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Your Second Skin: Functional sailing clothing, wherever you sail

Functional clothing only 'functions' as part of a complete system. Wearing just a breathable sailing jacket on its own won’t be enough. Our guide to functional sailing clothing gives tips on how to layer correctly, what types of sailing clothing are recommended depending on the sailing area, and what material differences and features are available from the most popular manufacturers of sailing clothing.

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Table of Contents

Requirements for sailing clothing

  1. Wearing comfort
  2. Protection
  3. Breathability
  4. Colour

Three-layer principle

  1. Base layer
  2. Middle layer
  3. Outer layer

Which sailing clothing is the right one

  1. Inshore & coastal
  2. Ocean & offshore
  3. Racing & regatta

Which brand

  2. MUSTO
  3. GILL


  1. Take care of sailing clothing properly

Good to know

  1. MPU membrane
  2. Water column
Save guide

The best sailing jacket - What demands must good sailing clothing meet?

Let's get one thing clear first of all: there is no such thing as the best sailing jacket or the best sailing clothing. Your individual clothing demands depend on whether you are planning a longer trip at sea, are an inshore sailor or want to take part in regattas. The weather conditions also play an important role in making the right choice. Depending on your individual needs, the following points are either of greater or lesser importance.

Wearing comfort of sailing clothing

Wearing comfort is most likely to be important for almost every piece of clothing. With sailing clothing, it is particularly important that you can move easily on board. So, when trying on sailing trousers and sailing jackets, check to see if you have enough movement, for example by squatting down or stretching your arms upwards.

Sailing clothing that protects against external conditions

Good sailing clothing has to withstand a great deal. It must protect against cold and wind, but also against moisture from rain and spray. Waterproof clothing alone is not sufficient for this. Sailing clothing should be waterproof & windproof.

Breathable & fast drying sailing clothing

Good sailing clothing must keep the body warm and dry, but at the same time ensure that body moisture is carried away to the outside. Innovative technical materials and special membranes, such as the renowned GORE-TEX© membrane, help prevent water droplets from penetrating through tiny pores while allowing body vapour to escape from the inside.

Which colour for sailing clothing

The colour of sailing clothing is by no means insignificant. Of course, personal taste should be taken into account, as these clothes will usually be worn over several years and for many hours. However, you should also remember that some colours act as a signal, making it easier to see you both on board and in case of an emergency at sea. Combined with the reflective strips on the jacket and a hood in fluorescent colours, the colour of your sailing jacket increases your safety on board.

What should I wear to sail? The 3-layer principal

Whenever a person is active, he or she creates energy. Unfortunately, only 20% of that energy is used productively, the rest is used to generate warmth. So that our body does not overheat, it starts to sweat, which keeps us cool. In order to avoid a build-up of heat and moisture between our skin and clothing, it is recommended to wear functional clothing, which manages moisture and acts as a kind of second skin to create a comfortable body temperature.

Adopting the onion principle has proven to be the best for all outdoor activities. By combining different layers of clothing, you are able to adapt to changing weather conditions and the difference between physical exertion and resting.

Effectively carry moisture to the outside

The first layer of effective sailing clothing, also called base layer, consists of functional underwear.

This base layer is worn close to the skin and is designed to quickly remove moisture from the body. Effective functional underwear is usually made of synthetic fibres such as polyester. For sailing at colder temperatures, a warming base layer made of part merino or 100% natural wool from merino sheep is recommended. Both merino wool and synthetic fibres absorb moisture over large areas and carry it outwards.

Middle layer

For breathability, thermal insulation and sun protection

The middle layer of sailing clothing, also called mid layer or insulation layer, absorbs the moisture of the base layer and keeps the body warm. Depending on the sailing area and climate, the mid layer of sailing clothing can be a T-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, sweater or a warming fleece or soft- shell jacket. You can choose between functional clothing made of fast-drying synthetic fibre, odour-neutralising merino wool or warming fleece fabric.

For fleece sweaters and fleece jackets pay attention to the density of the material (g per m²) The higher the gram count, the better the garment protects against the cold. There are different types of fleece. Some manufacturers use their own names such as Polartec® or TecnoWool®.

Softshell is regarded as particularly windproof. Many jackets also have a warming inner lining. Even though not completely waterproof, softshell protects against small rain showers.

On warm days the middle layer can also be worn as an outer layer.

Breathable waterproof clothing to protect against weather and waves

The third and outer layer of sailing clothing, also called top layer, serves primarily for weather protection but also as the final layer for moisture removal. For sailing clothing, taped seams and waterproof zippers are particularly important for optimum protection against moisture. Sailing clothing can be subdivided into inshore and offshore clothing.

Outer layer

Which sailing clothing do I need for sailing on the Baltic Sea, for crossing the Atlantic or for regattas?

