Choosing the right weather gear 

There are few things in life that are guaranteed, but if you sail … then you’re going to wet! And although sunshine isn’t always guaranteed, chances are you’re going to need sun protection too.

So, as a sailor you need to be prepared for all weather conditions and protect yourself accordingly. Storms, rain, sun and wind. What you need is an overview to help you choose which items of weather gear you actually need … allow us to help!

Forget all the high end, trendy, custom made, funky, overpriced kit. Let’s get back to basics.

Rain gear

Does exactly what you think - protects you from the rain. This is a light form of protection suitable for most outings and comes in the form of jackets, trousers and hats. Modern, breathable materials allow you to layer, so when the sun reappears you simply shed a layer or two.

Coastal Gear

A little more substantial than rain gear and suitable for medium weather conditions. Coastal gear is basically a wet suit. You can add shoes, gloves and head gear to the suit for added protection from the elements.

Offshore Gear

Full protection from harsh weather conditions offshore. Offshore weather gear is suitable for cruises, races and bad weather conditions. It’s generally heavy, expensive and can be uncomfortable, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will keep you warm.

Checking for quality

A fabric’s density is measured by ounces per square yard. Two to four ounces are standard for sailing, and offshore gear goes up to seven ounces. However, this is more for maintaining temperature than keeping you dry.

Good quality weather gear should have drains for water to escape, sealed, strong stitches in the seams (!) and reinforced elbows, cuffs or collar. The tightness of the weather gear should be adjustable and reflective stripes are useful. For offshore weather gear, check for built in buoyancy and safety harnesses.

Don’t forget head, hands and feet

30% of the body's heat loss occurs through your head. Keep it protected by wearing a hat. Wearing a suitable hat will also help protect you from sunburn.

It’s important to keep your hands warm. After all, they are doing a lot of the hard work! Specialised sailing gloves are available in open fingered style for carrying out delicate tasks.

Keep your feet safe, rm and with a suitable grip. Sailing shoes with flat soles, slip protecting properties and no heel are best.

Top tips for buying weather gear

  • Take your time trying out different makes and models
  • Do your research on the internet
  • Get the opinions of fellow sailors
  • Make a list of the features you require
  • Always compare prices from different sellers
  • Prioritise your needs - jacket, trousers or hat

Choosing the right weather gear for sailing is just like buying accessories for any other outdoor hobby like fishing, camping or golf. You will be told that you need every item of clothing and accessory going, and all at the most ridiculous prices. Prioritise what you really need to match your requirements, forget the gimmicks and you’ll be fine.

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