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Basic must-have sailing gear!

Updated: Oct 26

Whether preparing for your ASA class or planning some lovely sunset sails, you’ll need the right gear. Below are some of our favorites that you can easily find at your local sporting goods store, West Marine, or Amazon. Don’t forget to check out the “What To Bring And Wear” list in the ASA 101 Study Guide!


Personal floating device (PFD): Graduate from the bulky Type II orange vest with a sleek and comfortable Coast Guard-approved inflatable jacket like this Onyx Inflatable Life Jacket, or if you plan on doing any offshore sailing or regattas, then invest in a PFD with a harness and D-rings like the Mustang Sailing Life Vest with Sailing Harness.


Sailing gloves: Arguably, the most important piece of sailing gear you need to buy (as long as a PFD is available) is your own pair of sailing gloves. Below are the most popular sailing brands, but you don’t need to purchase a name brand. The most common sailing glove I see is the West Marine brand, which is half the price of the ones below. You’ll notice when browsing gloves that there are full-finger and short-finger; it’s personal preference, but short-finger is also the most common choice.

Sunglasses: This is obvious and essential. We like Knockaround sunglasses because they are inexpensive polarized sunglasses that can also come with rubber nose pads, which is a huge plus for sweaty noses. My husband and I have over ten pairs; they are well worth it!

Sunglasses strap: You don’t think you need a sunglass strap until you lean over the boat and lose your glasses in the water, trust me. There are many great options; below are some of the most popular.

Hat: Any hat or cap that keeps the sun off your face (or hair tamed) is a must-have item. My husband loves these inexpensive Port & Company Brushed Twill Caps because they don’t have logos. We also love the below options because they have integrated hat clips.

Hat clip: It’s going to be windy while you’re sailing (hopefully!), don’t add to the hundreds (thousands probably) of hats lining the bottoms of our bays and lakes. Hat clips are another “you don’t think you need it until you do” item; grab a couple like the Croakies Lid Latches. I keep an extra attached to my sailing bag.


Sunscreen: An obvious item, but make sure you keep some with you in your sailing bag. I have very sensitive skin and am allergic to many sunscreens, so my go-to sunscreen is Supergoop! PLAY SPF 50, it’s expensive, but no other SPF 50 that is water and sweat resistant goes on better! It also comes in a handy pump container that is a game-changer. The Supergoop! PLAY Whipped Mousse sunscreen is also excellent. (Bonus, Supergoop! Is reef safe!)


Sun shirts: Speaking of the sun, sun shirts are common and are an excellent way to keep cool and diminish the need for constant sunscreen application. I own several Columbia shirts and have had them for years. Below are the ones my husband and I own:

Phone lanyard: In the last couple of years, I have seen multiple phones donated to Poseidon by both new sailors and the well-seasoned. I currently have over 20,000 photos and videos on my phone and would be devastated if I lost my phone overboard. That’s where my trusty phone case lanyard comes in; I can take photos and videos without worrying about losing my phone.


If you grab one of the below cases, everyone will be jealous that you can take beautiful sailing photos (nearly all the photos on Prepare to Tack and the Instagram page are from my iPhone). Not only does the lanyard keep your phone safe, but if you need both of your hands quickly (like during an unexpected tack), you can drop your phone and jump into action. I can personally attest I have done this countless times while filming maneuvers in “sporty” conditions.


There are numerous phone lanyard options; my biggest tip is to choose a case like the ones below that have the lanyard loops integrated into the case. I have used the kind that sticks to the back of your phone in the past, and it eventually failed (during my ASA 103 & 104 class!).

With all of the above, you’ll be prepared and look the part for any daysail adventure!


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