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
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 […]
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.
Choosing Foul Weather Gear for Sailing Selecting the correct foul weather gear is essential to remain dry and comfortable in just about any weather and sailing conditions. With so many options available it is key to match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter to the gear you choose so that you are not over or under protected. Information covered in this article: What is foul weather gear? What is […]
Choosing Foul Weather Gear for Sailing
Selecting the correct foul weather gear is essential to remain dry and comfortable in just about any weather and sailing conditions. With so many options available it is key to match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter to the gear you choose so that you are not over or under protected.
Information covered in this article:
- What is foul weather gear?
- What is foul weather?
- Waterproof verses Water-resistant
- What breathability means
- Waterproof breathable fabric choices
- Fabric finishes – Durable water repellant (DWR)
- How should foul weather gear fit?
- Foul weather gear categories explained
What is Foul Weather Gear?
Foul weather gear is all about water management. The gear consists of jackets, trousers and smocks, and in essence they are a shell designed to keep the water out (waterproof) and move moisture on the inside to the outside (breathability). Foul weather gear is a high tech, uninsulated, outermost layer designed to keep you dry, while maximizing comfort and ease of movement. Foul weather gear is not insulated – warmth will be determined by how you layer beneath it with wicking base and mid layers.
What is Foul Weather?
The four components that make up foul weather are: rain, seas, wind and duration.
Rain: The volume of water falling from the sky and may be described as light, medium or heavy.
Seas: The spray and water over the decks that will be encountered while sailing. Spray is random in amounts and direction as the boat contacts waves coming from different directions. Water over the deck will vary between simple wet decks all the way up to significant rushes of water. Seas may be described as light, medium or heavy.
Wind: On a windless rainy day, seas can be flat and the rain may be coming straight down. In high winds, both sea spray and rain can be driven at you horizontally. Wind strength may be described as calm, light, moderate, and strong.
Duration: How long will you be exposed to poor weather? Hours, days or a week?
The more severe the rain, seas, and wind, and the longer the duration, the more effective and substantial foul weather gear must be in order to keep you dry.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
We call fabric “waterproof” when its water resistance is sufficient to keep out water under pressure. Manufacturers use different test standards, but you can trust that any gear that a major foul weather brand designates as “waterproof” will not let water through the material.
Waterproof/Breathable: All foul weather gear at APS is waterproof and breathable. Expect the gear to keep water/rain from getting through the materials, while also transporting moisture/sweat out through the material.
Water-Resistant: Not considered foul weather gear, but it can keep you dry in light rain for a brief time. Found in windbreakers and lightweight on-shore casual gear.
Waterproof/Nonbreathable: Remember the heavy PVC foul weather gear of the 1970’s – usually yellow. Any athletic activity done while wearing these quickly lead to a build up or moisture (sweat) inside the gear. Once you rested and cooled down, you would be left wet inside your gear (and chilled, if the outside temperature was low). At APS we don’t recommend nor sell nonbreathable foul weather gear.
What Breathability Means
Breathability in waterproof/breathable foul weather gear has been a game changer. No one wants to be sailing in a wearable sauna. The key to avoiding this is “moisture vapor transfer,” which is what we’re really talking about when we say “breathability.”
Transferring sweat vapor through foul weather gear (a shell) happens in part because the warm, moist air inside is attracted to colder, relatively drier air outside. The efficiency of that vapor transfer process helps determine how dry or clammy you feel. You will hear all sorts of brands touting competing claims about their material’s performance. Your first choice will be to choose either a coated or laminated waterproof breathable fabric.
Waterproof Breathable Fabric Choices
The key component of your foul weather gear fabric is a coating or membrane that does the technological trick of blocking water out while also allowing water vapor (sweat) to escape.
Coated: Hydrophilic Fabrics
These are made from a solid hydrophilic (water-loving) polyurethane (PU) coating that is applied (think of it as paint spread on a wall) to the inside surface of the material (outer shell). Moisture on the inside of gear is attracted to the coating. The moisture vapor transport occurs by ‘molecular wicking’: the water molecules are first absorbed to the surface of the hydrophilic coating, then they move to the next molecule, and so on. This process continues through the coating until the water molecules emerge on the other side (outside). The water molecules are drawn from the moist, higher temperature of the inside of the gear to the relatively cooler and dryer outside.
Jackets will usually have an inner hanging liner (nylon and/or mesh) to protect the coating from abrasion. Dinghy smocks generally do not.
