A Guide to Dinghy Sailing Clothing

Whether you’re a newbie or expert, it’s essential to dress for the occasion when you go dinghy sailing. When selecting your dingy sailing clothing, you must consider multiple factors, including the weather, protective and safety gear, and of course, your comfort.

So, to ensure you’re not left shivering in your boots, we’ve prepared a helpful guide on what to wear and what to take on your voyage.

Rain or Shine

Whatever the weather, you don’t want to be caught unprepared in the pouring rain or sweating in several layers of clothing. Dress according to season and check the weather forecast before setting out on your dinghy. Remember that it’s likely to be cooler and windier at sea than on land, so keep that in mind when choosing your wardrobe.

Wetsuits & Drysuits

Learning to sail on a dinghy can be an absolute blast, especially when new to the sport. Hiking your boat and feeling the ocean spray on your face and wind flowing through your hair is intoxicating; however, it can get cold and wet very quickly if you’re not dressed appropriately for the occasion.

The best way to keep you warmer for longer is to invest in a dinghy wetsuit. Wetsuits work by trapping a layer of water between the neoprene and your skin, effectively forming a warm layer to keep you from getting cold and preventing loss of body heat.

If it’s a hot day and you don’t want your movement to be restricted by your wet suit, we recommend a skiff suit, a suit with long legs but no arms, or a shortie suit, a suit without arms or legs. If it’s cold, then a steamer suit (full-length suit) may be the way to go.

Alternatively, a dinghy drysuit is ideal for winter months when there’s a lot of spray or rain, and you need that added bit of protection. A dry suit keeps you insulated and dry so that you won’t get cold; this also means you can wear layers of snug fleeces underneath. So even if you fall in the water, you won’t get wet.

Waterproof & Windproof Spray Top / Smock

Made using oxford nylon with a waterproof/ windproof PU coating, a spray top will keep water spray off and reduce wind chill. A sailing spray top is an excellent layer to wear over your wetsuit on cold days or just over a t-shirt if it gets windy.

Thermal Mid Layers Hydrophobic Fleece

The wind packs a bite at sea, so you must come prepared with some thermal layers to cover your arms and provide some warmth and protect your skin from the elements. Hydrophobic fleeces not only keep you warm, but they will dry out very quickly, usually within about 15 minutes if they get wet.

Buoyancy Aid

Even the most experienced sailors need a buoyancy aid or life jacket on hand in an emergency. Most sailing schools and clubs insist you have one while training, and for a good reason too. The waters can be choppy and treacherous, and if you fall overboard (which can often happen), a buoyancy aid will keep you afloat and potentially save your life.

Wetsuit boots

These boots were made for sailing! Anyone who spends time sailing or aboard a boat will understand the importance of a sure grip, stable footing and comfortable support. Your choice of footwear may depend on weather conditions and seasonal changes, but a reliable pair of boots will see you through the roughest of seas.

For winter sailing, thick neoprene ankle-high wetsuit boots for winter sailing will keep your feet cosy and dry, even when water gets on the deck. For hotter months and calmer climates, any wrap-around boots designed with neoprene fabric ensure warmth and comfort while also providing enough grip to stop you from slipping around on deck.

Experienced sailors who hike a lot on their boat may also benefit from using knee/ shin pads for added protection over the foot and lower shin when hiking hard.


Protecting your extremities is essential while sailing. Wearing gloves will ensure your hands stay warm and dry, help you maintain your grip on the ropes, and prevent you from getting blisters and rope burn.

Basic deck hand gloves or waterproof insulated gloves with Dura-Grip fabric on the fingers and palm will protect your hands and provide excellent grip. However, we recommend that you invest in thick neoprene gloves for extra warmth and comfort in the winter months!


It’s important to accessorise appropriately for your trip to the sea and prepare for the elements, come rain or shine. In hot weather, wearing a cap and sunglasses will protect your eyes from UV sun rays. Sun lotion is also essential as you could potentially be out in direct sunlight for hours, putting you at risk of sunburn.

You should pack a woolly hat or neoprene beanie to keep you nice and snug in the winter months. You should also think about packing some spare, dry clothes to slip into something more comfortable after sailing.


If you’re learning how to trapeze, ensure you find an ergonomic trapeze harness with ample lower back support and excellent strap positioning. Hiking shorts come in all different shapes and sizes and can make your sailing experience far more comfortable. The last thing you want is a sore back while stuck in the middle of the ocean!

Getting the right amount of protection, whether clothing or insurance, is essential to having a fun and carefree sailing experience. Ensure you are covered with GJW Direct's  Dinghy Insurance so that you can sail with peace of mind.

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