Sailing Equipment List

sailing equipment list

Sailing Equipment

Although sailing is a lesser known sport, it is a popular recreational sport. The sport can be played several different ways. There can be individual events or team events. There is also a difference in timed races and head to head competitions. A general explanation however is that individuals or teams ride in sailboats against others to finish a course in the water as quickly as possible.

There are two different types of classifications for the equipment in sailing: clothing and boat related. The clothing classification is for what you should wear when you go sailing. Those include goggles, gloves, a wetsuit, a life jacket, and a windbreaker. The goggles help to keep the water spray out of your eyes to keep your visibility. The windbreaker serves a similar purpose as it can get cold and wet on board. The gloves allow you to keep your grip on the ropes and ledges of the sailboat while on board. The wetsuit and life jacket are precautionary pieces of equipment in case you are to fall into the water.



A bandana is a great thing to bring with you for a few reasons. You can wrap it around your head in a stylish way, or you can put it over your face to help block out the sun. You do not need to put much consideration in a certain “type” of bandana, so pick whatever interests you the most. If you want one that is catered to sailing, you can get one that has certain sailing designs on it, so you can wear that to go along with all of your other great gear. A bandana typically only costs around $10.


Many sailing excursions can last for more than one night and even a few weeks. For that reason, you are going to want to pack toiletry items. It is important to pack whatever you would normally bring if you were going to stay at a hotel for a few days. Items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, and a razor are all great things to bring to make sure you are not unsanitary during your trip.


Boat Shoes

Sailing Boat Shoes

When sailing, you are not going to want just any kind of shoes to wear on the boat. Wearing boat shoes will allow you to move around on the boat with a reduced risk of slipping. Your sailing footwear will vary depending on the type of boat you are on. Types of shoes include dinghy boots, offshore boots, and sneaker style shoes. The sneaker style shoes are sporty and are great for a wide variety of boats for racing or active cruising. Boots range from flexible dinghy versions, to waterproof and breathable offshore boots. These types of shoes offer non slip soles and foot protection coming in leather or high tech styles, and they are a necessity for a successful day on the water at a price of around $90.


Sailing Gloves

Sailing gloves will help protect your hands from abrasion and blisters that often occur when you are handling lines. Different gloves will offer various levels of grip, padding and protection. Most pairs of gloves will cost between $10-$30.

The two standard types of gloves are fingerless and three-fingered. Fingerless is more common and they expose the fingertips which allows more dexterity and ease of movement. Three-finger gloves will provide you with more protection, but you might not have as strong of a gripping ability. 

Gloves are made from a combination of fabrics that include synthetic leathers, polyester, and sticky palm materials or coatings. When choosing, you want to put dexterity, grip, and durability into consideration in order to find the perfect pair for you.


You are going to want a technical sailing shirt that works as a quick-drying, moisture-wicking base layer. Most shirts designed for sailing include anti-microbial technology and are mildew resistant. These shirts will also provide UV protection that is much more than regular shirts. You can get these shirts in long sleeves, t-shirts, turtlenecks, quarter zip, and lightweight hoodies. Depending on what type of shirt you want, it will cost you anywhere between $30 and $80. A t-shirt will cost as little as $30 whereas a hoodie will cost you $75.


The socks you wear are important to your comfort while on the boat. Sailing socks are made to optimize dry foot comfort regardless of what the conditions are. There is a range of materials and weights that you can choose from when purchasing a pair. Sock liners, wool socks, and athletic socks can all be moisture-wicking layers. The warmth of the sock is often determined by how thick it is. A typical pair of socks cost around $12, while a high performing sock that will keep you dry and comfortable will cost up to $60.

Trousers and Pants

When on your sailboat, you want to wear pants or shorts that are waterproof, durable, and comfortable. The best pants or shorts will offer you protection and flexibility when maneuvering the sailboat. Sailing pants are far more durable than a regular pair that you may wear, making them worth the investment. Also, while you may not be going in the water, water will almost definitely be hitting you, so water resistant clothing is extremely important. Depending on the style, a pair of pants will cost anywhere between $20 and $150. The styles that are made of heavier weight are often more expensive.

