and more flexible soles than hiking boots (and some trapeze boots) to allow your foot to ‘mold’ around the gunwale when trapezing. This provides more surface area connection between you and the boat, so better grip.
Water Shoes – Skiff ‘booties’ are excellent active water shoes for protecting your feet while participating in any water activity – SUP, kayaking, walking the beach, etc.
Neoprene boots are flexible throughout which makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The thickness of the neoprene determines how much insulation they provide your feet. Thicknesses run between 2mm to 5mm. Because neoprene stretches, they allow you to wear different thicknesses of socks – add a neoprene sock, Gore-Tex sock or the sock (‘bootie’) of your dry suit – when cool weather sailing.
Rubber (or PVC) boots are waterproof to their top but can be difficult to keep water from running in at their tops due to their short height. They are uninsulated, so cooler on hot days, and poor at keeping feet warm on cold days. Soles tend to be firmer and more protective of toes and the bottom of feet, lending themselves to use on small keel boats too. They are non-stretch, and do not accommodate large variations in layers of socks.
NOTE: Laces on rubber boots should be replaced with 1/8” shock cord to allow more flexibility and help reduce the stresses on the lacing eyes and prevent blowing them out over time
It is important to know what socks you will be wearing with your boots. These can consist of sock liners (to move moisture away from the surface of your foot), light to heavy (thin to thick) knit socks, neoprene socks of varying thicknesses (for additional warmth), rubber or Gore-Tex dry suit booties (attached to the drysuit) and Lycra drysuit socks (worn over rubber drysuit socks to protect them and allow your foot to more easily slide into a boot).
Be sure to measure your foot (shoe size) with you spring/summer socks on. If you are sailing in the fall and winter, measure your foot with all of your cold weather socks on too. Visit our Fitting Tips for Sailing Shoes & Boots article in insure you size your boots correctly.
Hiking boots should fit snug all around and have room to wiggle your toes. They should not be tight in any area, which is uncomfortable after hours of use and will reduce blood circulation which leads to cold feet when sailing in cold weather.
In general you will find that rubber boots do not stretch and their size remains constant. Neoprene boots do stretch and can accommodate some variation in sock thickness.
Winter Sailing Fit: Due to the large variation in foot size between light socks (or no socks) worn in the summer, and potentially four layers of socks in the winter when sailing in a dry suit, one size of boots may not adequately meet your needs. It can be best to have a summer sized boot and another pair a size larger for winter sailing. Remember, tight boots in the winter equals cold feet. Loose boots in the summer make for sloppy
Boot Comparison Chart
Use the following chart to help find the boots best suited to your sailing. Note: The more stars a boot has in a use category the better suited it is for that application.
|Boot||Material||Neoprene Thickness||Closure||Hiking||Trapeze||Skiff||Water Shoe||Sole Firmness||Waterproof gusset behind zipper|
|Sperry Waterproof SeaHiker||Rubber/ Neoprene||Thin||Lace||***||*||Medium||Yes|
|Gill One Design||Neoprene||Thick||Zipper||***||Firm||Yes|
|Ronstan Zip Up||Neoprene||Medium||Zipper||***||Firm||No|
|ZhikGrip Race Hiking||Neoprene||Thin||Lace||***||*||Medium||Yes|
|Sperry SeaHiker Boot GripX3||Neoprene||Thick||Zipper||***||*||Medium||No|
|ZhikGrip Barefoot Hiking Sock||Neoprene/Rubber||Thin||Slip ON||***||n/a||n/a|
|ZhikGrip Soft Sole Hiking||Neoprene||Medium||Lace||**||***||*||Soft||Yes|
|Zhik Lightweight Race||Neoprene||Thin||Lace||*||***||***||Soft||Yes|
|Gill Aqua Tech Shoe||Neoprene||Thin||Slip On||**||***||***||Soft||n/a|
|Zhik Ankle Cut Boot||Neoprene||Thin||Slip On||**||***||***||Soft||n/a|
Whether you’re walking around town in your sailing shoes, dinghy sailing with hiking or trapeze boots or sailing in tall offshore boots, footwear that fit correctly are essential for the overall comfort of your feet. The following tips and techniques are designed to help you get a good fit. Find Your Shoe or Boot Size Don’t forget. Feet do change size and shape over time, so if you haven’t had your’s measured in awhile, it’s a good idea, especially […]
Whether you’re walking around town in your sailing shoes, dinghy sailing with hiking or trapeze boots or sailing in tall offshore boots, footwear that fit correctly are essential for the overall comfort of your feet. The following tips and techniques are designed to help you get a good fit.