Coated fabrics work well, but do not pass as much water vapor as laminates and can wear away in areas of high chafe/wear over time. Advantages are solid performance at a lower price.
Laminate: Microporous Fabrics
The core of a waterproof breathable laminate is its membrane. These membranes are made from polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) – widely know by its DuPont brand name: Teflon. These membranes are amazingly thin, and estimated to have 9 billion pores per square inch. Water vapor (perspiration) is drawn through these pours from the moist, higher temperature of the inside of the gear to the relatively cooler and dryer outside. Water on the outside of the material do not pass through the membrane due to the membrane’s ‘surface tension’ which cause water to bead up into drops too large to pass through the pores. Think of how a drop of water beads up when dropped into a Teflon pan – stays round and does not spread apart. Which is different than the common misconception that the pores are too small for liquid water to pass through.
The thin membrane is laminated between a durable outer material and a thinner inner scrim material (three layer laminate) so that it is protected from abrasion giving it the best durability of any waterproof breathable material. Laminates are the most effective at moisture transport, and carry a higher price tag to go along with the higher performance. Gore-Tex dominates this category and is widely held as the best. Over the years other fabric manufactures have been developing similar fabrics that come very close to Gore-Tex’s performance (some say a few are just as good in some circumstances).
Fabric Finishes – Durable Water Repellent (DWR)
All foul weather gear has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the outside of the material. This ‘water repellent’ finish causes water to bead up and roll off the outer fabric.
Maintaining the DWR finish of your gear is critical if you want to maintain the maximum breathability. When the DWR wears off, the surface fabric will ‘wet out’ (saturate). The underlying waterproof membrane or coating will still keep water out, but the saturated surface fabric slows the movement of sweat vapor to the outside. This reduced breathability can lead to moisture build up inside your gear, even making it feel as though it is leaking. Additionally, as water evaporates from the wet fabric, it cools, which can draw away body heat and leave you less warm or chilled.
The more environmentally friendly DWR finishes now in use wear off faster than older DWR products. Thus, regularly reapplying a DWR treatment should be part of your foul weather gear maintenance routine. When water stops beading up on your gear, its time to reapply more DWR. See our post on DWR care.
Shop DWR and gear care products at APS.
How Should Foul Weather Gear Fit?
Coastal and more so, offshore and ocean gear is full cut throughout to provide you freedom of movement and room for multiple under layers that will keep you warm. This is to say that you may feel they are a bit too loose when you first try them on, but that is the fit you generally want. Sleeve lengths will be long in order to allow you to raise and move your arms unrestricted when fully geared up with multiple layers. Sleeves will generally cover a portion (or most) of your palms when your arms are at your sides. Tighten the external Velcro adjustments on the sleeves if you desire they stay up at the wrists. Trouser leg lengths will be longer too. This is to ensure you can bend and crouch unrestricted when geared up. If you are not wearing your deck boots with your trousers, you will probably need to tighten the Velcro adjustments at the ankles to keep the trousers from sliding under foot.
Inshore, keelboat racing and dinghy racing gear is roomy but with a more athletic fit. They are not too loose or baggy, but do offer enough material in the cut for you to have unrestricted movement when geared up with an under layer. Sleeve and trouser lengths are longer than street clothes (not as long as coastal, offshore or ocean gear) and may require the use of the outside Velcro wrist and ankle cinches to keep them off the hands and from under your heel.
Inshore Light gear will be more of athletic shore wear cut. Sleeve and pants lengths do not generally require Velcro cinches to keep them in place.
Dinghy racing gear needs to be long enough in the arms and legs so that you can raise your arms and squat with the seals cinched. Be sure that the seals cinch snuggly around your neck and wrists. If not water will leak in.
Foul Weather Gear Categories
At APS we define foul weather gear by the following categories:
Below we explain each category of gear so you can best match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter.
Ideal for extended and extreme ocean use over consecutive days and weeks in the harshest weather and boat abrasion conditions, and built to stand up to these abuses again and again. This is THE gear relied upon by professional sailors for events like the Vendee Globe or Volvo Ocean Race.
Hoods: Maximum coverage and adjustments able to mold to your head/face and cinch down to keep water out. Fluorescent colored and significant reflective tapes.
Collars: The highest collars of any jackets with the most effective front storm flap coverage with multiple Velcro adjustments for varied configurations depending on the protection required.
