What To Wear Sailing & How To Choose The Best Clothing In 2021

When you are sailing on the ocean, it is necessary to put on suitable clothes and accessories. What to wear sailing will provide you with more freedom while making sure safety and comfort on your boat. 

When you live on the sailboat, it comes with three qualities that you should take into account in clothing:

  • Comfortable
  • Able to keep dry 
  • Easy to wipe off

It would become more significant when your clothes feature UPF 50+ to stay safe in the sun.

Now, Windrider of the Rockies will help you make some of the best decisions for marine clothing and accessories.  

Sailing Apparel & What Works Well onboard

Remember a few clothing choices that will not work well on the boat. Before you explore what to wear on board, here is a list of some things not to carry.


Some of you may take an interest in Pima cotton. However, this material is so heavy that it may limit your behaviors on a sailboat. Cotton is also difficult to dry, especially in humid subtropical conditions. 

Stay away from garments with 100% cotton. Instead, you should look for cotton blend types. They are an ideal alternative for comfortable and relaxed cloth. 

Synthetic fabric is another option in your plan before taking a voyage on the water.

Solid Light-Colored Clothing 

Living on the boat is not as full-supplied as living on the land. Therefore, your clothing is likely to get dirty quickly, but there is not much fresh water. It is the reason why you need to bring dark-colored garments with you. 

The cloth with dark colors will help you hide stains during the sailboat life. Furthermore, it is an excellent way for sun protection as light colors mainly do not prevent UV radiations

Delicate Materials 

Fragile garments like silk, leather, and wool do not belong to the sailboat life. Let these beautiful patterns stay in the wardrobe to prevent them from being damaged. 

While leather is not truly delicate, the material could get influenced by mold.

What To Wear Sailing In The Summer

After getting many suggestions from sailors, we have learned some valuable tips about what to put on to keep yourself calm.

Many of you may think about the sailboat life on TV ads. You may prepare plenty of bathing suits, beautiful tops, and comfy shorts for your plan. Yet, the reality is somehow different.

Here is the list of some things you will wear daily on a sailboat. We will explain why they are the best choices for your marine life.

Swim Leggings

what to wear sailing

The workout pants are the top choice of our-pick bottoms for the outfit on the water. 

The swim leggings would take the slightest effort to clean and dry. This type of clothing will offer the most comfort while moving around the boat. If it is a blistering day, you can swim in the water any time you want to cool off. 

Features Needed For Swim Leggings

  • Stay safe in the sun (UPF 50+)
  • Good-quality stitching (similar to swimsuits, they need to be able to deal with a ton of stretch)

Personal Preferences For Considerations

  • Tight-fitting or loose-fitting – Tight fits are similar to bathing suits. Loose fits are more comfortable to put on.
  • Capri or full-length swim leggings – The biggest difference is applying a bit more sunscreen when wearing Capri. 

Sea Folly has made swim leggings. Still, it is now harder to buy. Thes swim leggings of this brand also do not get featured with a UPF rating of 50+. 

The other choice for your sailboat life is swim leggings of Coolibar. Their items especially come in supreme quality and high durability. 

PRO TIP: The solid black swim legging can heat up quite quickly under direct sunlight. You should embrace pattern-featured or lighter-colored leggings if you do not want the additional heat.

Wrap Clothing

what to wear sailing

Even if you pack for a sailing voyage or create a liveaboard wardrobe, opt for clothes that are possible to layer. The lightweight wrap garment is one summer staple item. They are versatile too for you to layer in the cool months.

Features Needed For Wrap Clothes

  • Stay safe in the sun (UPF 50+)
  • heather colors or dark colors to remain inevitable stains unseen
  • synthetic fabrics or bamboo blends to stay cool

One of the best brands for this sun wrap we would recommend is Coolibar. Similar to almost all their clothes, these pieces are high-quality.

The primary material for the sun wrap is cotton bamboo blends. In other words, it comes in high durability yet is excessively lightweight. 

Believe us; you will want to put on this wrap cloth every day on the sailboat. They can hold up exceptionally well. Even after a lot of washes, this wrap still feels comfy and looks brand new. 

Performance Shirts

what to wear sailing

Another name of the performance shirt is the “fishing shirt.” This type of long sleeve shirt is profoundly lightweight. This feature makes them an excellent fit to keep you cool and dry. These performance shirts also come with a UPF rating. They take the slightest effort to wash as well. 

You can find some fishing shirts at a marina or local shop along the coast. 

What To Wear Sailing In Cold Weather

Everyone typically chases warmer tempẻatures. Yet, it does not mean that you cannot sail in cold weather. Then, you will want some basic things to keep you warm. 


what to wear sailing

Lightweight hoodies are great to keep you warm on chilly days. They can layer well under one jacket because hoodies are not heavy like traditional sweatshirts.