Find Your Shoe or Boot Size
Don’t forget. Feet do change size and shape over time, so if you haven’t had your’s measured in awhile, it’s a good idea, especially before you order boots or shoes online.
Having both of your feet measured using a Brannock device is the most common way. If one foot is large than the other (which is quite common), purchase foot wear for the larger. Be sure to follow step two below when measuring.
Measuring Your Foot Size at Home
If you would like to measure your feet at home, it is easy. Just follow these simple steps:
- Gather two pieces of blank paper, either a pen or pencil, and a ruler.
- Put on the sock(s) you will be wearing. Depending on the type of sailing, this could be a light to medium weight pair of knit socks. It could be knit socks with Gore-Tex over socks to keep your feed dry when wearing deck shoes. If you are sailing in a drysuit you could have on knit sock liners, medium to heavy weight knit insulation socks, the drysuit bootie (rubber or Gore-Tex), and even a Lycra drysuit over sock. All of these combinations will affect your sailing shoe size. Keep in mind that your feet will swell through the course of the day, so it’s best to measure your feet at the end of the day.
- While seated, place your foot flat on a piece of pager. Lean forward, putting more weight onto the foot you are going to trace. Trace the outline of your foots exactly. Be sure the line you are drawing is accurate by looking straight down at the edge of your foot as the pen goes round – don’t over or under state the size. Repeat this for your other foot if you are not sure hat your feet are the same size.
- Using the ruler, measure the length of your traced foot from the heel to the longest toe point.
- Using our sizing chart for Adults and Kids, find your shoe size. If you are between measurements, size up to the next larger size. It’s easy to add a pair of socks to take up a bit of room, but very difficult to make shoes and boots that are too small comfortable.
NOTE: Not all brands’ sizing is exact. Just because you are size 9 in one brand of shoe or boot does not necessarily mean you’re going to be a 9 in another. Footwear shapes and sizes vary from brand to brand; please keep this in mind with using the sizing chart.
Next, check the fit once you get your footwear.
When you receive your shoes or boots, try them on with the socks you intend to wear them with.
- Remember that your feet will swell through the course of the day, so it’s best to try new footwear on at the end of the day.
- Check the initial fit. Seat your heels firmly into the heel cups of the shoe/boots, lace/zip them up and stand up. They should feel snug around the ball and instep of your foot, but loose enough that flexing your foot forward is not uncomfortable.
- Next, move up onto the balls of your feet. Now back on your heels. Do the shoes/boots flex adequately with your feet? Are they comfortable? Don’t be fooled that a shoe/boot can be “broken in.” Sure, a shoe/boot will become “softer” with wear, but a good-fitting shoe/boot doesn’t need to be broken in. Dinghy boots, either rubber or neoprene, tend not to ‘break in’ and remain similar in fit and flex over their entire lives.
- You should be able to wiggle your toes inside the toe box (the front of the shoe/boot). To see if you have enough room, slide your foot forward so your toes are just touching the end of the unlaced/unzipped shoe/boot. In this position, you should have a finger’s width (about ½”) between the base of your heel and the shoe/boot. This will allow toes to spread to keep your feet stable and provide room for natural foot swelling; it will also prevent cutting off the circulation which leads to cold feet.
- Your heel should stay in place. After lacing/zipping there should be no more than ¼” of movement in your heel. This will reduce friction that can lead to blisters and will prevent your foot from sliding forward as you walk on an incline (think slanted deck of a healing boat). If your foot feels like it’s “floating” inside the boot, try a half or whole size down.
NOTE FOR OFFSHORE BOOTS: This type of boot is slip on, and the fit is not adjustable with laces nor zippers. There ease of entry and removal is desirable. If you were to go overboard, offshore boots can be a liability as they fill with water, and easy in-the-water-removal is required. For this reason, overall fit will be looser than shoes or dinghy boots. Be sure you simulate trying to remove your boots while in the water. Sizing offshore boot one size larger than your measured foot size is common if you will be doing blue water sailing.
Adult Footwear Sizing Chart
Kids’ & Junior’s Footwear Sizing Chart
Are you new to Scholastic Sailing? Wondering what kind of gear you (or your favorite sailor) will need for the upcoming season? APS has developed a list of essentials pieces to get you started. With that said, we highly recommend speaking with your coach to see what other items you might need. Need a PDF to print out? Click here. Warm Weather Spray Top: A good spray top will be the workhorse a scholastic sailor’s gear. It blocks wind and water; and […]
Are you new to Scholastic Sailing? Wondering what kind of gear you (or your favorite sailor) will need for the upcoming season? APS has developed a list of essentials pieces to get you started. With that said, we highly recommend speaking with your coach to see what other items you might need. Need a PDF to print out? Click here.