In terms of style there are four main categories.

  • Inshore: You will want lightweight fabric that is breathable and designed for day use.
  • Coastal: Slightly heavier pants, but more breathable than pants designed for inshore sailing.
  • Offshore: Highly breathable and reinforced at the knee and seat areas.
  • Ocean: You will want pants that are made out of heavy fabric that is breathable and made from tough material.


A sailing windbreaker or jacket will keep you soak free and warm when you are out in the water. Even in the summertime, the weather can be pretty unpredictable while on the water, so it is always important to pack a windbreaker or jacket just in case. The jackets will be classified by types of sailing. If it is designed for “coastal” conditions, then the jacket will be light and give less coverage. “Offshore” gear is for colder, wetter, and rougher conditions. The “dinghy” style is for sailors in small boats that require fast and athletic movements. No matter the weather, there is no harm in packing a jacket with you, just in case you face unexpected winds or a drop in temperature. A windbreaker can cost around $60, while a heavier jacket can be as much as $170.


Sailing Wetsuit

A sailing wetsuit is a one or two piece suit that is made out of foamed neoprene. They are typically used on smaller sailboats, and they provide thermal insulation, padding against bruises, coverage, and buoyancy. These wetsuits cost between $60 and $100.

Sailing wetsuits are designed specifically to accommodate the unique postures and movements of sailing. The primary value is to keep you warm no matter what the temperatures are. A wetsuit will keep you warm thanks to its tight fit, neoprene insulation, and internal linings. Depending on weather conditions, there are short wetsuits, long wetsuits, and also single shirts or shorts that you can wear.

Communication Tools

Marine VHF Radio

A marine VHF radio is a worldwide system of two wary radio transceivers on ships and watercrafts. Costing around $175, this equipment is installed on all large ships and some smaller ones. It is used for a variety of purposes, including marine navigation, traffic control, and summoning rescue services. Another purpose of it is to communicate with bridges, harbors, and marinas. For example, if your sailboat is exceptionally large and won’t fit underneath a bridge, you will use the VHF to contact the bridge and they will open it up for you to get through. VHF radios are great things to have and will make your trip far more convenient and safe.

International Signaling Flags

International signaling flags are various flags that are used to communicate with other ships. They are a set of flags that are different colors, shapes, and markings which have different meanings. There are 26 flags which all depict the letters of the alphabet, along with 10 numeral pendants. People use the flags to make signals to other boaters. Two flag signals are used for distress and maneuvering signals. A three flag signal is for points of the compass, while four flag signals are used for geographical signals. It is important to know the combinations so if you see one on the water you will know what it means.

Satellite Phone

If you are on an ocean adventure deep in the middle of the sea, there is a very good chance you will not have cell phone service. For that reason, it is a good idea to have a satellite phone. Even though you have many emergency tools already, it is a good idea to have a satellite phone in case the worst happens. There are some satellite phones that even support a low bandwidth internet access, so you can go on the internet on your boat. There are also some systems that broadcast your GPS location, which is a great thing to have in case of an emergency. Satellite phones are very expensive, costing around $800, but worth it if you plan on going on a long trip in international waters.

Fun and Recreation

Fishing Gear

Sailing Fishing Gear

If you are going out with your family in a river or lake, it is not a bad idea to bring some fishing gear with you. While sailboats are not typically made for fishing, that does not mean you can not fish on one. If you want to go fishing, make sure you bring your rod, reel, and tackle box. Your tackle box should have extra lures, hooks, bait, and line to replace anything you may need. You can also get a rod holder that you can attach to the sailboat so you are not constantly worried about leaving the rod on the ground. Fishing gear can be as low as $40, but gets more and more expensive as you get more into the sport.

Freediving Gear

Sailing Freediving Gear

Freediving is a good way to explore the deeper parts of whatever body of water you may be in. If you want to go freediving off your sailboat, you should bring fins, a mask, and a snorkel for when you are at the surface. You will need to decide whether you want monofins or bi fins, as both have different advantages and disadvantages. As long as you have these few pieces, you should be all set since freediving is not a sport that utilizes very much equipment. All of the gear combined can add up to as little as $180.

