Sailing Clothing: Is Lighter and Faster the actual goal?

While I really like the new, lighter, more flexible sailing gear, especially compared to the classic heavy, stuff foul weather gear, I do NOT think that light is the actual goal. It is an essential goal, but not the key goal.

I think all sailing clothing should float, should be buoyant. If it makes you sink instead of float, then it should not be on a boat, much less on a sailor.

Unfortunately, the ISO and USCG standards stipulate that one piece of gear, the life jacket, should provide all the floatation. This is silly: nobody sails only wearing a life jacket and no other clothes.

Any of you are free to contradict me on this point by posting pictures of beautiful women wearing nothing but life jackets.

If instead of one piece of gear providing all the flotation, ALL the clothes should provide SOME flotation, so the total keeps the wearer from drowning. This would result in all the gear being light and flexible. And it will result in a MOB being able to survive the event.

The danger of inflatable life jackets is very clear, yet they are still effectively required to be worn. I just read yet another test where inflatable life jackets were very dangerous to those doing the testing. We have all mourned the loss of David Fisher in the last VOR, and Jon Santarelli in the 2018 Chi-Mac. This is madness.

Dinghy sailors of all types tend to use wetsuits and similar.

Who uses buoyant clothing while sailing larger boats, and likes what they use?


Kenny Dumas

Super Anarchist
I agree. I wear neoprene topped boots and a comfy old waterski vest for an extra layer under my normal offshore gear on cold legs. Been thinking about adding butt and knee pads 


some dude

Super Anarchist
I like floating, but not the shoes or shorts. I strongly prefer to float right side up.  And on those occasions when I stay on the boat, I like to be able to love around to be able to get the sails up/down/in/out.  To that end, I have been ramping up the growth of internal flotation over the last 6 weeks.  



Super Anarchist
But which combination of clothing will you be wearing when you fall overboard to ensure you have enough buoyancy to be = a lifejacket?

If you are in just buoyant foulie pants or a salopette style you might tend to float upside down.

And built in floation tends to be hot and not breathable (unlike the current Goretex type fabrics)

The Mustang float coats with a thin layer of Ensolite for floatation resembled a sauna..

We had these in the 60s and 70s. The worked great. They were very flexible, the thin closed cell insulation was just right for southern California, even night watches. Not warm enough for the North Atlantic, English Channel, etc. Easy to swim while wearing -- much better than, say, a waterski life jacket, and far more mobility.

The Baltic products on look very nice.

Thin, light, flexible, strong, buoyant, waterproof, breathable, warm. Seems like a big ask.
Less is more



The Q

Super Anarchist
I wear a floatation jacket and flotation salopettes in the winter,  they feel heavy,  and are too warm for the summer.  But my prime aim is warm dry and up the right way. Jacket shown below. 




I have one of these:

and for warmer days, one of these:

love them both, the big issue is that the jacket is too warm when you get a bit active, but for long legs on cold days, amazing.
I like the concept of them being able to float, but in my opinion it's more important that they're a high visibility colour, like red/orange/yellow/or similar.



I agree. The vest is extremely visible when bright side out. Has got me a few comments. But yeah the black jackets seem the wrong colour. 

Goes for a lot of wet weather gear too, why is hard to find dayglo orange jackets? That would be my choice, I have black and gray. Who thinks that is a good idea...?