A good spray top will be the workhorse a scholastic sailor’s gear. It blocks wind and water; and it does a great job filling the gap between a short sleeve shirt and a drysuit or wetsuit.
Paired with trousers or salopettes, you will have a lightweight yet waterproof/windproof barrier that will keep you comfortable across a wide range of conditions without restricting your movement in any way.
A pair of lightweight gloves are a key piece of gear to avoid nasty rope burns while racing.
100% required for all scholastic sailing. Be sure that you select a US Coast Guard approved PFD as buoyancy aids are not legal.
A pair of rubber or neoprene boots not only help to take the sting out of hiking for long periods of time, but they do a tremendous job of keeping your feet warm on cold days as well. Try and stay away from rubber (non-neoprene) boots in really cold weather, as they don’t help keep your feet warm.
Positive: Expense; Negative: May be too warm or cold as you are unable to layer effectively.
Remember, a wetsuit’s warmth is determined by the thickness of the neoprene material the suit is made of. Because you can not change this, the temperature comfort range can be rather narrow.
A pair of heavier neoprene gloves or waterproof gloves is a necessity when sailing in cold weather. Your hands are the first thing to get cold, and it is 100% critical that you keep them warm and functioning to sail effectively.
100% required for all scholastic sailing. Be sure that you select a US Coast Guard approved PFD as buoyancy aids are not legal.
A pair of neoprene boots not only help to take the sting out of hiking for long periods of time, but they do a tremendous job of keeping your feet warm on cold days as well. Try and stay away from rubber (non-neoprene) boots in really cold weather, as they don’t help to keep your feet warm. Consider using a pair of neoprene socks to help keep your feet warm.
Positive: High comfort and maneuverability; Negative: Expense and moderate difficulty when changing base and middle layers beneath as needed.
Drysuits are much more comfortable in that you can change your wicking under layers (DO NOT WEAR COTTON) according to the outside temperature giving you a wide comfort range. Additionally, because most drysuits are breathable, perspiration is allowed to escape leaving you dry and comfortable.
A pair of heavier neoprene gloves or waterproof gloves is a necessity when sailing in cold weather. Your hands are the first thing to get cold, and it is 100% critical that you keep them warm and functioning to sail effectively.
100% required for all scholastic sailing. Be sure that you select a US Coast Guard approved PFD as buoyancy aids are not legal
A pair of neoprene boots not only help to take the sting out of hiking for long periods of time, but they do a tremendous job of keeping your feet warm on cold days as well. Try and stay away from rubber (non-neoprene) boots in really cold weather, as they don’t help keep your feet warm. Wear wool socks (non-itching Merino wool – Smartwool brand) to keep your feet warm and dry inside the waterproof drysuit socks and a pair of Lycra socks outside of the suit to protect the drysuit.
Other Items to Consider
Sailing Bag – one with a dry and wet compartment
Sunblock – waterproof with a high SPF rating
Sunglasses – good polarized lenses are a must
Watch – one with pre programmed sailing start sequences
Whistle – attached to your PFD for safety. In some cases, you may be required to wear one
What to Pack for a Bareboat Sailing Charter – The Complete Guide Bareboat chartering allows you to choose from destinations around the globe, and the ability to freely explore with few of the trappings and stresses of daily life back home. Destinations vary from places like the BVI in the Caribbean, Greece in the Mediterranean, Tonga in the South Pacific, the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean, Belize in Central America and more. The better […]
What to Pack for a Bareboat Sailing Charter – The Complete Guide
Bareboat chartering allows you to choose from destinations around the globe, and the ability to freely explore with few of the trappings and stresses of daily life back home. Destinations vary from places like the BVI in the Caribbean, Greece in the Mediterranean, Tonga in the South Pacific, the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean, Belize in Central America and more. The better you plan and pack, the more trouble free and relaxing your time will be. The more remote your destination, the more self-sufficient and prepared you will need to be.
The suggestions below are based on numerous sailing charters in various parts of the world, and the many lessons learned. The packing and prep lists are for a weeklong bare boat sailing charter in the ‘islands’ in warm to hot weather where sunny days with occasional passing squalls are the norm.