It is no wonder that sailing clothing is also called functional clothing. After all, it does quite a lot. It keeps you warm, protects you from wind and water and carries away moisture from your body. Nevertheless, when buying sailing clothing you have to decide what your personal preference is. Because the higher the resistance to water & wind, the lower the breathability. With more layers, sailing clothing often becomes heavier. So, which sailing clothing is the right one for you? As a rule, brands distinguish between sailing clothing for near-shore sailing (inshore & coastal), for offshore sailing (ocean & offshore) and for regattas (racing).

Inshore & coastal sailing clothing

Sailing jackets and sailing trousers for inshore sailing or coastal sailing must be waterproof and windproof as well as breathable, but nowhere near as technical as offshore clothing for longer trips. This means that the price of inshore & coastal sailing clothing is significantly lower than that of offshore sailing clothing. Inshore sailing clothing usually consists of 2 layers, which makes it lighter than offshore clothing. Sailing jackets for inland & coastal areas also have lower collars than offshore models.

Ocean & Offshore sailing clothing

Sailing clothing for high sea sailing must withstand the most extreme weather conditions, temperature fluctuations and the highest demands. For this reason, up to 4 layers are often used to make offshore sailing clothing, which makes them heavier but gives better performance and a higher water column. Offshore sailing jackets and sailing trousers are made with great attention to detail. They have an extra high collar that protects against wind and cold. Many sailing jackets, especially for offshore use, also feature hoods & pockets with fleece lining, wrist cuffs and a waistband to further reduce cold and moisture penetration.

Racing & Regatta Sailing clothing

In regatta sailing, a particularly good fit, light fabrics and high freedom of movement are extremely important. Breathability is also even more important in competition than for recreational sailors. Regatta clothing should be as simple as possible to save weight and to avoid getting caught on board during one of the many manoeuvres.

Which brand to choose for sailing clothing?

There are many different manufacturers of sailing clothing on the market. In addition to high-quality sailing jackets and sailing trousers from our own brand SEATEC, we offer sailing clothing from the brands Musto, Marinepool and Gill. All manufacturers have their own unique design and technology. Get an overview of the different brands and models of sailing clothing below.

Seatec works

SEATEC Sailing Clothing WORKS Advanced

SEATEC WORKS advanced is highly functional, hard-wearing water sports clothing for offshore use. The 2-layer fabric with MPU membrane and mesh lining are sealed together. Making the material robust yet light. Water column: 20,000 mm.

Explore SEATEC WORKS now

All features at a glance

  • Height adjustable face protection, fleece-lined inside
  • 3MTM reflective strips on the shoulders and on the fluorescant hood
  • Inside: Rubberised cuffs, Outside: Arm cuffs with velcro fastening
  • 2 layer material MPU-membrane and mesh inner lining

What does the MPU membrane do?

The MPU membrane makes sure that no water comes through when sitting or kneeling and keeps the body permanently dry. It is also windproof and prevents windchill. This result in functional clothing that, on the one hand prevents the body from overheating during high activity, and on the other hand protects against cooling down during rest periods. Body temperature is thus kept in perfect balance.

Properties of the MPU membrane

  • 1. extremly waterproof (water column: 20,000 mm)
  • 2. High breathable (MVTR*: 15,000 g/qm/24h)
  • 3. Sustained water repellence via DWR impregnation**

*Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate

**Durable Water Repellent

Mpu features
Seatec works

SEATEC Sailing Clothing Coastal CS2

SEATEC Coastal CS2 is a light inshore clothing for motorboaters and coastal sailors. The 2-layer fabric with MPU membrane is extremely light yet also robust. Water column: 10,000 mm.

Explore SEATEC Coastal CS2 now

All features at a glance

  • Medium high collar with fleece lining
  • 3MTM reflectors
  • Double cuffs with PU-coated inner cuffs and an inner hem
  • 2-layer nylon material with MPU coating

The water column serves as a yardstick for the waterproofness of sailing clothing

Fabrics with membrane laminates or coatings are popular choices. What they do in terms of water resistance is often indicated by the water column. Simply put, this value indicates when the fabric will start to let water through. The test involves stretching a piece of fabric under a measuring cylinder, filling the cylinder with water, and measuring the time it takes for droplets of water to penetrate the material. If, for example, only 10 seconds are needed (at a rising pressure of 10 mm/second), the result is a water column of 100 mm.

Put simply: 1,000 mm water column means that the coated fabric is virtually watertight when a meter-high water column is applied.

The value, however, refers purely to the fabric, but note: According to Wikipedia, when sitting on damp surfaces, around 2,000 mm of water column develops; when kneeling down, it increases to 4,800 mm. This in turn depends on how heavy the person is. It is no wonder that special clothing for sailors currently has a water column of more than 10,000 mm.

