Keeping your legs and lower half dry onboard requires a good pair of sailing trousers in all seasons. Marsali Taylor picks out 11 of the best women’s waterproof trousers and salopettes for sailing.
Whether it’s a quick pair of pull-on trousers to keep your legs dry from splashing waves on a sunny day, or full waterproofs for showery weather and strong wind conditions, these are the best women’s sailing trousers specifically designed for female sailors to suit all seasons.
For relaxed summer daysails, a pair of waterproof trousers to quickly pull over your jeans or shorts will be sufficient.
For longer days on the water or racing, you’ll want to look for sailing trousers made of tougher fabrics with reinforced knees and seat, that can be worn with thermal leggings underneath on chillier days.
For heavy conditions, offshore and ocean racing, there are now high-spec salopettes in women’s styles packed with features to keep you properly warm and dry for extended periods on deck.
Frequent hot drinks are important for crew warmth and morale, while staying hydrated is key for avoiding seasickness, particularly on warmer, breezy days when exertion levels may be higher. I know from my own experience that often women avoid drinks because of the hassle of removing their lifejacket, oilskin jacket, and mid-layer jacket for every heads visit. Trousers or salopettes with a drop-seat can solve that problem.
And of course, women sailors are a different shape. Men’s salopettes that fit my hips would need a foot of length taken off from the legs. I wanted sailing trousers designed for women.
What to look for in women’s sailing trousers
I looked for trousers that are waterproof, windproof, breathable, with articulated knees for ease of movement, and robustly constructed with reinforced knees, seat and back leg hems, and sealed seams.
Features to look for include adjustable straps and waist, and a pocket is handy for the days when you don’t need to wear a big jacket on top.
Personally, I like sailing trousers in a nice, bright colour, but absolutely not “womanly” pink or powder blue. Finally, I wanted an easy way of getting to the heads.
If you live near a chandler, do take the chance to go and try things on, particularly the bib/salopettes; you may find you have to compromise on fit in a way you wouldn’t even consider if you were buying a new pair of jeans.
Bear in mind that the manufacturer’s warranty may be voided if you make any alterations yourself, such as shortening trouser legs to fit.
At a glance
Best pull on women’s sailing trousers – Highlander Waterproof Packaway Trousers – Buy it now
Best women’s sailing salopettes –Helly Hansen Salt Coastal Bib for Women – Buy it now
Best women’s sailing overtrousers – Regatta Women’s Highton Waterproof Overtrousers – Buy it now
Best women’s sailing trousers: pull-on style
Highlander Women’s Waterproof Packaway Trousers
• Size: XS to XXL
• Material: 100% polyamide
• Fastenings: Laces
• Waistband: Regular
Reasons to buy: Alongside its waterproof functionality, it can be easily packed away thanks to its own storage bag.
Reasons to avoid: You could still get wet on rainy days because the trousers have open pockets.
Starting at the most basic of the budget end, Highlander makes waterproof pack-away trousers that are a quick solution for otherwise clement conditions to avoid those splashes in a dinghy tender. Thanks to the windproof, waterproof and breathable design and the fact that they are thin enough to pack into a small carry bag, will make these trousers a must-have for your next adventure.
Unfortunately, there are no pockets, just access slits, and one reviewer commented that the trousers gape when you’re sitting, which could let water in. But the adjustable elasticated waist and ankle fastening are good for comfort, which almost makes up for it.
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Regatta Women’s Highton Waterproof Overtrousers
• Size: 10 to 20
• Material: 100% polyester
• Fastenings: A press stud for a button and velcro instead of a zip
• Waistband: Part-elasticated
Reasons to buy: Good quality for the price and a great choice for taller women.
Reasons to avoid: These trousers cannot be turned up because of zips on the lower leg.
Are you looking for a pair of basic women’s over-trousers? Regatta Wome’s Highton Waterproof overtrousers could be for you. Advertised as waterproof, windproof and breathable, these stretch unlined trousers are a good option for days at sea.
Features like the taped seams, zip front waist, part-elasticated waistband and a zip at the ankles are an added bonus.
There are two zipped pockets and they are available in two colours: navy and black. The buyer feedback is generally positive, though several reviewers have mentioned they found the trousers slightly long in the leg – however, Regatta does offer three leg lengths.
The material is 100% polyester stretch fabric. For only £2 difference in price, these seem to be a more durable option than the Highlander ones.
Donhobo Women’s Walking Waterproof Trousers
• Size: XS to XXL
• Material: Polyester
• Fastenings: Zip
• Waistband: Zip front waist and an elasticated back waist
Reasons to buy: A comfortable pair of trousers that are good for colder environments.
