If you’re new to sailing, purchasing specialized sailing gear can be a bit overwhelming. The terminology and brands can be confusing. Buying specialized sailing apparel can be one of the more expensive aspects of sailing, but it doesn’t have to be. This our guide to using what you have and buying what you need to sail in all weather conditions.

Start with Required Sailing Gear, there’s a good chance you already have many of the items you need. Then check out items on Inexpensive/Practice Gear, followed by Cold Weather Sailing Apparel when you’re ready to learn strategies to expand.

Specialized Gear is not Needed To Start

It’s important to know that sailing Apr-Oct in Long Beach doesn’t really require a lot of specialized gear. That’s because its warmer and doesn’t rain often. However, when sailing on bad weather days special gear is required to stay warm. It can also help with improved ease of movement in a boat, some provide better protection, and durability. In any event, be prepared for the colder rainy months (starting in Nov/Dec thru Mar/Apr). In these winter months, and also travel regattas to NorCal any time of year, it’s important to have gear to keep warm and dry.

Required Sailing Gear

  1. Life jacket — Must be US Coast Guard Approved Personal Flotation Device (AKA. USCG Approved PFD). Be careful not to buy a buoyancy aid or inflatable life vest. Neither is acceptable (per ISSA rules). If you’re new and unsure of commitment, start with something less expensive. It can always become a backup/practice jacket.

  2. Shoes — Something that covers toes and can get wet. Old converse or vans are great, sailing or surf booties are ideal for racing and cold weather.

  3. Sunscreen — UV is stronger on the water due to both reflected and sometimes magnified sunlight. Choose a sunscreen with good UVA protection containing ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. Even sailors with dark skin tones need to wear sunscreen.

  4. Sunglasseswith UV protection. A strap/clip is also helpful to ensure they’re not lost during a capsize or blown away. Avoid future eye problems and wear sunglasses. UV radiation affects skin & eyes over time.

  5. Hat — For UV protection of face and back of the neck. A hat with an attached strap, or a separate clip-on strap. But again, use sunblock. The water reflects UV light even on cloudy days.

  6. Drinking Water — Hydration is important. Re-usable water bottles are great. Each coach boat has a jug of water to refill each bottle during practices.

  7. Watch — Waterproof watch with a countdown timer (this is necessary for all racing sailors)

Inexpensive/Practice Gear

Much of this apparel you’re likely to have, and some can be purchased from any retailer. Expand as needed. You can get by with this gear most of the time in Long Beach.

  • Workout clothes as a base layer (Buy from sale rack, no need to match, they’re under other clothes)
  • Bathing suit
  • Old/inexpensive fleece/wool zip-up or pullovers for warmth
  • Waterproof raincoat for a splash guard
  • Hands: Gardening Gloves (polyester w/ latex coating) ~$5
  • Feet: Old sneakers that can get wet
  • Synthetic fabrics: Polyester, Lycra, Rayon
  • Natural fabrics: Merino Wool, Bamboo

Cold Weather Sailing Apparel

During the winter months, you should plan to invest in some gear to keep warm. Sailing while cold for hours out on the water is not fun! Be prepared! Wearing the right gear allows you to have fun year round. If you’re getting cold while sailing, you aren’t wearing the right gear. Like snow skiing/snowboarding, you need appropriate apparel.

The good news, a lot of gear you need to stay warm in sailing during cold conditions is the same as what you need for other winter sports, like skiing & snowboarding. If you purchase wisely, you’ll have gear that can be used for water or snow. The key is a waterproof outer layer, insulation/thick for warmth, and breathable/wicking inner.

Strategies to Stay Warm

  1. Base layer: Wicks moisture. A base layer should be specially made to wick moisture away from the skin to help stay warm after a capsize or to cool on a hot day; look for clothing designed for this with fabric made from bamboo viscose, merino wool, and synthetic fibers (polyester, spandex, lycra).
  2. Mid layer: Warmth. Mid layers should also help wick away moisture but are chosen based on insulation for cold days. These can be separate tops & bottoms, or full body like trousers/salopettes. Be aware multiple mid-layers can restrict movement.
  3. Outer layer: Waterproof. Top outer layers are for keeping you dry from water spray/splashing.
  4. NO Cotton: Cold/wet. Don’t wear cotton underwear/apparel in cold conditions. Cotton is naturally cooling, it absorbs moisture, holds it, and can even become sodden.
  5. NO Rubber boots: Cold/wet. — Don’t wear rubber boots in cold conditions. They don’t provide insulation, and your feet will be cold.
  6. Regatta Strategies: Warm/Dry = Fun! Stay warm. Stay dry. Bring towels. In case of rain or capsize, bring a full change of gear to change into between race rotations. Hang your wet clothes immediately, they will dry even on rainy days. Fleece/wool blankets can be nice to keep warm when sitting between rotations in team pop-up tent.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

What to Buy

  • Base layer: Thermal tops, rash guards, compression/workout underwear. (Wicking fabrics: Bamboo, Merino Wool, Polyester, Spandex, Lycra)
  • Mid layer: Merino Wool/fleece Jackets
  • Outer layer: Smocks/spray jacket
  • Outer layer: Pair smock with Bibs/trousers/salopettes/pants
  • Feet: Neoprene Hiking booties for cold weather otherwise old shoes are ok. Avoid rubber boots for cold weather. (protection & warmth)
  • Hands: Gloves/Neoprene/wicking. [$5: protection :arrow_upper_right:] [$15~$45: protect+warm :arrow_upper_right:] [+$30: protect+max warm :arrow_upper_right:](Hand protection & warmth)
  • Head: Beenies :arrow_upper_right:, Balaclavas :arrow_upper_right:, Neck Gaiters :arrow_upper_right:, Hats with rims (Weather & warmth)
  • Advanced: Base: 3-5mm+ neoprene tops/bottoms/wetsuits.

ℹ️:star2: Pro Tip

Label all your gear! We suggest including yacht club, school, name, and contact info.


ABYC - Sato - Sailor Name - Parent Cell

When to Buy Gear

Once you have all required gear, create strategies to buy gear when it’s on sale, or you could spend a small fortune on gear! Start with essentials then expand when things are on sale to keep sailing costs much much lower! :moneybag::moneybag::moneybag: And if you buy quality gear when it’s on sale, it will still last for years, rather than buying cheaper alternatives!

For many sailing brands/retailers, a popular time of year for sales is during winter break (on our Calendar). This is often when old styles are replaced with newer styles. Although, most months you can always find a good deal on a piece of gear. In addition to watching for a sale, consider strategies like tracking price drops on Amazon, etc.

Apparel Advice, Explanations, and Videos

Where to Buy Quality Gear

Below you’ll find links to websites of popular brands. In some cases sale/clearance links. These are brands that are known for making quality sailing gear or active apparel. This is not an endorsement, just a convenience. There are other/off brands that likely work.

Brands to Consider

Local Retailers

These shops are local to Long Beach Area.