Snorkeling Gear

If you are sailing in a body of water that is relatively clear and has a lot of animal life or scenic reefs, then bringing along snorkeling gear is a great idea. If you want to go snorkeling, all you need is a mask, snorkel, and a pair of fins. You can buy a mask and snorkel together for a pretty cheap price at most water sport stores, while the fins will have to be purchased separately. This is a great family activity to explore what marine life has to offer. You can purchase a snorkeling kit for around $40.

Sleeping Bag

Some people like to endure on large sailing adventures with their large boats across the ocean. These can take up to weeks to complete, so it is important to have a comfortable sleeping situation. On a lot of boats like these, you will be bunking but you may not have any sleeping accessories included. Therefore, a high tech, comfortable sleeping bag is something that is worth buying if you plan on going on a long trip out in the ocean. A high quality sleeping bag costs $40.

Licenses and Permits

Diving Certificate

If you are going to go freediving during your sailing experience, you are going to want to get a freediving certificate. It is not smart to blindly go into the water with no prior experience in freediving. You should take a freediving certification course that will train divers in their breath-holding ability, and will allow you to develop comfort in the water. You will learn the fundamental physics of freediving, essential safety procedures, and master the proper breathing techniques.

Sailing License

There are a large number of states that will require you to have a license in order to sail. In most states, it is required to undergo some type of boat safety course. Sailing in a state that requires certification without a license could lead to a hefty fine. Even if you are not required to have a license, it is a very good idea to go through a course anyway so you are aware of all sailing rules and regulations.


If you plan on sailing deep out into the open sea, then you might need to pack your passport along with you for the ride. The United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty gives nations sovereignty over the waters of 13.8 miles. That means once you're 13.8 miles off shore, you are officially in international waters until you are 13.8 miles from the coast of another country. You do not want to get into a situation where a national guard approaches your boat and you are not in possession of any identification.

Captains Log

Back in the earliest of excursions, captains used to keep a journal that had a detailed account of every aspect of the boat, crew, and journey. These logs helped people write history and learn about what excursions in other centuries were like. Before the world was fully mapped, logs would provide the only clues of the course that was necessary to a specific location. Even in today’s world of advanced technology, it can be beneficial to have a log for your boat. Logging all types of journey information, maintenance, equipment, and more is a great way to stay organized. You can also read it years later as a memory of how great your trip was.


Sailing Compass

It cannot be denied that back in the day a compass was the most valuable instrument that you could have with your boat. Even today, a good marine compass could make a considerable difference in your adventure. Before buying your marine compass, there are a couple of factors that you should keep in mind. You want to make sure that the compass is well-calibrated and precise so you can reach your destination safely. A compass normally costs only $20.

There are also a couple of different types of compasses to choose from. There are magnetic compasses that use a needle to detect the magnetic north. Electric compasses also provide readings and come with other features that are beneficial, although reliability can be a concern at times. While it is the one of the simplest devices to have with you on your boat, the compass is also among the most valuable.


Having a marine GPS is an irreplaceable safety device that will keep you well-equipped to face any issues. This product is typically around $500, but can cost as much as $100. A marine GPS will be pre-loaded with nautical maps to give you a more precise navigation. You can choose a GPS based on what region you sail in whether that might be inland or coastal. There are different types of GPS systems, including handheld, portable, and fixed mount. A handheld system is compact and easy to carry, but has limited features. A portable GPS is easy to mount and dismount and you can use it with different boats. The fixed mout is the most expensive and largest, and comes with various additional features that may prove to be beneficial. Overall, a GPS is a must-have to ensure that you have a great sailing experience.

Marine Chart

A marine chart is an essential cartographic reference for all types of boaters. If you want an accurate and thorough map of all bodies of water, then a marine chart is a great resource to have. You can use the map to study port plans and safety depth contours. You can also use it to identify the tides and currents, as well as locating navigation aids and nearby marine services. Costing around $30, this is a great thing to have to be aware of exactly what is going on in the body of water you are sailing in.