Reasons to avoid: The trousers are slim-sized, so they won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Slightly more sophisticated, the Donhobo’s Women’s Walking Waterproof Trousers, boast incredible features such as it being thermal fleece lined. The garment is advertised as suitable for skiing, snow, hiking and fishing, and could make another good option for going ashore in colder conditions.
Available in several colours, the trousers are advertised as windproof, waterproof and breathable.
Love that the shape is similar to a slim-legged pair of jeans. Although some wearers have commented that they are a snug fit, so I’d recommend sizing up.
The Donhobo trousers have a zip front waist and an elasticated back waist. The knees are reinforced and there are several zipped pockets. An inner fleece layer will make them warm; but be warned that it’s flammable, so be careful near the stove.
Rohan’s Women’s Ventus Overtrousers
• Size: S to XL
• Material: Polyamide
• Fastenings: Zip and button
• Waistband: Cohaesive waist adjustment, with added elastication and shock cord stow system
Reasons to buy: The trousers are fully breathable, waterproof and have a Durable Water Repellency (DWR).
Reasons to avoid: No pockets for storing tools or essentials.
At the top end of the simple waterproof trousers market, I tried on Rohan’s Women’s Ventus Overtrousers. Their three-layer fabric means water should run off, and they’re windproof and breathable.
They have a two-way outer-leg zip, a comfortably soft elasticated waist with an adjustable cord and – a clever touch – a cold-hands release button for the waist cord.
There’s an outer hang-up loop at the back waist, and a little clip at the foot to clip the trouser hem to the shoelaces. The knees are reinforced, though they don’t have pockets, and come only in Carbon colour.
I tried these on over jeans and found them a most wonderfully comfortable fit – but at £150, they should be.
Musto BR1 Hi-back Trousers
• Size: M
• Fastenings: Zip fly with two snap buttons, a hook and bar closure
• Waistband: Shaped waistband with a high back waist
Reasons to buy: The trousers feature reflective details to keep you visable in low light and the Velcro adjustable ankles keep out rain and spray.
Reasons to avoid: Unisex design means they might not provide the best fit.
Specifically designed for sailing, Musto’s BR1 Hi-back trousers are waterproof, windproof and breathable; there’s a zip front opening, an elasticated back waist with belt loops, and zipped pocket access.
The seat and hems are reinforced, but not the knees. There’s a higher back, for warmth, which should prevent gaping between your trousers and jacket even if you prefer a waist-high style.
The description says they are ‘made to deliver outstanding protection in torrential rain’, which may not be quite the same as keeping you dry when you catch a wave on the foredeck.
They come in black only, and though they’re advertised under ‘women’, they seem to be unisex, which generally means designed for men.
Several buyers commented on the excessive length of the legs, and one also found them baggily wide.
Helly Hansen HP Foil Pant
• Size: XS to XL
• Material: 100% polyamide
• Fastenings: Front fly with zip
• Waistband: Adjustable waist
Reasons to buy: Good choice if you’re looking for coastal or inshore sailing trouser thanks to the good movement and practical pockets.
Reasons to avoid: Recommend to size up as they can come up small.
Helly Hansen also makes a pair of waist-high sailing specific trousers, with 2-ply fabric, sealed seams and a mesh lining. Both the seat and knees are reinforced, and the knees are articulated.
They have a front fly, adjustable waist and belt loops, but the waist is described as ‘low cut’ for freedom of movement. Depending on your body shape, this may be more comfortable. Or it may mean that upper layers come untucked.
There are cargo hand pockets and the trousers come only in black. The sizes range up to XXL.
The Helly Hansen HP Foil Pants are also offered as a ‘bib’ or salopette style, generally with a long front zip access and differing heights of front and back.
Gill Women’s Coastal Trousers OS3
• Size: 10 to 18
• Material: Outer: 100% nylon, Main lining:100% polyester, Mesh: 100% polyester, Fleece lining:100% polyester
• Fastenings: Zipper
Reasons to buy: Good option for experience or beginner sailors because of they will keep you warm and keep the wind out.
Reasons to avoid: Despite having one cargo pocket, additional pockets would be good for carrying tools.
I found only two pairs of waterproof trousers with a drop-seat facility, the Gill and Helly Hansen Offshore bibs.
Gill’s women’s coastal trousers are salopettes with 2-layer fabric protection. There’s a zip-front access, and they’re cut slightly lower than most pairs, so the adjustable straps are longer, and so may slide down your shoulder.