Cut/Fit: Lengths are longer in the jacket and higher in the bibs to maximize protective coverage and overlap of the jacket and trousers (more than any other gear). They are extra full cut (roomy) to allow for ease of movement and varied thicknesses of under layers worn for warmth.
Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Laminates only.
Shop Ocean foul weather gear at APS.
Similar to ocean gear, offshore is for ocean sailing over consecutive days and weeks. The materials and features offer great protection in extreme conditions but are slightly less robust making for a better price point for the recreational offshore sailor who still requires excellent protection.
- Hoods: Full coverage and adjustments to be able to mold to your head/face and cinch down to keep water out. Fluorescent colored and significant reflective tapes.
- Collars: High collars with the substantial front storm flap with multiple Velcro adjustments.
- Cut/Fit: Lengths are a bit longer in the jacket and higher in the bibs to maximize protective coverage and overlap of the jacket and trousers. They are full cut (roomy) to allow for ease of movement and varied thicknesses of under layers worn for warmth.
Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Most are laminates, with some coated.
Appropriate for medium distance passage making, and every day near shore/harbor sailing. Coastal gear is designed to be worn for days on end while providing you good protection and comfort.
- Hoods: Fully adjustable fluorescent colored with reflective tapes.
- Collars: Medium height collars with Velcro adjustable front storm flaps.
- Cut/Fit: Extra room in the cut to allow for ease of movement and for varied thicknesses of underlays worn underneath for warmth.
- Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Most are coated, with some laminates.
A good choice for near shore/harbor sailing, and will keep you dry all day long in poor weather, but not designed to protect against extreme weather conditions. This foul weather gear is also great for onshore wear on rainy and blustery days.
- Hoods: Adjustable hood. Some are fluorescent and may have reflective tapes.
- Collars: Short, but protective collars with simple Velcro front closures.
- Cut/Fit: Extra room for an under layer, with a more traditional on-shore jacket cut.
- Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.
These jackets and waist pants (no trousers with suspenders here) are perfect for keeping you dry in the poor weather as you seek a protected harbor. Popular on and off the boat, and are great to always have in your day bag in case of a passing squall.
- Hoods: Basic adjustable hood on most jackets.
- Collars: Short with full zipper closure.
- Cut/Fit: More traditional on-shore jacket cut.
- Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.
This gear is designed for day racing on keelboats around 22’ and longer. It is constructed around keeping the gear lightweight, with unrestricted and easy movement, waterproof and reduce wearer fatigue. Jackets are short waisted so you don’t end up sitting on the ‘tails’ (which restricts you from bending forward freely). Hoods are minimal for ease of head movement and unobstructed line of sight. Smocks with adjustable neck, wrist and waist seals are often desired over a jacket for their ability to better seal out water in very wet sailing conditions (a favorite of crew towards the bow of the boat taking waves). Salopettes (contoured fit over the back, chest and shoulders – no need for suspenders) are generally favored over trousers for their high protective cut, more comfortable fit (less material and bagging), and the ease of movement they offer (they can make going to the head more difficult).
- Hoods: Basic adjustable fluorescent hoods – many are removable.
- Collars: Short with full zipper closure.
- Cut/Fit: Full cut and extra lengths where needed for athletic sailing, but form fitting where appropriate. Some pieces have waterproof panels that stretch with your movement.
- Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Coated or laminates.
Note: Not included here are dry suits and wet gear (wet suits) that are designed for protection if submersed in the water.
Dinghy racing foul weather gear is waterproof and breathable and designed to keep you dry from rain and spray when sailing (not if you capsize/fall into the water), and designed for day sailing. Dinghy smock tops are popular on all dinghies and even small keel boats. They are lightweight and easy to move in. The neck, wrists, and waist all have adjustable seals to keep water/spray out (some less expensive smocks have an elastic waist and not an adjustable waist seal). Trousers have adjustable ankle closures or seals that can be cinched around dinghy boots.
- Hoods: n/a
- Collars: n/a
- Cut/Fit: Full cut and extra lengths where needed for athletic sailing, but form fitting where appropriate.
- Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.
Musto MPX Race Lite Jacket, Smock & Salopettes, The New Buoy Racing Favorite. Musto’s MPX Gore-Tex Race gear has been a staff favorite at APS for as long as it’s been available. This stuff was the original & the ultimate in “buoy racing” gear and pretty much everyone who works here has bought a set at some point. Musto has been cranking out this classic, bombproof design with minimal changes for a long time now and for 2016 they decided […]
Musto MPX Race Lite Jacket, Smock & Salopettes, The New Buoy Racing Favorite.