A sextant is a very complex instrument containing knobs, slides, vernier scales, mirrors, magnifiers, filters, lens and eyepieces. It is an extremely historic device that is still used today. Large ships are still required to have them and captains are constantly trying to keep themselves familiar with how it works. A sextant does not require any power or electricity, so it is used as a last resort device in case of an emergency. The sextant measures the angle between the horizon and the sun, and by calculating angles and other math equations, you can actually determine which way you are going.



Sailing Binoculars

Binocular are great things to have to help navigate, scan the horizon, or simply just enjoy the scenery. The best binoculars for sailing can hold up well in wet, damp environments, and are also resistant to mold and mildew growth. The main thing you want to be aware of when you are buying binoculars is a pair of numbers that is known as the value. The first number will represent the magnification. For example, a “7x” means that the object will appear seven times closer. The second number is the objective lens which will represent the diameter of the lens. A high quality pair of sailing binoculars cost around $130.


Earplugs while sailing serve a couple of different purposes. For starters, they will keep the water out of your ear. If you have a history of getting swimmer’s ear or want to avoid any sort of liquid getting into your ear, then wearing earplugs is a good idea. Another benefit of earplugs is that they actually prevent motion sickness as well. That means if the water gets really rough, wearing earplugs will help you reduce the risk of getting seasick. When buying a pair of earplugs (typically costing $40), make sure you do not make noise cancelling, since being able to hear your surroundings is extremely important.


Sailing Electronics

There are a ton of different sailing products you can bring with you or apply to your boat. There are numerous different sailing instruments that can display speed, depth, wind data, and more. Some instruments can contain features such as depth measurements, which is a good thing to have if you are fishing or freediving. Navigation systems are also popular for sailboats as well.

Fire Extinguisher

For obvious reasons, a fire extinguisher is a great thing to bring with you one your boat. If one of the electronics that you have catches on fire, you can spray it before it spreads to the rest of the boat. If a bigger fire takes place on the boat, having a fire extinguisher may allow you to get rid of the flames before there is too much damage on the boat that might cause a sinkage.

First Aid Kit

sailing first aid kit

Every sailor should have a first aid kit in case of an injury. What each person might need is unique to them, and there are also many variables such as location and crew’s age and size. Therefore it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what kind of first aid supplies to bring. Buying a quality large kid from a reputable company for around $60 is the way to go, as it will likely cover the needs of any medical emergency that may take place on the boat.


In many areas, having a flare or distress signal is a requirement for recreational boaters and sailors. Having a flare is a great way to signal for help if you are ever in danger. You should only use this if it is a severe emergency. Using it when there is no emergency can get you in a lot of trouble.

There are also different types of flares. A parachute flare creates a single red star that goes 300 meters in the air and comes down on a parachute. A smoke signal creates dense and orange smoke that is effective for daytime use. The hand flare is simply a red flare that you hold in your hand.


Sailing Flashlight

A flashlight is another good thing to have with you in case there is an emergency. If it gets dark, you are going to need a light to find things around your boat, or use as a signal for people to come help. The flashlight you are going to want needs to be both waterproof (or at least somewhat resistant) and have the ability to float in case you drop in the water. One of these flashlights will cost around $30.


Sailing Knife

With sailing comes a lot of ropes and knots that can lead to some complicated ties and knots. Therefore, you are going to need a knife to help deal with this at times. A sailing knife should be easy to use while comfortable to hold, and normally has a price of $20. They come in many styles but it is important to avoid a cheap design that will not last you. The material of the knife should be able to withstand salt water and other harsh elements. Cobalt and stainless steel are the popular choices of material.

Life Raft

If you are going on a big offshore sailing trip, then it is probably a good idea to buy or rent a life raft. A life raft will keep the crew of a sunk or capsized boat alive until they can be rescued. It is the most important piece of equipment, although it is hopeful that you will never need to use it. Depending on where you are going on your sailing trip, there are different kinds of rafts that you can bring with you. These rafts are designed based on how long a rescue may take. They have rafts that are prepared to keep you safe for more than 24 hours if a rescue takes that long. The cost of this is typically at least $1,500. They also have simple platforms for when a rescue might only take an hour or two.

