When it comes to choosing the best women's sailing jacket for you, there are many options to consider. Sue Pelling takes a look at coastal sailing jacket designs that are also suitable for wearing ashore
When it comes to selecting the best women’s sailing jacket for you, the first thing you will want to consider is the sort of sailing you are likely to be involved in. Women’s sailing jackets can vary greatly depending on the usage they’re designed for, so it’s important to invest in one that is fit for purpose.
This guide features what are commonly known as coastal jackets, which generally means they are suitable for coastal or day sailing, as opposed to offshore or ocean sailing where conditions are more likely to be extreme.
Regardless of where you are sailing, keeping as dry, and therefore as warm, as possible, are key when on the water. While a coastal jacket, particularly one with a built in hood, will keep the rain and spray off to a certain degree, if you are likely to sail regularly for longer periods in open water, long-term it is well worth considering investing in both a coastal and offshore jacket.
One benefit of a coastal sailing jacket is that, thanks to its lighter construction, it can double up as a casual jacket for onshore use.
Thankfully, with so many technical sailing clothing companies now recognising the importance of designing sailing apparel specifically for the female form, no longer do women have to make do with a ‘one size-fits-all’ approach.
A women’s sailing jacket is generally designed without unnecessary bulk, so when trying one on make sure there is enough room for one or two layers underneath, even if it means going up a size from your normal fitting. The women’s cut shape will still be apparent but you will find it more comfortable when wearing multiple layers.
Remember there is no getting away from the fact that it’s inevitable you’ll get wet through spray or rain at some point, so choose a jacket that’s waterproof. It should also have taped seams and ideally be constructed of breathable fabric. I would also recommend choosing a jacket with a foldaway hood, a high collar, and adjustable cuffs to help keep water ingress at bay.
If you’re looking for a full set of sailing clothes, make sure you read our guide to the best women’s sailing trousers.
8 of the best women’s sailing jackets available right now
Gill Women’s Navigator Jacket
I’ve had this jacket in it’s previous incarnation from the 2013 season for 9 years. It’s been used every season. It is one of the best women’s sailing jackets I’ve used over the last decade.
I use it as a lightweight jacket that is equally at home on the boat as it is off the water. The hood isn’t a high viz affair, so walking ashore in the rain is less conspicuous compared to wearing a dedicated sailing jacket.
The current colour way comes in grey with orange trim or deep plum colour. I’m actually a fan of a bright colours generally so I was very happy with the previously available pink jacket colour that they used to produce this in. I know lots of women hate being pink washed so the latest colours are a decent choice.
Sizing is fairly close to actual standard clothing sizes, so a size 10 is a British 10. I can still get a jumper under mine. If the weather turns a bit gnarly, I often just leave it on and chuck another bigger offshore jacket over the top.
My jacket is looking a bit tired now, but I’ll be replacing it with the same again. Great value for money.
reasons to buy: Goes from boat to shore easily, machine washable, one on test has lasted 10 seasons.
reasons to avoid: the hood is quite thin and not a generous fit if you have a lot of hair.
Gill OS3 Women’s Coastal Jacket
Gill’s OS3 collection is one of the British brand’s best selling ranges and the women’s Coastal Jacket, updated this year, not only has all the essential technical features but is also particularly stylish.
The jacket features two layers of fabric and is mesh-lined with fully taped seams that Gill says makes it waterproof, windproof, highly breathable and light weight. All these features combine to make it a great women’s coastal sailing jacket.
You’ll also find adjustable cuffs with PU inner seals, a fleeced lined, high cut thermal collar, and a fold-away hood to keep you snug when it gets wet and windy.
Like most technical sailing clothing brands, Gill has incorporated safety features by including subtle, yet effective, hi-vis trim in key areas of the jacket including the hood.
Gill has also designed the side entry pockets with Velcro closures, and which are deep enough for essentials such as gloves.
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Helly Hansen W Salt Coastal Jacket
Trusted by outdoor professionals and enthusiasts throughout the world, Helly-Hansen is definitely a brand to consider when choosing a coastal sailing jacket.
The latest W Salt Coastal Jacket, launched in early 2021 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Norwegian crew that raced the Whitbread Round the World Race (now The Ocean Race), has been designed with style and performance in mind.
Those averse to branding however, may find the Helly Hansen logo all the way down the front a font too large!