Musto’s MPX Gore-Tex Race gear has been a staff favorite at APS for as long as it’s been available. This stuff was the original & the ultimate in “buoy racing” gear and pretty much everyone who works here has bought a set at some point. Musto has been cranking out this classic, bombproof design with minimal changes for a long time now and for 2016 they decided it was time for something new. This year they have delivered the MPX Race Lite – this set of jacket, smock & salopettes offers the same ultra-durable, waterproof & breathable Gore-Tex protection that everyone loves, but in a significantly lighter weight package.
If you aren’t familiar with Musto’s MPX Race gear – it’s designed with minimal frills compared to a more traditional coastal or offshore sailing jacket. Designed to be worn for day races, or perhaps short overnights in a pinch, the jacket has a low collar, only a few pockets (no fleece linings here), and a short at the waist length. Combined with the salopettes you have total waterproof coverage, without the bulk that makes it hard to jump around the boat during intense racing.
The biggest change with new Race Lite version is that both the jacket & smock are made from a significantly lighter weight Gore-Tex Pro Shell than before. Given it’s been over 10 years since the original first came out – surprise, surprise technology has changed somewhat (what did your cell phone look like 10 years ago?). This means that the MPX Race Lite jacket is lighter and offers stretch panels to make it easier to move around it, and it is still super durable gear that will last for years of active sailing.
Race Lite Jacket
Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of the MPX Race Lite set, starting with the jacket. It has a low bulk, waterproof zipper at the front, and 3 pockets with the same zip. Note that these pockets aren’t truly waterproof because they have small drain holes in the bottoms – in case you get hit by a sudden wave with your pocket open you wouldn’t want to try standing on your head to get the water back out. The jacket also has double cuffs to make sure your arms stay dry even if they’re above your head – an upgrade from the previous version which only had a single cuff.
The hood on the Musto Race Lite jacket has adjustments both around the front & around the back of your head to ensure it says on, plus a new fleece lining to keep you warm on colder days & nights. The great thing about the hood is that it’s removable – if you take your jacket on a cold overnight or a short distance race you will love having all the features of the hood, but if you’re just day racing wearing a hat you can just unzip and leave it at home. I personally like to leave my hood in one of the jacket pockets – that way it’s always there in case I need it.
You can really feel the stretch fabric in the jacket working when moving your arms around. This is especially helpful when you have the cuffs cinched down tight – the stretch helps make sure the cuffs don’t pull when you have your arms all the way out jumping a halyard.
Race Lite Smock
Now on to the smock. The Musto Rate Lite smock has the same great lightweight & stretchy fabric as the jacket. As you’d expect from a smock, it has a waist seal, cinched with two Velcro straps that pull forward. The waist band is quite tall – which I’ve found helps both to keep water out, and keep the smock from riding up during the day.
The smock has a chest pocket, and then one big kangaroo pocket (just like your favorite hoody sweatshirt). The pocket has a ton of room for storage if you need it, but can be pretty hard to get into if you are wearing a life jacket on top.
The neck closure on the smock is quite comfortable. It has a very long zipper, which allows the neck to open up wider and makes the smock easier to take on & off. The zipper is angled off to the side, which keeps it away from the front of your neck making it more comfortable when the neck seal is tight.
Race Lite Salopettes
Finally the official APS staff favorite piece of gear, the Musto Race Lite salopettes. This product remains the most similar to the prior version, and for good reason. This product has been APS’ most popular single piece of foul weather for many years – both with our customers and with our staff. It would be hard to overstate how much everyone I have ever talked to who owns these loves them, myself included. In case you are questioning just how much we love this gear at APS – we have not one (Musto MPX Salopettes Video Blog) but two (Foul Weather Gear Review: Musto MPX Race Salopettes) previous reviews for the MPX salopettes already in the APS Advisor.
So what’s new? Unlike the Race Lite jacket & smock, the salopettes are made of a bit heavier Gore-Tex Pro Shell. It feels very similar to the original fabric, which means that these bottoms are going to stand up whatever you can throw at them on the race course. Because your pants are what makes contact with the deck all the time, it made sense to make them out of a slightly heavier fabric. This is especially true with some of today’s race boats which can often have very aggressive non-skid.
