The great thing about sailing is because you can set sail from practically any shore equipped with a public dock, beach or mooring, you can enjoy the fruits of the world’s most diverse climes with relative ease. Whether that’s off the brisk shores of Cowes, in the warm waters of the Caribbean or moored up among the luxurious docks of Monaco, a packing list that’s well prepared could be the difference between an enjoyable getaway and an uncomfortable journey.
Sailing Holiday Packing List


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If you don’t pick the right housing for your stuff, you may end up with sodden clothes, broken gadgets and a pretty foul crash in morale. Take note of the following:

  • A travel backpack or holdall (not a hard suitcase)

Specifically designed for sailing or watersports. They’re soft-sided, extremely waterproof and laden with inner compartments.

  • Waterproof casings or wallets

To enclose your electronic devices in and outside your bag, opt for transparent containers for your mobile, iPod, camera, earphones and the like.


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The key criteria for choosing what clothes and shoes to take is the following:

  • Lightweight: Allowing freedom of movement and can dry quickly
  • Breathable: Allowing moisture to escape
  • Windproof & Warm: Locking in heat
  • Waterproof: Keeping water out
  • UV/UPF rated clothing

If you’re venturing to sunny climes, make sure your clothing in low UV light exposure has up to 20 UPF, in medium UV light exposure has 25-35 UPF, and high UV light exposure has a 40-50+ rating.

  • Gore-Tex fabric is the common hi-tech fibre of choice when it comes to sailing clothes.
  • Insider tip: Veer away from cotton and wool clothing as they lock in perspiration and take a long time to dry. In addition, avoid taking hard suitcases and hard-shelled bags.
  • Depending on climate, pick and choose from a range of these core sailing pieces: Tight-fitting thermal base layer or a thin, fast-drying sailing T-shirt or polo.
  • Mid-layer fleece jacket (light and thermal) or soft shell jacket (insulating and water-repellent).

The aim here is lightweight warmth, so that it allows freedom of movement while locking heat in and letting perspiration escape.

  • Outer shell jacket.

For occasional/recreational/fine weather sailing: Clothing with a lower waterproof rating.

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For expert-level, race, endurance or foul weather sailing: A jacket equipped with waterproof, warm, breathable and adjustable features.

  • Breathable and waterproof salopettes or quick-dry and breathable sailing or sun shorts.
  • Sun hat, fast dry cap and/or water-repellent beanie hat.
  • In colder climes, up to 50% of your body heat can be lost through you head, so a good quality hat is crucial.
  • In all climes, make sure your hat has either a drawstring adjuster or a cord clip to keep your hat secure in strong winds. Additionally, choose hats with a peak or wide brim that covers your face, as sun rays (even if it’s not warm); reflect off the water’s surface, doubling the potential UV damage.
  • Sailing gloves.
  • Closed non-slip deck shoes, thin sealskin socks is a good option.
  • Waterproof & breathable sea boots with thicker thermal socks.

Gadgets & Extras

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  • Portable phone/iPod battery charger.
  • International adapter.
  • 12V charger for your devices.
  • Solar powered torch & battery powered torch.
  • First aid kit.
  • Toiletries.
  • Medications, kept in a waterproof airtight bag/wallet.
  • UV-protective sunglasses and protective lip salve.
  • To avoid your sunglasses flying away, make sure you attach them to a cord or inflatable lanyard around your neck.
  • A good sunscreen to wear in addition to your UPF clothing.
  • A microfibre towel is an excellent way to dry off without using up lots of storage in your bag.
  • The obvious personal extras: documents, certificates, off deck clothing etc.

Tailor your packing list with three things in mind: The length of time you’re going away for, the climate[s] you’ll be sailing in, and the type of sailing that’s on the cards… Packing for a G&T-sipping sail cruise or a high-wind adrenaline packed sailing trip is as different as a beach holiday is to a skiing one… but either way, sails up!

For more information on inshore and offshore gear and how they differ, see our article: Offshore and Inshore gear.