Are Specialist Sailing Clothes Worth It?

Editor’s note: As part of our media offerings for the new year, we’re featuring posts from people inside sailing. One of our new, regular contributors will be Marine Scene, a sailing outfitter based outside Swansea, South Wales. We hope you enjoy this new series! Here is Marine Scene’s first post.

You would be forgiven for not wishing to fork out for specialist sailing clothes; they are certainly not cheap! However, are you likely to suffer out at sea when wearing your civvies, or can you make do in jacket and chinos?

If you’re reading this article then it’s obviously because you’re interested in sailing. Assuming you already have a degree of knowledge, you will no doubt already have your own opinions as to the importance of specialist sailing clothes based on the experiences you have had whilst out at sea. With this in mind, do you think specialist sailing clothes are a must, or merely an expensive optional extra?

Regardless of your opinion about whether the expense of sailing clothes is a necessary purchase, the indisputable fact is that quality sailing clothes are designed to the highest specifications; they have to be to keep sailors warm and dry in the harsh conditions they may have to face. This high level of engineering is what makes sailing clothes such an expensive purchase, but it is also this exceptional attention to detail which makes sailing clothes far more appropriate for wear out at sea than your civilian wear.

Some of the most well known brands of sailing clothes include:

  • Helly Hansen
  • Gul
  • Musto
  • Gill Sailing Clothes
  • Henri Lloyd

It has been the case over the past few years that some of these brands have spilled over into mainstream wear and are worn up and down the high streets of the UK. However, at their core these brands are specialist sailing clothes outfitters, and for good reason too. So what is it that makes these clothes so appropriate for sailing wear?

One of the most distinguishing features of sailing clothes is the amount of layers incorporated into the design of the clothing. Each of the garment’s layers has a different purpose. The base layer is essential for keeping moisture away from the skin, ensuring moisture in the form of rain, spray and even sweat is pushed towards the outer layers. The second layer in specialist sailing clothing from brands such as those above is used solely for insulation, trapping a layer of air between the garment and the body, which if you can remember your GCSE physics lessons, acts to keep you warm. The final layer has to take the brunt of what can be extremely harsh conditions. Not only does it have to stand strong against high winds, it also has to ensure the rain is not able to permeate the garment.

So sailing clothes do provide protection you will not receive from your normal clothing, but indisputably they are expensive, so essentially the decision is yours.

Photo from Gill.