Essential Sailing Gear

By: Equipment, Members, Partners

There are many ways to go sailing, from relaxing day sails and low-stakes racing to long-term cruising and adventurous offshore passages, but some things never change. The wind and seas are just as they were thousands of years ago, and still present the same opportunities and challenges. The only difference is that these days we have much better sailing gear to help us along! Just as sailboat technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, so have the personal items that improve the sailing experience.

Here is some essential sailing gear every mariner can use, no matter what their ambition. If you have these items in your personal collection, you’ll be in good shape, whether you own a boat or not.

Foul Weather Gear

This is a must, and it’s worth investing in the good stuff. Depending on where you sail, foul weather may be a rare occurrence or something you deal with every time on the water. Either way, when you need it, you’ll sure be glad you have it. It can make the difference between having a great time (quality foulies will keep you warm and dry even in torrential rain) or being miserable.

ASA Members Save on Gear From Zhik

Sailing Gloves

Gill Marine Deckhand Glove

These specialized gloves are made to improve your grip and make hauling lines easier. They come in especially handy on smaller boats with thin lines, or on older boats without advanced winches for handling sail. With padded palms and cut-off fingers, they give you a good balance of comfort and flexibility, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing snow mittens.

Take a look at ASA’s review of Gill Marine Gloves

Personal Flotation Device (Lifejacket)

Just as you wouldn’t get into a car without seatbelts, no boat can be without PFDs. You hope you never need them, but if you do, they can save your life. Many of us still have an image of a life jacket as a huge, bulky orange thing that feels like a stockade around your neck. But modern PFDs have come a long way, and are actually quite comfortable and unobtrusive. Often you don’t have to bring your own PFD with you; the boat owner or the charter company will provide them. But if you’re going to be sailing a lot, or buying a boat, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a good one for yourself. This way you’ll have one that you like and trust. Check out the Bluestorm X-Treme, for an example of the latest innovations. It inflates automatically (but is smart enough not to go off just from rain or deck spray), and has comfortable mesh padding, all while being considerably smaller than those orange monstrosities of yesteryear. However, anything that floats will do in a pinch. Never go to sea without your PFD!

ASA Members Save on PFDs

Spinlock’s Protect range of products includes the award-winning Deckvest – the world leading lifejacket harness – a completely new and personal lifejacket harness solution that was attractive and comfortable to wear.

ASA Members save 20% on Spinlock Products


Time was, the only question you had to answer in order to crew on a ship was: “Can you tie a bowline, and where’s your knife?” That still holds true in many cases today, as knives are required personal safety equipment for many racers and dinghy sailors. Certainly, no sailor should be without at least one quality knife that is designed to cut through the synthetic materials used on boats. There’s a huge variety to choose from, from the basic design to the more advanced models with built-in LED lights.

Take a look at ASA’s Review of Marine Tools

Take a Look at More Essential Sailing Gear That Asa Members Save On:


First Aid kits for boaters.  Sink-proof, crush-proof,  and dust-proof. Hand-picked by first responders and medical pros. HSA/FSA approved.

ASA Members Save 20% on My Medic First Aid Kits

DAN Boater Membership

DAN Boater Partnership with ASA

DAN Boater, the world’s premier travel safety association, offers its members a medical information line, a 24/7 emergency hotline, worldwide medical evacuation and repatriation services, search and rescue expense coverage, and more.

ASA members can purchase annual DAN Boater Family Memberships for $50 — a 50% savings off the normal cost.

Somand Sailing Jacket

Sømand was founded by Bay Area sailors Noelle Brewin and Laura Levy, who set out to challenge the perception of what a sailor should look like and create apparel that empowers women to feel confident, be comfortable, and perform their best while sailing.

ASA Members receive 5% OFF the Farallon Jacket

Vanguard Binoculars

Vanguard has earned numerous international awards for optic design and technology, and we continue to develop quality binoculars that satisfy birders, sports fans, outdoors enthusiasts, and more.

ASA Members save 10% on Vanguard Binoculars