Life Sling

A life sling is an inflatable collar that is equipped with 150 feet of polypropylene floating line. It is made to help bring a man overboard back to safety. That is the average type of life sling that is recommended for 30 to 80 foot sail and powerboats. There is also a lifesling for smaller boats which is a bit less expensive. It is equipped with 135 feet of retrieving line.

Life Vests

Sailing Life Vests

A life vest is a very important thing to have if you are sailing. Life vests are usually purchased for around $50 to $150 depending on the quality.If you go overboard for any reason, you are not going to want to have to waste energy treading water. Sailing is an active sport that requires a lot of movement and difficult tasks. Therefore, the best life jacket for sailing does not want to be bulky or restrictive, but still needs to give enough support to keep you afloat in the water. 

There are traditional and inflatable life vests. Traditional jackets are made out of inherently buoyant material such as floam to keep the sailor afloat. An inflatable jacket uses inflatable bladders to provide buoyancy when needed. These are less bulky than traditional jackets and are also more comfortable to wear.

Personal Locator Beacon

A personal locator beacon (PLB) will emit a distress signal in the event of an offshore emergency. These devices are considered to be handheld emergency position radio beacons for when someone falls overboard. A PLB must be manually activated and can submit a distress signal for longer than 24 hours. It is strongly recommended that anytime you are going out on a boat, you should have a device similar to a PLB that can make it easy for someone to rescue you. This will cost around $200, but it might just save your life.


It is also strongly recommended that your boat has a radio installed to it. This will be able to get you in contact with other boaters in the water in case there is an emergency. A VHF radio is an operational service that is for iter-ship and ship-to-shore communications. It is not necessarily a recreational social networking facility. If there is ever an emergency, you go to channel 16 and give as much information as possible and hopefully another boater will come to assist you. This etiquette goes both ways, as if you ever hear an emergency on your radio, you need to see if there is anything you can do to help.

Spare Batteries

There are so many types of safety equipment that require batteries.  It will be unfortunate if you have all the necessary safety electronics and don’t realize they have dead batteries until an actual emergency takes place.  Every time you go out on the boat, figure out what electronics you have that are battery powered and check what type of batteries they require. Then you can pack all the batteries necessary to make sure that you are prepared if you need to use an electronic for safety reasons.


Sailing Sunscreen

Sailing exposes the skin to direct and indirect sunlight as much as just about any other outdoor activity. Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation which is the source of sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. This is not something you want to have to worry about when you are trying to enjoy a day on the water. Therefore, you want to purchase some sunblock. You should have a good idea about how sensitive your skin is to the sun, but it is better to be safe and get as high an SPF as possible. SPF 50 will block 98% of UVB rays, which will certainly keep you safe for a long period of time and will cost you around $30.

Tool Kit

The number and type of tools you should carry depend on the type of boat you are sailing and where you are going. If you primarily daysail very close to home, you are not going to need very many tools, but if you are weekend cruising, you will certainly need a basic tool kit. In a basic tool kit you are going to want a hacksaw, spare blades, a hammer, channel locks, pliers, wrenches, and nut drivers. If you are going on long trips for more than 2 days, you may need more, but those tools will certainly do the trick for any sort of regular sailing excursions.


If you are sailing in a race or regatta, then having a watch is a good idea. Sailing watches are predominantly racing watches used to calculate speed and distance when racing boats. They feature chronographs and countdown timers to measure the speed and distance. They are encased in a durable and water resistant case that help withstand harsh elements. Some also might contain a compass, barometer, or a tachymeter as well. Sailing watches can be extremely expensive, as brands such as rolex make state-of-the-art fashionable sailing watches that can be up to $1,000. However, you should be able to find affordable watches that can serve their purposes for around $100.


Sailing Whistle

A whistle is a great thing to have in the event of an emergency. If you are overboard, or maybe need help for any reason, it is a great way to alert people around you. Rather than yelling for help, blowing a whistle is a bit easier and most boaters around you should get the memo that you are in need of assistance. There is no particular type of whistle that you need to buy, as long as it is loud enough to let people know you are in danger.