This article is broken into sections covering:
- How Much to Pack
- Sailing Specific Gear
- General Items
- What Not to Take
- Practical Tips
How Much to Pack
Most first time charterers pack way too much stuff. Life in the islands is simple and casual, and you really don’t need loads of clothes and accessories. When packing, put all of the clothes and accessories you have chosen out on your bed, then put half of them back. Pack light.
Duffel Bag – Remember that storage space on sailboats is limited at best, and sailboats are not hard-shell suitcase friendly. You’ll want to pack your things in a soft collapsible duffel bag that can be easily stowed once on board.
Backpack – Having a backpack that is comfortable will be one of your most essential items when flying to your destination and when out exploring when you get there. They stow in the overhead compartment when flying, they keep your hands free to deal with other luggage or getting in and out of the dinghy, and they keep your gear up and away from spray and water sloshing around in the dinghy. Be sure to pack a bathing suit, shorts, a shirt and a change of underwear in your carryon just incase your luggage does not arrive with you. If your luggage is lost or delayed, you will need to be proactive in insuring is eventual arrival. The pace at which work is done and problems solved in the islands can be slow or not done at all at times.
Hats – having a brimmed hat that can be worn in windy conditions is a must – baseball caps are ok. Hats with a full brim all the way around them with a chinstrap to keep them on are best and can be used in all conditions. Light colored materials are cooler in the sun.
Sarong – These colorful cotton body wraps for men and women constantly come in handy. Use them as light weight beach towels, a pillow, a privacy screen when changing on the beach, transforming your beachwear into a respectable town dress, a blanket on the plane or when napping, an easy cover up when evenings turn cooler, or when you’ve had too much sun.
Bathing Suits – You will be living in your bathing suits by day. Men should bring 2 -3 bathing trunks. Women the same, and one should be a full suit if you intend to do some athletic swimming, snorkeling or diving.
Flip-Flops – These will be your go-to footwear off the boat unless you are hiking. Be sure to pack at least one quality pair of fip-flops that are intended for use around the water. Leave your leather flip-flops at home. They will never dry once wet.
Walking/hiking Shoes – One pair of comfortable sneakers or fully strapped water friendly sandals. No boots please.
Shirts – Five comfy shirts or T-Shirts that are light and lose fitting. One long sleeve tech shirt to keep the sun off of your arms when needed in or out of the water. One long sleeve button up sun shirt for the best and most comfortable sun protection – collar to help protect your neck and sleeve that can be rolled up or down as needed. Again, try and limit the number of cotton items.
Dinner Clothes – If there happens to be a nice restaurant at one of the anchorages and you want dress up island style, a nice pair of khakis and a collared short sleeve button up shirt is all men need. Ladies may choose to wear a nice summer dress or a casual skirt and blouse. Dining in the islands is almost universally shorts and t-shirt as the norm. So if you don’t have to, leave your dress clothes at home.
Underwear – Bring four sets. Wash them on deck in salt water, rinse them in fresh water to get the salt out and dry them on the lifelines as needed. Stay away cotton underwear. You want wicking, fast drying undergarments to maximize comfort which are available for men and women.
Sailing Specific Gear
Polarized Sunglasses – Sailing in shallow water with reefs requires you to ‘read’ the water. Polarized sunglasses will cut most of the sun glare from the surface of the water making it much easier to spot underwater obstacles. Be sure to use a lanyard so you don’t lose them overboard. Take an inexpensive pair as a back up pair just in case. If you lose your good primary pair of glasses, going days without will strain your eyes and impact your fun in the sun.
Life Jackets – Charter companies will provide life jackets for adults and kids. Independent charter providers will too, but check with them ahead of time that they have the child and adults sizes you require. Expect the provided life jackets to be the standard orange type that are not that comfortable. Adults who wish to wear a life jacket may opt to bring their own inflatable PFD which is much more enjoyable to wear. Young children will be wearing life jackets constantly and their time will be much more enjoyable if the ones they wear are comfortable. This is one piece of gear you will want to consider bringing with you to ensure proper fit and comfort – no one wants their children to be hot and cranky, pulling at their uncomfortable life jackets all day. Solid foam kid’s PFDs are usually preferred over inflatable types for children as they can be used for swimming and snorkeling daily.
