What to Wear on a Sailboat: 8 Pieces of Sailing Attire to Purchase

For most sailors, heading out on the water is their preferred means of spending a beautiful summer day. However, you need the proper sailing entire to make the most of it. (Because spoiler alert: nothing kills the mood faster than a sunburn.) 

Are you unsure about the right clothing for sailing? You’ve come to the right place! Sailing attire varies greatly depending on the type of boat, weather, and excursion activities. Keep scrolling, and we’ll reveal our must-have clothing items for sailing. 

Our Must-Have Clothes for Sailing

Need help deciding what to wear for your sailing excursion? Below are some questions to ask yourself when purchasing clothes for sailing:

  • Are they comfortable AND functional?
  • Will they protect me from the weather and rain?
  • Do they protect me from UV rays? How about windchill?
  • How long is their lifespan? Can they be washed and reused?

Read Next: Sun Safety Guide

1. Life Jacket

A life jacket is essential boating gear regardless of what you wear underneath it. And whether you’re a rookie sailor or a seasoned pro – you need a properly fitting life jacket on board. If you’re unsure what that means, our team has a detailed guide revealing the various devices, how they fit, and what they’re used for.

Additionally, here are some recommendations:

2. Non-Slip Shoes

Every boater should invest in a pair of non-slip shoes with rubber soles. Ensure they’re comfortable and durable enough to be worn all day in the sun. And bonus points if they are waterproof or water-resistant! 

We recommend these shoes from REEF because they’re non-slip, waterproof, and have a breathable mesh that lets air through. And if you’ll be in and out of the water, we love these flip-flops from Grundéns!

3. Layers

Whenever you’re on the water, we recommend dressing in layers. That way, you can quickly adapt to the weather as it changes. Any experienced boater will tell you that weather changes quickly on the water – so come prepared for anything! 


Here are some layers to include in your sailing attire:

  • A thin layer: This could be a t-shirt made of moisture-wicking material like polyester. We like this one from Patagonia because it’s made of synthetic material and keeps you dry.
  • A heavier layer: This is the layer that keeps you warm. We recommend this fleece from L.L. Bean.
  • An outer layer: This final layer keeps you dry. Think: rain jackets – keep reading to discover our favorites!

4. Rain Jacket

Whenever you’re sailing, expect there to be wind. (And when there’s wind, there’s splashing water.) To stay comfortable, invest in a layer that keeps you dry and protects you from wind and flying water. Usually, that means a trusty rain jacket. 

We recommend going with one that has a hood. This 3-in-1 Jacket from L.L. Bean comes with a removable fleece layer AND a waterproof outer layer. 

5. Waterproof Pants

Having a pair of durable waterproof pants is just as important as bringing a raincoat, as both will keep you warm and dry when you need it most. While waterproof pants might feel excessive in the summer, remember that you’re packing for the worst-case scenario. A sudden gust of wind or cloud cover becomes pretty chilly pretty quickly. Therefore, invest in waterproof pants like these top-notch ones from The North Face.

6. Sun Hat

Sun protection is essential for a day spent on the water! And when selecting a sun hat, opt for one with a chin strap (like this REI bucket hat) so it won’t go flying. You might also consider a brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and neck. (And if so, check out this hat from Mission.)

Note that you want your sun hat to have a UPF of 30 or above, giving you maximum defense against harmful UV rays.

7. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are great for keeping the sun out of your eyes. However, it’s not uncommon for them to get lost (or damaged) while boating. We love these polarized sunglasses from REI because they don’t break the bank – just in case they end up overboard.

8. Extra Supplies

And that about covers the necessary clothing for sailing! However, there are some items you can bring to be extra prepared:

  1. Gloves: They can be fingerless or not – like this pair from Helly Hansen. While some prefer a better grip (which prevents rope burn), others complain that fingers make it more difficult to tie knots.
  2. Face buff: This protects your face from high winds or cold weather. And this Northface gaiter is excellent.
  3. Neoprene socks: These are especially important on cold-weather sailing days. We like this pair from Mauripro because they keep you warm and prevent rope burn.

Read Next: Sailing Accessories