The higher the water column, the thicker the fabric!

A rule of thumb for waterproof sailing clothing is between 10,000 - 35,000 mm

water column icon

MUSTO Sailing Clothing HPX Ocean

MUSTO HPX waterproof clothing is widely recognised by sailors for its superior performance in terms of waterproofness, durability and breathability. Ideal for deep sea and demanding offshore sailing. The fabric construction consists of a 3-layer laminate with Gore-Tex® Pro Ocean Technology® membrane and GoreTM Micro Grid lining. The outer material is extremely durable, while the inner material is very soft and comfortable. The breathable, microporous membrane is laminated between these layers. Water column: 28,000 mm.

The front-runner in performance: MUSTO HPX Ocean waterproof clothing for blue water sailors and professional use.

All features at a glance

  • GORE-TEX® Stretch inserts for freedom of movement
  • Adjustable cuffs with neoprene insert
  • Offshore collar
  • Pack away fluorescent GORE-TEX® hood

MUSTO Sailing Clothing MPX Offshore

MUSTO MPX Offshore waterproof gear is a versatile range of clothing that offers the best results in terms of breathability, durability and wearing comfort. Optimal functional clothing for offshore, coastal and regatta sailing. The MPX laminate also consists of three layers: a strong reinforcing fabric at the top, soft and comfortable polyester on the inside and a membrane with an oil-repellent protective layer in between. In contrast to HPX, a lighter version of the Gore-Tex membrane is used here. Water column: 28,000 mm.


YACHT magazine recently reviewed the new MUSTO MPX combination of sailing jacket and trousers in issue 7/2018 in the English Channel in tough conditions and awarded it 4 out of 5 possible stars. The only drawback is the price.


HPX or MPX? - The difference is in the detail



Membran: GORE-TEX® Pro Ocean Technology®
Water column: 28.000 mm

Best performance for high-sea sailors and demanding offshore sailors.

HPX fabric consists of a 3-layer laminate with GORE-TEX® Pro Ocean membrane and a soft MicroGrid nylon inner layer. The outer material consists of a highly resistant polyester fabric.

When used under extreme conditions and sustained exposure, the membrane offers the best possible performance in terms of breathability, waterproofness and wind resistance. The GORE-TEX® membrane is coated with an oil-repellent agent to prevent the micropores from clogging.



Membran: GORE-TEX® Pro Technology®
Water column: 28.000 mm

Universal use, ideal for offshore and coastal sailing or regatta sailing.

MPX fabric consists of a 3-layer laminate with a lighter GORE-TEX® Pro membrane than HPX. The outer material is a resistant polyamide fabric.

When used regularly under extreme conditions, this membrane delivers excellent results in terms of breathability, waterproofness and wind resistance. The GORE-TEX® membrane also has an oil-repellent coating to prevent clogging of the micropores.


GILL Sailing Clothing

GILL sailing clothing is renowned for its good fit and sophisticated technical features. The OS1 series consists of a permanently waterproof and breathable 4-ply high-performance fabric and gives blue water sailors extensive protection against rough ocean conditions.

All features at a glance

  • Fleece lined high collar
  • Velcro sleeves
  • Insulated hand warming pockets
  • 3M Scotchlite Reflectors

GILL OS1 / OS2 / OS3

GILL OS 1 Ocean

GILL OS 1 Ocean

  • 4-layer high performance fabric long-lasting waterproof, windproof and breathable
  • Water column: 35,000 mm
  • Uncompromising protection for blue water sailors exposed to the harshest ocean conditions. OS1 gives ocean sailors complete protection with taped seams and many features to protect against the harsh ocean environment.
GILL OS2 Offshore

GILL OS2 Offshore

  • 2-layer, lightweight high-performance fabric, long-lasting waterproof, windproof and breathable
  • Water column: 30,000 mm
  • Perfect for day trips as well as longer regattas. The 2-layer laminated, breathable fabric offers excellent protection against wind and water.
GILL OS3 Coastal

GILL OS3 Coastal

  • 2-layer, lightweight high-performance fabric, long-lasting waterproof, windproof and breathable
  • Water column: 15,000 mm
  • Light clothing for coastal sailing. Durable with water-repellent effect, quick-drying lining.

How do I care for my sailing clothing?

Salt crystals can clog the fine pores of your sailing clothing. Unless you are in freshwater areas, it is therefore particularly important to regularly clean the outside of your clothing with fresh water to dissolve the salt crystals. Sailing clothes can be put in the washing machine at 30 degrees without any problems. However, fabric softeners, dry cleaning and tumble dryers should definitely be avoided. We also advise against drying in the sun. We offer a range of care products that are specially designed to meet the needs of functional clothing.