Foul Weather Gear – The three key elements are light weight, waterproof and breathable. If you are not sailing at night, then you should usually be close to a protected anchorage where you can wait out the rare rainy or stormy day. Most weather you will encounter will be passing squalls. This being the case, do not bring heavier coastal, offshore or ocean gear. You will be over protected, hot and uncomfortable in it. Inshore foul weather gear is good and light inshore gear is the best. Taking a jacket alone is usually enough as a jacket and shorts in warm squalls is ideal. Having a pair of foul weather gear waist high pants is good if you will be doing daytime passages where you will exposed to the weather all day.
Deck Shoes – Sure, many people sail on vacation in bare feet, but if you are going to do some serious sailing or encounter some poor weather, you will need deck shoes for their grip on the deck and to protect your toes.
Sailing Gloves – If you intend on participating as an active crew member and will be handling lines, take a pair of sailing gloves. It is also a good idea to have a pair on stand by, and to loan to someone on board who may need them.
Handheld VHF – A handheld VHF is handy to have with you in the cockpit if your boat does not have a cockpit microphone/speaker, also useful for communicating with those on the boat when you go ashore. Be sure to pick a working channel (not channel 16). Check that the boat’s radio is set to the correct channel and that the volume is turned up for those staying on the boat before heading away in the dinghy.
Multipurpose/Leatherman Tool – Some tasks will require a tool, and you will be glad you have a multipurpose tool at some point on your charter. Be sure not to pack this in your carry on bag or else airport security will confiscate it.
Handheld GPS – Another handy item to have is a handheld GPS as a back up to paper charts and onboard systems that can occasionally fail. Also, they make finding your boat at anchor in the dark convenient. Just put in a waypoint before leaving the boat in the dinghy.
Ziploc Bags – Large freeze Ziploc bags are excellent for packing any liquids, keeping important documents dry and for organizing small items. Also good to ensure that special bottle of rum you bought will not leak in your duffel bag on the way home. You can never have enough of them.
Sunblock – There needs to be an ample supply of sunblock for each person onboard. Constant winds keep you cool and can make you forget that the sun is consistently beating down. Start each morning by applying liberal amounts of sunblock to your whole body. Reapply in the middle of the day and after swimming. Be sure to have sunblock products for lips, face and body. You will want a waterpoof sunblock with a 30 SPF rating or higher. Products with a zinc base are the absolute best.
Flashlight – Take a small personal flashlight or headlamp for finding your dinghy after a few after sunset cocktails at the beach bar, or when dealing with an issue on deck in the middle of the night.
Dry Bag – A dry bag is useful to have when going ashore in the dinghy, which is open to spray and often has water sloshing about your feet.
Insect Repellent – Avon’s Skin so Soft is excellent. It is a bath oil that is nice to your skin and keeps insects away (you can dilute it with ½ water). If you are not using Skin so Soft, then just buy insect repellent when you arrival.
Biodegradable Soap – Be sure to bring salt-water biodegradable soap. This is used when showering on the stern of the boat after a swim using the fresh water shower hose most boats will have.
Digital Camera – You will be taking lots of pictures. Be sure to have extra memory card and batteries (recharging may be an issue). Having a waterproof camera bag (or a Ziploc bag) is a must.
Snorkeling Gear – Almost all charter boats have this gear on board or it can be had from the charter office upon arrival. Always check the gear prior to leaving the dock – try on the gear you will use to make sure it fits correctly. A leaky mask or loose fins are no fun. If you are chartering from an independent owner, be sure to check with them ahead of time.
AC/DC Inverter – If your charter boat does not have an inverter (or generator) you may want to bring a small inexpensive personal inverter for charging devices. Make sure it comes with both a cigarette lighter plug and a pair of clips for attaching directly to a battery (in case there is not a cigarette lighter outlet onboard)
Outlet Inverter – If you will be spending some portion of your vacation ashore prior to or after your charter, be sure to bring an inverter if the outlet current is different than that of the US. This way you can charge your electric devices.
First Aid Kit – Put together a mini first aid kit in a Ziploc bag. This always seems to get used on a sailing trip. Include: Band-Aids, Ibuprofen (Advil), antiseptic, antifungal cream/ointment, antibacterial cream/ointment, and antihistamine for allergic reactions. Aloe Vera for sunburns. Nail clippers, tweezers and a needle for removing splinters.
ID and Documents – I suggest you make color copies of your passport information page, laminate it and keep it in a bag separate from your original. Additionally, scan your passport, drivers license, medical insurance card and save copies in www.Dropbox.com account (or another secure cloud based account) so you can download copies from anywhere in the world (be sure you have a strong and unique password to protect these documents). Make sure to take your drivers license with you.
