Out of the numerous things you have to keep in mind when sailing, choosing the best clothing material is one of the most important. Although it might seem as if clothes shouldn’t be that big of a deal aboard, the right material can have many advantages. Just as you would dress for an occasion on land, you should do it while sailing too. 

You wouldn’t dress the same way for a business meeting as you would for a hike through the woods. The same applies to sailing: different clothing materials are suitable for sailing and life on the mainland, so keep a few guidelines in mind.

Different sailing experiences

Depending on the type of sailing experience you have, you can choose from a range of different clothing. If you’re chartering a boat with the whole crew and your job will be to enjoy the sail without any of the physical work, you can opt for less sporty clothes. 

Your clothes should still be durable, and some of them should be waterproof, but it’s mostly up to you. On the other hand, if you’re going sailing without a crew, you’ll be both the captain and the crew. This means that a lot of hard work will be your concern, so your clothing materials should be sturdy, waterproof, fast-drying, and easily washable.

Natural versus synthetic

This debate has its own form when talking about sailing. Natural materials such as cotton and wool might win on land, but they can be hard to manage on a sailboat. They get heavy when wet and take a long time to dry, so you shouldn’t wear 100% cotton or wool clothes. However, if you want to stay warm or love the feel of soft natural materials, you can get clothes that are half wool and half synthetic.

Synthetic materials are great because they’re fast-drying, and you can be sure you’ll get wet when sailing. Clothing made of these materials is great as the top waterproof layer or for those parts of your body that sweat. Besides being waterproof, synthetics are also great at protecting you from harsh wind, which is common on sailboats.

Natural-material clothing such as leather boots and ponchos may have been great throughout history, but there are so many niche clothing options today that you don’t have to rely on old-school sailing clothes. Synthetics might not last a lifetime, but hardly any clothing you use for physical activity will. It’s more important to be practical for that period of time you’re spending abroad.

What’s the verdict?

A great combination of the two is rayon, a synthetically woven material made out of natural fibers. It’s lightweight and breathable while also being highly absorbent and fast-drying. If you’re going for a winter sail, make sure to layer whatever material you choose because you’ll go from cold to hot in a second. A great benefit would be UV-resistant clothing such as neoprene or fleece.