The top choice of pullovers is Kuhl. These products come in helpful details, including fitted styles, lightweight materials, kangaroo pockets, and thumbholes in cuffs. The heather color is also great for hiding inevitable stains. 

Wool Base Layer

what to wear sailing

The wool base layer or legging is indispensable for cool climates on a sailboat. They get equipped with one snug fit along with merino wool for additional warmth. 

You can opt for leggings as well. They are regularly a fabric blend of:

Smartwool is an ideal brand for you to check out some wool leggings. They may make you spend more money. However, you get what you pay for. These leggings will help to keep you warm effectively in cold temperatures. 


what to wear sailing

If it is a cold, breezy day on the ocean, you will think about the beanie for keeping your noggin warmer. 

Knit beanies can offer plenty of warmth on the sailboat. You should find the one accompanied by one fleece lining for additional warmth. Typical brands such as Coal and The North Face would provide you with a wide range of options. 

Wool Socks

what to wear sailing

You cannot miss the wool socks for a life on the water. However, not every pair of wool socks has similar features. 

A pair of Smartwool socks are the best pick today when you want your feet to be warmer and drier. Take a try on their Ph.D. Outdoor Light Merino Wool Crew socks for a chilly day.


what to wear sailing

Many sailors have their feet freeze when the temperature starts to drop on a sailboat. When you are out on chilly days, you will want to have your slippers for warmth. 

Ensure to take some slippers followed by treads to stay away from sliding every time the boat. A pair of slippers with the bootie style will make some attempts to help your ankles stay warmer!

Shoes to Wear Sailing

There are a ton of shoes that may be appropriate sailing footwear. Relying on which type of shoes is comfortable for personal preferences, here are some features to take into consideration:

  • Soles with light colors (fend off soles with dark colors unless these shoes typically show they are not marking)
  • Easy to put on
  • Dry quickly, much better if it comes with waterproof

One pair of waterproof shoes will often work well for sailing. Many folks take an interest in Keens as this brand has the feel of sandals.

This footwear will protect toes as well. People are often sailing barefoot, but it is better to wear sailing shoes.

One more choice for shoes is Olukai. Almost all of their items are water-resistant and stay non-marking. Olukai is famous for its drop-in heels. This feature allows you to transform the slip-on to get a casual feel. 

Waterproof Boots

what to wear sailing

If you intend to sail in chilly, wet weather, it is worth spending one pair of deck boots. 

Outerwear To Keep You Warm And Dry

When you live on the boat, it seems like you live outside. It is the reason why you should notice many layers of outerwear to stay warmer and drier onboard. Here is a list of some essential outerwear items that we suggest.

Light Raincoat

what to wear sailing

Light raincoats are a must-have piece for sailing in hot weather. Take the one that can roll up small. Then it will take the least space, and you can effortlessly take it onboard.

Features Needed For Raincoats

  • Rainproof and storm-resistant
  • Lightweight to bring easily
  • Alterable velcro sleeves
  • Alterable bottom hem

Marmot is well-known for lightweight rain jackets. They can pack up small yet do a great job preventing water from coming in.

If you like them a bit thicker, Helly Hansen will give you a variety of raincoats. This brand is available for men’s and women’s raincoats. 

Fleece Coat

Do not underrate the importance of warm fleece coats on the boat. They are one of the most versatile pieces you can get in the wardrobe onboard.

Even if it is a cold morning or a windy evening, these fleece coats will help you stay warm and comfortable.

Features Needed For Fleece Coats

  • One hood
  • One dark color or a blend of colors that will remain stains unseen
  • Good-quality stitching for high durability

The Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Coat has been one of the top picks for many years. Their products are amazingly durable and work best for sailboat life.

PRO TIP: You should choose a loose fit for layering a single hoodie underneath on cool, breezing days

Foul Weather Gear

what to wear sailing

When you are making a plan for boat life, foul weather gear is a must-have item. When the weather is breezy and wet, the temperature can go down quickly! One sturdy sailing jacket would help you keep dry in such a serious weather condition. 

Features Needed For Four Weather Gear

  • Water-resistant (the gear should get seam-sealed for complete water resistance)
  • Storm-resistant
  • Alterable hood
  • A water-resistant cuff on each sleeve
  • Alterable bottom hem

There are some well-known brands of foul wear gear available on the market. If you get confused by them, we recommend you check out some sailing jackets at Helly Hansen. Although these products are a little costly, they will work best to keep you warmer and drier. 

The brand comes with a lot of Helly Hansen Crew Midlayer Jackets. It has water-resistant sailing pants for a boat as well.

If you plan to enjoy a lot of voyages on the water, these waterproof pants should be on your list. You can find a few Helly Hansen Voss sailing pants. They are worth investing in cool and wet weather conditions. 

Helly Hansen does not produce the Voss anymore. Still, similar Moss sailing pants are ready to buy here.