Credit Cards – Take both a debit and a credit card with PIN numbers for cash withdrawals from ATMs. Be sure to call your credit card company and bank to let them know you are traveling outside of the country so they don’t think your card has been stolen and block it when you go to use it.
Prescription Medications – Be sure to bring enough quantities. As with your passport, scan your written prescriptions and save them in your drop box account – www.dropbox.com, or another secure cloud based account. This way you can access them anywhere you have an Internet connection. Also, if you are not absolutely sure you don’t get seasick, pack sea sickness medication, prescription or over the counter. All medications should be in their original labeled containers so as not to have issues when clearing customs.
Prescription Glasses – If you wear them, bring a back up pair just in case your primary pair is lost or damaged.
Food – Provisioning for meals is a large task. Some charter companies offer meal planning options and will do the shopping and stowage of your provisions based on the choices you submit, but this can be expensive. Most will plan meals ahead of time, and do the shopping upon arrival. Be sure to check with your charter company ahead of time what your local shopping options are and what food items are available. In remote areas, you may want/need to bring in select frozen meets and ingredients in a disposable cooler as checked baggage. If you like good coffee or tea, be safe and bring your own ground coffee and/or tea bags. Spices tend to be expensive and of limited selection in many stores. Consider bringing a few of your most used items. Check with your charter company to see what provisions customs will and will not allow you to bring into the country.
Flag – If you will be mooring and anchoring among many boats, bring a small distinctive flag to hoist while on your charter. Your boat will be easier to spot in the anchorage.
For the Kids – Good old fashioned games such as playing cards are especially nice if you are cooped up down below while a squall passes. A star finder for nights on the bow gazing at the sky. A book of how to tie knots is fun. Leave the iPads and electronic games at home.
What Not to Take
Jewelry – The island scene is casual and lots of jewelry is not needed. Depending on where you are sailing, wearing jewelry could make you a theft target. Plus, security of jewelry can be tough. Hopefully you are swimming a lot so remember barracudas have poor eyesight and try to eat shiny objects.
Hair dryers, Straighteners and Curlers – Most boats don’t have generators to power these, and if yours does, you wont have it running often. If your boat has an inverter, you can strain the boats electrical system due to the high wattage these devices draw. Pack light, leave them at home and enjoy being free of them.
Makeup – Makeup and fancy personal body care products. Keep it simple and bring a little as possible, or none. Go natural.
Extra Electronic Gadgets – These can stay home. Besides your smart phone (turned off) and maybe a hand held VHS, and possibly a hand held GPS, you don’t need anything else. Bring a paper book and leave your e-reader at home. Pack a journal and get writing. Enjoy being unplugged.
Linens and Towels – These will be provided by the charter company. Take an inventory of towels upon arriving on the boat to be sure there are sufficient quantities. I suggest two towels per person. One for salt water & the beach, the other for fresh water showers only. Once a towel has salt in it its hard to get it to dry completely. Also make sure there are LOTS of clothespins on board. Go to the hardware store prior to your trip and get a pack of wooden clothespins to bring with you. The ones on the boat may be old, rusty and too few. You will be drying towels and bathing suits on the lifelines and each item will require many clothespins to keep the wind from taking them away.
Insurance – Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to see if you are covered in the countries you will be traveling to, and how health care providers will be paid. It is not uncommon for you to have to pay out of pocket and then submit for reimbursement from your insurance company once you are back home. I also maintain additional coverage in the form of travel insurance from DAN. The coverage is specific to the needs international travelers and fills many gaps in traditional insurance – https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/annual-travel-insurance/?
Skype – If you will be sailing in remote areas, make sure you and those you many need to communicate with back home with all have Skype accounts. Skype is a free online calling program (video calls too). Load it on your smartphone, tablet and laptop. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and you can call anyone in the world who also has Skype (and is online with the program running) on their device for free. Set up and use Skype before you leave on your trip. Call people who you may need to Skype with so you and they know how to use it ahead of time. Skype also allows you to call landlines (and cell phones) anywhere in the world for a reasonable fee. Have around $20.00 of credit on your Skype account for emergency calls from an internet (Wi-Fi) connected smart phone, tablet or laptop to land lines in case those you are trying to reach are not online with Skype running. If something unanticipated happens and you are required to talk with someone back home, you need only find a Wi-Fi connection and you can call them. WhatsApp is another free app/program that is excellent for making internet based calls only with.
Your Doctor – If you will be sailing in remote locations, get your primary care physicians personal cell phone number before leaving home. Let them know you would only use it in an extreme emergency while traveling. If you have a medical emergency and can’t get qualified medical help, this is a wonderful lifeline to have.
Cell Phone Calling – If you feel you will need to use a cell phone while on vacation or just want it as a back up you have a few options. You can contact your carrier and have an international calling plan added for the period or time you are away, you can rent a phone at the airport in some places, you can buy a disposable cell phone upon arrival in some places, or you may be able to purchase a SIM card upon arrival. If you are going to switch out your SIM card call your carrier and confirm your phone is not ‘locked’, which would prevent you from using another provider’s SIM card. If you use your own smart phone be absolutely sure your data is turned off (tablets too). You can create a very large phone/data bill if your not careful and end up using roaming data from a local phone company.
- Duffel bag
- Hat 1
- Sarong 1
- Bathing suits 2-3
- Flip-Flops 1pr
- Walking/hiking shoes 1pr
- Shorts – fast drying 3
- Pants – fast drying 1
- T-shirts 5
- Long sleeve tech shirt 1
- Long sleeve button up 1
- Dinner clothes 1 set (optional)
- Underwear fast drying 4 sets
Sailing Specific Gear
- Polarized sunglasses 1 primary, 1 backup
- Lifejackets adult (optional)
- Lifejackets kids
- Foul weather jacket
- Foul weather waist high pants
- Deck shoes
- Handheld VHF
- Multipurpose/Leatherman Tool
- Handheld GPS
- Ziploc bags
- Sunblock – lots
- Personal flashlight
- Dry bag
- Insect repellent
- Biodegradable soap
- Digital camera
- Snorkeling gear
- AC/DC Inverter
- Outlet Inverter
- First aid kit
- Ids and Documents
- Scanned and saved to a cloud account
- Credit & Debit cards with PIN numbers
- Call credit card company
- Prescription Medications
- In original containers
- Scanned prescriptions and saved to a cloud account
- Prescription glasses primary pair and back up pair
- Frozen items in cooler
- Kids entertainment items
- Check coverage & how payments are made
- Additional coverage from DAN or other carrier
- Downloaded and test with others
- Set up an account for paid calls (optional)
- Your doctor’s personal cell phone number
- Cell phone plan
We know shopping for women’s sailing gear can be a pain, but we today we have some tips and tricks to make shopping for dinghy boots a bit easier for you. For women, one especially difficult piece of gear to size is a good pair of Dinghy Boots. The material and styling of dinghy boots plus the difference between men’s and women’s sizing can make for quite the headache! We can help you with each of these factors. Though in […]
We know shopping for women’s sailing gear can be a pain, but we today we have some tips and tricks to make shopping for dinghy boots a bit easier for you.
For women, one especially difficult piece of gear to size is a good pair of Dinghy Boots. The material and styling of dinghy boots plus the difference between men’s and women’s sizing can make for quite the headache! We can help you with each of these factors.
Though in most other types of shoes you would subtract two sizes from your women’s size to get your men’s size, we typically only recommend going down one size for dinghy boots and a half size if you’re in between whole sizes. Dinghy boots fit a pretty snug naturally, so you’ll probably find yourself in a bigger size than what you were expecting. That’s totally normal!
Keep in mind how you will be using your dinghy boots to choose your size: will you need to fit them over a dry suit and wool socks or, like me, do you only sail when it’s warm and don’t need to wear socks? This is an important factor in deciding which size boots to choose.
Lastly, you’ll want to factor in style to the equation. Do you need waterproof boots or will neoprene work? Do you like a lot of support and sturdiness, or do you prefer flexibility and adjustable straps?
Once you know what kind of boot you are looking for and what, if anything, you’ll be wearing under them, use this chart to help you determine your size!:
Not sure what type of dinghy boot is right for you? Don’t worry APS can help! The two most popular types are Neoprene or waterproof. Neoprene boots have a zippered closure, velcro zipper keeper, and tend to be more flexible which allows a thicker than normal sock to be worn without cramping the foot. The waterproof boots typically have a lace-up closure, are more rigid, and hold moisture just as well as it keeps the water out. Type Materials Construction Closure Primary Use Waterproof […]
Not sure what type of dinghy boot is right for you? Don’t worry APS can help! The two most popular types are Neoprene or waterproof.
Neoprene boots have a zippered closure, velcro zipper keeper, and tend to be more flexible which allows a thicker than normal sock to be worn without cramping the foot.
