Sailing is an amazing pastime that can bring a lot of personal fulfilment and memorable times, but it’s not always the easiest or safest thing you can do.
This is particularly true in the winter. While you have to contend with waves and potential other hazards all the time, the winter brings its own list of perils every sailor has to be willing to deal with. Luckily, there are plenty of gear options that make winter sailing not only feasible but enjoyable, too.
Here’s our list of the most essential sailing equipment to use during the winter months.
Getting soaked offshore in the middle of winter can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and other serious issues. Unfortunately, boats don’t tend to have tons of storage room for everything you need plus plenty of spare clothes. That’s why we recommend always sailing with quick-dry clothing to make sure you don’t have to sit around in 10-degree weather soaking wet.
Insulated Sailing Jacket
A sailing jacket is an absolute must, but you want to get one that allows you to have a full range of movement in case you fall overboard, get caught up in your equipment, or just generally need to move around the boat quickly.
For this, we recommend a lightweight, yet insulated and extremely warm, sailing jacket. Your movement won’t be impaired, the slim figure of the jacket will keep it from getting caught on things as you move around, and you’ll maintain your body heat without having to walk around like the marshmallow puff man.
Insulated Sailing Gloves
Your hands are crucial on the water. Whether you’re tying a lot of knots in the freezing rain to secure equipment, or you’re paddling for your life after going overboard, you need gloves that are insulated and provide complete movement range for your fingers at all times.
Full-body thermal underwear, or those white knitted long johns you’re used to seeing, are essential. They’ll trap warm air against your body before it has a chance to escape through your clothing, and this can mean the difference between freezing to death or comfortably sailing around in the dead of winter. These are also extremely cheap. So, there’s no real reason not to have a pair along with a spare or two in case your first set gets wet.
Water is going to get on deck throughout your sailing journey, and one of the most important pieces of sailing gear to have for that is some good-old rubber boots or waterproof shoes. If big waves send frigid water on deck, you can get that water in your shoes and end up losing some toes or simply not maintaining your body heat well enough. For recreational sailing, anything a few inches higher than your ankle should be fine since more severe weather conditions will keep you at home, but professionals should invest in gear that will keep their feet dry in even the harshest storms.