Sailing Sailboat


sailing mast

The mast is the pole that rises vertically from the ship and supports the sails. Depending on the boat size, there can be just one mast or over three. The mast is also used for giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, or radio aerial. Racing sailboats have masts that are made of carbon fiber and other composite materials. The mast forms the leading edge of the sail’s airfoil.


Sailing Mainsail

The mainsail is the sail that is rigged on the main mast of the vessel. On a rigged vessel, it is the lowest and largest sail on the main mast. On other vessels, it can be the only sail that is rigged on the mast. It is controlled by a spar known as the boom. The mainsail is one of the biggest keys to boat speed as the mainsail twist will help you drastically speed up. If you know how to maneuver this sail it will drastically help you increase speed when needed.


Sailing Sails

There are three main types of sails: the mainsail, headsail, and the spinnaker. As stated above, the mainsail is rigged on the main mast of the vessel. The headsail is between the forestay line and the mast. There are several different sizes of headsails. It can be a working jib which is used for stronger winds. A genoa jib overlaps the mainsail and provides maximum power in light winds. There is also the spinnaker, which is a balloon-type sail that is attached to the mast at the bow. In order to be a good sailor, you need to have knowledge about these types of sails.

Spare Sailboat Parts

If you are going on a long distance trip, you are going to want to bring spare parts. You are going to want a sail repair kit, so you can fix any equipment that might get damaged. Bringing extra assorted ropes and cordage is also a good idea. Along with that, extra sail clothes will be a good thing to bring in case the one you are using gets ripped or damaged. Overall, if one of your pieces of equipment breaks, it is very important that you have a replacement item readily available.


The tiller is what is used to steer is used to steer the boat. It is essentially a pole that is attached to the top of a rudder, and directly pulls or pushes the rudder. The tiller and the rudder steer by redirecting water past the hull, which creates turning motions for course changes. A tiller is great due to its simplicity, and also provides immediate rudder response for a safer and higher performance from the boat. Although using a tiller can be fatiguing at times, it is the most popular use of steering among sailboats.



Bringing along food with you when sailing is a very important thing to do. Especially if you are going on long trips, you will want to pack sandwiches, fruits and other snacks that you can eat to keep yourself energized throughout the trip. Having a cooler full of food is highly recommended because the last thing you want is to get hungry while you are miles away from the shore.


Sailing Fuel

Sailboats that go on a long passage are going to require an engine with your boat. Therefore, you are going to need to bring some extra fuel with you. The average sailboat will use between 1 and 2 gallons of fuel per hour. A small boat with a smaller engine will use around 1 gallon, while large boats will use around 3 gallons per hour. Knowing this, you are going to want to have an understanding of your engine, and figure out how much fuel you should bring based on how long you plan on being in the water.


Hydration is another key to having a successful day on the water. It is a good idea to bring a lot of water with you to drink throughout the boat ride. You want to avoid any risk of dehydration since having a lack of energy is not something you want when you are sailing. If you are on a big boat with a large group of people, then bringing a cooler or case of water bottles is the best way to bring water. If you are on a smaller boat by yourself, then packing an individual water bottle is a good idea.


What Makes Sailing Equipment Unique?

The equipment in sailing is different compared to other sports because of it being played on the water. It's also different from the traditional sport where goals or points are scored, The gear you buy in sailing will not be able to be used in other sports, which should be kept in mind.

What is the Most Important Sailing Equipment to Buy?

The most important piece of equipment needed for sailing is the boat itself. You cannot go sailing without a boat and the different parts onboard, which include sails, a rudder, and masts. With the clothing, you’ll need the life vest, and while the others are suggested, they are optional.  

How Much Does Sailing Equipment Cost?

Sailing is a sport that can run up the expenses rather quickly. Having access to a boat can be costly especially if you are in an area where water isn’t nearby. Generally you can join a club that offers access, which can be cheaper than buying a boat itself. A membership at a yacht club or boat club is about $150 to $200 a month in most cases. That is a steep price, but still better than a multi-thousand dollar boat. The clothing aspects can all be purchased at sporting goods stores such as Dicks for reasonable prices (a combined total of around $100). The most expensive of the items is the wetsuit which is about $50 to $75.