Salopettes are unique in that they have full waterproof coverage all the way up to your shoulders. The over the shoulder material on the Musto salopettes is fully stretchy material to help them move with you when you raise your arms. This helps avoid any unpleasantness in the crotch area from a too snug fit. Salopettes are not for everyone though – some people will find that traditional trousers offer the additional height adjustment that they need to be comfortable.
One of the improvements in these new trousers from Musto is at the ankle cuff. There is about a 4 ½” neoprene cuff that you can cinch down over your boots or ankles to keep the water out and ensure you aren’t stepping on your pants. The inside of the cuff is a super grippy material so it should do a much better job than the previous version of sealing against your boots and staying put all day.
The bottom line is that Musto Race Lite jacket, smock & salopettes will be a real workhorse that will serve you well for years on many different kinds of sailboats. This gear will keep you dry but allow you the freedom to move quickly on fast sport boats. It is durable enough to stand up to days and days of rain, spray and waves. The MPX Gore-Tex fabric is going to remain waterproof for years, keeping you dry the whole time. The Race Lite collection is versatile – you can wear this around the buoys for beer cans, but you could also take it on short overnight races and it will serve you well for both.
Salopettes (sa·lo·pettes) PLURAL NOUN – A one-piece garment similar to overalls, with a front flap and shoulder straps. A full sleeveless top, worn for skiing, sailing, etc. ORIGIN 1970s: from french salopette in the same sense + -s by analogy with such words as trousers. So, Salopettes are French for Trousers? If that’s it, why are they different? Lets have a closer look. (Editor’s Note: For the sake of comparison we’re going to focus on offshore quality Trousers, but both […]
PLURAL NOUN – A one-piece garment similar to overalls, with a front flap and shoulder straps. A full sleeveless top, worn for skiing, sailing, etc.
ORIGIN 1970s: from french salopette in the same sense + -s by analogy with such words as trousers.
So, Salopettes are French for Trousers?
If that’s it, why are they different? Lets have a closer look. (Editor’s Note: For the sake of comparison we’re going to focus on offshore quality Trousers, but both foul weather gear styles come in various weights and levels of durability).
With their athletic fit and higher cut, Salopettes are an excellent choice for the active sailor, whether buoy racing, day sailing and the occasional overnight.
Salopettes offer total core coverage providing warmth and comfort and can be used as a standalone piece of kit when the elements are mild.
They often come in a three layer laminate fabric that provides full waterproof protection and superior breathability while keeping the weight to a minimum.
Starting at the top, the shoulders incorporate wide stretch panels which prevent them from slipping off, and allow for ease of movement but because of this they also restrict height adjustment so length/fit here will be most important.
Other differentiating features on some models are a waterproof zipper and up to one external pocket to hold the bare essentials. With minimal fit adjustment points, the only true adjustment to be made are at the waist and ankle.
Let’s review: Salopette’s ARE: Minimalistic, lightweight, flexible, breathable and comfortable, consider it a sleeveless, footless, waterproof onesie for adults!
PLURAL NOUN – An outer garment covering the body from the waist to the ankles, with a separate part for each leg.
Early 17th century: from archaic trouse (singular), from Irish triús and Scottish Gaelictriubhas (see trews), on the pattern of drawers .
Foul Weather Gear Trousers, also commonly referred to as bibs, are a fuller fit and lower cut with narrow shoulder straps and numerous adjustment points. Kind of like your denim overalls.
Height adjustment here is less as important with the adjustable Velcro shoulder straps to customize fit. Other features of trousers include hand warmer pockets under the chest, as well as thigh pockets to store your goodies.
The zipper is typically NOT waterproof but has a taller internal gusset to prevent penetration, which makes them ideal for longer passages or offshore adventures. The extra features on trousers usually make them a bit heavier and less breathable then their counterpart, the Salopette.
I’ve been hearing this song on the radio saying ‘it’s all about that base’ and I think they’re talking about a Base Layer, right? Yes, that must be it because when it comes to being comfortable on the water, its really is, all about the base layer. It doesn’t matter if you have a fully waterproof foul weather jacket and pants. If underneath that fancy sailing gear you’re dripping in sweat with a cotton tee shirt on, you are going to be freezing. Mark my […]
constructed in a manner designed to wick body moisture away from your body so that it can evaporate as opposed to having your own private wet tee shirt contest inside your foulies leaching heat and energy away your body. Dry = Comfortable
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!: