What to Wear Sailing in the Summer?

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For sailing enthusiasts, the whole year is the sailing season. These people would rather be on their boats than anywhere else. Any activity is enjoyable, especially if you have the right equipment and clothing for it.

What to wear sailing in the summer? To properly prepare yourself, you will need a sailing clothing ‘kit’ with the following:

  1. Quick-dry or waterproof shorts and pants
  2. Lightweight and wicking shirts
  3. Lightweight and waterproof vest
  4. Light jackets
  5. Rough weather gear
  6. Waterproof headgear
  7. Polarized eyewear
  8. Appropriate footwear

While most sailing gear comes standard and pretty much by the book, apparel is somewhat tricky. Fortunately, choosing what to wear when sailing is something that we will be talking about in-depth as you read on.

Selecting your sailing wardrobe is every bit as vital as any equipment that you take on your trip. There are essential pieces that you need for your day-to-day sailing, and then there are specialty clothing.

The weather may change from one to another, so you will also be requiring extra layers. The clothing choices include warm weather gear and apparel that will counteract humidity, including those that help prepare for the worst weather.

We have formed a list of what to wear sailing in the summer based on our research and years of experience. These clothing pieces are not only weathered appropriate but can mean the difference between a beautiful and memorable trip to one that may turn out to be a disaster.

For instance, one may think of sailing as hot and warm, but sailing from the harbor and just a few miles offshore can mean a huge temperature difference. This entails preparing for temperatures on both ends of the spectrum when sailing, summer, or otherwise.

Also, for excellent pants for sailing during the summer, take a look at our top pick, the Grundén Weather Watch Pants:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Shorts and Pants

A salty old sailor might say that you can sail in any old shirt or pants, but enjoying your trip will take some preparation. Summer sailing can be nice and warm, but you can be stuck shivering in the cold when the wind picks up because you did not bring warmer clothing.

Ideally, one must bring both long-sleeved and regular cut shirts when sailing. A word of caution, though, any old shirt or pants will not cut it.

If one sailing pants comes close to being perfect for sailing, the Grundén Weather Watch Pants should be it. These pants are not only made for multiple weather conditions but are also quite the lookers.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The usefulness that does not compromise aesthetics is always a plus for clothing. These are called technical clothing. They differ from regular clothes because they have particular characteristics that are for a specific purpose only.

A good pair of pants to wear sailing will be able to withstand being rubbed against a boat’s rough surfaces. They also come with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) that measures how the fabric stands up to the sun’s harmful rays.

More importantly, sailing pants should be made with material that has wicking action. This significantly contributes to how fast the fabric dries up when subjected to moisture. There is perhaps nothing more important than this when looking for pants to use for sailing.

Tops and Shirts

When you are out in the open ocean, the full force of the sun’s ultraviolet rays not only will directly shine on you but is also reflected from the surface of the water. Sun protection is, therefore, a priority for technical clothing, especially for sailing activities.

Like sailing pants, UPF plays a significant role when choosing tops or shirts for going sailing. In connection with sun rays protection, you will have to consider short or long-sleeved options, and it is a good idea to have both handy.

A great option would be this shirt on Amazon from Vapor Apparel. They come in long-sleeved versions and have a UPF 50+ rating for harmful UV protection. They also have the much-needed wicking action that pulls away moisture from your body to the surface of the cloth to be evaporated.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This technology translates to a cooler feeling as moisture evaporates. Besides, the shirt also has active protection from odors. The Vapor Apparel shirt is available in a short-sleeved version with the same specifications. 

Vests and Light Jackets

When sailing, chances are you will be doing activities associated with it, like fishing, for example. A vest will ensure that you have some extra pockets for utility tools like a pocket knife.

Since it has no sleeves, a vest will provide warmth when you need it while still allowing flexibility and arm movement. A full windbreaker will hamper progress. This is especially true for activities that require precision, like fishing, which involves very sharp hooks.