Constructed with 2-layer ‘Helly Tech’ Performance fabric, Helly says the jacket is sturdy and durable while remaining lightweight and offering full protection from water and wind. It has double cuffs, a total of six pockets, a hi-vis packable hood, SOLAS-approved reflectives, and a high fleece-lined collar that offers plenty of protection from the elements.
Overall, this is a really eye-catching, lightweight performance jacket that will serve you well. It is also available in a particularly attractive Caribbean blue as well as classic red.
Musto BR2 Coastal Jacket
Musto’s Women’s BR2 Coastal Jacket benefits from Musto’s vast design and product development experience, making it a stylish, yet practical addition to your sailing wardrobe.
Knowing a thing or two about heavy weather technology, Musto has produced the jacket using 3-layer fabric (same as 2 layer but with an additional durable scrim layer bonded to the membrane).
Like most coastal-style jackets, it has a mesh lining making it light enough for layering up underneath. Musto says its waterproof and breathable to meet Musto’s BR2 standard (10K/10K water column rating), which makes it a good piece of kit for prolonged torrential downpours.
A high-grade double storm flap over the zip, and double cuffs with adjustable outer cuffs should help stem the water flow, while the fluorescent hood and fleece lined hand warmer pockets are ideal for keeping your hands warm when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Decathlon Waterproof Windproof Sailing Jacket 300
If budget is a major factor when choosing a women’s sailing jacket, you can always rely on Decathlon to offer a reasonably priced option. In fact, Decathlon’s Tribord range of sailing kit not only offers exceptional value for money but also delivers on performance.
Like all its performance sailing kit, Decathlon’s Sailing Jacket 300 has been produced in collaboration with sailors and designers to create exactly the sort of stylish, functional jacket required for coastal sailing.
According to Decathlon, it is waterproof, windproof and breathable, and special features include a high fleece-lined collar, protective flaps and adjustable hem and cuffs to ensure a snug fit and to help stem water ingress.
This jacket also features a fully adjustable hood that can be zipped away in the collar. All plastic zips on this jacket are injection treated that Decathlon says helps stop salt oxidation.
All in all, this is an excellent value for money, functional jacket that will also look good ashore.
Rooster Passage 3-layer jacket
Although not specifically designed for women, the Rooster Passage 3-layer unisex jacket is tailored with a sufficiently close fit to suit many women sailors. It has a scooped back in the hip area to provide extra protection from wash when sitting on deck.
Constructed from 3-layer technical fabric with high quality Hipster Tape on the fully taped seams, and all the features you would expect from a quality coastal jacket, this is definitely one to consider.
There are also plenty of well-positioned deep pockets including useful chest pockets that have water repellent zips and plastic key loops inside. There is a reflective stow away hood with structured peak, fleece lined hand warmer pockets, and adjustable cuffs/hem.
Zhik Women’s Platinum INS200 Jacket
Zhik has come up trumps with the INS200 Platinum jacket, creating a good-looking, streamlined design that has many features suitable for not only performance sailing but also for use as a lightweight jacket on shore.
This jacket is part of Zhik’s new INS200 range that features 3-layer, waterproof Vecta Fabric Technology, and has all the features required for high activity coastal and inshore sailing.
Zhik says their Vectra fabric is lightweight and waterproof with a breathable membrane suitable for moderate levels of activity and higher levels of waterproof durability than the industry average.
Inside, all seams are taped with further reinforcement on critical seam junctions. The smooth hood design is fully adjustable for a customised fit and has a neat internal gusset made from Spandex. According to Zhik, this keeps the hood in contact with your forehead, preventing water ingress and wind and makes the hood move with your head.
Pelle P W Tactic Jacket
If you are searching for a chic looking, quality coastal jacket, the Pelle P Women’s Tactic Race jacket should be at the top of your list. Inspired by Pelle Petterson’s lifestyle and achievements as an Olympic athlete and yacht designer, this Swedish company specialises in designing elegant yet extremely functional clothing.
The Women’s Tactic Race Jacket is, according to Pelle P, waterproof, windproof and highly breathable and incorporates Pelle P’s ‘Hi:Res 20T2L’ stretch membrane. It has taped seams and a fixed hood, which is adjusted with drawstrings. To ensure maximum mobility, it has articulated sleeves with Cordura reinforced elbows, and the cuffs are manufactured using elastic PU with Velcro fastening for a close fit to, importantly, keep water out.
The subtle yet effective Pelle P logo is placed in strategic areas to ensure the jacket is extra visible in low light including a reflective P logo at top of the fluorescent hood.