When it comes to picking the right kit for offshore sailing it's hard to know where to start. Here, we walk you through the key items you need to head off into the ocean
Offshore sailing offers a thrilling and adventurous experience and it is hard to imagine a place where sailing is closer to its ‘purest’ form. But it also requires careful consideration of what to wear offshore sailing to ensure your comfort, safety, and readiness for changing weather conditions.
When choosing clothing for offshore sailing, safety and functionality should be your top priorities. Where someone coastal cruising on a relatively warm day can wear almost anything, those heading offshore will want to opt for clothing that is designed specifically for maritime activities, as they are constructed to withstand saltwater, strong winds, and other challenging conditions. Look for features like water resistance, UV protection, and reflective elements.
Offshore weather can be unpredictable, so a layering strategy is essential. Start with a good sailing base layer, add mid layers for insulation, and top it off with waterproof sailing jacket and trousers. This allows you to adjust your clothing as conditions change without compromising safety or comfort.
Pack spare sets of clothing in waterproof bags to ensure you always have dry options available. This includes extra base layers, socks, underwear, and mid layers. Don’t forget to include warm clothing for night shifts or unexpected temperature drops.
Night time offshore sailing requires additional precautions. Wear bright, reflective clothing and consider a high-visibility vest. Attach reflective tape to your gear and clothing to enhance visibility in low light conditions.
Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice setting out on your first offshore voyage, this guide will provide you with essential insights into the what to wear offshore sailing and let you know the best gear for your journey.
When it comes to sailing base layers, start with moisture-wicking base layers that keep sweat away from your skin. Synthetic materials like polyester or merino wool are excellent choices. These layers help regulate body temperature and prevent chafing during long hours at sea.
Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe
Helly Hansen brought performance base layers to sailing and Alpine sports with its Lifa range, characterised by the striped sleeves.
The 100% polypropylene Lifa construction of the Stripe garments is quick-drying and highly breathable. The synthetic material does pick up odour so this is a wear and wash garment for short periods afloat.
Invest in high-quality waterproof and windproof outerwear to shield yourself from the elements. Waterproof sailing outerwear with sealed seams will keep you dry even in heavy rain and splashing waves.
Decathlon Tribord Sailing Jacket Offshore 900
This French company develops and retails its own brand products, but doesn’t change its ranges unnecessarily merely to suit the whims of fashion. The result is well thought-through long-lasting gear at very competitive prices.
This is the firm’s top-specification offshore jacket, made from a three-layer fabric with four times the waterproofing rating of typical inshore products.
It also has a high collar, adjustable hood with rigid visor, double sleeve seals and two hand warmer pockets. In addition there are two cargo pockets and a further secure and drier pocket under the storm flap.
Decathlon sailing overalls Offshore Race 900
To go alongside the jacket above, these waterproof sailing trousers are water-repellent, with neoprene lower section, adjustments on the hips, nice big pockets, and reinforced knees and buttocks.
The Decathlon Tribord 900 range is developed for offshore sailing use and, as mentioned, are good quality bits of kit for a price you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.
Protect your hands with durable sailing gloves. These gloves offer grip and prevent blisters when handling ropes and equipment. Look for gloves with reinforced palms and fingers for added longevity.
Check out our guide to the best sailing gloves on the market right now.
The Gill pro glove is made up of a harder wearing material than the brand’s championship or deck hand glove. Whilst this is harder wearing, it can also be a little stiffer on the hand as a tradeoff. These are brilliant for spinnaker control lines and other jobs around the boat that involve the risk of rope burn. The extra thickness here makes them good and long-lasting and will also mean they hold up to rope work in strong winds – a likelihood if you are heading offshore.
Sturdy, non-slip footwear is essential for safe movement on a sailing vessel. Sailing boots or deck shoes with proper traction are ideal choices. Make sure they’re comfortable for extended periods of wear.
Dubarry Ultima Sailing Boots
These all-leather upper sailing boots have a lovely quality to them. The leather is soft and pliable.
They have a loop to help pull them on, as well as a stretch panel at the back and they are also available in ‘ExtraFit’ sizes for the wide calved among us.
When our sister title, Yachting Monthly tested these boots (see their guide to the best sailing boots) they found the grip disappointing to begin with but improved significantly after a few days’ wear.
The leather, with the Gore-Tex lining gave plenty of insulation without too much bulk, although the fit was rather hit and miss with the YM test team.
Offshore sailing life jacket
Never embark on offshore sailing without a properly fitted life jacket and be sure to pick the best lifejacket that you can get your hands on. It’s a non-negotiable safety item. Additionally, ensure you have a safety harness and tether to secure yourself to the boat. These are critical in rough seas or during unexpected manoeuvres.
This is an outstanding lifejacket with great performance across the score board. The standout features are the lighting, both elevated and lumeon, lighting the entire bladder. The essentials are labels and easy to find and this feels like a lifejacket that has really been designed with the user in mind. Every query has been answered. If we were challenged to find a way to improve this, we’re really not sure how we would.
Offshore sailing demands a strategic approach to clothing selection to ensure safety, comfort, and readiness for varying conditions. Prioritise safety gear like life jackets and harnesses, and opt for clothing designed specifically for maritime activities. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your offshore journey with confidence and style.