PRO TIP: The suggestion is layering the jacket over the fleece coat when you want to bundle up.

Accessories To Protect Head & Face

On the ocean, you are likely to get many direct exposures to sun rays from the sky. Even reflective glow from the water can affect your skin too.

Usually, everyone gets exposed to these sun rays with their head and face. Here is a list of some necessary pieces of clothing to keep the head and face safe and prevent them from sun damage.

Wide-Brim Sun Hat

what to wear sailing

Wide-brim hats are fundamental sailing gear in hot conditions on a sailboat.

Features Needed For Sun Hats

  • Nice ventilation
  • A UPF rating of 50+ to stay safe under the sun.
  • water-resistant
  • Alterable chin strap (If you do not want to lose your hat because of a strong wind while sailing, Take a wide-brim sun hat accompanied by an adjustable chin strap)

You can check some models of sun hats at Tilley Airflo. They can provide a UPF rating of 50+ for sun protection. These hats also stay in place and are water-resistant in summer rainstorms. Take a visit at Tilley Airflo here.

If you are a budget-conscious consumer, let’s have some Hemlock Lifeguard sun hats. There are straws on the top of each cap so that you can put on a UPF bandana under this hat.


what to wear sailing

Some of the most vulnerable skin parts are the head, face, and neck. They regularly get the most exposure to the sun. A UPF rated bandana can help your face and head stay protected well.

Features Needed For Bandanas

  • A UPF rating of 50+ to stay safe under the sun
  • Dry quickly (if you are in tropical climates, the bandana can get sweaty in a long time)
  • Breathable
  • Wide enough to effortlessly cover your face fully

Some of the best bandanas come from Coolibar. They come in soft materials for comfortable feelings for the skin. These items also can hold up greatly to sailboat life. Check out some of Coolibar’s bandanas here.


It generally comes with two schools of opinion when people think about sunglasses on a sailboat.

You can pick up one affordable pair of sunglasses. Then you are not out $200 if it falls in the ocean.

Or you can purchase a good-quality pair of sunglasses. Then it is vital to ensure it stays on the face nicely. However, you still need a suitable pair to have the most beautiful moments on the water.

You may like to put on sunglasses that offer the most outstanding protection and the highest performance while living on the water.

Maui Jim is one of the most popular brands for good performance, contentment, and customer services. Their products come polarized with a lightweight glass-made lens. This feature will help to cut down on glare and claw marks. 

Costa Del Mar is another famous brand for sunglasses. These items have a more appealing style to men.

You do not want to sacrifice your favorite pair to the water. If so, you can take into consideration one sunglass retainer to ensure it stays attached. If you are still concerned about some misfortunes, choose the floating retainer.

PRO TIP: If you decide to wear a sunglass retainer, remember to put this pair of sunglasses on your face. Do not hang it on your chest while you are sailing the boat or underway. If not, your sunglasses can get hooked on some objects when you reach down in the locker or attach the anchor bridle.

Bags For The Sailboat Life

Looking for a bag that is practical and fashionable is a common challenge when people are onboard. Generally, you will need to find a purse featuring those below characteristics that can fit your style.

  • Large enough to contain all necessities (even if you are at the dock to go on a walk for fun or take the dinghy boat to shore)
  • Durable to bear the harsh marine condition
  • Hands-free to quickly transfer on and off the sailboat 
  • Waterproof (at minimum)

Here is a list of good options for your plan. 

Waterproof Crossbody Bag

Haiku is an environmentally-safe brand that can utilize the recycled plastic of water bottles to make perfect bags. The waterproof, crossbody style is efficient for sailboat living. These crossbody purses come in a variety of sizes. 

You can get an open pouch to bring with you. It is more accessible to necessary items, and the backside zip to store something you do not use regularly. Haiku gives their customers some crossbody models. 

Water-resistant Crossbody Pouches & Backpacks

If you opt for some things authentically waterproof – take a visit to Booe. This brand can make pouches that are perfect for users to explore on land. They also work well in kayaks, paddle boarding, and any other water adventure.

Booe could make 100% waterproof pouches that are submersible. The brand could make both crossbody pouches and daypacks.

You will have affection for the toothless zipper design. This feature makes these bags practical for sailboat life. 

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Final Thoughts on Sailing Clothes

There are many opinions when it comes to essential clothing on a sailboat. Based on your destination and type of sailboat, you can pick up which kind of outfit you can and cannot live on board.

Typically, you can wear swim leggings, a swim top, and a wrapping cloth. When going ashore, you can dress up a lightweight skirt, a tank, or performance shirt along with a wrapping cloth.

When you can determine what items provide the most comfort to you on a specific day, it will help your wardrobe stay concise and efficient. Add some essential things to prevent your skin from sun damage and harsh weather. 

Watch this video for more information.

Now, it’s time to start your exploration on the sailboat!

Reference: Sailing Clothing

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