The waterproof boots typically have a lace-up closure, are more rigid, and hold moisture just as well as it keeps the water out.
|Waterproof Boots||Rubber||Rigid||Tie up||Spring/Summer|
|Neoprene Boots||Neoprene||Flexible||Zipper||Year Round, Good for Winter|
This product is no longer available, but check out our selectiono of waterproof and breathable boots here I was asked to write this review about the HPX Leather Musto Boots with Outdry® a while back, but I wanted to make sure that I wore them a lot before giving my opinion. So use them I have. I used them in Annapolis’ warm weather, on the Bermuda Ocean Race, up at the NYYC Regatta, on rainy days, and most recently while teaching little kids […]
This product is no longer available, but check out our selectiono of waterproof and breathable boots here
I was asked to write this review about the HPX Leather Musto Boots with Outdry® a while back, but I wanted to make sure that I wore them a lot before giving my opinion. So use them I have.
I used them in Annapolis’ warm weather, on the Bermuda Ocean Race, up at the NYYC Regatta, on rainy days, and most recently while teaching little kids how to sail at the U.S. Boat show on the tiny and very wet Bug Boat Demos.
Inclement weather (rain and big waves) shouldn’t dictate when I can or can’t do an offshore delivery, tough race or casual cruise, which is why high end boots are a must for me. Long story short, I made the right call and got great, comfy, Outdry® dry, stylish leather boots for sailing.
These Musto boots are made out of a durable waterproof leather outer, a rubber GripDeck outsole, a removable anatomically shaped foot bread and an Outdry® lining. Highly breathable, quick-drying, grippy, comfy, stylish and really waterproof is all anyone ever really wants out of their boots. A tall order, but these ¾ HPX’s have it all in abundance.
A quick note on this Outdry® that I keep referring to over and over again. Musto has been a proven frontrunner in pushing cool new technology that really works. They replaced the Gore-Tex® in their boots with this new Outdry®. With Outdry® the external layer and membrane are one unique bonded structure, water penetration is blocked with no weight increase from absorption, while maintaining a space of dry air between the skin and the membrane, reducing the risk of dew condensation. (Basically my feet feel lighter and less clammy.)
HPX Musto Boots, The Good
I wore them on the Bermuda Ocean Race during my night watches and felt sure footed, warm, and light on my feet (read: not clunky).
I wore them on a delivery aboard Night Town, a J/42, through the El Derecho Storm (we saw gusts of up to 52 kts) while sailing through Cape May. After helming and getting pelted by sideways rain and pushed along downwind by 8 foot swells for two exhilarating, lightning filled hours, I was tired and went below. Once below I got that wonderful feeling. You know the one. The one where you realize, as you’re taking off the layers and salopettes and boots all in one go: “Man it’s nasty outside and now that I want to rack out in my warm dry bunk, I happily find that my socks are as dry as can be (Read: These boots are totally worth it! Dry!!!).”
|Fast Drying HPX vs comparable boot|
Two weeks later while racing at the New York Yacht Club Regatta aboard a fast new J111, I was again wearing my Musto HPX Outdry® Boots. A wet, rainy, swelly Atlantic morning left the leather on my boots looking drenched, even though my feet and socks were dry. About two hours later, shortly after our race, one of the crew noticed my boots and said with a slightly shocked tone, “Wow, your boots are really dry.” It took me a second to realize that he was referring to the outside of my boots, which had dried quicker than most everything else. This quick-drying explained why they didn’t feel weighed down and clunky after the downpour. Similar experience happened on the rainy Sunday while instructing 8 year olds all day long at the Boat Show. I was wearing my HPX’s and my coworker was wearing her Dubarry Ultima Stretch Sea Boots. The rain had stopped and we both looked down and saw that my boots were dry while the leather on hers took
another hour to dry.
HPX Musto Boots, The Bad
I wore them the first time one hot Thursday evening race on Dragonfly, a J80 (HAD to try out my new SWAG). I had to wear them with shorts because it was that hot. It was a tough way to test that yes, indeed they have a good grip, feel light and are comfy while moving about. But they are still boots and unfortunately don’t come with air conditioning (wishful I know. The other down side to these or any other brown leather boots is that they are prone to experience some scuffing, but they’re still good, rugged boots. (After 4 months of decent use, my boots still look great.)
100% waterproof, rugged material, great traction, lightweight, warm, and fashionable on and off the boat… I love my Musto boots and consider them to be a very valuable asset in my arsenal to keep the cold and wetness away.