Knowing exactly what to wear when dinghy sailing can prove difficult if you’re new to it. Even if you’re a seasoned sailor of bigger boats, dinghy sailing often requires more gear as the small open sailing boat leaves you more exposed to the sea and weather.

As with most boating gear, your dingy sailing clothes checklist should focus on keeping warm, dry and comfortable so you can enjoy being at one with the wind. We’ve created a handy checklist for what to wear dinghy sailing, so you can make sure you’re prepared for your next adventure on the water.


If you’re sailing in a small dinghy, you’re going to get wet at some point – especially if it’s rainy and windy. Plus, there’s always a chance of capsizing in the middle of your sail which, let’s face it, is what makes dinghy sailing so fun and exhilarating.

That’s why wearing a wetsuit is a must. It works by trapping a layer of water inside the suit, forming a warm layer to prevent you from getting cold when you get wet. If you only wear regular clothes and end up in the water, you’ll feel the cold and find it hard to get dry again.

We all know how unpredictable British weather can be, so most of the time you’ll need a full wetsuit to keep you sufficiently warm. If you’re lucky and it’s a warm, sunny day with minimal wind chill, you may want to choose a shorty wetsuit. We also recommend wearing a rash vest under your wetsuit to avoid chafing.

Waterproof spray top

As we’ve established, to sail at your best you need to keep as dry and warm as possible. Even if you don’t capsize, you’ll be hit with plenty of sea spray or rain on a wet, windy and choppy day. If you’ve only got a wetsuit on and you get sprayed, you’ll soon start to feel the effects of the cold.

That’s where a waterproof and windproof sailing cagoule comes in handy. You can wear this over your wetsuit to keep nature’s elements at bay.

Buoyancy aid

As mentioned before, there’s always a chance of capsizing or falling into the water when you’re dinghy sailing. That’s why, whatever your level of sailing experience, you should always wear a buoyancy aid. Most sailing clubs will insist on you wearing one so if you’re knocked overboard, you stay afloat.

If you’re sailing with a school they’ll more than likely provide you with one, but if you’re sailing regularly or have your own boat it’s a good idea to buy a buoyancy aid. In terms of keeping you afloat, they’re all tested to provide 50N of buoyancy, so even a relatively cheap one will do the job. However, if you’ll be using it often, we recommend spending a bit more for better quality material, reflective piping, more adjustment and pockets.

Sailing boots

The deck of your dinghy can get incredibly slippy if you don’t have the right footwear to make sure you have enough grip, so you’ll need a pair of sailing boots. They’re made of thick neoprene to keep you warm and their rubber sole will keep you from losing your grip on a wet deck.

Sailing gloves

Alongside your feet, your hands are one of the most susceptible body parts to the cold and, as you’ll know, they’re one of your most important tools for sailing.  

The friction from your hands pulling on the sheets and ropes can be painful at the best of times, let alone when they’re damp and cold too. A good pair of sailing gloves will keep your hands happy by protecting them from the wet, cold and friction while providing you with added grip.

Polarised sailing sunglasses

If you go dinghy sailing on the rare occasion we’re blessed with some sun, you’ll want to make sure your eyes are adequately protected. Unfortunately, your average pair of sunglasses just won’t cut it while you’re onboard. Glare from the water, harsh winds and lack of shade are bases your eye protection will need to cover.

Luckily, there are plenty of sunglasses that have been designed with boaters in mind – be sure to go for a pair with polarised lenses though. These lenses will reduce reflected glare from the surrounding water and keep you from being blinded while you’re sailing. For obvious reasons, it’s also a good idea to make sure your sunglasses are buoyant too!

Once you’ve got everything on our list, the only thing left to do is get yourself kitted out and hit the water! If you are taking up dinghy sailing, be sure to check out our dinghy insurance.