The knees and seat are reinforced, and there’s a fastening at the ankle. Graphite is the only colour available, they’re made in sizes up to 18, but there’s no variation in leg length.
Best women’s sailing salopettes
Helly Hansen Salt Coastal Bib for Women
• Size: XS to XXXL
• Material: 100% polyamide. Lining: 100% polyester
• Fastenings: Zipper
Reasons to buy: Reliable for unpredictable weather conditions as it features a water repellent zip.
Reasons to avoid: It is neither slim or oversized, so would size up if you want to pair it with warmer layers.
If a two-layer construction with a quick-drying inner mesh and sealed seams sounds like the sailing trousers you‘ve been searching for, then the Helly Hansen‘s Salt Coastal Bib should go to the top of your wishlist.
It ticks off every feature you could want as the trousers are windproof, waterproof and breathable. Plus, the two-way front zip has a stormflap and inside gusset, and the seat and knees are reinforced.
Pockets are a must when it comes to women’s sailing trousers. The cargo pocket has a turnover top held by a piece of velcro. The waist, shoulder straps and hems are adjustable, but I felt, trying them on, that when you pulled the back waist in, you also flattened the front. The underarms are elasticated.
There’s a reflective panel on the front chest. The sizes go from XS to XL. Two colours are available: ebony or red.
Gill OS2 Offshore Women’s Trousers
• Size: 8 to 20
• Material: 100% nylon
• Fastenings: Zipper
Reasons to buy:It has good functunality with deep thigh pocket with D-ring attachment point for marine tools.
Reasons to avoid: The trousers are hand wash only, so if you spill paint, grease or even your lunch down it, you can’t just throw it in the machine.
Gill OS2 Offshore Women’s Trousers are higher-cut than their coastal trousers, and advertise an advanced waterproof and breathable finish, and fully taped seams.
They have a two-way zip, adjustable braces with a clip fastening (so that you don’t need to keep readjusting) and ankle fasteners. The back waist and underarms are elasticated for a snug fit.
Details such as the cargo pocket on the front with a D-ring for tools make this excellent for your next adventure. The hand-warmer pockets make it a considered choice for colder climates. There’s a drop-seat facility, which got a special mention from one reviewer thanks to its covered zip along the top of the seat reinforcement with an internal waterproof gusset.
They come in black only and they’re made in women’s sizes up to 18, but there’s no variation in leg length.
Helly Hansen Skagen Offshore trousers
• Size: XS to L
Reasons to buy:
Reasons to avoid:
The final feature from Helly Hansen is the Skagen Offshore Women’s Bib. The final feature from Helly Hansen is the Skagen Offshore Women’s Bib. The quality is good: an advantage of picking a pair of trousers from a brand trusted by professionals on the ocean. The two-layer fabric with mesh lining and sealed seams lives up to that repuation. The seat and knees are articulated and fully reinforced. The waist, shoulder straps and hems are velcro-adjusted, and there’s a two-way front zipper.
There’s a zipped cargo pocket on one side, a mesh one on the other and two little under-bust pockets for keys. Like the Gill Offshore trousers, these have a drop-seat feature and a covered zip around the hips.
The only colour is ebony, and they come in XS, S, M and L, so up to a size 16/18.
Musto Women’s MPX Gore-Tex Pro Offshore Trousers
• Size: 8 to 16
• Material: Shell: 100% polyamide (recycled), Shell 2: 100% polyester (recycled), Shell 3: 100% polyamide, Lining: 100% polyester
• Fastenings:Ergonomically placed hook and loop hem adjusters
• Waistband: Adjustable waist
Reasons to buy: Straps of the salopette are adjustable making it good for layering in the winter.
Reasons to avoid: Not the cheapest option and some reports of water getting through the trousers.
Stand out with the Musto’s Women’s MPX Gore-Tex Pro Offshore Trousers. They are designed for serious sailing and tough conditions. The three-layer fabric is waterproof, windproof and breathable. The knees and seat are reinforced and articulated for ease of movement, and the back hems of the legs are also reinforced.
The shoulders, back waist and ankles are adjustable. The underarms are elasticated for a snug fit. There are two fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets and a loop for attaching your multi-tool.
They come in red or black, sizes go only up to 16 (a neat 16, according to one buyer, who had to change hers for a men’s medium) with no variation in leg length.
As with the BR1 trousers, the photos and spec of these is very similar to the men’s offshore trousers, with no mention of women-specific features.
Reviews of these were generally good, but there were a couple of comments about trouser length and how long they remained waterproof.
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