Options like the insulated vest from Helly Hansen will definitely up your game when it comes to insulation while freeing up movement. This particular clothing fits perfectly over long-sleeved or regular cut shirts.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

For added protection, though, there are situations where you will need more protection. The more enveloping thermal insulation of a light jacket would be better than a vest, especially in wet or damp weather.

I’ve sailed in the hottest summer months in San Diego to Milan, and I still found times where the wind picked up, and a vest or jacket was needed.

You will most probably need a windbreaker on windy and wet days to keep you warm and not chilly. Helly Hansen also has a perfect jacket for sailing, their Salt Flag Jacket, both waterproof and affords insulation from the elements.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

A great jacket and vest have waterproof capabilities with matching thermal insulation. At the same time, they need to be lightweight so as not to restrict your movement.

If it is just wind you are concerned about, use a fleece jacket and use a softshell jacket for wet days. It is also a good thing to remember that you might be drenched when seas get rough, even if it is not raining.

Also, layering clothes will be a requirement for places that do not get warm, even in the summer.


There are several technical sailing sun hats, and it is essential to keep in mind why you will need them for sailing. Primarily, a hat needs to protect your eyes and provide protection from the sun’s direct heat. It should also feel lightweight and not too constricting.

The fit should be good and be made with materials with an excellent UPF rating to keep harmful sun rays out, especially during the summer.

A great example of such a hat would be the Einskey Wide Brim Sun Hat made explicitly sailing. With waterproof characteristics and breathable materials, it delivers on protection. It fits snug and secure with its adjustable chin strap.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

You can be sure that it will keep on doing its job even in the windiest of conditions. What is great about it is that a wicking sweatband is included inside for maximum comfort.


This piece of equipment is arguably one of the most important inside your kit bag as this protects your eyes from glare and the salt of the ocean.

Because of the wind and mostly hot conditions that you will encounter, especially in the summer sailing months, your eyes are prone to damage in the absence of proper protection. Without it, your sailing trip may not be as comfortable as you would hope it would be.

Sailing eyewear comes in all shapes and sizes, and you may need to try more than a couple to see what works for you.

If you have prescription eyeglasses and need them to see, there are great options out there that allow you to wear them under the shades. Check out the WindRider Polarized Floating Sunglasses that let you do precisely that, giving you that polarized UV protection.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

You can also opt to have clip-on polarized shades like the Cocoons Solarfun Sunglasses that can fit over your prescription eyeglasses. They carry the risk of damaging your eyewear as they may leave scuff marks on the lenses as they are attached.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

There is no magic specification for eyewear, as they are hugely dependent on how you feel as you try them out. But all-important UV protection and polarized lens should be constant in your selection, so keep those in mind.


Footwear should be mostly dependent on your comfort level. Some people do their sailing barefoot, even. However, for most sailors, a pair of good boating shoes with a good grip on wet surfaces is ideal.

A couple of sandals is also handy whenever you go into a harbor to resupply or stay put for the night. There are a good number of options, and you might want to try out a pair or two to see what suits your feet best.

Conclusion – What to Wear Sailing in the Summer?

To give you the rundown again and make sure that you got all of what you need, below is our list of what to wear sailing in the summer. Feel free to add to it depending on your preferences on what is essential for you.

  1. Quick-dry or waterproof shorts and pants
  2. Lightweight and wicking shirts
  3. Lightweight and waterproof vest
  4. Light jackets
  5. Rough weather gear
  6. Waterproof headgear
  7. Polarized eyewear
  8. Appropriate footwear

To narrow down your selection, these are the best branded pieces to start:

  • Grundén Weather Watch Pants

Click here to see it on Amazon.

  • Vapor Apparel Shirts
  • Einskey Wide Brim Sun Hat
  • Helly Hansen Vests and Jackets
  • Cocoon sunglasses

Choosing what to wear sailing in the summer is easier said than done as there are thousands of choices to choose from. Hopefully, the suggestions we made and the general guiding characteristics of each item in your kit have helped you.

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How to Choose a Drysuit – Plus Our 7 Top Picks

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